Colorado is known for its multitude of outdoor activities, so it’s no surprise that there are many day trips you can take from its capital city Denver. From nature to concerts and everything in between, there’s sure to be an activity that brings you excitement. If you’re looking for day trip ideas from Denver, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover 10 of the best day trips from Denver ranging from half-day trips to full-day excursions. 

1. Black Hawk, CO

Approximate distance: 40 miles
Estimated travel time: 40 minutes

Located 40 minutes and roughly 40 miles west of Denver, Black Hawk, CO, known as the City of Mills, is a small mining settlement town that you’ll never get bored of exploring. There are many different activities you can partake in from playing at the casinos to skiing at the nearby Eldora Mountain Ski Resort. Whatever you decide to do, you won’t get tired of walking around downtown. With an abundance of activities, it’s no surprise Black Hawk, CO is considered one of the best day trips from Denver.

2. Garden of the Gods

Three orange peaks with a cloudy sky

Approximate distance: 75 miles
Estimated travel time: 1.5 hours

Known for its massive red rocks, Garden of the Gods, located in Colorado Springs, CO, is a nature center where you can go horseback riding, explore 15 miles of hiking trails, and take in the beautiful sandstone formations. It takes around 1 hour 30 minutes to get to Garden of the Gods and is approximately 75 miles from Denver, making this a quick day trip from Denver.

3. Mount Evans Scenic Byway 

A lake with a waterfall

Approximate distance: 35 miles
Estimated travel time: 1 hour

Around 1 hour, 35 miles west of Denver, Mount Evans Scenic Byway provides beautiful views and access to wildlife. While this is a scenic drive day trip, there are many stops along Mount Evans Scenic Byway that you can check out, like the Mount Goliath Trail and Echo Lake. Make sure to have a steady car to help you get up the highest paved road in America. 

4. Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Approximate distance: 20 miles
Estimated travel time: 30 minutes

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a world-famous concert venue located in Jefferson County, nearly 20 miles west of Denver, and 30 minutes by car. The venue has seen bands such as Dave Matthews Band and Bon Iver perform in its open-air amphitheater. While the venue is mainly used for concerts, there are other activities you can do during your visit, such as paying a visit to Red Rocks Visitor Center or exercising on the amphitheater’s steps.

5. Vail, CO

Downtown Vail

Approximate distance: 100 miles
Estimated travel time: 2 hours

If you love skiing, take a day trip from Denver to Vail, CO. Vail is home to the largest ski mountain in Colorado, Vail Ski Resort. It’s about 2 hours and 100 miles west of Denver, but be sure to account for extra driving time as there’s the potential for extreme weather and traffic. When in Vail, make sure to take a segway tour through Vail Village, go skiing, or check out the Gerald Ford Amphitheater.

6.  Aspen, CO

A ski resort

Approximate distance: 200 miles
Estimated travel time: 3 hours

If you are looking for some fun and excitement, Aspen, CO is considered one of the best day trips from Denver. Located roughly 3 hours and 30 minutes south of Denver in the Rocky Mountains, Aspen is a popular ski destination filled with high-end restaurants and boutiques. Aspen offers four unique ski resorts, including Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, and Buttermilk. If skiing isn’t your thing, there are many other things to do, like checking out Maroon Bells, a series of distinctly bell-shaped peaks, or Glenwood Springs, a nearby city known for its hot springs.

7. Pikes Peak

A mountain peak

Approximate distance: 100 miles
Estimated travel time: 30 minutes

Located in Colorado Springs, CO, Pikes Peak is just 3 hours and 30 minutes and 100 miles south of Denver. Pikes Peak is the highest summit in the southern front range of the Rockies and is known for its easy access and wonderful location, making it a must-see day trip from Denver. If you make your way down to Pikes Peak, some fun activities you can do include taking in the view of Garden of the Gods, exploring the hiking trails, or watching the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

8. Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Approximate distance: 70 miles
Estimated travel time: 2 hours

Located nearly 70 miles northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses 415 square miles of beautiful mountain ranges and is one of the nation’s highest national parks. Some activities you can do in Rocky Mountain National Park include fishing in over 50 lakes and streams, hiking to Chasm Falls, or driving along Trail Ridge Road. Make sure to account for roughly 2 hours of travel depending on which side of Rocky Mountain National Park you plan to explore. 

9. US Airforce Academy

The Cadet Chapel

Approximate distance: 60 miles
Estimated travel time: 1 hour

Best known as the institution that trains cadets for the Air Force, the US Airforce Academy is roughly 60 miles south of the capital city near Colorado Springs, CO, making this a quick day trip from Denver. While it is a university, there are many things to check out at the US Airforce Academy, including the Cadet Chapel, the B-52 Display, and the Cadet Field House & Falcon Athletic Center.

10. Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Approximate distance: 240 miles
Estimated travel time: 4 hours

Located nearly 4 hours from Denver, Great Sand Dunes National Park is well known for having some of the tallest sand dunes in North America, the tallest being 750 feet high. In total, the dunes encompass 30 square miles. Considered one of the best day trips from Denver, some of the fun things you can do in Great Sand Dunes National Park include hiking, sandboarding, sand sledding, and horseback riding. And for those interested in astronomy, the national park offers astronomy programs during certain months of the year. 

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