Whether you’re visiting the Mile High City or just ready for a day in the mountains, there are tons of amazing outdoor destinations located only a car ride west. Drive to the top of a 14,000-foot peak or fish a cold Rocky Mountain river. Wherever you decide to go, you’ll find stunning views and unforgettable adventures. What’s your favorite day trip from Denver?
1. Mount Evans
The highest paved road in North America begins just over 30 miles from Denver near Idaho Springs and runs almost to the top of 14,240-foot Mount Evans. During summer months, you can drive through the many ecological zones of the Rockies and high into the tundra. It’s a short stroll from the upper parking lot to the top, where the mountains shine in all their glory. The road is typically only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
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2. Devil’s Head Lookout
Once upon a time, the U.S. Forest Service staffed seven lookouts during the warm months where fire watchers lived and worked and, of course, spotted fires. The last one in use is in the Rampart Range foothills southwest of Denver. A 1.4-mile trail takes hikers to the base of the tower and 143 steps lead to the lookout, which offers a glimpse into history as well as splendid views. The area is open from mid-May to mid-September.
READ MORE: Devil’s Head Lookout Tower!
3. Staunton State Park
Colorado’s newest state park opened to the public in 2013. Located about 40 miles southwest of Denver, it’s a gem of Front Range wilderness, with hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, fishing ponds and rock-climbing on its dramatic cliffs. The longest hike is the 10.8-mile round-trip trail to Elk Falls Overlook, offering a stunning glimpse of the namesake waterfall as it cascades down into the valley.
CHALLENGE: How Many State Parks Can You Recognize?
4. Loveland Pass
About 50 miles west of Denver, U.S. Highway 6 crosses the Continental Divide at 11,990 feet at Loveland Pass, between the Loveland and Arapahoe Basin ski areas. From the parking lot at the top of the pass, you can ski or snowboard all-natural powder or hike high onto peaks such as 13,240-foot Mount Sniktau, all without having to hike up from a distant valley floor. Don’t have boots or snow gear? Just enjoy the views.
5. Cheesman Canyon
Some of the prettiest fly fishing on Colorado’s Front Range can be found in Cheesman Canyon, a hike-to fishing area near the town of Deckers in Pike National Forest. Located just an hour’s drive from Denver, the three-mile long canyon is home to the South Platte River and is known for its great trout fishing, as well as stellar views and enough twists and turns that anglers can easily find a private place to fish. Note that the area is a catch-and-release only section of water.
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