Best places to drive around looking at scenery Denver-adjacent
October 30, 2019 6:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Denver on Saturday and want to spend the day driving around looking at mountains and trees and whatnot. I know that that stuff isn't exactly "close" to Denver but I will have about 4 hours to kill so it's fine. Where should I head up into? Open to any and all recommendations.

If there's stuff to get out of the car for that's fine but not looking for active or strenuous stuff like hiking, skiing, biking, etc (plus it's gonna be cold!). Planning to be out and about between 12 & 4.
posted by bleep to Travel & Transportation around Denver, CO (8 answers total)
The Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway is lovely and interesting and just the right distance if you don't dilly-dally TOO much when you get out at the places you want to look at. You should be able to dilly-dally just enough.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:04 PM on October 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

You could head to Morrison, the hogback ridge, and Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Drive through Golden, see the north and south table mountains, and the School of Mines, and the Coors (watery) Beer plant.

Then drive north on CO93 to Boulder, to the Chautauqua beneath the flatirons
posted by nickggully at 8:34 PM on October 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

that's a really good itinerary ^^^

Maybe a little ambitious for a 4 hr round trip.

Also, it's been cold-ish, as you noted. dress for it.
posted by j_curiouser at 3:41 AM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

nickggully's itinerary is doable, if you've operated/driven in these conditions before.

I will have about 4 hours to kill so it's fine.
These are famous last words in CO under ideal circumstances. Nearly every year they bring a few dead hunters down after a cold snap, and they tend to be at least semi-prepared for conditions.

Assume it will take longer than you estimate. Do not assume you know what you're doing. Do not assume roads will be cleared and your vehicle will hold out. Do not assume you will not get lost, even if you can see houses and have GPS.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:19 AM on October 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

I would suggest nickggully's itinerary, but stopping after Golden (or making an assessment about traffic and road conditions before continuing). It might be nice to plan a stop for food and views. Willow Creek serves brunch.
posted by LKWorking at 8:26 AM on October 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

I may be outing myself as basic, but when I have out-of-towners who want to drink in the scenery, we make the trek out to Rocky Mountain National Park. It's about an hour and a half from Denver and a very scenic drive. Budget some time to spend exploring the park, of course! You can explore the park by car and if you decide you're feeling adventurous after all there are plenty of great hiking trails.
posted by zeusianfog at 10:37 AM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

I drive visitors up to Idaho Springs, making a side trip to Central City (casinos, but great Victorian architecture). Tommyknocker's in Idaho Springs or Willow Creek in Evergreen are both good. If you have time you can swing up to Buffalo Bill's grave, which is cheesy but fun.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 2:44 PM on October 31, 2019

nth of nickggully's recommendation. 4 hours is really not that long in this part of the world. The mountains are seductively close yet actually a bit of a drive (e.g 1.5 hours to RMNP).

(Aside: If you go to Golden you can see dinosaur bones and footprints at Dinosaur Ridge! It's scenic but perhaps not the absolute best. (That is, go only if you like dinosaurs). You don't have to take the shuttle, it's not that long of a walk. )

If you go to Boulder, you can also drive up Flagstaff road and get a nice view from the top.
posted by lab.beetle at 9:11 PM on October 31, 2019

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