10 “Easy” Colorado Outdoor Adventures

If you haven’t been to Colorado yet then it’s about time to add it to your list! There are so many amazing places in the state to experience, some fairly easy and some are more challenging to get to. I have collated this list of my favorite “easy to get to” and reasonably accessible outdoor adventures. Let me know your favorites in the comments section below!

10 “Easy” Colorado Outdoor Adventures

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

1. Maroon Bells – Aspen

In my opinion, Maroon Bells is the most beautiful place in the whole state that you can simply drive up to and experience. This gorgeous lake and mountains are located 12 miles out of Aspen. I would suggest visiting at sunrise or sunset – but be ready for large crowds! This is a popular spot, especially in the fall time when the aspens are golden. While you are in the area I would highly recommend driving over Independence Pass (12,095ft) and taking in the glorious mountain vistas, including some 14ers! (14,000+ ft mountains).

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

2. Dream Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park

Located 30 minutes from Estes Park, Dream Lake is 100% fitting to its name. This short and easy hike will take 2.2 miles return from the trailhead and back. You will pass Bear Lake (at the trailhead) and Nymph Lake is on the way. If you are feeling adventurous then I would recommend continuing onto Emerald Lake (about another 0.7 miles). This is a very popular trail and the parking lot fills up quick, so I would suggest going early morning to avoid the crowds!

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

3. Brainard Lake – Indian peaks wilderness

Gorgeous Brainard Lake is located about 50 minutes northwest of Boulder. The road doesn’t open until mid-June due to its high elevation and lingering snow. Take a picnic, kayak, fishing gear, and camera and you’ll be all set. Nearly every time I visit Brainard I see at least one moose, so be on the lookout! If you are in the mood for hiking then definitely trek the 5 miles return to Blue Lake (11,320 feet high) – absolutely stunning!

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

4. Great sand dunes national park – san luis valley

The tallest sand dunes in North America! It is quite a surreal experience standing on top of these dunes overlooking the 13,000-foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Anyone can have fun here – from trekking up the dunes, to sandboarding, or splashing in the Medano Creek, it’s definitely a unique location. You do have to drive about 4 hours south of Denver to reach the dunes, so I would recommend camping nearby or staying the night in Alamosa (40 minutes away).

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

5. Trail ridge road – rocky mountain national park

This drive is phenomenal and its no surprise why it’s considered Colorado’s “highway to the sky”. The road covers 48 miles between Estes Park (east side) and Grand Lake (west side). You will cross the Continental Divide and travel up to 12,183 feet in the comfort of the car. If you’re lucky you might even spot eagles, marmots, big horn sheep, pikas, and ptarmigans. There are lots of pull-offs and viewpoints so that you can take in those jaw-dropping mountain vistas. Grand Lake and Lake Granby on the west side of the park are beautiful places to stop and have a picnic lunch. While you are there you could also check out beautiful Monarch Lake, just by Lake Granby.

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

6. experience one of colorado’s hot springs

Colorado has an abundance of hot springs to relax in after a day of adventuring. My favorite so far has been Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs. Though I hear Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgeway and Strawberry Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs are absolutely lovely (on my bucket list!)

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

7. paint mines interpretive park – calhan

Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, this diverse ecological site is worth checking out. It’s a short walk into the first part of the park, where you will be surrounded by beautiful hoodoos and colored spires. I would suggest going in the afternoon and staying to watch the sunset over the interesting formations. Allow for a 1 hour 40-minute drive southeast from Denver.

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

8. Chautauqua Park – Boulder

My hood! I love everything about Chautauqua… well, except the weekend crowds. This park is filled with beautiful hiking trails (from easy to challenging), meadows, wildflowers, a nice eatery, restrooms, and views of the 5 famous “Flatirons”. My favorite short hike is the Baseline/Bluebell-Baird Trail (1-2 miles) and if I am in the mood for something more challenging I will hike the Mesa Trail (7 miles one way), or Bear Peak (4 miles one way, depending on which trailhead).

