Colorado is one of the best places in the country (arguably, world) to explore the outdoors.  With limitless trails, 4 National Parks and 42 State Parks, Colorado is a playground of wide-open spaces for families and thrill-seekers alike.

If you’re staying in Denver and looking for some easily accessible hikes or day trips outside the city limits, it may feel overwhelming to choose from the mountain (pun intended) of trail options, so we’ve selected a few of our favorites that are sure to have you immersed in the diverse and breathtaking scenery that Colorado has to offer.  The mountains are calling and we encourage you to go!

Chatauqua Park 

Drive Time from Denver: 34 mins.
Difficulty: Easy, Moderate and Difficult trail options

One of the most iconic hikes in Boulder, Chatauqua Park begins at the base of the Boulder flatirons.  Stunning rock formations and beautiful open meadows encompass these hikes and the higher you go, the better views you have of the snow capped Rocky Mountains, the city of Boulder and the distant Denver skyline.  A hike at Chatauqua Park guarantees the ultimate Instagram photo and a chance to check out the beloved city of Boulder while you’re at it.  Get there early to avoid crowds and after you’ve burned your calories, head to Pearl St. for a leisurely lunch.

Chatauqua Park in Boulder

Red Rocks Park

Drive Time from Denver: 40 mins.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Going to see a concert isn’t the only way to check this geological wonder off your bucket list.  Take in the magnificent views as you hike along this one-of-a-kind transitional zone. This area is known to be the spot where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains, causing the creation of this natural amphitheater. Good for all ages and fitness levels.

Roxborough State Park

Drive Time from Denver: 40 mins.
Difficulty: Easy to Difficult

Known for it’s extraordinary rock formations, Roxborough State Park is a must see for those in the Denver area.  Named a National Natural Landmark for its 300 million year old sandstone,  Roxborough State Park is amazing to behold and offers a variety of options for hikers.

Recommended hike near Roxborough State Park:

  • Devils Head Lookout Trail drive 30 minutes further to get to Devils Head Lookout trail. Not only does this hike offer panoramic views, but there is an actual fire tower lookout for you to rest in and enjoy the views after you climb the 100+ stairs to get there. Go early to catch the morning light and the spectacular views this hike provides.

Devils Head Lookout Trail

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Drive Time from Denver: 45 mins.
Difficulty: Easy, Moderate and Difficult trail options

Golden Gate Canyon State Parks is one of the magnificent gems just outside the city of Denver.  With several hiking options you’ll find ponds, creeks, wildflowers and wide-open views of the Rocky Mountains.

Rock Climber at Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Staunton State Park

Drive Time from Denver: 45 mins.
Difficulty:  Easy to Difficult

The newest State Park in Colorado and home to one of the best waterfall hikes close to Denver.  Staunton has great family hikes, fishing ponds and picnic spots, but if you’re up for more of a challenge Elk Falls Overlook will take you on a beautiful 10 mile out and back hike to see the highest waterfall in the Denver area and you’ll most likely see some rock climbers along the way.

Mt. Sanitas

Drive Time from Denver: 45 mins.
Hike Distance: 2 and 3 mile loop options
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

This hike provides immediate views and a leisurely beginning, easing you into the upward climb. This trail is great for dogs and provides wide trails. This hike is great for out of towners to enjoy the stunning panoramas of Boulder and soak in a hiking high while acclimating to the change in altitude.

Hell’s Hole Trail

Drive Time from Denver: 1hr 10 mins.
Hike Distance: 3.9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

Don’t let the name fool you, this river trail provides scenic views of Mt. Evan’s without the strife of summiting the mountain. Hike through aspen forests with the possibility of wildlife sightings in the Mount Evans Wilderness.  Mountain goats and bighorn sheep can be found along this gorgeous trail to “hell’s hole” otherwise known as a sprawling meadow where a glacier had once lived.

View of Mt. Evans

Worth a Day Trip

Rocky Mountain National Park

Drive Time from Denver: 40 mins.
Difficulty: Easy to Difficult

This list would not be complete without the mention of hiking heavyweight, Rocky Mountain National Park.  You can spend days at Rocky Mountain National Park and not see it all, but here are a few beautiful hikes to start off with!

Moose at Rocky Mountain National Park

Garden of the Gods

Drive Time from Denver: 1hr 15mins.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Located in Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods is aptly named and is a designated National Natural Landmark.  Enjoy views of Pikes Peak (the highest peak in the Rocky Mountain range) and extensive hiking trail options with views of wildflowers, striking red rock formations in this unique and breathtaking area.

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO

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