Outdoor Adventure Awaits in Adams County, Colorado


Adams County, located just northeast of Denver, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking and biking to wildlife viewing and scenic drives, visitors can immerse themselves in the county’s natural beauty. Adams County holds boundless opportunities for adventure with over 1,500 acres of open space parks, 30 miles of trails, and a diverse landscape ranging from the plains to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.


  • Adams County has over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails to explore
  • Scenic drives like the Colorado River Headwaters Byway provide breathtaking mountain views
  • Popular outdoor activities include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, and wildlife viewing

Hiking and Biking Trails Galore

For hikers and mountain bikers, Adams County is a dream destination. The county manages 16 local parks with over 30 miles of trails catering to all ability levels. From leisurely walks to challenging uphill treks, these winding trails deliver striking views, diverse ecosystems, and fresh air.

Some popular hiking trails include Mount Meeker Trail, Welch Ditch Trail, and Eagle View Trail. Located in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, these peaceful pathways take you through grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands. Mount Meeker offers panoramic views of Denver’s skyline for spectacular photo ops.

For mountain bikers, Adams County also boasts some sweet single-track. The Colorado Front Range Trail at Adams County Riverdale Regional Park features exhilarating downhill runs and technical rock gardens to get your adrenaline pumping.

In addition to hiking and biking, Adams County has trails perfect for horseback riding. Try the homesteading-themed trails at Riverdale Regional Park for a taste of the Old West on horseback.

Scenic Drives Through Majestic Landscapes

In addition to trails, visitors can experience Adams County’s diverse landscapes from the comfort of their car. Scenic drives like the Colorado River Headwaters Scenic and Historic Byway, Guanella Pass Scenic Byway, and Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic and Historic Byway wind through high mountain passes, open grasslands, river valleys, and more.

The Colorado River Headwaters Scenic and Historic Byway is particularly impressive. Traveling from Grand Lake to State Bridge, this 80-mile route follows the Colorado River and delivers non-stop views of snow-capped peaks, evergreen forests, and the winding river that gives Colorado its name. Stop at overlooks for iconic vistas of surrounding mountains like the Collegiate Peaks.

The Guanella Pass Scenic Byway is a must for travelers venturing over mountain passes. At nearly 12,000 feet elevation, this scenic drive takes you through aspen groves and wildflower meadows, with panoramas of Denver and Georgetown far below. The road culminates at Guanella Pass, with views of mountain peaks in nearly every direction.

Meanwhile, Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic and Historic Byway offers a glimpse into Colorado’s frontier past. Traveling from Sterling to Fort Morgan, the byway follows routes used by Native Americans, early explorers, and pioneer settlers. Interpretive signs explain the rich history of the landscape dotted with Pawnee Buttes and other landmarks. With sweeping views of the plains, the byway showcases Colorado’s diverse topography.

Wildlife Watching and Outdoor Recreation

In addition to scenic landscapes, Adams County has exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities. Home to hawks, foxes, coyotes, deer, bald eagles, owls, and over 200 species of birds, visitors can spot wildlife across the county’s parks and open spaces.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and Barr Lake State Park are the best wildlife viewing areas. At the Arsenal, spot bison, deer, and coyotes roaming grassland habitats with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. Meanwhile at Barr Lake, a haven for birds, sight sandhill cranes, bald eagles, pelicans, and over 300 bird species along the trails and observation deck.

Beyond hiking and wildlife viewing, Adams County parks offer a variety of outdoor recreation. The county’s open spaces cater to every interest, from fishing and boating at Barr Lake to horseback riding in Riverdale Regional Park. In winter, sledding hills and groomed cross-country ski trails open for those eager to play in the snow. With so many ways to enjoy the outdoors, Adams County promises year-round adventure.

Seasonal Recreation for All Ages

In addition to year-round outdoor recreation, Adams County has seasonal attractions and special events for visitors of all ages. As the seasons change, the opportunities for fun multiply.

Spring Wildflower Hikes and Festivals

Spring is one of the best times to explore Adams County’s foothills and open spaces bursting with wildflowers. From March through May, hikes along the trails reveal colorful mountain wildflowers against scenic backdrops.

Visitors can enjoy wildflowers and community celebrations at festivals like Broomfield Days and Westminster’s Earth Day Festival in April. These lively events feature live music, arts and crafts, 5K races, and family-friendly activities.

Summer Lakes, Pools, and Festivals Galore

Summer heats up the family fun even more. Adams County provides dozens of ways to stay cool, from swimming and boating at lakes like Barr Lake State Park to splashing down waterslides at Water World. Popular summer activities include paddleboarding, kayaking, and jet skiing at Barr Lake and Standley Lake.

Meanwhile, weekly farmers markets across the county overflow with fresh produce while festivals like Westminster’s Summer Blast in June and Northglenn’s 4th of July feature live entertainment, carnival rides, craft beer, and fireworks shows for exciting summer nights.

The Adams County Fair in Brighton runs for a week, starting in late July and ending in early August. This western county fair officially dates back to 1904, so there’s a lot of history and tradition in the events and festivities.

Fall Foliage and Harvest Festivals

As the aspens turn gold, Adams County becomes a leaf peeper’s paradise in fall. The best hikes for fall colors include Gibson Lake, Lake Ladora and Lake Mary Loop, Rod and Gun Club Pond Loop, and Morrison Nature Center Loop in September and October. Scenic drives like Guanella Pass Scenic Byway for road trips also deliver eye-popping autumn views.

