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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

Staying in a city as charming as Denver cannot be missed. Known for its cannabis culture, buzzing restaurants and craft beer breweries, quaint streets, and friendly faces, it steals the hearts of those coming in and out of the city.

To top it off, its location couldn’t be more ideal. Miles of hiking trails, Fort Collins, hot springs, and the Garden of the Gods are a few of the dreamy locations that can be included in a day trip from Denver.

Let Denver be the gateway to explore the incredible natural beauty that hugs every main road in Colorado. Book a couple of nights in central city Denver and from here, explore the magic just waiting to be discovered.

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day trips from denver
day trips from denver
day trips from denver

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM DENVER

What’s great about an extended trip in Denver is the freedom to travel to destinations near and far. Looking for a full day of adventuring? Plan a day trip to Pikes Peak. If you don’t have much time on your hands, a 1 hour trip can lead you to Black Hawk.

Below you’ll find day trip treats in Colorado that can be ventured to by travelers with all kinds of interests.

COLORADO DAY TRIPS TO RED ROCKS PARK AND AMPHITHEATRE

Drive time from Denver: 25 minutes

Situated just outside the center of Denver, the Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is a geologically formed, open-air amphitheater. There are two 300 foot monoliths – upright stones – that create the most magical setting for any performance. 

Hosting some of the biggest music names in America, keep their calendar on hand to stay up to date with the latest live music concerts. They even host film nights, yoga events, and fitness classes.

The amphitheater is situated in Red Rocks Park, so even if you’re not visiting for a performance, you’ll still be able to see spectacular sights. There’s also wildlife that can be spotted from one of the many hiking trails

Not into hiking? No problem, hop on a mountain bike and explore the park from two wheels. Alternatively, visit the Red Socks Hall of Fame and the visitor center. 

Top view of the amphitheatre stage and surrounding area at Red Rocks Park - one of the closest day trips from Denver
The incredible amphitheatre within Red Rocks Park
Image by Benjamin Rascoe, Unsplash

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Drive time from Denver: 1 hour & 20 minutes

Although this is one of the best day trips from Denver, it’ll take you weeks to explore the entire Rocky Mountain National Park. Being one of the most-visited parks in the states, it offers a plethora of adventures.

Nature lovers are treated with wild rivers, alpine lakes, magnificent waterfalls, and an endless array of flora and fauna. But it’s not only people who love these parks. The Rocky Mountains are home to black bears, busy beavers, moose, elk, and yellow-bellied marmots.

When it comes to hiking, you have over 3,100-miles of trail to discover. A total of 239 routes are open for an array of hikers’ interests and levels of experience. Many trails also allow dogs. Some trails are short and easy, while others lead you to jaw-dropping cliffs. 

If you’re car-less in Denver, there are magnificent day trips that leave from the mile high city and take you straight to the park.

GARDEN OF THE GODS

Drive time from Denver: 1 hour & 10 minutes

Open every day from 9 am to 5 pm, Garden of the Gods can be wandered alone or as part of a guided tour. If it’s your first time seeing the park, a group tour will allow you to see the unique geological area with an experienced guide sharing all their knowledge.

Hiking is the most popular excursion in the park, with 21 miles catered to enthusiasts of all levels. Marvel at the many clay red rock formations that have been in the making for millions of years. 

Top hiking trails in the Garden of the Gods:

  • Ridge Trail
  • Siamese Twins Trail
  • Chambers / Bretag / Palmer Trail
  • Scotsman / Buckskin Charlie Trail
Beautiful red rock formations among green trees at Garden of the Gods in Colorado
Beautiful red rock formations at Garden of the Gods
© pilgraims49 via Canva.com

MOUNT EVANS SCENIC BYWAY

Drive time from Denver: 1 hour & 40 minutes

If you’re someone who craves an adventurous road trip every now and then, then an exhilarating drive to Mount Evans Scenic Byway is in order. The start of the Mount Evans Scenic Byway is an hour and 40 minutes from Denver, but it’s where the fun all begins.

Starting at Echo Lake, the 28 mile (45km) drive is the highest paved road in the states. This could only mean one thing – absolutely breathtaking views from right along the road. 

While you’re at Echo Lake, be sure to stop for a picnic alongside 1,700-year-old bristlecone pines. You may even encounter some bighorn sheep and goats.

If you’re not comfortable with driving or aren’t renting a car during your stay in Denver, there’s always the option of a guided tour. This tour allows you to experience the dramatic views from the Mount Evans Scenic Byway on a full-day adventure. Sit back and enjoy the ride!

