While Denver is an awesome city to visit, it’s situated far beyond walking distance from the iconic Rocky Mountains that Colorado is famous for. To help add a little bit more of Colorful Colorado to your time in the Mile High City, we’ve come up with 8 great day-trips that will have you on the road for two hours or less each way.

RELATED: 40 Must-See Colorado Destinations

1. The Wild Animal Sanctuary

The Wild Animal Sanctuary. Photo Credit: The Wild Animal Sanctuary - OutThere Colorado.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary. Photo Credit: The Wild Animal Sanctuary

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is located in a town called Keenesburg, less than an hour from Denver, Colorado. Here you’ll find a raised path, known as the “Mile into the Wild Walkway,” which takes you above more than 400 wild animals ranging from lions to tigers to grizzly bears. It’s no wonder more than 200,000 people visit this destination each year.

2. Garden of the Gods

Morning Light at Garden of the Gods
Early morning shot of the Central Garden of the Gods taken from the west side.

Regularly voted one of the best public parks in the country, the Garden of the Gods is sure to be a jaw-dropper. Giant red rocks pop-up out of the ground in every direction, with miles of hiking trails and a paved loop that’s perfect for cycling.

3. The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel - Lesley G/ CORunner - flickr
The Stanley Hotel. Photo Credit: Lesley G/ CORunner (flickr)

Famously known for being the inspiration behind Stephen King’s “The Shining,” the Stanley Hotel isn’t quite as spooky as this story makes it seem. his hotel, tucked away in the mountains near the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, is a great place to stay if you’re looking to explore one of Colorado’s most beautiful regions.

READ MORE: Colorado’s Hotel of Horrors!

4. Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road - Wasif Malik - OutThere Colorado
Trail Ridge Road. Photo Credit: Wasif Malik.

Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved continuous road in the United States, is one of the best ways to see Rocky Mountain National Park all from the comfort of an air-conditioned car. This one isn’t open year-round, so make sure you check the dates before planning a trip.

RELATED: The 20 Highest Roads in Colorado

5. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Passengers on the Cog Railway look out the windows at the view

Want to summit a mountain but don’t think you’re ready to make the hike yourself? Let the Pikes Peak Cog Railway do the work for you. This train takes passengers to the top of Pikes Peak year-round. Don’t forget to grab a treat from the country’s highest doughnut shop while you’re at the summit.

NEARBY: Colorado’s Most Intense Hike From A Bird’s-Eye View!

6. The Boulder Flatirons

Flatirons - OutThere Colorado
Summertime in Boulder. Photo Credit: OutThere Colorado

A very recognizable facet of the Colorado Front Range, the Boulder Flatirons consist of large flat rocks sticking up out of a mountainous landscape. This is a great area for hiking and rock climbing. Just make sure you stop by the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder after exploring for a bite to eat.

RELATED: 35.5 Hours in Colorado Springs

7. Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Even though it’s one of the most famous concert venues in the world, you don’t have to buy expensive tickets for a big show to enjoy this destination. Tucked in Morrison, Colorado just outside of Denver, Red Rocks is a great place for hiking and often hosts special events like “yoga on the rocks” and movie nights.

8. Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Paint Mines Interpretive Park
Paint Mines Interpretive Park

I’ll start off by stating that this park isn’t huge. The pictures tend to make it seem much bigger than it really is. That being said, the Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan is one of the most unique destinations in the state. A little shy of two hours from Denver, people won’t believe that the pictures you take here were taken in Colorado. The drive might be a little long for a shorter adventure, but you can always stop at the outlet malls in Castle Rock or check out the great hiking in the Monument area on the way to get more bang for your buck.

RELATED: 40 Must-See Destinations in Colorado

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