There’s a lot going on in Colorado Springs. There are tons of restaurants, museums, and over 20 breweries to explore. The city is located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, which means it’s also surrounded by some amazing natural attractions. Of course, it is important to note that while this snow-capped scenery is stunning to look at, it’s also vast. So please, don’t rush your way through this amazing Colorado city. Learn more about the best places to kick back and explore. Enjoy our lists of the best day trips from Colorado Springs.
Quick view of the 21 best day trips from Colorado Springs:
- Great Wolf Lodge
- Garden of the Gods Park
- The Arkansas River
- The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
- Woodland Park
- Eldorado Canyon State Park
- Larimer Square
- Red Rocks Ampthitheatre
- The Broadmoor Seven Falls
- Fountain Creek Regional Park
- The Royal Gorge Route Railroad
- Pikes Peak Highway
- Idaho Springs
- Avery Brewing Co.
- Paint Mines Interpretive Park
- Bishop Castle
- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
- Lake Pueblo
- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
- Indian Hot Springs
Colorado is home to some pretty unpredictable weather. Whether you’re hit with piercing sunshine or heavy snowfall, you’ll want to have a plan in place. Enter Great Wolf Lodge, the region’s first indoor water park and family resort. The destination even offers day passes which grants you unlimited access to the pools and all the other attractions around the resort. Of all the trips you can take around Colorado Springs, this one might offer the most extensive list of activities. Outside of the water park is mini gold, bowling lanes, arcade games and more. Those visiting Colorado Springs will definitely want to check it out. See how much you can pack into the day before it’s time to head home!
As the name might suggest, the Garden of the Gods is a pretty epic location. Explore the area’s towering rock formations via hiking trails, jeep and Segway tours, bike paths and more. There’s also the Visitor and Nature Center and museum to check out. There, you can learn the history behind the park enjoy a series of interactive exhibits. Stop by the cafe for a bite to eat and enjoy a scenic view of both Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. The registered national landmark is one of the most popular destinations for day trips from Colorado Springs. Soak up the daylight and get home before dark.
Don’t let the name throw you off, the Arkansas River flows right through the Colorado, about an hour outside of Colorado Springs. This area is considered one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in America, so strap on a life vest and grab a paddle. Different areas are designed to cater to paddlers of different ages, so make sure to do your research before hitting the road. We recommend the more advanced rafters stop by the Royal Gorge for a real rush! Read on below to learn more about the location.
The Royal Gorge is one of the most scenic spots in all of Colorado. The park is about an hour away from Colorado Springs, near Cañon City. The standout feature revolves around the Royal Gorge Bridge, which stands 955 feet above the Arkansas River. The park is also home to the highest zip line is America. Enjoy the hiking trails, aerial gondolas, skycoasters playgrounds and more! Out of the many day trips from Colorado Springs, this is one you don’t want to miss.
Take the scenic drive up to Woodland Park! To get there, you’ll have to drive up and over the first range of the Rocky Mountains. There will be a pretty significant rise in elevation, so be prepared. One there, you’ll be able to take in some of the state’s finest snow-covered scenery. There are hiking trails, fishing spots, horseback riding routes and more. The park offers so many things to do it’s been dubbed the “Rocky Mountain Playground.” Of course, that’s not all it contains. Woodland Park is home to tons of wildlife, from Elk, Bald and Golden Eagles, Mountain Bighorn Sheep, to Mule Deer and more!
Feel like checking out some amazing rock formations, scenic trails, pine forests, canyon walls and river water? Look no further than Eldorado Canyon State Park. We’ve included it in our list of best day trips from Colorado Springs precisely because of the range of activities it offers visitors. Oh, and rock climbing fanatics are in luck. With over 500 routes up sheer canyon faces, the park ranks as one of the best rock climbing destinations throughout Colorado. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Colorado Springs so you may as well make it a full day excursion.
Ok, we get it. Nature is nice but sometimes you need to punctuate it with a taste of city living. If you’ve already made your way around Colorado Springs and want to check out another urban area, then you’re in luck. Colorado Springs is located just an hour and a half south of Denver, the state capitol. Larimer Square is one of the city’s most lively neighborhoods, with tons of restaurants, shops and nightlight opportunities. It’s Denver’s oldest and most historic block.
Also located in Denver is the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. This popular tourist destination spans over 700-acres. It offers hiking biking, and horseback riding trails. Of course, there’s also the actual amphitheatre to take in. The venue has hosted headliners like the Beatles, Tom Petty, and John Denver. The natural architecture creates amazing acoustics that can be appreciated from any seat in the house!
