The Royal Gorge is a pretty epic spot. Hosting the tallest suspension bridge in the world, the soaring walls of this cut in the Earth tower 1,000 feet above the raging Arkansas River. If you’re up for the challenge, how about some white river rafting to best soak up the dramatic natural scenery? Even though it’s one of the most adventurous things you can do in Colorado if you’re a first-timer, don’t worry: it can be done! It’s the sort of experience that’ll either make you think, “wow, I really need to do this again!” … or “that was terrifying, let’s never do that again.” Who knows? But you won’t know unless you try!
Why go? Possibly nerve-wracking and definitely slow-going yet breathtaking in every sense of the word, Mount Evans Scenic Byway takes you past alpine lakes and meadows, through bristlecone-pine stands and the habitats of elk and bighorn sheep; along the way, you can hike, fish, picnic and even snowshoe. The summit itself is accessible only in summer—and even then the weather can turn nasty without warning.
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by all the gardens have to offer, consider tagging along on a guided tour. Docent-led tours (which cost $14 for non-members) focus both on the flora and the art found throughout the facility. Recent visitors said the gardens are enjoyable no matter the season, describing them as "stunning" and "mesmerizing." They also highly recommend perusing the gift shop.
Have you heard of The Shining? If you’re a fan of the film, of Stephen King, or of spooky sh*t in general, we definitely recommend going to the place where it all began: the Stanley Hotel. It’s here where King got the inspiration for the book, after apparently experiencing some weird stuff going on at night in room 217. For one of the best things to do in Colorado at night, book a room here, stay the night, and see what the heck’s going on.
Just a few hours’ drive from Denver lies the historic settlement of Georgetown. Besides its heritage buildings and districts steeped in silver mining history, Georgetown (established in 1859) is a chilled out mountain town to explore for a day. But here it isn’t just about pavement pounding and ducking into a few cute cafes and eateries along the way. It’s also about the train.
Modeled after a Kenyan nature preserve, the Denver Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals, including tigers, black rhinos, kangaroos and orangutans. Sprawling across 80 acres of City Park, this impressive facility boasts a number of ways to view our furry, feathered and reptilian friends. Head to Predator Ridge, the recreated African savanna, to see hyenas, lions and African dogs roam, watch monkeys swing from tree branches at Primate Panorama or catch a glimpse of colorful critters like Panamanian golden frogs and green tree pythons at the Tropical Discovery center. You can also overload on cute during a visit to the nursery and take on a ride on the zoo's train and carousel.
Those who have driven to Mount Evans recommend taking it slow and admiring the scenery, especially around Echo Lake Park. Located about halfway between Idaho Springs and the top of Mount Evans, Echo Lake boasts excellent fishing conditions, as well as picnic facilities and hiking trails. You can also stop by the Denver Botanic Gardens' Mount Goliath location, just beyond Echo Lake. But the views aren't the only reason to take your time along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. Recent visitors cautioned others to drive carefully and slowly since there are steep drop-offs; they also recommend dressing in layers as the temperatures fluctuate depending on the elevation.
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