15 Best Day Trips From Denver, Colorado (2024 Guide)

Looking to add some great day trips from Denver to your itinerary? Here are 15 of our favorites!

Colorado is arguably one of the USA’s most scenic states. From the towering peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the endless opportunities for river rafting, horseback riding, skiing, snowboarding, camping, and exploring, there are so many gems scattered around Colorado.

Denver is the capital city of Colorado. The Mile High City, as it’s often called due to its elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level, is home to a thriving arts and cultural scene, with world-class museums, theaters, and galleries.

Denver is a great place to begin any trip to Colorado! From the excitement of downtown Denver to the surrounding nature, you can easily spend a few days or more soaking in the charm of Colorado’s capital.

If you have time to spare and you’re looking to venture beyond downtown Denver, consider a day trip!

You can remain at your Denver accommodation and either rent a car, take public transport, or book a tour out to the surrounding attractions.

There are some incredible day trips from Denver, Colorado that suit all kinds of travelers.

Shred some powder at world-class ski resorts in Summit County, catch a concert at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, or dive into the history at one of the nearby mountain towns.

From hiking Lookout Mountain or touring the Coors Brewery in Golden to taking a train ride up to Pikes Peak, these Colorado day trips are sure to have you wishing you had more time in this amazing state!

Find more amazing things to do in Colorado if you have more time to spare!

The Best Day Trips From Denver, Colorado

From driving along the iconic Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, to sightseeing on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, there are so many fun day trips from Denver.

Whether you rent a car or book tours, any day trip into the nearby mountains, national parks, and historic towns will be worth it. Though there are so many breathtaking places to visit in Colorado, these quick and easy day trips from Denver are the perfect place to start!

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

1. Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Distance From Denver: 66 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes

Rocky Mountain National Park, located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, is a breathtaking wilderness area that captivates visitors with its stunning natural beauty and diverse ecosystems.

Established in 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park covers over 415 square miles of rugged terrain, encompassing towering peaks, pristine alpine lakes, dense forests, and a wealth of wildlife.

One of its most iconic features is the Continental Divide, which runs through the park, creating a high-altitude barrier that separates the watersheds of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This division gives rise to a unique blend of flora and fauna on either side, making the park a hotspot for biodiversity.

Visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park can explore a network of well-maintained trails, offering opportunities for hiking, backpacking, and wildlife viewing.

Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the United States, traverses the park and provides breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

From the lush meadows filled with wildflowers in the summer to the snow-covered landscapes of winter, the park’s ever-changing scenery offers something for outdoor enthusiasts year-round.

Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or just seeking a peaceful escape into nature, Rocky Mountain National Park offers one of the best day trips from Denver!

Rocky Mountain National Park
The untouched wilderness of this national park is unbelievable!

2. Pine Valley Ranch Park

  • Distance From Denver: 45 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Located just southwest of Denver, this 1,500-acre park is a haven for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and families seeking a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The park’s centerpiece is the picturesque Pine Lake, a tranquil reservoir surrounded by lush forests and dramatic mountain vistas. Visitors can explore a network of well-maintained hiking trails that wind through the park, offering opportunities to witness the diverse flora and fauna that call this area home.

One of Pine Valley Ranch Park’s standout features is the historic Baehrden Lodge, a charming log cabin that dates back to the early 1900s. This rustic lodge, with its cozy fireplace and scenic views, serves as a popular spot for picnics and gatherings.

The park also boasts a beautiful stone pavilion, which makes it an ideal location for weddings, family reunions, and community events. You. can also book horseback riding tours or go fishing on the South Platte River.

Whether you’re fishing at Pine Lake, embarking on a mountain bike adventure, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll through the forest, Pine Valley Ranch Park provides a serene and rejuvenating day trip in the heart of Colorado’s beauty.

Read next: The Perfect 3 Days In Denver Itinerary

3. Colorado Springs

  • Distance From Denver: 67 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Another one of the best day trips from Denver is Colorado Springs, nestled at the foot of the majestic Rocky Mountains.

