Colorado’s mountain scenery and rich wildlife don’t need an introduction - most of these are within the Denver Mountain Parks system. From Red Rocks Park’s stunning sandstone formations and the wildlife at Bear Creek Canyon to scintillating views from Lookout Mountain and a dose of history at Buffalo Bill Museum, there’s no dearth of experiences to be had here. While hiking and trekking are top winners, there’s a ton of other stuff that you can do here as well. Get your gear in order and check out this guide to Denver Mountain Parks that’ll come in handy.
Things to do / Highlights
Check out Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
While Red Rocks Park is a nature creature’s delight with its breathtaking sandstone formations, you’d be surprised to know that it’s also home to the world’s only naturally occurring amphitheatre! The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and the Blues Brothers are among the many notable music artists who have performed here - some still do. Check out the park’s official website for the latest line-up and try attending one of the concerts - they’re a total treat!
Go hiking, trekking, or mountain biking
There are plenty of locations within the park that’ll make for fantastic spots for these activities. Corwina Park, Genesee Park, Summit Lake, and Echo Lake are some of the many such treasures you can explore. For that matter, although steep, Lookout Mountain is also one of the most scenic spots for outdoor activities. While en route, you can even check out the extensive collection displayed at Buffalo Bill Museum and learn about Colorado state’s rich history. Else, there’s the Lookout Mountain Nature Center & Preserve, which has great interactive exhibits that showcase and detail the area’s flora.
Enjoy a picnic
Denver Mountain Parks makes for an excellent picnic location. No matter which one of the parks you choose, there are ample facilities that make sure you have a fabulous picnic session. Newton Park, O'Fallon Park, Turkey Creek, and Red Rocks Park are some of the top-rated picnic locations you can choose from. Although, do note that some of these may have limited car parking. Picnics are permitted from 9 am to 8 pm in all the parks here but different rules apply, so do your homework properly before zeroing in on a location.
Several parks within the Denver Mountain Parks perimeter offer amazing camping sites and facilities. Some of these sites include Chief Hosa Campground, Genesee Park, Dedisse Park, Newton Park, and several others. All have different rules and regulations, so it’s best you research well before heading there. Also remember that sometimes, due to a lack of rainfall, fire bans are set in place, so read up on that too.
Stop by Winter Park Ski Resort
This one’s probably one of the most unusual parts of the Denver Mountain Parks system. There are more than 134 designated runs at this ski resort, perched on the base of the Continental Divide in Fraser Valley, and it attracts both families and ardent skiers alike. You can check out the ski rates and various rules and regulations on their official website.
Travel light and pack essentials
Since the Denver Mountain Parks experience will require some hardiness, it’s best you go prepared. Wear outdoor-friendly clothes and your most comfortable footwear. Plus, carry along repellant sprays or creams, sunblock lotion, caps, and hats and bring refillable water bottles. Travelling light is key since you’ll mostly be doing everything on foot.
It’s not uncommon for Denver to experience unexpected turns in weather, especially during summers. You might experience bouts of thunderous rain pounding down on you after a perfectly sunny morning, so it’s best you bring rain gear to avoid the weather from dampening your spirits.
Watch out for tourist scams
You’ll find many stores along the way trying to sell bottled oxygen - we suggest you don’t fall for it. While the altitude may rise quite a bit at certain spots in the park, it’s not going to be high enough for you to require bottled oxygen. If you’re feeling out of breath or light-headed, just remember to pace yourself. The bottled oxygen will not do anything but provide temporary relief.
The need for a four-wheel vehicle
For most of the parks, you’ll not require a four-wheel vehicle. The authorities do a great job of clearing up the snow so that you have smooth access to roads. However, for certain portions of the park, it might be a slightly safer bet, so do research a bit while planning your trip. Check if the park you’re planning to visit will be easier to journey to with a car.
Steer clear of animals
It is strongly recommended that you maintain a safe distance from the animals in the parks and not try to pet or photograph them from a close distance. There’s a strong likelihood that you’ll be attacked - they’re not always very friendly.
How to get there
This is the most popular means of navigating your way around the parks. You can either rent one in the state or drive down in your private vehicle as well. Cars are permitted within the park via designated points. However, you’ll be required to purchase car passes that are priced differently per park.
Although a slightly less popular mode of conveyance, you can also use Uber or Lyft’s cab services. However, this may bind you to certain experiences and may even be a pricier affair since you’ll have to book a ride if you want to go to a different area or park.
Tourists usually avoid using the public transport while exploring Denver Mountain Parks. The buses or cabs aren’t always able to reach exact spots, leading to tourists missing out on experiences. However, there are excellent Bustang (bathroom-equipped buses) facilities available for trips to Fort Collins, Glenwood Springs, and even Colorado Springs.
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Denver Mountain Parks information
Denver Mountain Parks
Address: Denver, CO 80206-5638
Department of tourism: Colorado Tourism
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