5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado

There just seems to be something about Colorado that pulls you in: the wonderfully crisp mountain air, the mountains themselves, the amazing opportunities for hiking and so much more. Earlier in the year, my wife and I traveled back to the Denver area to celebrate our 35th anniversary with some of our friends. (Yes, it really has been 35 years of wedded bliss already!)  In this article we will introduce you to 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado.

We decided on Denver as our anniversary destination because it is such an exciting area. Plus, we wanted to celebrate our milestone by visiting some of the friends we made while adventuring around Utah on a previous excursion. Our friends graciously invited us to stay at their house while we visited Denver, which was so generous. They even drove us around for the long weekend as we took in some of the best adventure spots just outside of the Denver metro area.

5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado
Explore Colorado -5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado

The location of their home happened to be just about perfect, since our friends live a bit southeast of Denver and Parker. That meant it was an easy drive to all of the destinations that we visited, and in just one weekend no less. If you are considering a trip to Denver, you must explore some of the great adventures located just outside of the big metro area. Here are the top five great adventures near Denver.

1) Red Rocks the First of the Adventures Near Denver Colorado

The first adventure you must plan while near Denver is a visit to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Gosh, there is just so much history in this place and so many amazing bands have played there!

5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado
Red Rocks Concert Venue – 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado

And it is so much more than just a place to hear a great concert—although that’s quite spectacular in and of itself. The whole place is over 700 acres in total. It was built in 1933 as a result of the Civilian Conservation Corps Reforestation Relief Act, which was designed to get people jobs during the Great Depression. It took five years to finish up, even though they originally only planned for two years of construction. The finished project is well worth the extra time it took.

Just image seeing this place filled up with hundreds or thousands of yoga students.  You can find Yoga on the Rocks here, summer mornings filled with zealous practitioners.

5 Great Adventures Near Denver, Colorado
Red Rocks Amphitheater – 5 Great Adventures Near Denver, Colorado

The Sunday Morning New Show, CBS Sunday Morning just aired an interesting story on this place.

It is fascinating to note that the place has two and a half miles of seating! All the better to take in an amazing concert. Some incredible acts have performed on that stage over the years. Personally, I really want to see U2, Need to Breathe and Carrie Underwood all play here someday!

2) Hike St Mary’s Glacier

St Mary's Glacier - 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado
St Mary’s Glacier – 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado

Once you have checked out the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre, your next adventure will be found in St. Mary’s. This sleepy little town is about 12 miles west of Idaho Springs, which is a bit more well-known name.

St Mary's Glacier - 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado
St Mary’s Glacier – 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado

However, St. Mary’s holds wonderful adventures. It is perhaps most renowned for its hiking opportunities as well as for the St. Mary’s Glacier. Here you will likely always be able to find a bit of snow, even on those warm summer days. If you are searching for adventure, you simply must go and see St. Mary’s Glacier—and bring your snowboard for a bit of summer skiing.

You will want to note that there is quite a bit of privately owned land surrounding this area, so be sure to pay attention to any no-trespassing signs as you explore.

It is also worth noting that you will likely have to give yourself time to acclimate to the higher elevations here. If you are not native to the mountains, the elevation could really mess you up. Elevation sickness is not something to take lightly! Luckily, we were able to transition relatively well, but you would be wise to read up on elevation sickness and how to prevent it.

3) Hike Lake Isabelle Glacier Trail

Yet another glacier trail can be found within convenient driving distance of Denver. If you travel about two hours outside Denver, you will find yourself in the Brainard Lakes Recreation Area, which is near the town of Ward. The Lake Isabelle Glacier Trail here really does lead you to the fabulous Lake Isabelle Glacier, so it is worth the steep and somewhat challenging hike. It is six miles long with an elevation gain of over one thousand feet.

Hike Lake Isabelle Glacier - 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado
Hike Lake Isabelle Glacier – 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado

Our visit took place in the springtime, which meant the weather was warming up a bit. But we also knew there was some heavy snow on the trail, which meant we had to dress in a way that allowed for flexibility. Plus, we all had crampons on our boots to deal with ice along the trail. At a few points on the hike, we found ourselves in snow up to the waist—even though most of our group was in short pants. Crazy Colorado! Be prepared and pack for just about any sort of weather when you visit this amazing state.

Even though this hike may present a few more difficulties (depending on the season and the weather) it is so worth it. The beauty of the pristine, partially ice-covered alpine lake was simply stunning. You will not regret taking this hike!

4) Helen Hunt Falls

As you acclimate to the elevation, be sure to allow yourself time for breaks. That does not mean you have to give up adventuring though! It simply means adding something awesome to your itinerary that isn’t quite so strenuous.

Helen Hunt Falls is the perfect place to have a beautiful adventure that doesn’t have to involve a challenging hike. This lovely place features a 35-foot waterfall that is only steps from the parking lot. You’ll find this place near Colorado Springs, and of course it does offer hiking options if you feel up to the challenge.

Helen Hunt Falls - 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado
Helen Hunt Falls – 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado

This spot is a bit more touristy and is quite wonderful for capturing some stunning photos. We stopped here to give ourselves a slight break from our rigorous hike of the previous day.

The best part of the day was our late lunch at The Wines of Colorado. We had a fabulous lunch at this little spot that is located west of Manitou Springs. They offer wine tasting and you can purchase a bottle or two of wine to take home with you. It really is a lovely place to stop and rest as you enjoy some of the beautiful wines of the state.

5) Hike Guanella Pass

Once you have rested up a bit, you will want to get back out into the mountains and enjoy some stunning scenery and, of course, a few more tremendous hiking trails. The Guanella Pass Scenic Byway provides some awesome views of Mount Bierstadt as well as plenty of chances to see some wildlife. The Pass is accessible through Georgetown, which is a former mining town with some wonderfully rich history.

If you are ready for another hiking adventure, you will find an excellent one in the Shelf Lake Trail. This trail extends just over three miles one way, and you will definitely be walking uphill to get there. As you walk, you will gain 2,000 feet in elevation!

Hike Guanella Pass - 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado
Hike Guanella Pass – 5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado

While this hike is more challenging, it really pays off. You will be rewarded with some of the most stunning views you have ever seen in your life! As a bonus, once you get to the top, you will have it a bit easier on the way back down the trail because it really is all downhill from there.

Best Denver Adventures

If you are looking for some adventure, you will have to make plans to travel to the wonderful Denver area. Taking a short car ride or two outside of the city will reward you with stunning vistas, challenging hikes and a true experience of the many wonderful adventures that Colorado can hold. When will you visit?  And until next time, get out and capture the adventure!  If you have any questions please Contact Us.

Co Author: Brittany VanDerBill – www.bvanderbillconsulting.com

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5 Great Adventures Near Denver Colorado

Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website