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7 Outdoor Adventures Near Denver

With some of the best riding, rafting, climbing and skiing in the world, Colorado's stretch of the Rocky Mountains are a mecca for adventure geeks. The good news is that whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned adrenaline junkie, Denver makes exploring Colorado’s outdoors easy. Here are the coolest daytrips and adventure activities near the Mile-High City. Enjoy.

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1. Ski and Snowboard at Vail Mountain Resort

With Vail’s 350 inches of annual snowfall, 3,500 vertical feet of mountain, 31 ski lifts and 5,000 acres of rideable terrain, outdoor enthusiasts can shred everything from long expert runs to powder-filled back bowls. When the lifts stop turning, hit one of Vail’s many watering holes for good barbecue or pub grub. The George restaurant has killer happy hour specials from 3 to 7pm and most restaurants and bars are within walking distance from the 5-star Vail Four Seasons (worth the splurge, as you can practically ski out the back door). 

 

Getting There: Follow I-70 west from Denver into the Rocky Mountains for 97 miles. To avoid heavy traffic, head out before 8am or after 10am, and home before the last lift or after dinnertime.

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2. Whitewater Raft the Colorado River

You can’t visit Colorado without taking a whitewater rafting trip. From May to September, Geo Tours (located in Morrison just a 20 minute drive from downtown Denver) provides access, gear and guides who take you down Class IV rapids. The company—in operation since 1981—shuttles you to and from parts of the Colorado River, Arkansas River and Clear Creek, depending on how far you want to raft. It also organizes overnight trips and inflatable kayaking if you’d like a multi-day excursion. 

 

Getting There: Take Highway 6 West to 470 South for 17 miles to Geo Tours in Morrison base for free transportation to rafting locations.

Photography By Tom Boi/Getty Images

3. Snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park

Ever wanted to float over several feet of powder? At Rocky Mountain National Park from November to April, you can do just that. Rent a pair of poles and shoes from R.E.I. in downtown Denver, and head up to the park entrance. From there, pick your trailhead, strap on a pair of snowshoes and hike over 25-30 inches of drifts and banks. Bear Lake hike, buried deep in the park, cuts across a handful of small mountain lakes, winds around cliff faces and tops out around 10,000 feet with gorgeous alpine views. Hint: the National Park Service salts and sands the roads but 4-wheel drive vehicles come in handy here. 

 

Getting There: Follow Highway 36 northwest for just over 70 miles directly into Rocky Mountain National Park. Take your first left after the ranger station and drive until the road ends at Bear Lake trailhead.

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