Nature Awaits: Top 10 Day Trips From Denver, Colorado

best day trips from denver

To be sure, Denver offers some of the best sights and sounds in the entire United States. However, the surrounding areas are not without their own unique attractions! From the beauty of Colorado’s Garden of the Gods to the authentic memorabilia at the National Museum of World War II aviation, you’re going to want to check out our list of the top 10 day trips out of Denver! For excitement that you’ll only find near the picture-perfect Rockies, make sure you check out our recommended finest trips from the Mile High City!

1. Steamboat Springs Ski Resort

Just a short distance outside of the Denver city limits lies Steamboat Springs Ski Resort! A highlight of northwestern Colorado, this Mount Werner location in the Routt National Forest always has something exciting happening on its slopes! During the winter months, come down to ski some of the best runs in the state, with a perfect blend of green, blue and black diamond runs! Affordable equipment rentals abound.

When the summer comes around, you have the opportunity to take advantage of Steamboat Springs Ski Resort’s dynamic seasonal packages! From its white water rafting opportunities to its horseback riding endeavors to its breathtakingly scenic gondola rides, the summer in Steamboat is given a thoroughly warm welcome. Whether you’re in town for their golf opportunities, extreme bike paths or their competitively priced ski and snowboard offers, there’s a mountain of excitement to be had at Steamboat Springs Ski Resort!

Steamboat Springs Ski Resort

Address: 2305 Mt Werner Cir, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487

Website: Steamboat Springs Ski Resort

2. Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir in Fall ❤ Photo submitted by: Matt Conover‎

Posted by Fort Collins-Loveland Now on Monday, 3 October 2016

At the Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, nearly 2,000 acres (809.4 hectares) of lush, widely untouched wildlife beg for your deserving attention. With enough water to accommodate any and every activity you can dream up, it’s in your best interest to come and visit the jewel of Fort Collins, only a short drive outside of the Denver area. You won’t want to miss their various fishing, boating, swimming or scuba diving opportunities, not to mention their relaxing camping facilities and onsite rock climbing! Looking to bring your boat along? Water skiing is also allowed on Horsetooth Reservoir! Whether you’re in town for the day or for the foreseeable future, come on down to the Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, Colorado, where low priced permits and beautiful overhead weather await!

Horsetooth Reservoir

Address: 200 W. Oak Street, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Website: Horsetooth Reservoir

3. Wheeler Opera House

Posted by Wheeler Opera House on Monday, 19 December 2016

One of the best kept secrets of Aspen, Colorado remains the Wheeler Opera House! Get out of the city when you make the short trip from Denver to Aspen and watch the suburbs melt into lush wildlife, nature always alive no matter the season. This venue always has something going on inside its doors, from comedy nights to movie showings to performances from professional-grade companies. In past years, this top-notch venue has played host to top-tier talents of various genres, from speaker Kevin Heinz to a local animal hospital. Their LaughFest, Mountainsummit and On the Rise series all promise to have you thoroughly enjoying the best in quality entertainment! Get down to the Wheeler Opera House to get your thrill on!

Wheeler Opera House

Address: 320 E Hyman Ave, Aspen, CO 81611

Website: Wheeler Opera House

4. Gateway Canyons

Gateway Canyons
Source: Needpix

Recognized as one of the top resorts in the entire world and just a short distance outside of the Denver confines, the Gateway Canyons of Gateway, Colorado promise to deliver on a unique blend of surrounding natural majesty and man-made wonder. Ranked the fifth-best resort in the United States, 16th in the world, Colorado’s Gateway Canyons effectively redefines your understanding of leisure and luxury. Posh room layouts, breathtaking views from the property itself, generous dining opportunities and a constant slew of never ending activities all serve to make the Gateway Canyons your go-to Colorado relaxation destination! Check out the horseback riding at the adjoined Palisades Ranch, enjoy close proximity to natural parks, even host your wedding on the grounds of the establishment! The options are endless when you elect to chase guaranteed enjoyment at the Gateway Canyons!

Gateway Canyons

Address: 43200 CO-141, Gateway, CO 81522

Website: Gateway Canyons

5. Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak from the Garden of the Gods
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user mark gallagher used under CC BY 2.0

Your journey to Colorado Springs, only a short distance from Denver, isn’t complete without a trip to Pikes Peak! Carved by glaciers some millions of years ago and recognized as the Rocky Mountains Front Range’s highest summit, this destination stands at over 14,000 feet, and is a sight to behold even from a distance! However, nothing compares to the moment when you stand upon the peak itself, where you will be gifted an unparalleled look at the beauty of Colorado which will surround you! A National Historic Landmark, Pikes Peak today plays host to both a gift shop and restaurant, allowing you to pick up and desired memorabilia and to fuel up before heading down the mountain! Come for the view, and stay for the extensive series of available hiking trails at Pikes Peak, because nothing beats the sights from the summit!