Adventure lovers flock to Colorado Springs for activities like hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. The Garden of the Gods, a National Natural Landmark, is a must-visit destination with its towering red rock formations that create a surreal and awe-inspiring landscape.

Additionally, the city is home to the United States Air Force Academy, which adds to its unique character and cultural significance.

Colorado Springs also boasts a thriving arts and cultural scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and theaters, making it a well-rounded destination for visitors seeking both adventure and cultural experiences.

The city’s rich history can be explored at places like Old Colorado City, a charming historic district with shops, restaurants, and art galleries housed in well-preserved 19th-century buildings. Book a history ghost tour to immerse yourself in the city’s enticing past!

The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is another gem, offering insights into the region’s past through exhibits and artifacts. The Ghost Town Museum is also a popular Old West museum that lets you immerse yourself in history.

As a center for military and aerospace industries, Colorado Springs is also known for the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Cheyenne Mountain Complex, a high-security military installation built deep within the mountainside.

Colorado Springs is a destination that offers a blend of adventure and culture against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.

4. Red Rocks Park

  • Distance From Denver: 15 miles
  • Driving Time: 30 minutes

Located just west of Denver lies another epic day trip destination: Red Rocks Park. This geological wonder and world-renowned outdoor amphitheater has captured the hearts of music enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

The park’s name is derived from its stunning red sandstone rock formations, which have been sculpted by millions of years of erosion.

Towering monoliths, such as the famous Ship Rock and Creation Rock, create a dramatic and surreal backdrop that has made the Red Rocks Amphitheatre an iconic music venue.

This natural amphitheater, with its impeccable acoustics and panoramic views of the Denver skyline and surrounding mountains, has hosted legendary musicians and bands, making it a must-visit destination for concertgoers from around the globe.

Beyond the amphitheater, Red Rocks Park offers many outdoor activities, including rock climbing and mountain biking trails that wind through the park’s rugged terrain.

The Trading Post Trail is a popular choice, taking hikers past the striking rock formations and offering breathtaking vistas of the surrounding area.

Visitors can also explore the Red Rocks Visitor Center, which provides fascinating insights into the park’s geology, history, and the artists who have graced its stage.

Whether you’re attending a concert under the stars or exploring the rock climbing paths and hiking trails, Red Rocks Park is a great place for a day trip.

5. Breckenridge

  • Distance From Denver: 80 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes

Those looking to make the most of the Colorado mountains should head to Breckenridge, one of the top Denver day trips.

Breckenridge is a charming mountain town that captures the essence of the Rocky Mountains with its rich history, vibrant culture, and world-class outdoor recreational opportunities.

Nestled in Summit County, Breckenridge is famous for its historic Main Street, a well-preserved Victorian-era downtown area that exudes old-world charm.

Here, visitors can stroll along cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings housing boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.

The town’s history as a mining hub is evident in its historic district, with well-preserved structures like the Barney Ford House Museum, providing a glimpse into the past. Breckenridge also boasts a lively arts scene, with events and festivals throughout the year that celebrate local artists and musicians.

Breckenridge is a renowned winter destination, offering some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains. The Breckenridge Ski Resort, with its vast ski terrain and modern amenities, draws winter sports enthusiasts from around the world.

In the summer, the area transforms into a hub for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and fly fishing, with an extensive network of trails and pristine alpine lakes to explore. Mohawk Lakes Trail is a particularly popular trail to explore!

The surrounding White River National Forest provides endless opportunities for exploring and white water rafting, and the town’s welcoming atmosphere ensures that visitors feel right at home year-round.

Breckenridge allows you to experience the best of Summit County and is one of the absolute best day trips from Denver, Colorado.

Related: Read this post to learn more about the incredible things to do in Breckenridge.

Breckenridge offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the USA.

6. Central City

  • Distance From Denver: 38 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour

Another unique day trip idea from Denver is Central City. This historic and charming mountain town is often referred to as the “Richest Square Mile on Earth”.

