17 Best Day Trips From Colorado Springs, Colorado (2024 Guide)

Interested in planning the best day trips from Colorado Springs? Check out our guide to the top Colorado Springs day trips!

If you’re visiting the amazing town of Colorado Springs, there are so many fun things to do. But you can expand your exploration beyond the town borders and see more of Colorado with some amazing day trips!

Colorado Springs is famous for its nearby attractions like the Garden of the Gods and the Pikes Peak Highway. These day trips only require a short amount of driving, as does the popular Cave of the Winds Mountain Park in Manitou Springs or the mountain town of Woodland Park.

Some day trip destinations are a bit further away, such as the magical Great Sand Dunes National Park or the charming towns of Breckenridge and Estes Park in the Colorado Rockies.

Whether you want to take on hiking trails and horseback riding adventures in national parks, or you want to leisurely drive along a scenic byway or visit a nature center in a small town, these day trips have something fun in store for you!

17 Day Trips From Colorado Springs

From Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park to the scenic Pikes Peak Highway, here are some of the best day trips from Colorado Springs!

Find more fun ideas with our list of the best things to do in Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 134 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Rocky Mountain National Park, located in north-central Colorado, is a breathtaking expanse of rugged terrain that showcases the splendor of the Rocky Mountains. Established in 1915, the park spans over 415 square miles and is renowned for its high alpine ecosystems, pristine lakes, and towering peaks.

Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuously paved road in the United States, winds its way through the park, offering visitors panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Hiking enthusiasts can explore over 350 miles of hiking trails that lead to alpine meadows, pristine lakes, and the summits of iconic peaks like Longs Peak, which stands at 14,259 feet and is a popular challenge for mountaineers.

Beyond its natural beauty, Rocky Mountain National Park is a haven for outdoor recreation, attracting hikers, climbers, photographers, and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Visitors can engage in activities such as camping, fishing, and horseback riding, immersing themselves in the tranquility of this alpine wilderness. Or you can visit Estes Park and explore the park’s scenery on a glass-top bus tour.

Whether experiencing the park’s scenic drives, embarking on a challenging hike, or simply reveling in the serenity of its mountainous landscapes, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best day trips from Colorado Springs.

Breckenridge

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 106 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Nestled in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, Breckenridge is a charming and historic town that seamlessly combines a rich mining heritage with world-class outdoor recreation. Originally a mining camp during the Colorado Gold Rush of the 19th century, Breckenridge has evolved into a popular year-round destination.

Breckenridge is renowned for its ski resort, which boasts an extensive network of slopes catering to all skill levels.

The winter months attract skiers and snowboarders from around the world, while the summer season invites hikers, mountain bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts to explore the surrounding trails and take in the breathtaking mountain scenery.

So if you’re looking to experience the best of Colorado’s snow, or you just want to leisurely stroll through the historic streets, Breckenridge offers a perfect blend of outdoor recreation and small-town charm.

Breckenridge Mountains
Those hoping to ski or snowboard in Colorado should definitely visit Breckenridge!

Garden Of The Gods

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 4 miles
  • Driving time: 10 minutes

Garden of the Gods is a geological marvel and a designated National Natural Landmark. Though it’s only 10 minutes away from downtown Colorado Springs, it could still be considered a day trip because it’s so easy to spend the entire day here!

This iconic Garden of the Gods Park spans over 1,300 acres and is renowned for its towering sandstone rock formations that dramatically rise from the earth, creating a surreal and captivating landscape.

The red and white rocks, sculpted by centuries of erosion, form striking shapes such as towering spires, balanced rocks, and deep canyons.

The park’s name is said to have originated from a surveyor in the 1850s who proclaimed it a “beer garden fit for the gods” due to its awe-inspiring beauty.

Today, Garden of the Gods Park attracts millions of visitors annually who come to marvel at the unique and otherworldly rock formations.

Visitors to the Garden of the Gods can explore the park through a network of trails suitable for various fitness levels, offering opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and photography. You could also opt for a jeep tour where an experienced local guide will show you all the highlights of the park!

Paint Mines Interpretive Park

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 36 miles
  • Driving time: 45 minutes

Another unique day trip idea is Paint Mines Interpretive Park, located in the prairie landscape of El Paso County, Colorado.

