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Short, scenic drives from Denver?

I'm looking to get away for a day during an upcoming trip to Denver. What are some nice, scenic drives from the city? Any must see spots I should stop at for a photo opp or short hike? 

11 Answers

top answer by
Kathy from Wilmington

Two suggestions - go out I70 west to Breckenridge it's a great all season ski town with lots going on, great dining and fun.  Or drive up to Estes Park for a bit of national forest fun and a smaller town environment.  The Stanley Hotel grounds are a must see.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Breckenridge (city)
  2. Estes Park (city)
  3. The Stanley Hotel (hotel)
6 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Eric from Wheat Ridge

Pretty views and easy hikes can be had Red Rocks Amphitheatre or a drive up Lookout Mountain Rd for views of the city.  There are better spots that are further into the mountains Estes Park or the mountains west of Boulder.  SW of town down 285 to Pine or Deckers are a couple of my favorites.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Red Rocks Amphitheatre (attraction)
  2. Lookout Mountain Rd (attraction)
  3. Estes Park (city)
  4. Pine (attraction)
  5. Deckers (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Kim from Colorado

Depends on how much time you have this is a full day trip. Drive down to downtown Parker (Colorado) (Mainstreet and Parker Road) it's a nice town to have breakfast or lunch, (many local restaurants to choose from Parker Garage Shop a historic landmark that just open, Elev 5900 Kitchen & Bar and don't forget the local coffee shop Fika Coffee House ).   Before you leave, I suggest you take a walk through town, you may just feel like your in a modern day Mayberry R.F.D.  Plenty of local business owners chatting in the streets plus you will find the drivers actually stop and smile to let pedestrians pass. Stop by the Mainstreet General Store for real old time candy. Then back in your car to Castlewood Canyon State Park.  Beautiful place for pictures and a hike. There is a dam that broke in 1933 causing the second worst flood in Denver. If you're lucky you might see a mountain lion, I did once

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Parker (Colorado) (city)
  2. Parker Garage Shop (attraction)
  3. Elev 5900 Kitchen & Bar (restaurant)
  4. Fika Coffee House (restaurant)
  5. Mainstreet General Store (restaurant)
  6. Castlewood Canyon State Park (attraction)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

A really short drive that avoids I-70 takes you along Hwy 285 to Bailey, or continue on to Fairplay to see the topography change from mountain to high plains.  If you wanted to make a night/weekend out of it, continue on to Salida (Colorado) which is a really cool town, full of art, good food and great views of the Collegiate Range.  If you want to visit the traditional ski villages, most can be done in one day as well.  The drive might not be as pretty, but the towns themselves are entertaining.  Breckenridge it he closest really neat ski-town, then Vail is about an hour past.  You can turn off and head up to Steamboat Springs which is my favorite ski town and the drive from I-70 into Steamboat is really pretty.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bailey (attraction)
  2. Fairplay (city)
  3. Salida (Colorado) (city)
  4. Breckenridge (city)
  5. Vail (city)
  6. Steamboat Springs (city)
4 thankscomments (3)

answered by
Martin from Colorado

If you go to Breckenridge suggested below, return via Boreas Pass if its open to Como and go back to Dtown via below.  

If not head south via Route 9 over Hoosier Pass to Alma stop off South Park Saloon.  In Fairplay go a block west and its "old time" west, stay on the main drag and take your pic as a "South Park" character, Kartmen Kenny etc.  Then headback to Denver via 285 through Jefferson over Kenosha Pass.

