Here’s some insider tips on what not to miss on a trip to the Mile-High City.
Colorado’s capital city of Denver is nicknamed the ‘Mile-High City’ because it sits 5,280 feet above sea level, making it the highest major city in the US. Located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and with more than 250 parks and thousands of acres of nearby mountain parks and ski resorts, exploring the great outdoors is the way of life here. But there’s more to the city than just Mother Nature’s blessings, so we caught up with local Denverite Jared Klein to get some tips on what not to miss on a visit there.
See a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Put this geological phenomenon on your list when you come to Denver. Red Rocks Amphitheatre is the best place to catch a concert. With its incredible setting and sweeping views of Denver, it’s an experience like no other. The amphitheatre is formed by two 300-foot sandstone monoliths called Ship Rock and Creation Rock which together create Mother Nature’s finest example of an acoustically perfect, natural amphitheatre. From The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix to The Blues Brothers and U2, Red Rocks Amphitheatre has welcomed stars from around the world for sell-out performances. If you’re not a music fan, you can still experience the glory of Red Rocks with hiking, outdoor films, exercise classes and much more.
Visit Rocky Mountain National Park
Consistently ranked in the top most-visited national parks in the US and located a convenient distance to Denver, this is one not to miss. Head for Bear Lake Loop, an easy hiking trail that rewards you with spectacular views. The lake itself is a selling point, but there are also plenty of other hikes that start in this area. Trail Ridge Road (also known as US 34) is a must-do too. Known as the ‘highway to the sky’, this road travels 48 miles through Rocky Mountain National Park. Be prepared for heights – 11 miles of the road travel above the treeline, reaching 11,500 feet. You’ll travel through forest and alpine tundra, cross the Continental Divide to reach the highest point of 12,183 feet. It gets pretty cold up here – you’ll feel a noticeable drop in temperature as you travel higher. Do the route leisurely if you can, stopping for scenic look-outs over Wyoming, the Great Plains and the Rockies, hiking opportunities and wildlife spotting. Elk, marmots and pikas are just a few of the local residents you might spot on your trip.
The Bear Lake Loop in Rocky Mountain National Park is an easy hiking trail that rewards with spectacular views
Hike a 14er
If you’re not a local, you might well be wondering what on earth a 14er is. Well, it’s pretty simple – a peak that reaches more than 14,000 feet above sea level is a 14er, and Colorado has 58 (this number is passionately debated among mountain-lovers) of them. In fact, Colorado is home to more 14ers than any other state in the US, so it’s fitting to try and tackle one while you’re there, if you feel up to the challenge. They range in difficulty, but by nature of the height you’re scaling, you will need a reasonable level of fitness and to be well-equipped for hiking – this isn’t a simple stroll in the woods, so make sure you’re prepared and do lots of research before you attempt a 14er. If you need some new hiking gear or gadgets before you head on your adventures, pay a visit to the flagship REI store in Denver – it’s an outdoor-enthusiast’s dream. Mt Bierstadt near Idaho Springs is often recommended as an ideal 14er for first-timers, ideal as it’s so close to Denver city. Here’s a bit of trivia for you; classic 14er Wilson Peak was the inspiration behind the mountain on the Coors Light cans.
Enjoy a craft beer (or two)
While we’re on the subject of beer, you can’t get better than Colorado – the state has the second-most breweries in the US after California, at apparently six breweries for every 100,000 residents. Denver’s a great place to experience the good stuff, as the city’s craft-beer scene is huge. Microbreweries, brewpubs, taverns, you name it, Denver’s got it. In fact, the Great American Beer Festival takes place in Colorado Convention Center in Denver every year, in celebration of the brewers and beers of the US. Make sure to try a tipple at Wynkoop, Denver’s original craft brewery, and Great Divide Brewing Co, which has 16 award-winning beers to its name.
The Flatirons are impressive slanted sandstone formations in the nearby city of Boulder
Picnic at the Flatirons in Boulder
The Flatirons are impressive, slanted sandstone formations that overlook the nearby city of Boulder, under an hour’s drive from Denver. You can get a sense of these impressive peaks without having to hike (though if you’re feeling energetic, there are plenty of trails around) by packing a picnic and enjoying it at Chautauqua Park. Watch the hikers on their way upwards, and be impressed by the rock climbers scaling the slanted peaks.
Catch a sports game
Any trip Stateside is a great excuse to watch some live sports, and Denver is no exception. See the city’s top Major League Baseball team, the Colorado Rockies, in action at the Coors Field in downtown Denver; join the locals and don orange, blue and white on game day to watch the popular NFL team, the Denver Broncos, rule the field; witness the ice action at a Colorado Avalanche hockey game; cheer with the crowd at a Colorado Rapids soccer game; or catch the court action at a Denver Nuggets basketball game. There’s so much sports action, it’ll leave your head spinning.
Colorado is home to an impressive amount of world-class ski resorts, like Steamboat ski resort
Ski at a world-class resort
Aspen, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, Beaver Creek, Arapahoe Basin… Colorado is home to an impressive amount of world-class ski resorts, more than 20 in fact. With fantastic snow conditions and endless sunny days to boot, fun in the snow is a way of life here. So if you’re visiting Denver in the winter make sure you hit the slopes. If you’re short on time, there are plenty of resorts not far from the city to take advantage of, including Echo Mountain and Eldora Mountain, among others.