Central City was once a bustling mining community during the Colorado Gold Rush of the mid-1800s. Today, it has transformed into a popular tourist destination that beautifully blends its rich history with modern amenities.

Visitors are immediately captivated by the town’s well-preserved Victorian architecture, including ornate opera houses, historic saloons, and charming bed-and-breakfast inns. The Central City Opera House, a stunning historic venue, hosts a renowned summer opera festival, attracting opera aficionados from around the country.

While Central City proudly honors its mining heritage, it’s also known for its vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries, museums, and theaters showcasing the work of local artists and performers.

The town’s unique blend of history and culture, combined with its stunning mountain surroundings, makes it a delightful place to explore.

Central City is also conveniently located near Black Hawk, another historic mining town that’s now a hub for casinos, offering visitors a chance to try their luck in a Wild West setting.

Read next: 21 Best Things To Do In Colorado Springs

7. Estes Park

  • Distance From Denver: 64 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes

Estes Park is another one of the best Denver day trips that allows visitors to see more of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Known as the “Gateway to the Rockies,” Estes Park serves as the perfect base camp for exploring the natural wonders of the nearby national park.

The town’s stunning location is highlighted by the towering peaks of the Rockies, including the iconic Longs Peak, which dominates the skyline. Visitors are treated to breathtaking vistas, pristine alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife in the surrounding wilderness.

There is so much to see and do around here, and guided tours are a great way to make the most of your time. This jeep safari tour includes the best sights around Estes Park and gives you a better chance of spotting wildlife!

Estes Park offers a delightful blend of outdoor adventure and small-town charm. The downtown area is a hub of activity with its historic buildings, unique shops, and an array of dining options, from quaint cafes to upscale restaurants.

The town is also famous for its annual events, including the Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival, which draws people from all over the world to celebrate Celtic culture and traditions.

For those seeking outdoor recreation, hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching are just a few of the activities available in the area. Estes Park provides a tranquil escape into nature while offering all the amenities and attractions needed to make a memorable Rocky Mountain getaway.

8. Boulder

  • Distance From Denver: 30 miles
  • Driving Time: 47 minutes

Another one of the best day trips from Denver is the vibrant and progressive city of Boulder. Known for its stunning natural surroundings, innovative spirit, and active and health-conscious community, Boulder offers a unique blend of outdoor adventure and cultural sophistication.

The city is famous for its extensive network of hiking and biking trails, which wind through the nearby mountains and provide breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, including the iconic Flatirons rock formations.

Boulder Creek Path, a scenic trail that meanders through the heart of the city, is a favorite among cyclists and pedestrians.

Boulder is also home to the University of Colorado Boulder, lending a youthful energy to the community and fostering a thriving arts and culture scene.

The city’s Pearl Street Mall, a pedestrian-friendly downtown area, is lined with boutique shops, art galleries, street performers, and a wide variety of restaurants and cafes.

Boulder has a deep commitment to sustainability and environmental consciousness, with numerous farmers’ markets, organic food options, and eco-friendly initiatives.

The city’s progressive values and appreciation for the great outdoors make it a welcoming and dynamic place for both residents and visitors, offering a high quality of life in a spectacular natural setting.

Find more things to do in Boulder with our complete guide!

9. Fort Collins

  • Distance From Denver: 64 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Fort Collins, Colorado, is a dynamic and picturesque city located in the northern part of the state.

Known for its vibrant culture, scenic beauty, and strong sense of community, Fort Collins has earned the nickname “The Choice City” for its high quality of life.

The city is home to Colorado State University, which adds a youthful and academic dimension to the community, contributing to its lively atmosphere and innovative spirit.

Fort Collins boasts a thriving arts and music scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and live music venues, including the iconic Mishawaka Amphitheatre, which hosts outdoor concerts along the Cache la Poudre River.

One of the defining features of Fort Collins is its commitment to sustainability and outdoor recreation. The city offers an extensive network of bike lanes and trails, making it one of the most bike-friendly communities in the United States.