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

9. Garden of the Gods Park – Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is about 1 hour and 20 mins south of Denver and here you will find loads of tourist activities, including the Garden of the Gods Park. There is a lovely walk through the park that provides views of the dramatic 300-foot sandstone towers. It’s worth hanging around until sunset to witness the rock formations glow with the fading light and Pike’s Peak (14,114 feet) tower in the background. While you are in the area you may consider taking the cog rail up to the top of Pikes Peak, or challenging yourself by climbing the Manitou Incline (be warned, it’s a serious thigh burner!)

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

10. Hanging Lake – Glenwood Springs

I wouldn’t say this 2-mile hike is “easy” but it’s definitely worth the climb if you’re reasonably fit. The lake itself is a stunning clear blue/green color and you will witness many waterfalls along the trail. This is a very popular hike so go early in the day!

 

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If you haven’t been to Colorado yet then it’s about time to add it to your list! There are so many amazing places in the state to experience, some fairly easy and some are more challenging to get to. I have collated this list of my favorite “easy to get to” and reasonably accessible outdoor adventures. Let me know your favorites in the comments section below!

10 “Easy” Colorado Outdoor Adventures

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

1. Maroon Bells – Aspen

In my opinion, Maroon Bells is the most beautiful place in the whole state that you can simply drive up to and experience. This gorgeous lake and mountains are located 12 miles out of Aspen. I would suggest visiting at sunrise or sunset – but be ready for large crowds! This is a popular spot, especially in the fall time when the aspens are golden. While you are in the area I would highly recommend driving over Independence Pass (12,095ft) and taking in the glorious mountain vistas, including some 14ers! (14,000+ ft mountains).

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

2. Dream Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park

Located 30 minutes from Estes Park, Dream Lake is 100% fitting to its name. This short and easy hike will take 2.2 miles return from the trailhead and back. You will pass Bear Lake (at the trailhead) and Nymph Lake is on the way. If you are feeling adventurous then I would recommend continuing onto Emerald Lake (about another 0.7 miles). This is a very popular trail and the parking lot fills up quick, so I would suggest going early morning to avoid the crowds!

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

3. Brainard Lake – Indian peaks wilderness

Gorgeous Brainard Lake is located about 50 minutes northwest of Boulder. The road doesn’t open until mid-June due to its high elevation and lingering snow. Take a picnic, kayak, fishing gear, and camera and you’ll be all set. Nearly every time I visit Brainard I see at least one moose, so be on the lookout! If you are in the mood for hiking then definitely trek the 5 miles return to Blue Lake (11,320 feet high) – absolutely stunning!

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

4. Great sand dunes national park – san luis valley

The tallest sand dunes in North America! It is quite a surreal experience standing on top of these dunes overlooking the 13,000-foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Anyone can have fun here – from trekking up the dunes, to sandboarding, or splashing in the Medano Creek, it’s definitely a unique location. You do have to drive about 4 hours south of Denver to reach the dunes, so I would recommend camping nearby or staying the night in Alamosa (40 minutes away).

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

5. Trail ridge road – rocky mountain national park

This drive is phenomenal and its no surprise why it’s considered Colorado’s “highway to the sky”. The road covers 48 miles between Estes Park (east side) and Grand Lake (west side). You will cross the Continental Divide and travel up to 12,183 feet in the comfort of the car. If you’re lucky you might even spot eagles, marmots, big horn sheep, pikas, and ptarmigans. There are lots of pull-offs and viewpoints so that you can take in those jaw-dropping mountain vistas. Grand Lake and Lake Granby on the west side of the park are beautiful places to stop and have a picnic lunch. While you are there you could also check out beautiful Monarch Lake, just by Lake Granby.

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

6. experience one of colorado’s hot springs

Colorado has an abundance of hot springs to relax in after a day of adventuring. My favorite so far has been Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs. Though I hear Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgeway and Strawberry Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs are absolutely lovely (on my bucket list!)

