Known as the Mile High City, Denver isn't just the state capital of Colorado, it's also one of the very best places to visit in the Centennial State if you're looking for beautiful parks, fascinating museums, super restaurants, great shopping, exciting cultural experiences, and fun outdoor activities.

Denver is an excellent city to explore with a lot to offer, and due to its prime location right by the Rocky Mountains, it's also an excellent gateway for all kinds of thrilling mountain day trips. Read on to learn about just a few of the best mountain day trips you and your family or friends can enjoy direct from Denver. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.Mount Evans Scenic Byway Day Trip from Denver

Mount Evans Scenic Byway Day Trip from Denver
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The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is a little under two hours away from Denver by car. No other paved road anywhere in America has such a high elevation, and the Mount Evans Scenic Byway lets you drive all the way up to the top of Mount Evans, climbing to an extraordinary height of over 14,000 feet above sea level. The road runs for about 14 miles and the drive is amazing, offering world class views you wouldn't find anywhere else. Plus, when you get to the top, you can enjoy a little half-mile hike to the true summit.

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2.Manitou Springs Day Trip from Denver

Manitou Springs Day Trip from Denver
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A foothills town some 90 minutes away from Denver and quite closely situated to Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs is a popular mountain day trip destination for people in Denver. You'll find the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park nearby for ziplining and aerial adventures, or you can try exploring the ruins of the awe-inspiring Manitou Cliff Dwellings. You can also simply take in the mountain town itself, meeting friendly locals, exploring the various art galleries, and shopping in the city's charming boutiques.

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3.Cañon City Day Trip from Denver

Cañon City Day Trip from Denver
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A Home Rule Municipality in Fremont County, Cañon City is over two hours away from Denver, but it's one of the top mountain destinations you can choose for a day trip. Situated in the Royal Gorge, Cañon City features the Royal Gorge Railway, a highly scenic train ride taking you through the surrounding mountains for some extraordinary views and memorable experiences. River rafting and hiking are also popular activities in this part of the state.

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4.Conifer Day Trip from Denver

Conifer Day Trip from Denver
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Conifer is a small unincorporated community out in Jefferson County, not far from Denver. You can follow US-285 to get there, and the drive shouldn't take too long at all. When you arrive, you'll be able to enjoy one of the best mountain zipline experiences in the entire United States. You'll be soaring through the skies at peak heights of 8,000 feet above sea level, enjoying extraordinary views all around you and making some magical memories with your fellow travelers.

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5.Bear Creek Canyon Day Trip from Denver

Bear Creek Canyon Day Trip from Denver
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Bear Creek Canyon, also known as the Bear Creek Canyon Scenic Mountain Drive, is only half an hour out of Downtown Denver, so it's one of the closest and most convenient mountain day trips you can do from the Colorado state capital. Part of the city's park system, this scenic mountain drive is perfect for wildlife spotting and admiring the amazing scenery of the state. You can make stops along the way to take photos or go on little hikes as well.

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6.Garden of the Gods Day Trip from Denver

Garden of the Gods Day Trip from Denver
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A National Natural Landmark since 1971, Garden of the Gods is a public park situated in the city of Colorado Springs. You'll need to drive about an hour and a half to get there, but the mountain views and unique beauty of this location definitely justify the time you'll spend in the car. There are some truly fascinating rock formations to be seen in this area, with lots of good climbing, mountain biking, and hiking routes in the local area too, along with a couple of nearby museums and all the conveniences of Colorado Springs.

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7.Golden Day Trip from Denver

Golden Day Trip from Denver
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Golden is an old gold rush mining town located just west of Denver. It only takes about half an hour to get there from Downtown Denver, so it's another very convenient option for your Denver day trip needs. This city is home to some lovely hiking trails, as well as unique attractions like the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum and the Colorado Railroad Museum, offering amazing insight and glimpses into the fascinating past and mining heritage of the Denver area.

