Denver Loves the Outdoors
The people of Denver love to be outdoors. Whether sipping a craft beer at a café, rafting down a river, biking from park to park, or listening to a concert at Red Rocks, few places offer more opportunities to commune with nature than The Mile High City. And with 300 days of sunshine a year (more annual hours of sun than Miami Beach or San Diego), Denver provides them with plenty of time to do it.
Here are a few ways to enjoy the sun and Denver’s natural outdoor air conditioning. Even more can be found at DenverDares.com.
Biking, Hiking or Jogging:
Denver has more than 85 miles of paved, off-street biking, hiking and jogging trails, one of the largest urban trail networks in America. Starting right downtown at Confluence Park, you can bike or hike for more than 30 miles along the South Platte River Trail, or head the other direction for more than 40 miles of cruising beside the banks of Cherry Creek.
If you want to explore on two wheels, hop on a Denver B-cycle, the city’s enormous bike sharing program. Sturdy, red Trek bikes are available at 83 convenient stations across the city. Pick up one at the Denver Art Museum and drop it off near the Denver Zoo, then continue on to the Denver Botanic Gardens and Cherry Creek Shopping Center.
There’s no better way to enjoy one of the 200 craft beers brewed in Denver every day than by sitting at an outdoor café or beer garden. There are lots to choose from. The mile-long pedestrian promenade off the 16th Street Mall has 42 outdoor cafes alone. The downtown neighborhoods of LoDo and LoHi are known for their outdoor rooftop cafes where you can sit and watch spectacular sunsets over the Rocky Mountains.
Denver Beer Company, Prost Brewing, Mile High Spirits distillery and Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery are just a few places with outdoor patios where you can sit outside at picnic tables while snacking on delicious treats from an ever-changing array of food trucks. Or head to the food truck “roundup” in Civic Center Park every Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where up to three dozen food trucks offer tasty outdoor dining.
There are more than 90 golf courses in Metro Denver, including Arrowhead, consistently ranked as one of the top 10 public courses in America for its gorgeous scenery, which includes a number of holes set in between towering 400-foot high red rocks. Whether you’re playing City Park Golf Course, with its sweeping panoramic views of the Denver skyline backed by 200 snowcapped peaks, or enjoying one of the many rolling courses, like Evergreen, tucked up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains – remember that in Denver’s mile high altitude, golf balls fly 10 percent farther than it would at sea level. Fore!
River Rafting to Ziplining:
You can whitewater raft or kayak right through the heart of downtown Denver on the South Platte River. Or head 30 miles west to the Adrenalin Capital of the Front Range – Idaho Springs. This old Victorian mining town has a quaint main street lined with colorful shops and flower baskets – but it’s also become excitement central. Here you can jump off a cliff on a zipline sailing high above the trees, or enjoy all classes of whitewater rafting on the rapids that flow through towering black rocks of Clear Creek Canyon. Ride a horse up mountain trails to old ghost towns, or explore an old mine yourself, and then try your luck at panning for gold. If you dare, drive your car on the “Oh My God Road,” a twisting, turning dirt road lined with deadly drop-offs and old mine shafts. Or, travel to nearby Georgetown for a ride on the outdoor gondola cars of the Georgetown Loop, a steam railroad that crosses over itself on a 100-foot high trestle.
Cheer on a Team:
Denver has four outdoor stadiums with eight teams. Cheer on the Colorado Rockies from the row of purple seats at Coors Field and you are sitting exactly 5,280 feet above sea level – one mile high. The Colorado Rapids bring world class soccer to Dick’s Sporting Goods Field, while the Denver Outlaws play lacrosse under the lights of Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Of course, then there’s the city favorite – the Denver Broncos. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in August, head south to the Broncos training camp where for two weeks you can watch the team scrimmage in full uniform for free!
Listen to a Concert Under the Stars:
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is on every music lover’s bucket list. Starting with the Beatles in 1964, Red Rocks has been home to some of the most iconic rock concerts in history, including U2’s legendary concert video, “Under a Blood Red Sky.” But Red Rocks is just one of dozen outdoor concert venues. The Denver Botanic Gardens has a summer music series, as do Denver Parks, which feature free big band concerts at City Park, Washington Park and Clement Park. Denver’s annual Irish Festival and Scottish Festival feature outdoor performances, and some of the biggest names in music perform at the 18,000-seat Fiddler’s Green. There are outdoor concerts nightly at Denver’s downtown theme park, Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, and weekly outdoor concerts under twinkling lights on the patio along the 16th Street Mall at Rock Bottom Brewery.
You don’t have to travel far to hook a rainbow or brown trout in Denver. There are a dozen spots within 30 minutes of downtown along the South Platte River, Bear Creek or Clear Creek, and travel an hour or so and you can fish some of the top Gold Medallion streams in the nation. The city is home to several fly fishing outfitters that will direct you on your river adventure, providing you with tips on where to fish, what flies to tie – and even guides for groups or individuals eager to learn the tricks of the reel.
Hike a Park:
Denver has 200 named traditional parks within city limits, offering tennis and basketball courts, jogging paths, paddle boats and picnic tables. But there’s nothing traditional about the outdoors in The Mile High City. Denver Mountain Parks is a special division that operates 14,000 acres of rugged terrain in the nearby Rockies. Hike from Summit Lake to the top of 14,260-foot high Mount Evans, one of Colorado’s 54 peaks that soar to 14,000 feet. This difficult trail rewards hikers with views of rare alpine flowers, and often passes by herds of Rocky Mountain goats. Although it is more than two miles above sea level, it is still technically within the City & County of Denver. Other Denver Mountain Parks with hiking trails include tranquil Echo Lake and Lookout Mountain, on the top of which is buried the famous frontier scout and showman, Buffalo Bill.
In addition to outdoor activity within city limits, Denver is a perfect home base for thrilling daytrip adventures throughout the spectacular Rocky Mountains. For Denver day trip ideas, head to visitdenver.com/daytrips.
Looking for great hotel deals while you’re visiting The Mile High City? Go to visitdenver.com/hotels/specials to find special rates and packages all summer long.