The Broadmoor Seven Falls consists of seven cascading waterfalls and it’s located just south of Colorado Springs. Of all the day trips destinations we’ve listed, this one probably involves the least amount of driving. The views these falls provide are so stunning they were even included in National Geographic’s list of international waterfalls. Visitors can check out the sights from the top of a 224 step staircase or from the Eagle’s nest viewing platform (which can be accessed via escalator). Don’t worry about getting there past dark, either. Each night, the falls are fully illuminated by beautiful white lights.
If you’re looking for a low-key day trip outside of Colorado Springs, think about Fountain Creek Regional Park. The 460-acre park is located right along the Fountain Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas River. The creek also offers hiking trails, ponds, picnic shelters, a playground area and more!
Day trips don’t have to be strenuous. In fact, some are best enjoyed sitting down. The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is a scenic route through the Colorado Rockies. It’s located in Cañon City, which is only an hour away from Colorado Springs. Visitors are invited to enjoy a two-hour train ride through some of the nation’s most scenic stretches. President Teddy Roosevelt was so taken by the landscape he described the railroad experience as “the trip that bankrupts the English language!”
If you thought we were done with our seated suggestions, think again! The Pikes Peak Highway tour takes you up a looping road and spits you out at the mountain summit. The three-hour road trip is the perfect way to get acquainted with Pikes Peak and its notorious alpine beauty.
13. Idaho Springs
Looking for a quaint little mountain town to explore? Look no further than Idaho Springs. Located just over two hours outside of Colorado Springs, this popular destination is known for its historic district, mining traditions, and pizza! We’re not kidding about that last part. Beau Jo’s Pizza is rumored to have some of the best slices in the state. Surely, you won’t want to miss out on that.
No trip to Colorado would be complete without enjoying at least one cold beer. Head into downtown Boulder and experience a city favorite. The Avery Brewing Company first opened its doors back in 1993. The owners have perfected their craft over the years and are now known for their eccentric selection. Lunch and dinner menus are also available after 3 p.m.
Located just an hour outside of Colorado Springs, Paint Mines Interpretive Park stretches across approximately 750 acres. The area is named for the brightly colored rocks scattered across the park. These formations have been dyed shades of yellow, red grey and white by clay originally collected by the American Indians to make paint. The mines contain evidence of human life that dates as far back as 9,000 years!
16. Bishop Castle
Bishop castle is often referred to as an elaborate and intricate “one -man-project.” It’s constructor, Jim Bishop, originally planned on building a one-room stone cottage for his family. It wasn’t until a family member made a joke about it looking a little bit like a castle that he decided to structure the building as such. The entire house is made of stone and glass. It’s now open to the public, which means visitors can explore the castle on their own. The surrounding area is also full of places to hike. picnic, eat, horseback ride and lodge.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve presents somewhat of a contradictory view: vast sand dunes are surrounded by snow-capped mountain tops. Sled down the tallest dunes in the nation. There are also places to swim, camp, hike and more! It may be a bit of a trek but we promise the three-hour ride is worth it.
18. Lake Pueblo
You won’t find any ocean in Colorado but that doesn’t mean there aren’t places to swim! Lake Pueblo is just under an hour away from Colorado Springs. The state park boasts over 60 miles of shoreline. You can swim, camp, boat, fish or just hang out at this local hot spot!
This is about as “Colorado” as you can get. Located just outside of Boulder, the town of Nederland is home to only 1,500 people. Here, you’ll find hippies, outdoors men and women, and other kinds of quirky characters. The town is best known for its Carousel of Happiness, mountain resorts, and locally owned shops and restaurants. There’s also the Frozen Dead Guy Days festival, which is designed to pay homage to the frozen remains of Bredo Morstol, who has been resting peacefully in a storage shed in town for over 30 years. His relatives pack the shed with dry ice once a month to keep “Grandpa Bredo” at a comfortable -60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sure, you may have been to a zoo before but have you ever been to a mountain zoo? Probably not. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the only one of its kind within America. Located 6,800 feet above sea level, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo offers amazing views and the ability to connect with over 750 animals. There’s even an area where you can feed the giraffes by hand! The best part? It’s located right here in Colorado Springs so you don’t have to worry about a long commute.
Of course, Colorado is famous for its natural hot springs. The Indian Hot Springs are about a two-hour drive from Colorado Springs. Its swimming pool is continually fed with hot mineral water coming in around 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also located under translucent dome, complete with flowering plants and Banana and Palm trees. Talk about a tropical oasis! The average pool temperature ranges anywhere from 90 to 100 degrees. The property also contains geo-thermal caves, originally driven right into the solid rock mountain side sometime between 1903 and 1911. Each contains several walk-in hot tubs filled with naturally hot mineral water. Temperatures range from 104 and 112 degrees. If you want to warm up after a cold Colorado day, hop in the car and head to the hot springs!