Denver is an exciting place, but there are other places around the Mile High City that are worth your attention as well. The local terrain is unusual and diverse, and staying in the city prevents you from enjoying the wide variety of other landscapes and landmarks that Colorado has to offer. If you’re longing to get away from the metropolis, try these day trips that are within a reasonable driving distance from Denver.
Located 70 miles, or about 1.5 hours, north of Denver is Estes Park, a town that serves as the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Forest. No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll find groups of people hiking, mountain biking or snowshoeing around the park. If just admiring the outdoors is more your style, visit the Stanley Hotel and stay in a haunted room at the place that inspired Stephen King’s The Shining.
If you haven’t heard of it, you’ve definitely seen it featured in a variety of films or ski commercials. This quintessential ski town is just 198 miles out of the city. This is a luxury village, and you probably won’t be settling down here permanently any time soon, but you’ll have many upscale options for shopping and dining. Ski during the winter, hike during the summer or just look for the many celebrities that find Aspen to be the perfect retreat from the limelight.
Denver is not known for gambling, but Blackhawk, a town just 34 miles to the west of Denver, is the largest gambling site in the state of Colorado. Make the 45-minute drive, and you’ll find several 24-hour casinos and diners with cheap food. Although it is a quick drive from the city, there are many hotels that are willing to offer you an overnight deal, so there’s no need to feel like you have to rush out.
245 miles to the west of Denver, you’ll find the Gateway Canyons Resort, the only resort in the world that’s located at the base of five different canyons. Built by the creator of the Discovery Channel, it’s little wonder why he chose this magnificent and unique location for his getaway. It’s not cheap to stay at the Gateway Canyons Resort, but the Eurocopter tour above the huge rocks is a one-of-a-kind experience that is worth splurging for.
If you prefer sand to mountains, make the 238-mile trek south from Denver to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The hills here are made of sand, and you’ll see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains behind them. Bring your sled or your sandboard and fly down the dunes, but be wary of the hot sand that can burn you as you enjoy this unusual ecosystem.
Just 20 minutes away from Denver, you’ll find the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, home to buffalo herds, deer and even wild coyotes. There are dozens of trails throughout the refuge, allowing you to enjoy an easy pace as you view the creatures in near-isolation. Watch birds of prey as they track down their next meal, and marvel at the deer as the sip from the local springs. You won’t find sights like these in Denver.
Have we missed a must-see location that would be a great day trip from Denver? Let us know, and we’ll be sure to check it out!