This blog post was updated on August 27, 2018.
The Mile High City is not just a mile high above sea level but also above many other cities in terms of location and quality of day trips.
While there is a wealth to see and do in Denver proper, what many fail to take advantage of is its proximity to some of Colorado’s best attractions.
From traversing scenic mountain peaks at 14,000 feet, to strolling through beautiful European-esque villages, to sampling a few cold ones in the microbrew mecca, Colorado’s capital puts you in the position to create a diverse itinerary while basing yourself in the Mile High City.
Travel America’s Highest Paved Road To Mount Evans—Just under two hours outside of Denver, you can find yourself on top of Mount Evans. The mountain of 14,130 feet lends not just views of the Continental Divide, but also an engineering marvel. The road up to Mount Evans is the highest paved road in America. It officially opened in 1931. Up in the alpine tundra on Mount Evans, you are sure to have a run-in with a mountain goat or two. If you are driving, just don’t look down. While the highest paved road in America, there is no guardrail to interrupt those jaw-dropping views.
Taste Test The Brews of Fort Collins—Less than two hours from Denver, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park looms along with the city of Fort Collins and all of its brews. The last major city up north along Interstate 25 in Colorado, Fort Collins is one of the state’s major craft-brewing hubs. If you don’t like beer, you might want to quietly slip out of this town. If you are always looking for a tasty pint, you can tour some of the best the city offers including New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins Brewery and Odell Brewing Company. Some offer reservations for tours, while others you can show up at a certain time and hope you have a spot for sampling post-tour.
Travel To Europe and Back in Vail—Vail might be more ritzy and expensive than some other mountain towns, but its location to Denver along with its overall appearance are what make this town a worthy day trip. Vail looks and feels much more like a European town, as you will quickly discover while strolling through Vail Village. The restaurants and ski lodges take on Austrian, German and Swiss facades. Even some of the cuisine here is much more European. If you love hearty Austrian food, try Pepi’s Bar and Restaurant, started by former Austrian ski racer Pepi Gramshammer.
Rock and Roll To Red Rocks in Morrison—Once known as the Garden of the Angels, Red Rocks incorporates the natural environment to create this concert venue. Sandstone ledges can take all of the credit, the work of prehistoric earth movements. The two massive monoliths rise to around 300 feet. Opened in June of 1941, Red Rock’s Amphitheater was a steal for the city of Denver. The city purchased this space for $54,133. Today, you can view concerts and movies here in summertime, less than 30 minutes from Denver. Even if you don’t come for a show, at least come for the view of the city to the east and the foothills to the west.
Meet The Devil at Devil’s Head National Recreation Trail and Fire Lookout—In Sedalia, Colorado, under two hours from Denver in the Pike National Forest, you can commence a meeting with the devil. In just under an hour, you can hike to this meeting, where the rock formation is thought to resemble the head of the devil. The 1.4-mile long trail leads you to the Fire Lookout, but you are not finished climbing. Bright orange and intimidating stairs dangle up to this lookout, but once you are here, your worries are at bay. Mountain peaks over 100 miles are in view, including the famous Pike’s Peak. If you reach the top, the ranger, looking out for fires started by lightening in summer time, will give you a green card certifying you made the climb and are now “a member of the ancient and honorable order of squirrels”. Check that off of the list.