Whether you’re a seasoned adrenaline junkie or just looking to stretch your legs, the expanse of the Rocky Mountains in and around Denver are a haven for outdoor adventure. From skiing and whitewater rafting to mountain biking and horseback riding, there are cool day trips and adventure activities near the Mile-High City.
Snowboard and Ski at Vail Mountain Resort
Vail Mountain Resort is chockfull of pristine white powder. With 5,000 acres of terrain, 31 ski lifts, 3,500 vertical feet of mountain and 350 inches of annual snowfall, it’s a mecca for skiers. Hit the slopes and get that adrenaline pumping with its powder-filled back bowls and long expert runs. And when the lifts stop rolling, head for one of the many watering holes for some pub grub. It’s easy to make the short trek to the Vail Four Seasons restaurant.
Mountain Bike at Buffalo Creek
Buffalo Creek is the crème de la crème of mountain biking trails. It’s an hour west of Denver, and has a 23.6 mile trail. The trail is rolling and smooth with almost 3,000 feet in elevation. Cruise over tabletops while enjoying the scenic rock formations and mountain overlooks in the backdrop. It’s a rollercoaster ride on wheels!
Horseback Ride under a Full Moon
Enjoy the feel of the Wild West while horseback riding in the Rockies. A & A Stables offers horseback riding tours where you enjoy a fireworks show, take a full moon ride and experience the fun of Colorado mountain towns. Giddy up to an old mine in Central City where you can wine and dine and ride your horse home in the moonlight. It’s pure cowboy fun!
Snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park
From November through April, the Rocky Mountain National Park has several feet of powder for a snowshoe adventure. Hike over 25 to 30 inches of snow banks and drifts. And if you pick the Bear Lake trailhead, there are picturesque mountain lakes underneath towering cliff faces, providing jaw-dropping alpine views.
Climb the Flatirons
Just south of Boulder, there are the enormous rock formations from the Rocky Front Range known as the Flatirons. Beginners and intermediate climbers can venture the slanted slabs at Flagstaff in the park. The softer sandstone rock area is more for seasoned climbers with its open ledges and deep fissures. All ages and skill levels will find something here. The Flatirons are near the city of Boulder, where you can find pubs, restaurants, and entertainment after an eventful climbing day.
Whitewater Raft the Colorado River
A trip to Colorado isn’t complete without taking a whitewater rafting excursion down the Colorado River. Take a whitewater rafting tour complete with a guide and gear. Most tours take you along the Colorado River, Clear Creek and the Arkansas River. Experience the soul-stirring scenery and some 28 rapids along Colorado’s steepest stretches. It even rivals the big whitewater of the Grand Canyon.
Backcountry Ski in Estes Park
While there aren’t any resorts or manicured runs at Estes Park, there’s plenty of exciting skiable mountain terrain. As a matter of fact, Estes Park is one of the best backcountry east of the Continental Divide. Summit peaks boast altitudes ranging from 9,500 to 14,000 feet. Carve the trails and enjoy true wilderness. This might not be for beginners, but if you’re a seasoned skier, you’ll find some real adventure here. Pro tip: Stay at a purportedly haunted hotel in Estes Park!