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

7. paint mines interpretive park – calhan

Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, this diverse ecological site is worth checking out. It’s a short walk into the first part of the park, where you will be surrounded by beautiful hoodoos and colored spires. I would suggest going in the afternoon and staying to watch the sunset over the interesting formations. Allow for a 1 hour 40-minute drive southeast from Denver.

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

8. Chautauqua Park – Boulder

My hood! I love everything about Chautauqua… well, except the weekend crowds. This park is filled with beautiful hiking trails (from easy to challenging), meadows, wildflowers, a nice eatery, restrooms, and views of the 5 famous “Flatirons”. My favorite short hike is the Baseline/Bluebell-Baird Trail (1-2 miles) and if I am in the mood for something more challenging I will hike the Mesa Trail (7 miles one way), or Bear Peak (4 miles one way, depending on which trailhead).

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

9. Garden of the Gods Park – Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is about 1 hour and 20 mins south of Denver and here you will find loads of tourist activities, including the Garden of the Gods Park. There is a lovely walk through the park that provides views of the dramatic 300-foot sandstone towers. It’s worth hanging around until sunset to witness the rock formations glow with the fading light and Pike’s Peak (14,114 feet) tower in the background. While you are in the area you may consider taking the cog rail up to the top of Pikes Peak, or challenging yourself by climbing the Manitou Incline (be warned, it’s a serious thigh burner!)

10 Easy Colorado Outdoor Adventures

10. Hanging Lake – Glenwood Springs

I wouldn’t say this 2-mile hike is “easy” but it’s definitely worth the climb if you’re reasonably fit. The lake itself is a stunning clear blue/green color and you will witness many waterfalls along the trail. This is a very popular hike so go early in the day!

 

Similar Articles!

America’s National Parks: Ranked Best to Worst

15 Most Underrated National Parks in America

9 Best Winter Adventures near Banff, Canada

Ultimate Winter Travel Guide to Alberta, Canada

Couples Adventure Getaway to British Columbia

Renee Hahnel

Hi! My name is Renee and I'm an Australian photographer, blogger & travel addict. I now call the U.S.A home but you can usually find me wandering the globe with a camera in hand ✈ Let's get lost!

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10 Comments

  1. Jackie on June 7, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Another fantastic blog Renee and beautiful photos.

    • Renee Hahnel on June 8, 2016 at 2:16 am

      Appreciate it 🙂

  2. Sam on June 7, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Loved our time in Colorado!! Such a beautiful and diverse place?

    • Renee Hahnel on June 8, 2016 at 2:16 am

      It sure is, and so diverse!

  3. sophie nadeau on July 19, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Your photos are always so gorgeous! I’d love to visit Colorado one day…

  4. freeandaddicted on February 6, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Wow this is actually so beautiful. We haven’t travelled America yet but definitely plan too!

    • Renee Hahnel on February 10, 2017 at 7:28 am

      Thanks a bunch! You should definitely make it to Colorado, it’s a gem!

  5. Anonymous on June 14, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    Informative article. All of this place are attractive but my first choice is BRAINARD LAKE. You know I made a tour there last month and enjoyed that tour very much. The surround of that place is very charming.

  6. Marcel Behler on May 27, 2018 at 6:30 am

    Very informative,I enjoy your writing! I really enjoy reading every second of this article.. Thank you

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Renee Hahnel

Hi! My name is Renee and I'm an Australian photographer, blogger & travel addict. I now call the U.S.A home but you can usually find me wandering the globe with a camera in hand ✈ Let's get lost!

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Raise your hand if you sometimes feel overwhelmed by climate change, sustainability, and the future of our planet?! I bet most of you are in the same boat as me: wanting to make a difference but often confused by conflicting statistics and information overload. Keep reading if you want to learn 6 easy ways you…

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I recently returned home from an incredible week-long trip exploring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. This spectacular coastal route has it all… think beautiful sea cliffs, a rich history, seemingly endless castles, tons of cute sheep, quiet winding roads, and friendly locals. In this blog post I am sharing a day-by-day breakdown of our week-long road…

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