Denver Day Trips. Of all the great things Denver has to offer, the greatest may be its ability to serve as a base camp for incredible one-day excursions. Denver offers quick, easy access to the state’s biggest attraction, the Rocky Mountains, where a wealth of national and state parks, national forests and scenic areas fill your senses. Gold rush mountain towns and ski resorts are great places to spend a day shopping, exploring and taking in the amazing scenery. From Denver, your next great adventure is just around the bend or right over the next ridge. And remember, when you're out in the city, stop in at one of the city's conveniently located Visitor Information Centers for more day trip tips. For more great trip ideas, check out Denver itineraries.
Central City and Black Hawk
Once called the “Richest Square Mile on Earth”, Central City and Black Hawk are two historic mining towns from the 1870’s that have come alive. Located 34 miles (55km) west of Denver, the two towns offer more than 30 casinos with over 10,000 slot machines, blackjack tables and poker games. In 2009, the stakes in Black Hawk were raised – betting limits are now $100, craps and roulette tables have been added and casinos will be open around the clock. In other words, a fun mountain town just got a lot more fun. The two cities are also known for having some of the best-preserved Victorian architecture in the West. Other attractions include the Teller House Hotel where President Grant once stayed and the Central City Opera House, which still features an outstanding summer season of opera. There are mine tours, mining museums and several places offering instruction in the fine art of gold panning in streams where a half billion dollars of the coveted, shiny metal was found.
Located just 42 miles (68 km) west of Denver, Georgetown is a delightful Victorian village set in a spectacular mountain valley with 200 restored buildings from the 1870’s. The main street has shops and restaurants and many of the old homes have been turned into antique stores. The Georgetown Loop Railroad operates in the summer months with narrow gauge steam locomotives curling down a mountain ledge, at one point crossing over a 90-foot (27 m) high trestle.
Situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins offers fabulous recreational opportunities, diverse cultural attractions, a vibrant nightlife scene, and plenty of family friendly activities. Just 65 miles north of Denver (about an hour and 15 minutes drive) on I-25, the town is home to Colorado State University. Explore the city’s 50 parks, 280 miles of trails, including paved and unpaved walking and bike trails, or go for a whitewater adventure on the Cache la Poudre, a river runner’s paradise from May through September. Downtown Fort Collins features a wide array of cuisine and nightlife options, not to mention some great shopping. And of course, no visit to the city would be complete without a trip to the world famous New Belgium Brewery, a must-see for craft beer aficionados.
Mount Evans has the highest paved auto road in North America snaking its way to the 14,260-foot (4,346 m) summit. The road ($10 for a three-day pass) is open only from the Friday before Memorial Day through the first Monday in October, and frequently has snow on it, even in August. (The road closes at Summit Lake after Labor Day, preventing you from reaching the top). The view from the top takes in the entire Front Range. The summit is 60 miles (97 km) from downtown Denver. On your way up the mountain, be sure to stop at M. Walter Pesman Trail (maintained by Denver Botanic Gardens) for a wildflower hike; you won’t see anything like the rare flowers and 1,500-year-old bristlecone pine trees anywhere else in the world. The trail winds through subalpine and alpine areas where wildflowers and animals of the fragile tundra live. Volunteer guides from Denver Botanic Gardens give interpreted hikes that follow the trail throughout the summer (call 720-865-3539 for information). Get an in-depth look at Mount Evans Scenic Byway!
Pikes Peak Country and Colorado Springs
Pikes Peak Country is located 60 miles (97 km) south of Denver and features more than 40 attractions centered around 14,000-foot (4,267 m) high Pikes Peak and the city of Colorado Springs. Things to see include the Air Force Academy, one of three United States military colleges; the famous Broadmoor Resort with its lake and three golf courses; the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame with its exhibits on this exciting professional sport; and Garden of the Gods which has gigantic 500-foot (152 m) high red sandstone rock monuments at the base of Pikes Peak.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Located 71 miles (114 km) northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park features 400 square miles (1,036 sq km) of scenic beauty, including Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the world crossing the Continental Divide at over two miles above sea level. The park has two information centers, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, tranquil lakes, waterfalls, wildlife and horseback riding. Estes Park is a resort town on the edge of the park with restaurants and shops. Get an in-depth look at Rocky Mountain National Park!
Denver's Beer Triangle
You’re not going to disappear in the Denver Beer Triangle, but it is easy to get lost in the fine, handcrafted beers, ales, stouts and porters found along the way. Located at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the area between Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins is often called the “Napa Valley of Beer.” Here you’ll find Coors Brewery, the largest single brewery in the world, as well as some six-dozen other award-winning brewpubs and microbreweries. Check out the full tour!
Located at the base of the foothills, Golden was the territorial capital until 1867 and remains one of the most historical towns in the state, with six museums, including Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave, the Colorado Railroad Museum, American Mountaineering Museum, and the Golden History Museums. An arch spanning the street proudly proclaims that Golden is “Where the West Lives!” The rugged setting makes it an amazing destination for outdoor recreation like biking, hiking, and kayaking. Downtown offers an Old West feel with arcade-covered sidewalks providing entry to more than 30 shops and art galleries. There are 22 restaurants and bars with outdoor cafes, providing a great vantage point to watch kayakers float by on Clear Creek. And no trip to Golden would be complete without a tour of the Coors Brewery, the largest single brewing site in the world. A short drive from Golden is Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, an awesome, awe-inspiring concert venue that has hosted well-known performers including the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, R.E.M., and U2.