Where to Go on a Getaway from the Mile High City
You could spend weeks in Denver and still not experience all the restaurants, outdoor activities, tours, and experiences. We’re not 100 percent sure why you would even want to leave this Mile High Shangri-La. But we’re also a bunch of biased locals. Sometimes you just gotta get outta Denver. These road trips from Denver will show you the best parts of Colorado, outside of the city.
Note: these trips are best if you have at least two days to enjoy them. Colorado is big and it can take a long time to get from one part to another. If you only have one day to explore, check out our recommendations for day trips from Denver. So, top of your stash, download some favorite podcasts, fill up your gas tank, and point that car west toward the mountains.
#1 Road Trips From Denver
Only a 3.5-hour drive from Denver, Aspen is an obvious choice when you’re craving the open road. In the winter, it’s a ski and snowboard winter playground (but you probably already knew that). In the off-season months, Aspen still has plenty to see and do — and most activities are 420-friendly. Some of our favorites include:
- Hiking the Rio Grande Trail
- Riding the Silver Queen Gondola
- Selfies at Maroon Bells
- Indulging the munchies at Jimmy’s
#2 Road Trips From Denver
If you’re looking for adventure (but hate driving), Boulder is an easy Denver road trip. Head up Route 36 for the 45-minute drive. Boulder is sort of ‘Denver Lite.’ It has all the cool quirkiness of the big city, but it’s a little more laid-back and artsier, and a lot crunchier.
If you’re a city person, you’ll definitely want to take a stroll down Pearl Street, Boulder’s historic shopping district. You might even want to take a snack break at one of the many restaurants and cafes along the strip.
The perfect place to get a bite is the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, a Tajikistani teahouse that serves small bites (and of course, tea). And if you’re up for a scenic drive, cruise along the Boulder Canyon to the funky mountain town of Nederland (famous for its annual “Frozen Dead Guy” festival). Jump on the Peak to Peak Highway, or visit nearby Lyons for its iconic brewery Oskar Blues. Then, spend the night feeling miniature in an innovative tiny home resort village. Boulder Circuit complete.
#3 Road Trips From Denver
Want to travel back in time? The not-so-distant past sits less than an hour away in Black Hawk, Colorado. You’ll feel like you’ve wandered onto a set from West World here (without the murder. Or robots).
Founded in 1859, this former Gold Rush town still has tons of historic charm. The best part? The city runs a free shuttle along Main Street, so you can get around even while buzzed. There’s also a shuttle that runs between the town and Denver’s downtown, so you don’t need to pause the party for the drive back either. A road trip from Denver without the driving? Sign us up.
Heads up: this tiny town is known for its casinos. If you’re planning on gambling, go easy on the weed, OK? We don’t want you to lose your firstborn before you make it back to Denver.
#4 Road Trips From Denver
Ghost hunters (and film fanatics for that matter) will get a kick out of the Stanley Hotel situated at the end of the 90-minute drive to Estes Park. This hotel wasn’t where “The Shining” was filmed, but it was the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s famous novel of the same name.
Which means, it’s super haunted.
Take a few hits off your vape pen before heading into the hedge maze (don’t worry, the topiaries don’t come to life here). Or, saunter up to the bar and have a cocktail with one of the hotel’s elite guests. If haunted hotels aren’t yo’ thang (we get it, to each his own), you could make a detour and check out Rocky Mountain National Park instead.
#5 Road Trips From Denver
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Seriously, how cool is Colorado? You’ve got the mountains, the city, the forest — and the sand? Yup, Great Sand Dunes National Park is the perfect spot for selfies
Yes, that’s right. We just said sand sledding. Minds
You’ll need to plan a little extra before heading out on this Denver road trip (it’s almost a four-hour drive to get here without traffic), but the early bird gets the worm in Colorado.
If you feel like you’d just be a fool to head back to the city after only a few hours here, you can always camp out for the night. After dark, the park gets even more magical when the night sky lights up with twinkly stars.
Plus, there’s plenty to see along this road trip from Denver. Depending on the route you choose, you could pass through Colorado Springs or even Gunnison National Forest. A short detour west would also take you to the Rio Grande National Forest.
#6 Road Trips from Denver
If you want to cross the entire Mountain West of Colorado, the canyons of Utah will be waiting for you on the other side of the state border. An outdoor capital of the U.S.A., Moab is the gateway town to two of the country’s best-loved national parks: Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
Moab is an ultimate road trip from Denver because there are some great stops to get out and stretch your legs along the way. Take a dip in the hot springs of Glenwood Springs, or grab a cruiser bike and pedal the winery route through the vineyards of Palisade.
Side note: Moab is definitely a party destination for Denver’s outdoorsy crowd. Bring booze but leave the bud behind. Once you cross the border into Utah, cannabis is still illegal AF.