The Locals Guide To 7 Low/No Cost Outdoor Day Trips Near Denver
Thank you for attending Social Media Day Denver 2017! You may also have time to explore the beautiful state of Colorado. If so, we’ve compiled this list of day trips to take the guess work out of where you should go. Don't forget, during the summer months thunderstorms are likely everyday in the afternoon. The weather can be very unpredictable out here. Your chances of sun are better in the mornings. Also, bring water with you and an extra layer of clothes, you never know when you will need either one. One last thing, the traffic can be nasty in the metro area during the hours of 7AM-9AM and again at 4PM-7PM. Avoid highway and city travel at those times. Enjoy!
1. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater, Morrison: http://redrocksonline.com/
This is one of my favorite places on Earth. Not only can you see a concert there, but the park is open to the public FOR FREE. It’s great for taking in the views, for hiking, for working out (think stair-climb workouts), and for seeing the history of the park and how it was built in Red Rocks’ on-site museum. If you’re not quite sure where to start, you can park at the Trading Post to ask someone how to access your interests for the day. The people working are usually very helpful.
I recommend bringing a lunch or eating before you get out that way, as there isn’t much in the way of quick food once you are there. You’ll also have the option of eating in any of the sit down restaurants that are located on Main Street in the town of Morrison. If you are mainly interested in the amphitheater, I would check the website before you go. They will usually close the amphitheater during the day whenever there is a concert or event that same night. Red Rocks is open to the public year round.
2. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs - http://www.gardenofgods.com/
This is about an hour or so from Denver and it is beautiful. Whether you are looking to hike and take in the beauty or simply just drive the park loop, Garden of the Gods is one of the prettiest places to go and see. This place is amazing and it is set against the backdrop of Pike’s Peak. It is calendar-photo material. Plus, it’s free! Local tip - avoid driving on I-25 between the hours of 7AM-9AM and 4PM - 7PM due to rush hour traffic.
3. Guanella Pass / Georgetown - http://www.georgetowncolorado.com/guanella.htm
Georgetown, CO is a little less than an hour from Denver. Just take I-70 W and you’ll end up getting there. Once there, you can weave your way through town to take the access road up the pass. It’s free and it is beautiful. It takes about a half-hour to get up the pass once you are in Georgetown, but there are a bunch of places you can pull off and enjoy on the way up. I recommend taking the access road all the way to the top if you can because the views are amazing! You may want to bring a jacket as it can sometimes get chilly up there. The byway is free.
On your way out of town (or into town) there’s an awesome pizza place/bar that is super reasonably priced with very tasty food. As far as I know, it’s the only pizza place in town, so it shouldn’t be hard to find. Enjoy!!
4. Boulder/Chautauqua Park - https://bouldercolorado.gov/
Boulder is an awesome town with its own vibe. If you want to get your “nature” on and wash it down with a micro-brew, this might be the day trip for you. While visiting the free Chautauqua Park (pronounced: cha-tah-kwah) you will see the flat irons reaching out of the ground toward the sky in the breathtaking mountain landscape.
This park is right on the fringe of Boulder, so after you feel like you’ve had your fill of nature, you can head into town to fill up your bellies. If you don’t want to hike, but still want to see some breathtaking views, you can drive the road that leads up Flagstaff mountain. There are several places to pull off and take in the scenery. It’s a solid day if you’re up for it. Keep in mind rush hour traffic if heading in from Denver.
Chautauqua Park - https://bouldercolorado.gov/parks-rec/chautauqua-park
Flagstaff Mountain Area - https://bouldercolorado.gov/osmp/flagstaff-trailhead
5. Castlewood Canyon State Park - http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/CastlewoodCanyon
This is an actual canyon in the Castle Rock area of Colorado. It takes about 45 min to get there from Denver. Once you are there, you have the option to see the canyon from the viewing platform or get in there and hike it yourself. There is a two mile loop that will take you through the actual canyon. There are rocky areas to navigate here and there, but overall, it’s a pretty easy hike. It costs about $7 to get into the park and they close an hour or so before dark. This is an easy day trip that you’re likely to enjoy. Local Tip - avoid driving on I-25 between the hours of 7AM - 9AM and 4PM-7PM due to the heavy traffic.
6. Mt. Evans Scenic Byway - http://www.mountevans.com/
If you want to see if you have what it takes to white-knuckle your way up the highest paved road in North America, this could be the day trip for you. It is no joke, even though it is paved, it will have your heart pounding. When you get to the top of Mt. Evans though, the view is spectacular. The cost is $10 per car and $3 per motorcycle/bike to drive the access road. Bring a jacket, it’s chilly up there. Located near the town of Idaho Springs, this day trip will have you creating memories you won’t forget while getting your fill of the Rocky Mountain views.
7. 16th Street Mall, Denver - https://www.denver.org/things-to-do/denver-attractions/16th-street-mall/
This is a day trip geared toward the urban-outdoor enthusiast. Right smack in the middle of Denver, the 16th Street Mall is known for it’s shopping, restaurants, and street performers. You can hang out and take in the vibes of Denver while strolling the outdoor mall. If you don’t have the urge to go far, but do have the desire to get outside and do something, this could be a good way to spend your day while staying within the the city limits of Denver.