Denver’s greatest attraction is its proximity to the great outdoors – you don’t have to go far to find stunning hiking and biking trails, ski slopes, or golf courses. Discover all the exciting things to do in Denver for travelers who love spending time in nature.
Denver’s expansive city park system provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy the fresh, Rocky Mountain air. The Mile High City is home to more than 5,000 acres of parkland.
City Park is one of the largest green spaces in Denver, encompassing the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and a public golf course, and boasting spectacular views of the city skyline and the mountains. Washington Park is tailor-made for recreation with two lakes with boat rentals, an indoor pool, soccer fields and tennis courts. And Cheesman Park is a jogger’s paradise thanks to its manicured pathways.
Just outside the city, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is renowned for its jagged, rust-colored rock formations, among which you can find one of the most unique concert venues in the country. You’ll also find a robust visitors center featuring art exhibitions.
But there are plenty of other things to do in Denver in the wintertime when you need a break from the slopes. Grab some cross-country skis or snowshoes and head to City Park or Cheesman Park, or head to Skyline Park for some ice skating. If you have a little extra time, head just outside the city to enjoy views of fiery Red Rocks Park dusted in glittering snow.
Denver also hosts a number of winter festivals and events. Get a taste for the Wild West at the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, held every January, or sample some local beers at the Denver Winter Brew Fest, which also takes place in January.
Thanks to its location in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Denver can offer visitors prime access to a variety of hiking trails, ranging from easy, family-friendly nature walks to challenging, day-long treks.
If you’re in Denver with kids, or simply prefer a more casual hiking experience, the Mayflower Gulch Trail provides a combined view of Colorado’s incredible scenery and it’s fascinating mining history. Just under 80 miles from the city off I-70 (not far from Breckenridge and Keystone), this six-mile trail leads hikers through peaceful forests and wildflower-spotted fields to old mining cabins.
There are a number of more difficult trails scattered throughout the area. If you don’t have much time, the four-mile round-trip Hell’s Hole Trail (just over 40 miles from Denver) meanders through the Mount Evans Wilderness, home to bighorn sheep and mountain goats. If you have more time, the 11-mile round-trip Elk Falls Overlook Trail (also 40 miles from the city) leads trekkers through the beautiful Staunton State Park to the striking Elk Falls, the highest waterfall in the greater Denver area.
Given Denver’s reputation as an outdoor mecca, it should come as no surprise that the region is littered with mountain biking trails for all skill levels.
If you’re new to mountain biking, or you have kids in tow, get your legs pumping on an easier path like Shadow Pine, a 3.5-mile loop through Flying J. Ranch Park just southwest of the city near the town of Conifer. This trail meanders through wooded areas with just enough of an incline to raise your heart rate without making you want to give up.
More advanced bikers should head to Boulder, where nature areas like Betasso Preserve provide scenic views and challenging climbs. Take a spin around the seven-mile Canyon Loop, or navigate rocky terrain on the Benjamin Loop. Or, for a more demanding ride, tackle the 8-mile Walker Ranch Loop, which features some breathtakingly steep inclines (or declines, depending on the direction you travel).
Should you encounter nasty weather in Denver, you can still find ways to stay close to the great outdoors. Spend some time in the Denver Botanical Garden’s Tropical Collection, housed in a grand glass greenhouse; see what lies beneath the waves at the Denver Aquarium; or check out the Butterfly Pavilion in nearby Westminster.
The city also offers a number of indoor recreational activities, including rock climbing, swimming and go-karting.
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