Go out to Golden (Colorado) go to the 2nd largest brewery in Golden then head North on 93 towards Boulder and head up Clear Creek Canyon right before Rocky Flats.  Then hit the Peak to Peak Hwy to either Black Hawk for some gambling.  Or my preference to Nederland (Colorado) grab a meal at Neopolitan's Restaurant (now closed). Either head up to Estes Park or down to Boulder check out Pearl Street Mall Mork And Mindy's House (You may have to ask where its at and many people will not even know what you are talking about, they owners actually took down the ten foot high fence that used to keep out fans).  Then back south on 93 go to Rocky Flats Lounge especially if you are a Packer fan on a Sunday and get some Olde Style.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Breckenridge (city)
  2. Boreas Pass (attraction)
  3. Como (attraction)
  4. Hoosier Pass (attraction)
  5. Alma (attraction)
  6. South Park Saloon (restaurant)
  7. Fairplay (city)
  8. Jefferson (attraction)
  9. Kenosha Pass (attraction)
  10. Golden (Colorado) (city)
  11. Clear Creek Canyon (attraction)
  12. Rocky Flats (attraction)
  13. Peak to Peak Hwy (attraction)
  14. Black Hawk (city)
  15. Nederland (Colorado) (city)
  16. Estes Park (city)
  17. Boulder (city)
  18. Pearl Street Mall (restaurant)
  19. Mork And Mindy's House (attraction)
  20. Rocky Flats Lounge (restaurant)
3 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Kat from Brooklyn

Two options I can speak to here:  first, is Red Rocks Park which is just outside of Denver and has some pretty lovely hikes and scenery (as well as the Red Rocks Amphitheatre so bonus points for checking out a concert here).   You can do easily do a visit to the Park in an afternoon.  The second option is heading up into the mountains.  I wouldn't call Rocky Mountain National Park a quick trip (Estes Park is about a 1.5-2 hour drive from Denver) but you can make it a day trip if you leave early enough.  Just be forewarned that the Park is really huge and make sure to leave yourself enough time (and daylight) if you plan on doing any hiking.  It's a spectacular drive through windy mountain roads though with some gorgeous scenery if you are able to take the Peak to Peak HwyBoulder is a pretty solid halfway point to grab a meal too. Enjoy!  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Red Rocks Park (attraction)
  2. Red Rocks Amphitheatre (attraction)
  3. Rocky Mountain National Park (park)
  4. Estes Park (city)
  5. Peak to Peak Hwy (attraction)
  6. Boulder (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Kristen from Canton, Michigan

A pretty short drive with a cool view would be Lookout Mountain Rd or head to Red Rocks Amphitheatre.  Red Rocks was voted best amphitheatre in the USA by Rolling Stone.  It's an amazing place to catch a concert, but you can go there for the view or a workout(run the steps!).   Other great day trips would be any small towns on I-70. Idaho Springs and Georgetown (Colorado) are old gold mining towns.  Or for a slightly longer drive you could check out Breckenridge or another ski town.  Have fun!!!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lookout Mountain Rd (attraction)
  2. Red Rocks Amphitheatre (attraction)
  3. Idaho Springs (city)
  4. Georgetown (Colorado) (city)
  5. Breckenridge (city)
2 thanks

answered by
ed from Denver

Drive the Peak to Peak highway from Idaho Springs to Nederland (Colorado), then cruise down Boulder Canyon Dr, pull off anywhere in the canyon where you see people climbing, for your hike.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Idaho Springs (city)
  2. Nederland (Colorado) (city)
  3. Boulder Canyon Dr (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by

The drive up to Estes Park is a can't miss (take the route through BoulderNederland (Colorado)Allenspark on the way there and head back through Lyons).

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Estes Park (city)
  2. Boulder (city)
  3. Nederland (Colorado) (city)
  4. Allenspark (attraction)
  5. Lyons (city)
1 thanks

answered by

When we visited my uncle in Brighton, he would either take us to Boulder or else we would go down to Colorado Springs and then to Silver Cliff in the Wet Mountain Valley.  You could do a loop and come back by Fairplay  Of course going to the Wet Mountain Valley would not be a SHORT drive, but Uncle Harry drove very fast and it didn't take him very long.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Boulder (city)
  2. Colorado Springs (city)
  3. Silver Cliff (attraction)
  4. Fairplay (city)
1 thanks

answered by
vin from Denver

Take highway U.S. 285 toward Morrison to Red Rocks Amphitheatre and spend the day hiking around the rocks.  It's an absolutely beautiful vantage point that overlooks all of Denver.  Not to mention the rocks are gorgeous and worth a day of pictures. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Morrison (attraction)
  2. Red Rocks Amphitheatre (attraction)
1 thanks

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