This 750-acre park, named after the colorful clays used by Native Americans for centuries, features a surreal display of hoodoos, spires, and canyons adorned with vibrant hues.

The main attraction at Paint Mines Interpretive Park is the intricate, banded patterns of clay, ranging from deep reds and purples to soft yellows and whites, creating an otherworldly, almost painted, appearance.

As visitors traverse the network of trails, they are treated to a journey through time, exploring the archaeological remnants of prehistoric cultures that once inhabited the area.

Artifacts such as pottery shards and tools reveal a rich history, adding an archaeological dimension to the park’s geological splendor.

With its combination of striking beauty, geological intrigue, and cultural history, Paint Mines Interpretive Park stands as a hidden gem, inviting exploration and appreciation of Colorado’s diverse natural wonders.

Read next: The 15 Best Day Trips From Denver, Colorado

Eldorado Canyon State Park

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 97 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Another popular Colorado Springs day trip is the stunning Eldorado Canyon State Park. Known for its towering sandstone cliffs, Eldorado Canyon attracts rock climbers from around the world. The golden-hued rocks of Eldorado Canyon rise dramatically against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, creating a visually stunning and challenging playground for climbers of all skill levels.

The park offers over 500 technical rock climbing routes, ranging from beginner-friendly to expert-level, making it a mecca for those seeking adventure on the vertical faces of the canyon.

Beyond rock climbing, Eldorado Canyon State Park provides opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. A network of trails weaves through the canyon, leading visitors to scenic viewpoints, historic sites, and diverse ecosystems.

The park is home to a variety of plant and animal species, and birdwatchers will appreciate the chance to spot raptors soaring above the cliffs. Whether you’re looking for wildlife, hiking trails, or any other type of outdoor adventure, Eldorado Canyon State Park is an epic place to visit in Colorado.

Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 63 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Perched high above the Arkansas River near Cañon City, Colorado, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is an iconic destination renowned for its breathtaking views and thrilling attractions.

The centerpiece of the park is the Royal Gorge Bridge, one of the highest suspension bridges in the world, suspended at a dizzying height of 955 feet above the canyon floor.

Originally constructed in 1929 for tourism and later rebuilt after a fire in 2013, Royal Gorge Bridge offers awe-inspiring panoramas of the rugged canyon walls and the Arkansas River below.

Visitors can traverse the bridge on foot or ride the Royal Gorge Aerial Gondola.

Additionally, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad offers a scenic train ride along the canyon floor, combining the excitement of a vintage train journey with the beauty of the surrounding landscape. You can also try whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River if you’re up for a bit of a thrill!

Royal Gorge Railroad
Ride the scenic railroad through Royal Gorge for a breathtaking experience!

Idaho Springs

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 98 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Located within the scenic Clear Creek Canyon, Idaho Springs is a historic mountain town in Colorado known for its rich mining history and outdoor recreation.

Established during the Colorado Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, the town’s roots are deeply intertwined with the mining industry, and remnants of this era can be explored today.

Visitors can tour the Argo Mill and Tunnel, a historic gold processing mill, or take a stroll down Miner Street, where charming storefronts and historic buildings transport you back in time.

The town’s location along I-70 makes it a popular stop for those traveling to and from the Rocky Mountains.

You could easily combine Idaho Springs with a day trip to Denver or Rocky Mountain National Park as well.

Idaho Springs is not only a gateway to the mountains but also a hub for outdoor enthusiasts.

The nearby Mount Evans Scenic Byway provides breathtaking views as it winds its way up to the summit of Mount Evans, one of Colorado’s fourteeners.

Another highlight of the town is Indian Hot Springs a historic geothermal spa that has been attracting visitors for over a century.

Renowned for its therapeutic mineral-rich waters, the springs offer a rejuvenating experience amidst the stunning mountain scenery.

Phantom Canyon Road

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 51 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Phantom Canyon Road is a historic and scenic byway located in the heart of Colorado, providing a thrilling journey through rugged landscapes and a trip back in time.