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7 Best Mountain Day Trips From Denver



Attraction Spotlight: Lakeside Amusement Park

Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver, Colorado is located on the shores of Lake Rhoda, in Denver’s Lakeside neighborhood. The historic park has been open each summer for over 100 years, since 1908, and is a family favorite. Attractions at the park include a merry go round, bumper cars, trains and several spinning rides, including every historic Eyerly “O-ride” such as the Loop-O-Plane, Rock-O-Plane and Roll-O-Plane.

The miniature Orient Express features ‘Puffing Billy’ and ‘Whistling Tom,’ two steam engines original to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The park’s original 1908 carousel was built of even older animals repurposed from other carousel rides. Thrill seekers will enjoy the drop tower and the 1940’s Cyclone wooden roller coaster. Two additional coasters include Wild Chipmunk, added in 1955, and the Dragon, added in 1986. Younger children can play at the Kiddies’ Playland, where rides include Flying Tigers, the Frog Hopper, and Midge-O-Racers.

Visitors interested in the park’s more than 100-year old lineage will find many examples of salvaged Denver history throughout the park. The pool used for today’s Skoota Boats ride is the original Shoot the Chute pool. One of the picnic pavilions is structured around a center column from an original ride, and in the main restaurant, the marble bar and mirrored back bar were salvaged from Denver’s Union Station, a turn-of-the-century building which was remodeled in 2012. A telephone switchboard is still in use at the park’s main office.

Tower of Jewels is the park’s centerpiece. The 150-foot tall tower was once among the tallest buildings in Colorado, and is decorated with over 5,000 lights. The Tower of Jewels was originally topped by the spotlight from the Ferris wheel at the 1904 World’s Fair. Built as the park’s casino and theater, the Tower of Jewels hosted concerts, dances and plays. The building is now used as park offices and for storage.

Guests pay a gate admission and then choose a pay-per-ride model, or they may pay for unlimited rides.

History: The family-owned park opened in 1908 under the name, White City, a reference to the more than 100,000 glittering lights throughout the park, and the architectural style in which it was built. White City was once a common name for amusement parks in America, Great Britain and Australia. White City parks were built in the style of 1893’s World Columbian Exposition, better known as the Chicago World’s Fair. With the build of Coney Island’s Luna Park in 1901, White City style amusement parks sprung up all across the United States, and continued to grow in popularity through the 1920’s.

Each White City amusement park included a ‘Shoot the Chute,’ the precursor to today’s log flume rides, a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, collection of carnival games, miniature trains and picnic pavilions. Denver’s Lakeside Amusement Park is the only of the original White City parks to survive today. The park is the oldest in Colorado, and one of the oldest in the United States of America.

Adolph Zang, the son of a prominent Denver brewer, was the force behind the idea for the park. A member of the Lakeside Realty & Amusement Company, Zang spearheaded the park’s creation in the early 1900’s. Zang was famously involved in a lawsuit just a few years later accusing the park of selling liquor on Sundays. Zang sold his stake in the Park just prior to Colorado’s enactment of prohibition in 1916, believing the park would not be an earner without alcohol sales. In the 1930’s Ben Krasner purchased Lakeside Amusement Park and made several improvements, rebuilding many of the park’s attractions in an Art Deco style and adding several neon elements.

Ongoing Programs and Education: Groups have enjoyed the park since 1908 for birthday parties, picnics and family outings. Groups may purchase discounted unlimited ride coupons in advance, and although outside caterers are not allowed, Lakeside provides a variety of menu options for group dining. Menus include one-sandwich lunches, hot-dog or hamburger options. Three different types of smoked and grilled meats include Texas BBQ, KC BBQ, Milwaukee BBQ or a BBQ chicken platter. Groups may rent one of the outdoor pavilions for exclusive use while dining.

Each summer, the park chooses three Fridays during which adult rides open early so summer camps, daycare programs and children’s groups can ride before adults have access to the park. Park admission is reduced those days for all children’s groups.

