Hidden Gem Day Trips
Discover great attractions, authentic Old West experiences, sightseeing opportunities and quaint mountain towns just a short drive from The Mile High City.
Buffalo Herd Nature Preserve
Get up close and personal with a herd of buffalo just a short, 20-minute drive from downtown Denver. The Buffalo Herd Nature Preserve is maintained by the city in a natural setting, and the buffalo are direct descendants of the last wild herd in America. It's also a perfect spot for picnics.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The National Renewable Energy Lab Visitors Center in Golden showcases technologies that can save energy, improve the environment and lower the cost of energy bills. Take a self-guided tour through the interactive exhibit hall and learn about energy from the sun, wind, biomass and other sources of renewable energy.
Georgetown is a delightful Victorian village set in a spectacular mountain valley with 200 restored buildings from the 1870s. The main street is lined with shops and restaurants, and many of the old homes have been turned into antique stores. The Georgetown Loop Railroad takes riders on narrow-gauge steam locomotives curling down a mountain ledge, at one point crossing over a 90-foot-high trestle.
In an easy, 40-minute-or-so drive, you can escape to the pine-scented mountain hamlet of Evergreen. A lovely, trail-ringed alpine lake is located right in town, with excellent paddleboarding and kayaking in the summer and ice skating in the winter. The picturesque downtown is tucked between rocky canyon walls, and offers a promenade of shops, galleries and eateries. Spend the day golfing, hiking beautiful nature trails, touring small local musuems, relaxing at day spas or catching a local theater performance.
Colorado Railroad Museum
Housed in a replica of a 1880s-style depot, the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden is a delight for train-lovers of all ages. Enjoy thousands of rare photographs, artifacts and documents illustrating the colorful histories of the railroads that have served the state for more than 125 years. Then head outside to explore 15 acres of sprawling grounds with more than 100 narrow- and standard-gauge locomotives, cars and other rolling stock.
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most fascinating ecological sites in the country, has made a remarkable transformation from a former site of chemical weapon manufacturing into one of the premier urban national wildlife refuges in the United States. Since the 1990s the site has welcomed visitors who now come to spot 330 species of migratory and resident wildlife and enjoy activities such as wildlife watching, photography, nature programs and fishing.
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield is a picturesque nature preserve among the grasslands, ponds and cottonwood banks of Deer Creek. Highlights include nature trails, a wildlife observation area, display gardens, educational exhibits, a historical farm, a 19th-century one-room schoolhouse, working beehives and picnic areas.
The gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is worth a visit on your way to or from the park, thanks to its charming mountain-town Main Street (with dozens of shops and restaurants) and the historic Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for the haunted Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's The Shining.
The Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster combines science education with hands-on fun to teach visitors about invertebrates, science and conservation. The interactive exhibits are geared primarily toward families with kids ages 2 to 12 years old, but people of all ages will love the tropical conservatory filled with 1,600 free-flying butterflies imported from around the globe.
Maintained by Denver Botanic Gardens, Mount Goliath is a mountain peak section of the Mount Evans area, offering a trail that winds through subalpine and alpine areas. This is a trail of contrasts — awesome Rocky Mountain vistas of Great Divide peaks; delicate floral treasures; wind-sculpted, ancient bristlecone pines; cold summit winds and gentle summer breezes.