Rugged adventures are steps away from Colorado’s cosmopolitan urban centers.
Colorado is synonymous with the great outdoors. With mountains covering more than half the state and some of the most rugged terrain in the country, Colorado is a popular destination for groups looking to get in touch with nature. While the peaks and valleys are a draw, the state in recent years has experienced an influx in urban development. Colorado’s cities have now boomed into major hubs for food, art and culture, giving groups the best of both worlds.
What’s even more convenient? Colorado offers tons of urban outdoor activities that groups can participate in, meaning they can still experience all that nature has to offer without venturing too far from the city or its cultural appeals. No matter what kind of adventure groups are looking for—from aquatic outings to hiking trails—they can find it within or just outside the cities of Colorado.
Urban Adventures on the Water
For groups visiting Denver, river excitement is just steps from downtown. The South Platte River runs through the city, providing visitors access to bank-side trails, mellow floating waters and challenging rapids. Groups interested in learning—or improving—their kayaking skills can take a paddle through the man-made whitewater chutes in Confluence Park. Confluence Kayaks, located nearby, offers rentals and lessons, and can help outfit the crew for a day on the water.
For something a little more extreme, sign up for a whitewater rafting journey. The Cache la Poudre River in Fort Collins, designated a “Wild & Scenic” river, is a top rafting destination for locals and visitors. The rapids vary from Class I to IV, allowing for both beginners and expert-level rafters to enjoy the waters. As groups tackle the rushing cascades, they can admire the forests of ponderosa pines and the magnificent cliffs and unique rock formations of the canyon.
Biking the City
Colorado prides itself on its vast network of trails, both within and around cities. Groups can hop on Denver’s shiny red B-cycles, the city’s bike-sharing program, and explore the area on 85 miles of bike paths. There are several companies that offer bike rentals for those wanting to venture out on their own, or groups can sign up for guided bike tours for a more in-depth look at Denver.
Venture a few miles outside the city, and the trails get a little more rugged, but the scenery is definitely worth the trek. Fort Collins boasts more than 285 miles of bike lanes in addition to hundreds more in the foothills and mountains. Groups can take a ride around Horsetooth Reservoir, a favorite recreation spot for locals and visitors, or tackle over 26 miles of trails in Lory State Park, which features varying terrain and envious selfie spots.
Colorado’s Front Range cities provide groups with a plethora of hiking options. Trails range from easy to advanced, varying in distance, technical terrain and altitude gain. Groups looking for a moderate, scenic hike will find it at the Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. The park features 21 miles of trails to explore, from laid-back loops to moderate routes, all of which offer breathtaking views of the rocky formations.
For those staying in Denver or Boulder, there are hundreds of short, scenic hikes that will make groups feel far from the city without actually traveling a long way. From Denver, groups can head directly west to Mount Falcon Park to enjoy 11 miles of multi-use trails that overlook the city and surrounding mountains. Groups can get a great workout hiking up the 2,000-foot elevation gain of Castle Trail and also get a taste of history when they visit the ruins of the John Brisben Walker Castle.
No visit to Colorado would be complete without a hike around Red Rocks Park, home to the famous amphitheater. Enjoy leisurely walks through the gorgeous rock formations and rolling hills, taking in views of downtown Denver in the distance. Groups should stop to pick up some Red Rocks gear or historic memorabilia at the Trading Post, and they won’t want to miss a chance to visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, dedicated to the legacy of Colorado’s home-grown music and performers.
Rock Climbing Excursions
Colorado is home to 14 mountain ranges, thousands of peaks and hundreds of rock faces that are paradise for rock climbers. Groups who are just starting out in the sport or those looking to hone their skills can find routes relatively close to the city that fit their skill levels. With Denver Climbing Company, beginners can take an introductory rock climbing course that takes them to North Table Mountain in Golden, just 20 minutes from downtown Denver. The company provides all the necessary gear, and skilled guides instruct groups on the basics before sending them off to enjoy a day of climbing.
Groups with a little more experience can test their skills on the iconic Flatiron rock formations, which tower 1,200 feet above the city of Boulder. Guided climbs take groups to the first or third Flatiron, depending on the difficulty level climbers want. No matter which rock groups climb, the day will be filled with incredible views of the Colorado plains and mountains. After reaching the top and taking numerous pictures, groups can take a thrilling rappel ride to the base for a final memorable adventure.
Outdoor adventures in Colorado are not limited to the mountains. Nature is folded into the urban landscape, giving groups access to outdoor activities both within and nearby its cities. And the proximity means visitors won’t miss out on the booming cultural scene going on in the metropolitan areas. With so many exciting options at their fingertips, groups can experience all the joys of the outdoors while still getting a taste of Colorado’s city energy