4601 Sheridan Blvd., Denver, Colorado 80212, Phone: 303-477-1621

More Things to Do in Denver

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Attraction Spotlight: Colorado Photographic Arts Center in Denver

Photography has become such an integral part of daily life. Now, millions of people are walking around with their own personal cameras, able to snap photos in an instant and share their captured moments and memories with the world at the touch of a button. While we can all enjoy taking photos on a casual level, photography can also be a true art form, with the greatest photos able to move, inspire, and amaze us in ways akin to a fine painting or sculpture, and wonderful photographic art is being celebrated and shared in Colorado at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center.

Colorado Photographic Arts Center - Photographic Art in Denver

A non-profit organization founded in Denver back in 1963, the Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC) is actually the only Denver non-profit purely dedicated to photographic arts. Offering classes, exhibitions, events, and more, all centered around the art of photography, CPAC is the place to be for anyone with a love of this unique medium.

- Exhibitions - Each and every year, the CPAC hosts up to 10 fascinating exhibitions of photographic art, drawing in photography enthusiasts from all over the state and beyond to admire the beautiful works of some of the best local and regional photographers. All of these exhibitions are totally free.

- Education - CPAC also provides photography classes and workshops in Denver for those who are interested in the art of photography and would like to learn more. Whether you have some years of experience as a photographer and want to take an advanced class or are just looking for a simple introduction, you can find some great photography education here.

- Events - The CPAC also organizes over 50 events each and every year, helping the Denver community engage with photography in fun new ways through various shows, evenings of art, dinners, the monthly Photovox series, portfolio reviews, and much more.

Visit Colorado Photographic Arts Center

Whether you're looking to participate in a photography class, attend an event, admire some of the amazing art on display at the center, or something else altogether, here's all you need to know about visiting the CPAC:

- Location - The Colorado Photographic Arts Center is located at 1070 Bannock Street, Denver, CO 80204.

- Opening Times - Typically, the Colorado Photographic Arts Center is open from 11am to 5pm on Tuesdays through to Fridays and from noon to 4pm on Saturdays. The center is closed on Sundays and Mondays, but times of classes and special events can vary, so it's always wise to get in touch or visit the CPAC site to learn more.

- Contact - To get in touch with the CPAC, you can call 303 837 1341.

Support the Colorado Photographic Arts Center

If you admire the work being done at the CPAC and want to show your support in one way or another, here's how to do so:

- Donations - It's important to remember that the CPAC is a non-profit organization. Like any other non-profit, the center therefore relies on the support and generosity of donors and sponsors to survive. One of the best ways you can show you support is therefore to donate. You can make one-off or monthly donations and all money is gratefully received and helps to keep the CPAC going, with funds being used for classes, projects, events, and more.

- Volunteer - If you'd like to donate your own time, rather than money, to help support the CPAC, you can also choose to become a volunteer. Just like with donations, non-profits need volunteers to keep running. Anyone with an interest in photography or the visual arts will be warmly welcomed as a CPAC volunteer, and if you want to give up some of your own free time for a great cause, this is the way to do it. Volunteers can have a variety of tasks and roles at the center including simple admin and office work, organizing fundraising events, PR and marketing work, grant writing, and actual photography too. In addition, if you do choose to volunteer, you will be rewarded with a full year of CPAC membership for every 15 hours you work, as well as free use of the darkroom, discounts on classes and workshops, and much more.

- Membership - The Colorado Photographic Arts Center also runs a membership program which is open to anyone interested in the art of photography. You don't have to be a pro with years of experience to become a member, and all membership fees help to support the center and allow it to continue doing such important work for Colorado's visual arts scene. As with volunteering, membership also comes with a whole host of unique benefits including discounts on classes and workshops, discounts at photography-related locations around Denver, an invite to the annual CPAC members' show, free admission to Photovox, access to the exclusive CPAC library, monthly newsletters, and more.

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