As travelers navigate the winding path, they are treated to stunning views of granite cliffs, lush vegetation, and the flowing waters of Fourmile Creek. The road was originally a narrow-gauge railroad bed constructed in the late 19th century to connect mining communities, and remnants of this railway, including tunnels and trestles, add a fascinating historical dimension to the journey.

As the road gains elevation, the landscapes transition from the canyon environment to open vistas of the high plains and distant mountains. Phantom Canyon Road is a fun and scenic drive to try as a day trip from Colorado Springs!

Find more epic places with our list of the 21 best places to visit in Colorado.

Pikes Peak

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 29 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour

Pikes Peak, standing majestically at 14,115 feet above sea level, is one of Colorado’s most iconic and accessible fourteeners, attracting visitors with its stunning panoramic views and rich history.

The mountain is also known as “America’s Mountain” and offers a variety of ways to reach its summit, including the scenic Pikes Peak Highway, a 19-mile journey that winds through alpine forests, past crystal-clear lakes, and eventually reaches the summit, providing unparalleled views of the surrounding landscapes.

The summit of Pikes Peak is a unique alpine environment, where visitors can experience a significant drop in temperature and revel in the thin mountain air.

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway, one of the highest cog railways in the world, used to transport passengers to the summit, although it temporarily closed for renovations.

Adventurous hikers can tackle the Barr Trail, a challenging 13-mile round trip that rewards them with stunning vistas along the way and a sense of accomplishment upon reaching the summit.

Or you can explore the mountain on an exciting jeep tour.

Pikes Peak remains a symbol of the American West and is a blast to explore whether you’re tackling a hiking trail or driving along the Pikes Peak Highway.

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak is an iconic mountain in Colorado.

Woodland Park

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 19 miles
  • Driving time: 30 minutes

Located in the picturesque mountains of Teller County, Colorado, Woodland Park is a charming community known for its stunning natural surroundings and small-town atmosphere.

Situated just 30 minutes away from Colorado Springs, this mountain town sits at an elevation of over 8,400 feet, offering residents and visitors breathtaking views.

In addition to its scenic beauty, Woodland Park provides a range of outdoor activities for residents and visitors to enjoy.

The nearby Mueller State Park offers hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as camping opportunities amidst dense pine forests.

The town itself features a charming downtown area with locally-owned shops, restaurants, and art galleries, creating a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

Woodland Park strikes a balance between the tranquility of mountain living and the convenience of being just a short drive away from the cultural and recreational amenities of Colorado Springs, making it an attractive day trip destination.

Denver

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 70 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour

One of the best day trips from Colorado Springs is a visit to the state capital! Denver is a vibrant metropolis known as the “Mile-High City” because it stands exactly one mile above sea level.

The city’s downtown skyline is adorned with modern skyscrapers juxtaposed against historic landmarks, such as the Colorado State Capitol with its distinctive gold dome.

The 16th Street Mall, a bustling pedestrian promenade, offers a mix of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, creating a dynamic urban atmosphere.

Denver is also home to a vibrant cultural scene, with world-class museums like the Denver Art Museum and the Museum of Nature & Science. Sports enthusiasts can cheer for the city’s professional teams, including the Denver Broncos (NFL), Colorado Rockies (MLB), and Denver Nuggets (NBA).

With a thriving economy, a diverse population, and a central location that connects it to both the mountains and the plains, Denver is packed with fun things to do!

Staying in Denver for longer? Check out our 3 Day Itinerary!

Indian Peaks Wilderness Area

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 122 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

The Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, located in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, is a pristine alpine paradise that encompasses over 76,000 acres of rugged mountain terrain.

Named after the Native American tribes that once roamed this region, the wilderness area is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, including jagged peaks, pristine alpine lakes, and lush meadows.

A network of over 130 miles of trails winds through the wilderness, offering hikers and backpackers the opportunity to explore its diverse ecosystems, including subalpine forests and tundra.

Notable peaks within the Indian Peaks Wilderness, such as Pawnee Peak and Mount Audubon, attract mountaineers seeking challenging ascents and unparalleled panoramic views.

One of the defining features of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area is its collection of stunning alpine lakes, including Isabelle Lake, Blue Lake, and Lake Isabelle.

These crystal-clear bodies of water are nestled amidst rocky cirques and snow-capped peaks, providing a serene backdrop for backcountry camping and day hikes.

