Nestled at the foot of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs is known for its spectacular natural surroundings like the Garden of the Gods, which is home to a plethora of hiking trails sprinkled amongst impressive rock formations. But it’s also known for museums, parks, and a lot more. There are also some cabins and cozy hotels where you can stay when on a holiday trip in Colorado. The entire state of Colorado is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, and luckily, many of its top attractions and destinations are a short drive away from Colorado Springs. So, if you’re looking to explore some of the scenic surroundings and get out of the city for a day, check out these top day trips from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
1. Great Sand Dunes National Park
Every visitor’s inner child loves to sled down the sand all year and dive into the soft-sand trails of those who came before them. Apart from the sand dunes, you can enjoy picnics, hiking and camping. You shouldn’t miss horseback riding and the thrilling four-wheel drive on Medano Pass that overlooks a stunning view of the dunes.
Experience long climbs along Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak, Cleveland Peak, and Mount Herard, and the ranger-led nature walks. Also, always be ready with your cameras to take a shot of the vanishing Medano Creek.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Address: Alamosa and Saguache Counties, Colorado, United States
Website: Great Sand Dunes National Park
Opening hours: Open 24 hours (daily)
You’ll need to take a 2-hour drive from Colorado Springs to Frisco, with a distance of 114.3 miles (183.9 kilometers). Frisco is the perfect starting point for your Rocky Mountain activities. This is the entrance to discovering several of the best of Colorado, as it is located in Summit County and is bordered by White River National Forest. It is also a short drive from many world’s best ski resorts, such as Breckenridge.
With its magnificent downtown and accessibility to the mountains, the town has been dubbed “Main Street to the Rockies.” Hockey, broomball, and ice skating are just a few of the activities available. The breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain peaks and the opportunity to snuggle up beside the open fire pit between spins may be the highlight of your evening.
3. Nederland, Colorado
This mountain town is 113.9 miles (183.3 kilometers) from Colorado Springs. This place is a popular stop for tourists on their way to the Indian Peaks. You can enjoy shopping and dining in Nederland as you travel to the nearby outdoor recreation areas. There is a great place for family skiing and snowboarding that will spice up your getaway.
A visitor center is available where you can find information about good places to eat, hike, and camp. After a long day of fun and adventure, you will find lots of places that offer accommodation.
You might be interested in these Airbnbs!
4. Cripple Creek
With a distance of 45 miles (72.4 kilometers), take an hour-long ride from Colorado Springs to explore Cripple Creeks attractions. The Cripple Creek Heritage Center, the Cripple Creek District Museum, and the Old Homestead House Museum are all excellent places to visit if you want to learn more about the town’s colorful past. A Historical Trolley Tour of Gold Camp is also available, which offers a great snapshot of the town’s historic sights.
Year round, various events and festivities are organized, such as the famed Donkey Derby Days where the people cheer for their donkeys to the finish line. Theater fans can always find a seat in the nicely renovated Butte Opera House, which hosts musicals, dramas, and comedies for most of the year.
5. Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is 97.2 miles (156.4 kilometers) from Colorado Springs and is located near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Art exhibits, coffee shops, eateries, and shops can be found along the pedestrian Pearl Street Mall in downtown. The Fiske Planetarium and the Museum of Natural History, both containing zoology and anthropology exhibits, are located on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.
Boulder is the ideal blend of urban and natural settings. The city is famous for its great food culture, breweries, lively community, and more leisure adventures than you can imagine.
Colorado Springs is known for its breathtaking natural landscape, so why not spend a day exploring its hidden gems and more secluded areas? The best place to start is Garden of the Gods, a spectacular park spread out over 1,300 acres (526 hectares) of land. It’s home to a plethora of hiking trails winding between impressive sandstone formations. The rugged terrain can be explored on foot or, for those more adventurous, by an open-air jeep for an authentic off-road experience.
Colorado Springs Rocky Mountain Foothills 4x4 Jeep Tour
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
7. Royal Gorge
You might want to check this place for your next road trip from Colorado Springs. Located an hour’s drive south of Colorado Springs and just outside Canon City, Royal Gorge is a spectacular canyon crossed by the Arkansas River. The canyon is known for its suspension bridge, which is one of the highest in the United States. Visitors coming to explore Royal Gorge Park get to cross the suspension bridge, all while enjoying an adrenaline-packed experience and 360 degrees of breathtaking views.
The park is a gem for adrenaline seekers and sports enthusiasts, as it offers amazing climbing opportunities on the gorge walls, which is only allowed with the presence of a trained mountain guide. Guests can also access the aerial gondolas, Royal Rush Skycoaster, and Cloudscraper Zip Line.
8. Woodland Park
Woodland Park is a very accessible one-day destination from Colorado Springs - it’s only a 20-minute drive away. The drive up to Woodland Park offers scenic views along the Ute Pass, preparing travelers for the magnificence of the City Above the Clouds, as Woodland Park is named. This place offers its guests great accommodation, dining, and entertainment options, but what it stands out for is its outdoor concerts and festivals in the summertime, plus all the adventure sports accessible here. The fresh mountain air, clear-blue skies, and unspoiled wilderness make it the perfect setting for winter sports, hiking, mountain biking, and climbing.