Natural areas like Horsetooth Reservoir and Lory State Park provide opportunities for hiking, boating, and camping, all within a short drive from the city center.

Fort Collins is also renowned for its craft beer culture, with a multitude of local breweries and taprooms earning it the moniker “The Napa Valley of Beer.”

This city truly offers the best of Colorado living, and it’s one of the best day trips from Denver, Colorado!

Fort Collins
Horsetooth Reservoir is a highlight of Fort Collins, Colorado.

10. Pikes Peak

  • Distance From Denver: 97 miles
  • Driving Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Those looking for an epic mountain day trip from Denver can head to Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s most iconic and majestic peaks which stands tall at an elevation of 14,115 feet (4,302 meters).

Located in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, Pikes Peak has long captured the imagination of explorers, artists, and adventurers.

The mountain gained fame in the 19th century when explorer Zebulon Pike attempted to summit it, and it continues to draw visitors today for its stunning vistas, diverse ecosystems, and the challenge of reaching its summit.

Visitors can experience Pikes Peak in various ways, with the most popular being a drive up the Pikes Peak Highway.

This scenic route, partially paved and partially gravel, takes travelers through alpine meadows, past rugged rock formations, and to the summit, where they are greeted with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Colorado landscape.

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway, one of the world’s highest cog railways, has also been a popular way to ascend the peak, offering a unique and historic journey to the summit. For the adventurous, hiking the Barr Trail provides a challenging yet rewarding route to the top.

The famous mountain has inspired countless artists, writers, and photographers, and its beauty and grandeur will astonish any visitor on a day trip from Denver!

11. Mount Evans

  • Distance From Denver: 45 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour

Mount Evans, located in Colorado’s Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, is a prominent and awe-inspiring peak known for its accessibility and breathtaking vistas.

Rising to an elevation of 14,271 feet (4,350 meters), it is one of Colorado’s famous Fourteeners and ranks as the highest paved road in North America.

Visitors can embark on a scenic drive along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, which takes them from the charming town of Idaho Springs to the summit of Mount Evans.

This journey offers a remarkable opportunity to witness the dramatic change in ecosystems as the road climbs, from alpine meadows at the base to the rocky tundra and finally to the summit’s stark, windswept environment.

At the top, visitors are greeted with panoramic views that stretch across the Colorado Rockies, providing an unparalleled experience of the state’s natural beauty.

The summit of Mount Evans is home to the Mount Evans Research Station and the Meyer-Womble Observatory, making it an important hub for scientific research and astronomical observations.

Wildlife enthusiasts are also in for a treat, as the mountain is frequented by bighorn sheep, mountain goats, marmots, and a variety of bird species.

Hikers can access a network of trails, including the Summit Trail, which offers a challenging yet rewarding hike to the top.

Mount Evans is not only a playground for outdoor enthusiasts but also a place of wonder, where you can marvel at Colorado’s mountains on a quick and easy day trip from Denver.

Read Next: Check out all of our favorite places to visit in Colorado!

12. Garden Of The Gods

  • Distance From Denver: 69 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

One of the coolest day trips from Denver is the geological wonder and natural treasure, Garden of the Gods.

This iconic park is renowned for its stunning red rock formations, which soar into the sky against the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains of Colorado.

These towering sandstone formations, sculpted by millions of years of erosion, create a surreal and otherworldly landscape that has drawn visitors from around the world for generations.

Visitors to Garden of the Gods can explore a network of hiking trails that wind through the park, providing opportunities to get up close to the breathtaking formations and witness the diverse flora and fauna that thrive in this unique environment.

A jeep tour or a segway tour is a great way to explore the highlights of the park, and you can learn about the fascinating natural history from your local guide.

The park also features a Visitor and Nature Center, where guests can learn about the geology, ecology, and history of the area through interactive exhibits and educational programs.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a rock climber seeking a challenge or simply looking to soak in the natural beauty, Garden of the Gods offers a remarkable outdoor experience in the heart of Colorado’s majestic landscape.