Manitou Springs

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 7 miles
  • Driving time: 15 minutes

One of the quickest and easiest day trips from Colorado Springs is the charming and eclectic town of Manitou Springs.

Famous for its healing mineral springs, Manitou Springs was a popular destination for Native American tribes long before European settlers arrived.

Today, visitors can explore the historic Manitou Springs Penny Arcade, stroll through the whimsical streets filled with art galleries and boutique shops, or take a sip from one of the town’s eight naturally carbonated mineral springs, each believed to have different health benefits.

Manitou Springs is also home to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, a unique archaeological site where visitors can explore and learn about the ancient Anasazi people.

Another fun activity in Manitou Springs is visiting Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, a captivating natural attraction that combines subterranean wonders with breathtaking above-ground views.

Visitors can explore stunning limestone caverns adorned with intricate formations on guided cave tours and then enjoy thrilling above-ground experiences, including zip-lining and the Via Ferrata, all while soaking in panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and canyons.

Manitou Springs Penny Arcade
Check out the Penny Arcade in downtown Manitou Springs!

Cripple Creek

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 44 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour

Cripple Creek is a historic mining town turned charming gambling destination that preserves its rich heritage while offering visitors a unique blend of entertainment and outdoor recreation. It’s one of the most fascinating day trips from Colorado Springs!

Once a bustling mining town during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Cripple Creek was known for its gold and silver deposits, drawing fortune seekers from around the globe.

Today, the town’s historic district retains much of its Victorian architecture, and visitors can explore the Cripple Creek District Museum and admire restored buildings that capture the essence of its mining past.

Cripple Creek has transformed into a popular destination for those seeking gaming and entertainment, with numerous casinos lining the streets.

Visitors can try their luck at blackjack, poker, and slot machines while enjoying the scenic beauty of the surrounding mountains.

Beyond the gaming scene, Cripple Creek offers outdoor activities such as hiking and exploring nearby trails, and the historic Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad provides a scenic ride through the picturesque landscapes.

Heading west? Here are some of the best things to do in Las Vegas!

Lake Pueblo State Park

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 48 miles
  • Driving time: 50 minutes

Lake Pueblo State Park, situated in southern Colorado, is a recreational haven that encompasses a sprawling reservoir amid the high desert landscape. It’s one of the best day trips from Colorado Springs if you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature.

The park boasts over 4,500 acres of water surface on Lake Pueblo, providing opportunities for boating, fishing, and water sports against the backdrop of the scenic Arkansas River Valley.

With nearly 10,000 acres of land, the park also offers incredible hiking trails, mountain biking trails, diverse wildlife habitats, and scenic overlooks, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a wide range of activities in a picturesque setting.

Boulder

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 97 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Boulder, Colorado, nestled against the backdrop of the Flatirons and surrounded by pristine natural beauty, is a city renowned for its vibrant culture, outdoor recreation, and progressive community.

Boulder’s iconic Pearl Street Mall is a bustling pedestrian thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants, and street performers, creating a lively social hub.

The city’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its extensive network of hiking and biking trails, proximity to the Rocky Mountain foothills, and a strong emphasis on locally-sourced, organic cuisine.

Boulder’s unique blend of academic innovation, outdoor adventure, and cultural vibrancy makes it a dynamic and inviting day trip destination for travelers exploring Colorado.

Check out 30 of the best things to do in Boulder for more ideas.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

  • Distance from Colorado Springs: 165 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 40 minutes

One of the farthest but most breathtaking day trips from Colorado Springs is Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Southern Colorado.

Home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, some reaching heights of 750 feet, the park offers a striking contrast between the sandy landscape and the snow-capped peaks in the distance.

Visitors can explore the dunes on foot, sandboard or sled down their slopes, and even stargaze in the clear night skies.

The park also features diverse ecosystems, including grasslands, wetlands, and forests, providing habitat for a variety of plant and animal species.

The juxtaposition of these natural wonders creates a unique and surreal environment, making Great Sand Dunes National Park a captivating destination for those seeking both adventure and serenity.

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Colorado is home to some impressive sand dunes!

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About the Author - 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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