BOULDER COLORADO

Drive time from Denver: 30 minutes

Hop from one city to the next and discover the city of Boulder, which offers plenty of outdoor recreational activities. 

Sitting at the foothills of the Rocky Mountain National Park, Boulder was seen as a hippie town in the 1960s. Now, it’s reinvented itself into a slow outdoorsy town that still holds a little bit of its hippy magic. 

Downtown Boulder is an adventure in itself. With quirky shops, yummy brunch spots, teahouses, and lively breweries. Spend some of your time wandering along the picturesque towns and popping into the art gallery, books stores, and the Tea Factory.

Because of its close proximity to the national park, it’s the perfect place to grab a bite after an eventful day out in nature. Why not take advantage of this tour that includes a guided hike finished with a beer in Boulder?

Aerial view of the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder; mountains in the background
The pearl street mall and mountains of Boulder, Colorado
© pawel.gaul via Canva.com

FORT COLLINS, COLORADO

Drive time from Denver: 1 hour & 10 minutes

An hour from the buzzing city of Denver is the historic town of Fort Collins – it looks like it’s come straight out of a fairytale. 

Upon entering the town, you might be reminded of a European holiday, given its close architectural resemblance. Cycling around town is a popular way of getting from point A to point B and a dreamy means of soaking up the summer goodness. 

The town is filled with local eateries – most of which rely on local produce – boutiques, pubs, and the Colorado State University. Because Fort Collins is home to a university, there’s always the excitement of friendly faces and liveliness around the town. 

Outdoor concerts at the town hall are popular summer activities, while winter has plenty of opportunities for snowshoeing and epic snowy hikes. 

BLACK HAWK & CENTRAL CITY, COLORADO

Drive time from Denver: 45 minutes

Both of these towns were once mining towns, but today, you can win or lose big time at these entertaining gambling towns. Black Hawk and Central City, just 5 minutes apart, have the ability to take you back in time, as they’ve preserved the past so well. 

Home to multiple casinos, entertainment is found around every corner. Between sipping on craft beers and snacking on mouth-watering pizza, take some time to discover the culture of the town. 

Visit the City Opera House one cold afternoon, or opt for a tour with the Gilpin Historical Society to learn more about the history of mining. 

The red Pikes Peak Cogway train moves along the tracks with snowy mountains all around
These amazing views await you on the Pikes Peak Cogway near Colorado Springs
© GeorgeBurba via Canva.com

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO

Drive time from Denver: 1 hour & 10 minutes

Next up, visit the second most populous city in Colorado, which packs its own punch when it comes to cultural wonders. Colorado Springs holds over 60 adventure activities that can be enjoyed by all travelers – from outdoor thrills to education activities. 

Many of the outdoorsy excursions and adventures are scattered around the town. Grab your hiking boots and camera (don’t forget to snap a photo) and wander around the Pikes Peak region. North Cheyenne Cañon City Park is just 5 miles (8km) from the town and offers fantastic mountain views and hiking trails.

If entertainment is what you’re after, stroll around the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and meet some curious creatures. 

There’s also Old Colorado City that was founded in 1859 and still captures a ‘wild west’ feeling. It’s mainly a tourist town and you’ll probably only be spending a few hours here, but it’s a fun place to visit if you’re traveling with kids. 

WINTER PARK & SKI RESORT

Drive time from Denver: 1 hour & 30 minutes

Winter Park is a fantastic day trip from Denver when the chill of winter starts creeping in. Once the snow has covered the mountains, this small town comes alive with skiers and snowboarders slipping and sliding along the slopes.

After a day in the cold, soak in the toasty water tubs at the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa. And if you’re really in the mood for treating yourself, book yours a luxurious massage. 

Colorado ski resort slopes are surrounded by green trees and snowy mountaintops
Colorado is known for having first class (and beautiful) ski resorts
© Lana2011 via Canva.com

DENVER DAY TRIPS: LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN!

Day trips from Denver Colorado offer visitors the chance to experience the wonders of the great outdoors. Not only that, but these destinations won’t take you longer than a 2 hours drive. Meaning you’ll still have plenty of time to discover each location.

Enjoy the beauty of magnificent mountains and beautiful views that are found around every nook and cranny. Drive from Denver to explore quaint and charming towns that have been around for decades.

Whether it’s nature or dreamy towns you’re looking to unearth, the Colorado region is bursting with adventure. So get a good night’s sleep and get ready to set off on one of these wonderful day trips from Denver Colorado!

Featured image credit: photo by Moriah Bender, Unsplash

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