9. Paint Mines Interpretive Park
Another unique treasure that Colorado can be proud of is Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan, Colorado. Located near Pikes Peak, this park is a 45-minute drive southwest from Colorado Springs. The park is spread out over 750 acres (303 hectares) and is home to spectacular and incredibly colorful geological formations. The brightly colored rocks are the result of oxidized iron compounds that make for majestic scenery. The area is sprinkled with hiking trails and other natural wonders, and it even holds evidence of human life from 9,000 years ago.
10. Phantom Canyon
If you’re planning a weekend trip from Colorado Springs and want explore some of the surrounding attractions, Phantom Canyon is an excellent destination in the Pikes Peak area. Enjoying Colorado’s backcountry roads and spectacular views will make the drive unforgettable. Once in Phantom Canyon, marvel at the majestic canyon walls, check out Adelaide Bridge, or take Phantom Canyon Road further and look for the ghost towns of Glenbrook, Wilbur, and Adelaide.
11. Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center
If you’re an animal lover or you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, add Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center on your list of activities while in Colorado Springs. The non-profit animal protection sanctuary is located in Divide and is the place that many wolves and other unwanted animals call home. Some of the animals that visitors can meet and learn about at the sanctuary include coyotes, Red and Fennec foxes, Gray, Arctic, and Mexican Gray wolves.
12. Eldorado Canyon State Park
The scenic Eldorado Canyon State Park, part of the Colorado State Park system, is located in Eldorado Springs, not far from Colorado Springs and Boulder, two of the state’s most iconic cities. The park is spread out on almost 900 acres (360 hectares) of land and includes Inner Canyon and Crescent Meadows. This park is popular among outdoor sports aficionados, as it’s an excellent setting for rock climbing and hiking. Some of the park’s most notable landmarks include Eldorado Canyon Trail, Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, and Bear Peak, which all offer breathtaking panoramic views.
13. Idaho Springs
Though the small town of Idaho Springs has a decreasing population, it’s rich in history. This is where gold was first discovered in Colorado back in 1859, and the city has been home to several mines, some that can even be visited today. Just like pretty much any place in Colorado, Idaho Springs doesn’t fall short when it comes to outdoor activities, and the place attracts sports enthusiasts with its river rafting, ATV tours, biking trails, and horseback riding.
The historic town of Georgetown, a former silver mining camp, is nestled on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The small town is less than an hour away from Denver and a two-hour drive north from Colorado Springs. During the prolific days of the silver boom in Colorado, Georgetown was the third-largest city in the state. Today, however, the town merely counts 1,000 residents but compensates in the number of visitors who come here eager to discover a former mining town. The picturesque Main Street boasts a variety of shops and places to eat, but there are also museums worth seeing, along with Georgetown Loop Railroad, a steam train tour and one of the biggest attractions here.
The colorful and picturesque Manitou Springs is a quaint mountain town known for its mineral springs and spectacular mountain landscape. This family-friendly destination from Colorado Springs is ideal for zip lining, hiking, and taking rope courses at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, but also for Miramount Castle, a Victorian mansion with stunning architecture that was turned into a museum. There is also Rainbow Falls, a hidden waterfall surrounded by graffiti-colored canyon walls.
Manitou Springs "Colo-Rad" Zipline Tour With 4x4 Tranport
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Only 12 miles (19 kilometers) from Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak is the highest peak in the Southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The region has plenty to offer besides mountain sports and adventure and is an excellent choice for a family getaway. People love visiting the area for its thrilling zip lines, scenic train rides, local breweries, and family-friendly attractions. Pikes Peak is easily accessible year-round, and it’s a destination worth the trip whether you’re into sports or just want to enjoy a restful getaway and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Moonshine and Craft Beer - The Monument Tour
Duration: 3 hours
Colorado Springs and beyond: exploring the scenic surroundings
The entire state of Colorado is a natural marvel, with mineral springs, waterfalls, winding rivers, soaring mountain peaks, off-the-grid roads, and majestic canyon walls. Rafting and exploring hiking spots are some of the best things to do. While Colorado Springs is a fantastic destination for the entire family, many attractions around the city are worth the drive.
Frequently asked questions about day trips from Colorado Springs
1. Which parks are best for day trips from Colorado Springs?
There are countless parks that you can visit on a day trip from Colorado Springs. Woodland Park is the perfect setting for winter sports, mountain biking, and climbing. Paint Mines Interpretive Park is sprinkled with hiking trails and other natural wonders. You can enjoy ziplining and take rope courses at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park.
2. Which are the best places to visit for day trips from Colorado Springs?
Enjoy an entire day of fun and activities with best places from Colorado Springs. Sled down the sand and dive into the soft-sand trails at Great Sand Dunes National Park, try an open-air jeep at Garden of the Gods, or access the aerial gondolas, Royal Rush Skycoaster, and Cloudscraper Zip Line at Royal Gorge.
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