Backyard Playgrounds

Doorstep Grandeur: Rocky Mountain National Park perfectly frames the Mile-High City (courtesy, NPS)

NEARBY: Rocky Mountain National Park
Why We Love It:

Capturing the grand Rockies in one accessible park, Rocky Mountain National Park sits at an elevation ranging from 8,000 to 14,448 feet atop its highest point, Mount Elbert. This dramatic scenery provides a great backdrop for backpackers, hikers, and mountaineers to tackle the park's 265,769 acres—all just an hour's drive from downtown Denver.

Don't Miss:
Visit between Memorial Day and late autumn to see Rocky Mountain's peaks in their full glory via the Trail Ridge Road. Reaching 12,183 feet, Trail Ridge is the highest continuous paved road in the United States.

Getting There:
Just 66 miles northwest of Denver via Boulder. During the winter months some of the more treacherous routes, like Trail Ridge and Independence Pass, are closed due to adverse weather.

The Fine Print:
Entrance fees are $10 per person or $20 per vehicle for seven days. For more information visit: or call 970.586.1206.

NEARBY: Pike National Forest
Why We Love It:

This massive national forest sits on more than one million acres of wooded land in central Colorado, providing a staging ground for damn near any outdoor activity imaginable, from camping and fishing to visiting ghost towns deep in the forest.

Don't Miss:
Straddle the North American Continental Divide on the Burning Bear trail. This intermediate 5.5-mile trail follows Burning Bear Creek and is accessible to hikers, horses, and bicycles.

Getting There:
Pike is 112 miles directly south of Denver on I-25.

The Fine Print:
Pike charges no entrance fees, but some activities require permits. For more information visit: or call 719.553.1400.

Additional Information:
Check out's Guide to Pike National Forest

Published: 10 Oct 2005 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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