Colorado Day Trips: Scenic Routes and Cultural Spots


With over 300 days of sunshine per year and an abundance of natural beauty, a Colorado day trip will offer endless opportunities for unforgettable adventures. From towering mountain peaks to vast desert landscapes, this state’s diverse terrain provides a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.


  • Discover Colorado's breathtaking scenery through scenic drives, hiking trails, and national parks.
  • Immerse yourself in the state's rich cultural heritage by visiting historic sites and museums.
  • Indulge in unique culinary experiences, from local eateries to food festivals celebrating regional flavors.

Destination Overview

Colorado’s appeal as a tourist destination lies in its unique blend of natural wonders and cultural richness. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, culinary delights, or historical exploration, the state offers a diverse array of experiences for every traveler.

Outdoor Adventures

One of the main draws of Colorado is its vast network of hiking trails, catering to all skill levels. The iconic Rocky Mountain National Park boasts over 60 mountains towering above 12,000 feet, including the famous Longs Peak. For a truly unique experience, explore the otherworldly landscapes of the Great Sand Dunes National Park, where you can sandboard down the tallest dunes in North America.

Here are a few destinations you may wish to make your Colorado day trip:

  • Pikes Peak
  • Mount Evans
  • Mount Evans Scenic Byway
  • Castle Rock
  • Manitou Springs
  • Royal Gorge (Royal Gorge Bridge)
  • Cañon City
  • Idaho Springs
  • Bear Lake
  • Trail Ridge Road
  • Grand Lake
  • Cripple Creek
  • Downtown Denver
  • Downtown Colorado Springs
  • Eldorado Canyon State Park
  • Lookout Mountain
  • Horsetooth Reservoir
  • Hanging Lake
  • Hot Springs at Glenwood Springs
  • Ski Resorts at Winter Park

Culinary Journey

Colorado’s culinary scene is as diverse as its landscapes. From high-end restaurants in Denver to local eateries in charming mountain towns, you’ll find a wide range of dining options. Don’t miss out on signature Colorado dishes like the Denver omelet, Rocky Mountain oysters, and the state’s famous green chili.

Historical Landmarks and Museums

Delve into Colorado’s rich history by visiting landmarks like the Canyons of the Ancients, which showcases ancient Puebloan ruins, or the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, where you can learn about the Ute people’s culture and traditions. Museums like the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery offer educational experiences for all ages.

Scenic Drives and Roadside Attractions

Colorado’s scenic byways offer breathtaking vistas and opportunities for roadside discoveries. The drive to Pikes Peak Summit House takes you along the highest paved road in North America, while the Kenosha Pass offers stunning views of the Rocky Mountains. Keep an eye out for unique roadside attractions like the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, where you can explore colorful geological formations.

Nature and Wildlife

Colorado is a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. Spot elk, bighorn sheep, and black bears in their natural habitats at Rocky Mountain National Park or explore the diverse ecosystems of the Colorado State Forest State Park. Remember to follow guidelines for responsible and safe wildlife viewing.

Here are a few great destinations:

  • The Wild Animal Sanctuary
  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center
  • The Butterfly Pavilion in Denver
  • Denver Botanic Gardens

Relaxation and Wellness

After an action-packed day of adventures, unwind at one of Colorado’s natural hot springs, such as the historic Manitou Springs. Spending time in nature can also provide mental and physical rejuvenation, making Colorado an ideal destination for wellness retreats and nature therapy.


What are the best times to visit Colorado for day trips?

Colorado offers excellent opportunities for day trips year-round. Summer is ideal for hiking and outdoor activities, while winter attracts skiers and snowboarders to the state’s renowned ski resorts. Spring and fall are great for scenic drives and wildlife viewing, as the changing seasons bring vibrant colors to the landscapes.

Are there any family-friendly day trip options in Colorado?

Absolutely! Colorado offers a wealth of family-friendly attractions and activities. The Mountain Top Children’s Museum in Denver provides interactive exhibits for kids, while the Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs offers guided tours through stunning cave formations. Many state parks, like Pearl Lake State Park and Bear Lake State Park, offer easy hiking trails suitable for families.

How can I plan a day trip from Denver?

Denver serves as an excellent base for day trips throughout Colorado. Popular destinations within a two-hour drive include Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, and Colorado Springs, home to the iconic Pikes Peak and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Many tour companies offer guided day trips from Denver, or you can plan your own self-guided adventure.

Are there any unique cultural experiences to explore on a Colorado day trip?

Yes, Colorado offers a rich tapestry of cultural experiences. Visit the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness to learn about the state’s Hispanic heritage, or explore the Wheeler Geologic Area, which showcases ancient Native American rock art. Attend cultural events like food festivals or art fairs to immerse yourself in the local traditions.

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About the author

Simone Weisman

My deep appreciation for nature and active living strongly aligns with the vibrant outdoor culture of Colorado. My enjoyment of yoga, hiking, and exploring scenic trails provides me with a unique perspective that I bring to This personal passion enriches my ability to connect with and inspire our audience, whether they’re local residents or visitors seeking to explore all that Colorado has to offer.