13. Hanging Lake

  • Distance From Denver: 156 miles
  • Driving Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Though it’s a bit of a drive, a day trip to Hanging Lake is definitely worth it! Hanging Lake is renowned for its ethereal beauty and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Situated in Glenwood Canyon, just east of Glenwood Springs, this pristine alpine lake is accessed via a challenging but rewarding hiking trail that ascends through a lush canyon.

The trail, which gains over 1,000 feet in elevation in just 1.2 miles, is known for its steep and rocky terrain, including sections of stairs and boardwalks that help protect the sensitive ecosystem surrounding the lake.

Hanging Lake itself is a breathtaking sight to behold, with its emerald waters surrounded by steep cliffs and waterfalls. The unique name comes from the appearance of the lake, which seems to hang precariously on the edge of a cliff.

It’s no wonder that Hanging Lake is one of Colorado’s most iconic and photographed natural attractions.

Due to its fragile ecosystem, access to the Hanging Lake Trail is strictly regulated, with a permit system in place to limit the number of daily visitors.

This ensures the preservation of the pristine environment and allows future generations to continue marveling at the sheer beauty of Hanging Lake. So make sure you get a permit before you embark on this day trip!

Hanging Lake
Hanging Lake is home to some enchanting and stunning scenery!

14. Georgetown

  • Distance From Denver: 45 miles
  • Driving Time: 50 minutes

Georgetown, Colorado, is a charming and historic mountain town approximately an hour west of Denver.

Established during the Colorado Silver Boom of the late 19th century, Georgetown boasts a rich mining heritage that is still evident in its well-preserved Victorian-era architecture.

The downtown area is a picturesque collection of colorful buildings, quaint shops, and restaurants that transport visitors back in time.

The iconic Georgetown Loop Railroad, a historic narrow-gauge railway, offers scenic rides through the rugged terrain, providing a unique opportunity to experience the area’s mining history and breathtaking mountain views.

Beyond its history, Georgetown offers a range of outdoor activities and recreational opportunities. The town is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including the dramatic peaks of the Rocky Mountains and nearby Clear Creek, which is popular for fishing and whitewater rafting.

Guanella Pass, located just outside of town, offers access to numerous hiking trails, including ones that lead to high mountain lakes and vistas.

Georgetown serves as a gateway to outdoor adventures, while its historic charm and cultural attractions make it a delightful destination for those looking to immerse themselves in the history and natural beauty of Colorado’s high country.

From whitewater rafting down Clear Creek to a scenic ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, this mountain resort town is one of the best day trips from Denver!

Looking for more things to do in Denver? We’ve got you covered!

15. Golden

  • Distance From Denver: 15 miles
  • Driving Time: 30 minutes

Located just a short, 30-minute drive west of Denver, Golden makes for a fun and easy day trip from the city. Known as the “Gateway to the Rockies,” Golden is a city steeped in history and natural beauty.

The city’s charming downtown area features well-preserved Victorian-era buildings, boutique shops, art galleries, and a variety of dining options.

One of its most iconic attractions is the Coors Brewery, one of the largest brewing facilities in the world. Embark on a Coors Brewery tour to gain insights into the beer-making process and the history of this beloved beverage.

Golden is also celebrated for its proximity to outdoor adventure. The city is nestled along Clear Creek, making it a popular destination for kayaking, tubing, and picnicking along the creek’s scenic shores.

The surrounding foothills and canyons offer a network of hiking and biking trails, including the challenging climbs up Lookout Mountain and South Table Mountain, both of which reward hikers with sweeping views of the Denver metropolitan area.

The Colorado School of Mines, a prestigious engineering and applied sciences university, adds an academic and innovative spirit to the community. Check out the Colorado Railroad Museum for a peek into the city’s past!

Whether you’re exploring its historic downtown, enjoying outdoor activities, or embarking on a Coors Brewery tour, Golden is one of the best day trips from Denver, Colorado!

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Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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