Take epic views and add a cozy blanket and good food, and you’ve got the tried-and-true formula for a perfect Colorado summer night. Thankfully there’s no short supply of these amenities; mountainscapes, gorgeous sunsets, soft grassy patches, and delicious local fare are staples across the Front Range. Alongside your go-to nibbles and drinks, throw in a frisbee, maybe a guitar, definitely a camera, and check out these prime picnic spots.
1. Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins
The 25-miles or more of shoreline along this oblong body of water, just west of the city, leaves a lot of room for you to find the perfect beach-like nook for your picnic. Plenty of picnic tables dot the circumference of the water, but if you’re looking for a spot on the ground, leave your car at the Rotary Park Day Use area and walk down towards the shore. Enjoy the sky changing colors behind Horsetooth Mountain, and once you’ve digested, a sunset swim isn’t a bad option for dessert.
2. The Other Hill, a 360-degree-view in Bear Canyon, Boulder
This hill rises just south of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). It’s a short walk with rewarding views and a high chance of solitude. Park your car in the south end of NCAR’s lot. From this vantage point, looking south, you’ll see the Bear Canyon trail along the valley right below NCAR, heading west into the Flatirons. This no-name mound is obvious and rises in between NCAR and the Bear Canyon Trail. Walk down the trail that leaves from the southwest corner of the parking lot. Walk over to the mound and head straight up. A pleasantly flat summit top awaits you, with breathtaking views of both the city and the flatirons for a beautiful picnic spot.
3. Sloan’s Lake Park, Denver
As Denver’s biggest lake, Sloan’s is a gateway to urban outdoor activities. Pick a spot anywhere along its grassy banks to unfold your blanket and eat your snacks, but first work up your appetite with a quick boating or stand up paddle boarding excursion on the lake (both of which you can rent right there on the shores). As you settle in to feast, watch the geese mill about with the cityscape to one side and a sprawl of Rocky Mountains to the other.
4. Monument Valley Park, Colorado Springs
Since the early 1900s, Monument Valley has been a “park for the people”. Walking along the creek and its parallel trails, you’ll find ample opportunities for a chance to park the blanket and bust out games, food, and music. Try the section north of Uintah Street, though you can’t go wrong anywhere along the 2.5-mile stretch of park, where you can leave your car at the intersection of Culebra and Fontanero Streets. Under the trees’ shade and the gurgling creek nearby, you’ll forget you’re in the middle of the city’s hustle and bustle.
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