Mile High City offers ultimate balance of outdoor recreation and urban creature comforts. Set against the stunning Rocky Mountains, Denver, Colorado is ideally located as a basecamp for unforgettable outdoor adventures. The Mile High City boasts 300 days of sunshine annually, and can serve as a hub for day trips and year-round adventures of all kinds and all levels, followed by a cosmopolitan evening enjoying the amenities of a hip, urban city.
This summer, visitors can get out and explore Denver’s city parks, nearby mountain trails, rivers and more and be back in time for happy hour. Below are the top five reasons to basecamp from Denver this season; for additional ideas on activities, tours, adventure tips and more, go to the VISIT DENVER website.
The Rocky Mountains ARE Our Backyard
Denver is known for its outdoor, active lifestyle thanks in large part to the proximity and accessibility of the Rocky Mountains. Rocky Mountain National Park – a bucket list destination for outdoor lovers – is just 90 minutes northwest of the city, and the foothills of the mountains are just 12 miles away. There are 200 named peaks that create a panoramic view from the city, including 32 that soar to 13,000 feet and above, enticing residents and visitors alike to venture out.
Hundreds of Day Trips
The foothills and Rocky Mountains are overflowing with outdoor activities – many of which make for exciting day trips within two hours of the city. Plenty of Denver-based tour operators offer excursions featuring mountain biking, white water rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, ziplining and more. There are also abundant free and self-guided options, from city-owned mountain parks to national forests, state parks, via ferratas, fly fishing streams and more.
Adventure for All
If outdoor recreation is not quite your speed, there are still plenty of options to explore the Rockies from Denver. Visitors can ride historic trains; take a scenic drive and try to spot some wildlife; or discover charming mountain towns like Golden, Idaho Springs, Georgetown, Estes Park and more. Each town offers its own boutique shops, Colorado history and unique appeal.
Find Some Urban Adventure
The city itself is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream – with one of the largest city park systems in the country, more than 4,000 acres of traditional parks and parkways, including 2,500 urban natural acres, plus miles of paved, off-street bike trails. Within city limits, there are opportunities to go kayaking, paddle boarding, jogging and more, and there is no shortage of space to enjoy for free or very low cost. Visitors can also catch a professional sports game at one of the city’s three downtown stadiums, explore the international street art scene, visit the award-winning Denver Zoo and Denver Botanic Gardens, and more.
Of course, after a full day of adventures, the comforts of a modern city await in Denver’s vibrant neighborhoods – from rooftop patio dining to hydration on the Denver Beer Trail to one of the city’s nearly 50,000 hotel rooms (11,000 in downtown alone). An influx of new boutique hotels as well as all the major brands at every price point ensure there is a place for everyone to lay their heads.
Be Prepared: Gear Up and Acclimate
Denver is home to several nationally-known and locally-made gear brands making it easy to get outfitted for all types of mountain adventures. Many hotels throughout the city have gear garages – offering everything from scooters to mountain and cruiser bikes to backpacks filled with adventure kits – and there are plenty of gear rental shops around town. The numerous tour operators based in the city also provide all the gear needed for their excursions and adventures.
In addition to prepping with equipment, self-preparation is the key to successful mountain adventures. The Mile High City really is one mile above sea level, meaning the air is dryer and thinner, and hydration, sun protection and acclimation are recommended. Before heading up to the mountains on day trips and adventures, a stay in the city is ideal for adjusting to the effects of altitude.
To find more information on adventures in and around Denver, suggested itineraries and maps, go to the VISIT DENVER website.