Fall festivals celebrate the harvest season with pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides, and more. Favorite autumn events include the Corn Maze at Botanic Gardens, Northglenn Harvest Fest, Westminster Fall Festival, and the Pumpkin Harvest Festival.

Winter Wonderlands

Even in winter, Adams County offers plenty of cold-weather fun, from ice skating to snowshoeing adventures. In December, Winterfest at Northglenn’s E.B. Rains Jr. Memorial Park transforms into a magical winter carnival with ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing, festive lights, and more all month long.

Meanwhile, peaceful snowshoeing trails weave through pine forests and meadows. After working up an appetite, warm up by the fire with hot cocoa at one of many cozy restaurants or check out the craft beverage scene at local breweries, cideries, and distilleries.

Family Friendly Attractions

With its wealth of parks, trails, recreation sites, and events, Adams County makes an ideal base for families. Parents can choose easy hiking trails; kids will love spotting wildlife or taking their first mountain biking lessons. At Barr Lake State Park, rent a paddleboat or try fishing from the family fishing pier for the first time.

Water parks like Water World provide hours of slippery fun with thrill rides, wave pools, and tubing rivers perfect for kids. Free Splash Days in June offer free admission for kids under 40 inches.

Interactive museums like Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum and Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms allow kids to get hands-on with aviation history and farm life. Chatfield Farms features tractor rides, farm animals to pet and feed, and play areas like a treehouse village that feels straight out of Swiss Family Robinson.

With dozens of parks and open spaces, families will never run out of places to play and explore. School’s Out adventures can continue well into summer with half-day and full-day camps offered across the county. From outdoor survival skills to arts and crafts, these summer camps help kids learn, play, and forge new friendships.

Historical Sites and Cultural Attractions

Beyond the wealth of outdoor recreation, Adams County is a window into Colorado’s frontier past. Historic sites like the Pawnee National Grassland and Pawnee Buttes immerse visitors in Native American history with ancient teepee rings and campsites once used by tribes like the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Sioux, and Pawnee. Interpretive signs tell the story of these native peoples and early European explorers who traveled through this landscape.

The region’s pioneer history also comes alive at places like Pioneer Trails Regional Museum. Exhibits showcase artifacts from the early frontier days, including covered wagons, homesteading tools, and 19th-century clothing. Kids can even visit an authentic one-room schoolhouse.

For cultural arts, don’t miss venues like Balefire Goods showcasing Colorado artists and handmade crafts, or the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. This lively cultural hub includes theater performances, concerts, art galleries, and classes to spark creativity. The children’s museum at the Arvada Center also provides interactive arts experiences for kids.

Adams County tells the story of Colorado’s rich heritage and vibrant creative community through its diversity of museums and cultural sites.

Lodging and Dining to Suit Every Taste

Adams County offers easy access to city attractions and outdoor recreation with its excellent location between Denver and the foothills. Accommodations range from full-service hotels near Denver International Airport to cozy inns and cabins tucked in the mountains. Denver Marriott Westminster, Hilton Garden Inn Denver North, and Staybridge Suites Denver International Airport cater to business and leisure travelers with pools, fitness centers, and free breakfast.

Meanwhile, smaller inns blend into the countryside with private patios overlooking sweeping mountain vistas. The cozy log cabins at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch epitomize the frontier spirit with a 3,000-acre ranch setting, horseback riding, and activities like campfires, wagon rides, and live music.

Adams County also satisfies virtually any craving, from casual cafes to gourmet dining to award-winning craft breweries. The diverse cuisine mirrors the county’s cultural blend of Western and international influences. Local favorites include breakfast and green chili at Louie’s Cafe, farm-to-table cuisine at The Wild Game Entertainment Experience, and craft beer at over a dozen breweries like The Old 121 Brewhouse and Strange Craft Beer Company.

Travel Tips and Resources

With endless sights to see and activities to try, Adams County promises an unforgettable Rocky Mountain getaway. Here are some key travel tips to make the most of your visit.

Best Times to Visit

  • Summer and fall for warm weather outdoor recreation. Spring and fall are best for avoiding peak-season crowds.
  • Winter and spring are great for skiing at the nearby Eldora Mountain Resort.


  • Fly into Denver International Airport, located in Adams County, which has easy access to attractions.
  • Light rail connects visitors to downtown Denver and more.

Trip Planning Resources

  • Stop at Colorado Welcome Centers and local visitor centers for maps and expert advice.
  • Check event calendars and weather advisories at VisitDenver.com and the Colorado Tourism Office website.
  • Download helpful travel apps like CDOT for traffic and road conditions.

With helpful planning resources and so much to experience across the seasons, Adams County is ready to welcome you for a memorable Rocky Mountain adventure. Discover the iconic landscapes, history, cuisine, and culture that make this corner of Colorado truly unforgettable. Let the journey begin!


About the author

James Ranson

I’m an editor, traveler, and fan of the great outdoors. I’ve been to all 48 continental US states, and my drives through Colorado’s rugged peaks and snowy forests (not to mention whiskey tastings in Denver!) still stand out in my memories. I’m excited to use my ten years of editing experience to develop engaging and informative guides and articles that enhance the outdoor experiences of both Colorado residents and visitors. Whether a piece is about exploring the best ski resorts, uncovering scenic trails for hiking, or finding the most inspiring drives through the Colorado Rockies, my aim is to provide comprehensive and accessible content that encourages adventure and exploration.