Pikes Peak

Address: Pikes Peak, Colorado 80809

Website: Pikes Peak

6. Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods view from Visitor Center
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dave Friedel used under CC BY 2.0

If there were ever a lush expanse of wildlife worthy of immortality, chances are it would come courtesy of Colorado Springs’ ideal natural expanse, known today as the Garden of the Gods. A National Natural Landmark since 1971, and only a brief drive from Denver, the Garden of the Gods is characterized by breathtaking sandstone, lush canopies of wildlife, and a prehistoric history! The location was recently cited as the discovery site of a new species of dinosaur, the Theiophytalia kerri, which is derived from the Greek, meaning “belonging to the gods” and “garden.” To schedule your tour of this exciting natural endeavor or to get an updated list of all of the new and ongoing events that the garden hosts year-round, make sure to check out the resources of the Garden of the Gods! Cancel your plans and set your destination for a verifiable paradise on earth, located in your Colorado backyard!

Garden of the Gods

Address: 1805 N. 30th St. Colorado Springs, CO, 80904

Website: Garden of the Gods

7. Dinosaur National Monument

Happy Sunday! Although it is gray and rainy here today, we'll share a post from a sunnier day. (Split Mountain photo thanks to Kim Barton)

Posted by Dinosaur National Monument on Sunday, 19 February 2017

Immortalized by their imprints among the rocks themselves, dinosaurs are better represented nowhere else than at the Dinosaur National Monument in the Uinta Mountains! Tucked between the borders of Colorado and Utah, the Dinosaur National Monument introduces you to the unabated majesty and the sheer power which typified the lives of these massive creatures, some hundreds of millions of years ago. The location’s venue, besides existing as a spectacular site where you can witness authentically preserved dinosaur fossils, also offers you the chance to gaze upon petroglyphs, the prehistoric rock carvings of those who long preceded us on this earth. River rafting endeavors and exclusive ranger-led excursions also await you at this venue that proves the perfect product of history and education. When you’re looking for local enlightenment, jump in your car and make the short trip to the Dinosaur National Monument, where fossils and petroglyphs, despite age and wear, come alive!

Dinosaur National Monument

Address: 4545 Hwy 40 , Dinosaur, CO 81610

Website: Dinosaur National Monument

8. Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

When you’re looking to earn spectacular sights without traveling too far outside of the Denver area, we recommend frequenting Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater. Morrison, Colorado is home to this distinct natural attraction, characterized by fantastic rock formations, established over the millennia by wind and water erosion. Add to that the fact that the conjoined outdoor amphitheater regularly hosts some of entertainment’s biggest names, and you have all the ingredients for turning a regular day into an unforgettable enterprise! Visited by stars like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Phoenix, Chicago, the Doobie Brothers and electronic dance icon Marshmello, Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater offers you high-quality entertainment courtesy of a high-quality venue. Affordable rates meet spectacular sights at the Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater, home to nature’s best entertainment!

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater

Address: 18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465

Website: Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater

9. White River National Forest

A post shared by Alina (@alinasfotos) on May 21, 2017 at 7:06am PDT

There’s nothing quite like the full majesty of entire acres of lush, untouched wildlife, laid out before you. At White River National Forest in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, only a short drive from Denver, this distinct feeling could be yours! Views which belong on postcards could greet your gaze, when you elect to spend your time in one of Colorado’s most recognized scenic spaces. Statistically the most visited national forest out of any in the nation, and host to nearly 2.3 million acres (930776.9772 hectares) of land, 11 ski resorts, eight separate wilderness areas, as well as various species of mountain goat, bobcat, lynx, and waterfowl, White River National Forest is your one-stop shop for all things natural. Whether you’re looking to hit up genuine Colorado ski slopes, take in the full extent of Glenwood Springs’ natural environment, or hike the more than 2,500 miles (4023 km) of established trails that the national forest has to offer you, there’s always opportunity waiting at White River National Forest! It’s home to nature’s best, and it could be home to you too!

White River National Forest

Address: 900 Grand Ave, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

Website: White River National Forest

10. National Museum of World War II Aviation

Posted by National Museum of World War II Aviation on Friday, 22 April 2016

Located aptly on Aviation Way, the National Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs awaits your enthusiasm. With offered guided and self-guided tours which focus on the history surrounding one of the world’s major confrontations, as well as the role the United States played in its eventual resolution, this Colorado aviation landmark is open six days a week for your viewing and educational pleasure! Offering affordable rates in return for an in-depth, unparalleled look at the causes, effects, and minute dynamics of World War II, with specific regard to aviation, the National Museum of World War II Aviation keeps things fun, informative, and utterly respectful. Its thoroughly educated onsite experts are available to answers and and all of your questions, and with its constantly changing, updating exhibits, you can only guess what you’ll find around the next corner! When it comes to accurate, informative, and exciting study of this foundation piece of our nation’s aviation past, trust the National Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs, for an experience you can both trust and enjoy!

National Museum of World War II Aviation

Address: Colorado Springs Airport (COS), 755 Aviation Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80916

Website: National Museum of World War II Aviation

Sheer number of spectacular sights

You’ll be amazed at the sheer number of spectacular sights that await your viewing only a short distance outside of Denver! To be sure, there are many worthy sights only a day trip from Denver which did not make our list. However, our recommended sights and sounds are a sure-fire method to maximize your time while you’re in the area, even if you’re here only for a day or two. Whether it’s nature you’re into or the full resort experience, allow our list of the top day trips from Denver to characterize your stay in Colorado as truly unforgettable in nature!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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John Gallagher is a digital marketing consultant and writer from San Diego, California. When he isn't thoroughly enjoying the writing process or pretending he thoroughly enjoys the revision...Read more

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