7 Hidden Gems Near Denver, CO

Table of Contents

throwing up a peace sign in Denver, Colorado.

Headed to Colorado? Check out these hidden gems near Denver!

There is so much to see when you’re in the area, and a lot of breathtaking places are within an hour of driving.

I mainly cover the areas north and west of Denver.

Need help choosing a place to stay?

I mention the places we stayed on our trip in each section below, but you can also use this map to book your stay!

Booking.com

I’ve also included a map at the bottom of my post so you can see where each place is, as well as an itinerary for a 3 or 4 day weekend!

Without further ado, here is a list of 7 hidden gems you’ve got to visit, with some extra sights to see along the way!

7 Hidden Gems Near Denver

1. Aldefer/ Three Sisters Park, Evergreen

Sitting on a boulder at Alderfer Three Sisters Park, Evergreen - a hidden gem near Denver, Colorado.
posing on a boulder in Aldefer/Three Sisters

My favorite thing about Aldefer Park is how big it is.

This gorgeous park in Evergreen, Colorado is only a 45 minute drive West of Denver.

It has fifteen miles of trails covering 1,127 acres.

Harrison and I actually hiked a trail without seeing a single person!

I’m sure it’s a bit more populated in the summer… but still.

These trails go on for miles and miles, and you can see beautiful rock formations, vistas like in this photo, and gorgeous ponderosa pines throughout.

The loop that Harrison and I did was about four miles, but there is a trail map at the entrance where you can choose the trail you want to follow.

On your way there stop at Blackbird Cafe and Tavern in Evergreen for breakfast!

This hidden gem is right off of Bear Creek Road.

Get ready for a great cup of coffee, delicious gluten free options, and a cozy, country feel.

The booths along the walls overlook a creek, making it even more inviting.

I was especially pleased that my meal came with a gluten free English muffin that tasted like heaven.

2. Sunrise at the Red Rocks – One of My Favorite Denver Hidden Gems

Sunrise at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, a hidden gem near Denver, Colorado.
Archway at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO

This amphitheater might not quite be a hidden gem to the locals since it’s famous for its cool design and great shows.

But for someone not familiar with Denver like me, I was shocked at its beauty and had no idea it was in Denver.

But the real hidden gem lies in the perfect sunrise view it offers.

The amphitheater is usually near empty at sunrise, other than a few other early birds.

I recommend arriving at least 20 minutes before sunrise for two reasons:

  1. The sky starts turning into beautiful colors well before the sun rises.
  2. In order to find the best view point, you’ll want time to park and walk around.

Parking is free and if you’re looking for some exercise, running the bleachers is a great work out!

While you’re in Morrison, stop at the cute shops on the main street.

The shops of Morrison, CO just sneak up on you when you are driving down Bear Creek Road.

Filled with adorable shops and local goods, you can explore the whole town area in a short amount of time.

The shops line the street and there is parallel parking along the road.

My favorite was the Morrison Country Store, where you can get cute boutique country goods, like soaps and serving dishes.

Look at their website here if you want to explore more than just the town.


Check out the 36 most Instagrammable places around Denver!


3. A Golden Sunrise in Golden

Sunrise from Table Mountain Inn, Golden, CO
Pink sunrise from main street in Golden, Colorado - one of many hidden gems near Denver.

On the sunrise topic, you’ll find another great sunrise view in Golden.

We stayed at the Table Mountain Inn and got gorgeous views from our balcony.

We also walked right outside to capture a street view of the sunrise (with caution, though there weren’t many cars out).

While you’re in the area, head to Windy Saddle Park.

Entrance to Windy Saddle Trail
Mountain view from Lookout Mountain in Colorado

Getting to Windy Saddle Park is quite the drive.

You’ll want to drive all the way up the mountain to get to the good hiking spots.

And be prepared to drive behind a ton of mountain bikers up and down the winding streets.

Once you arrive at the start of the trail head, you’ll hike on a narrow path up to the top of the mountain, and then back down.

Along the way, there are a few pull offs where you can get some great views of mountains and the city below.


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4. This dreamy gem at Rocky Mountain National Park

posing in Rocky Mountain National Park - one of the most beautiful hidden gems near Denver, Colorado.

Harrison and I found this spot while walking the trail from Bear Lake to Emerald Lake.

As soon as you pass Dream Lake, hang a right and climb a narrow hill until you reach the top.

Once you’re at the top, you’ll see these unbelievable views over Dream Lake.

We hiked it all in the snow, so honestly I’m not sure what this path looks like without snow cover, but these are the best directions I can give!

The whole walk (trudge) in the snow until we reached this point was about 45 minutes.

And of course check out the not-so-hidden gems at Rocky Mountain National Park, like these two spots:

Rocky Mountain National Park view
Rocky Mountain National Park view

We took these both on the side of the road while driving through the park.

We entered the park through the Estes Park entrance, and you’ll find these spots along the main road from the entrance to Bear Lake.

If you need a place to stay, how about the famous Stanley Hotel?

If you’re looking for a cool place to stay that has historical and cultural significance, how about The Stanley?

This hotel in Estes Park is famous for its spookiness.

Stephen King wrote The Shining after his stay at The Stanley Hotel.

The Stanley may not qualify as a hidden gem to locals, but most people I’ve talked to who don’t live in or around Denver have no idea “The Shining hotel” is in Estes Park.

Walking around the inside of the main building definitely gives you the heebie-jeebies if you’ve seen the movie and remember the setting.

We didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but I will say that the elevator shocked me every single time I used it ๐Ÿ™‚

5. Mount Sanitas, Boulder

Mount Sanitas, Boulder - a hidden gem near Denver, Colorado.

Harrison and I hiked Mount Sanitas with his brother and sister-in-law, who lived in the area at the time and know the mountains well.

Our hike spanned six miles, and by the time we reached the top of the mountain, my quads were burning!

Our entire trek took about five hours, but the beautiful red rocks and gorgeous scenery were worth it.

We did a lot of meandering and took plenty of breaks.

So your hike can last as long or be as brief as you prefer.

Be sure to bring plenty of water, and keep in mind that if it’s a sunny day, you’ll need fewer layers than you think!

After your hike, stay at Briar Rose Bed & Breakfast.

Briar Rose Bed and Breakfast, a hidden in gem in Denver, Colorado.

This bed and breakfast is a must if you’re staying in Boulder.

A quaint, homey place, you’ll find all organic and eco-friendly products here.

Fun fact: they fluff your bed down comforter like nothing I’ve ever seen before! You’ll just see a huge mountain of fluff on your bed when you walk into your room.

An extra perk- they have breakfast options that cater to all sorts of dietary needs, as well as gluten free homemade cakes and cookies that they have out for an anytime snack.

You can book your reservation (and check out everyone else’s raving reviews) here!

6. The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

The food at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is so good that Harrison and I visited twice on our Colorado trip.

Definitely be sure to try their specialty drink: a Chai tea latte that is absolutely delicious (and has unlimited refills)!

But not only is the food incredible, the architecture is stunning as well!

The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse was a gift from Boulder’s sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

You’ll find colorful tiles, ornate details, and so much more. The building was actually designed and built in Tajikistan, and assembled once it arrived in Boulder.

While you’re there, don’t forget to explore Pearl Street Mall.

If you haven’t been to Boulder, Pearl Street Mall stretches for blocks, and is extremely walkable.

There are all kinds of shops and restaurants here for you to explore.

My favorite is the Boulder Bookstore. Filled with all kinds of books, and decor to match, you’ll feel right at home here.

7. Baseline to Flagstaff

walking a trail in Walker Ranch, Boulder, CO - a beautiful hidden gem near Denver, Colorado.
Girl looking down at Gross Reservoir in Boulder, CO

If you follow Baseline Road out of Boulder, it’ll eventually become Flagstaff Road and lead you through Flagstaff Mountain.

Keep on following that road until it takes you to Gross Dam for some pretty views of the water.

We found our favorite views just off of the side of the road!

Note that there is a $5 parking fee to use Flagstaff Road, which you can leave in cash at any of the pay stations.

If you have time to venture further through the mountains…

Definitely do so! We found literally so many hidden gems driving the road that looked prettier!

My word of advice for finding the best hidden gems: plan your travels, but leave room for wandering!

Panoramic view at Golden Canyon State Park, a hidden gem near Denver, Colorado

We found this lookout completely by chance (so it definitely qualifies as one of my Denver hidden gems), driving through the mountains without a destination.

I had planned our whole Colorado trip meticulously, except for this day.

Instead, we listened to the locals and it eventually brought us to this stunning view.

When Flagstaff Road ended, we continued onto the next, choosing the prettiest path we could see.

Climbing over various mountains for hours, we finally ended up in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, where youโ€™ll find this panoramic view just waiting for you at a stop off.

Map of Locations

Check out where each spot is located, and check out the itinerary below!

4 Day Hidden Gems of Denver Itinerary

Here’s a sample itinerary if you want to fit these within a 4 day trip or long weekend. Feel free to cut out a day if you’re short on time:

Day 1:

  • Head to Red Rocks Amphitheater for sunrise
  • Drive to Evergreen
  • Stop at Blackbird Inn & Tavern for breakfast
  • Hike Alderfer/Three Sisters Park
  • Have lunch in Evergreen
  • Head towards Golden, stopping at the shops in Morrison along the way
  • Have dinner in Golden
  • Stay the night at Table Mountain Inn
Sunrise at red rocks amphitheater, a Denver hidden gem
Alderfer Three Sisters Park

Day 2:

  • Enjoy sunrise from your balcony at Table Mountain Inn
  • Hike Windy Saddle Park
  • Drive to Boulder for brunch
  • Hike Mount Sanitas
  • Enjoy an early dinner in Boulder
  • Drive to Estes Park
  • Spend the night at The Stanley Hotel
Sunrise from Table Mountain Inn, Golden, CO
Entrance to Windy Saddle Trail
stanley hotel interior

Day 3:

  • Have breakfast in Estes Park
  • Hike Rocky Mountain National Park (bring a lunch if you plan to spend all day here)
  • Drive to Boulder
  • Have lunch or dinner at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
  • Walk around Pearl Street Mall (and have dinner on Pearl Street if you haven’t already)
  • Stay at the Briar Rose Bed & Breakfast
bear lake in winter
a stunning and snowy mountain landscape in Rocky Mountain National park, one of many hidden gems in Denver, Colorado
dushanbe teahouse boulder

Day 4:

  • Have breakfast at the Briar Rose
  • Check out of the B&B
  • Buy lunch in town that you can save for later
  • Drive from Baseline Rd until you reach Flagstaff
  • Check out Gross Reservoir
  • Keep driving and stopping along the way anytime you see a river/hike/trail/stop off
  • Reach the panoramic view in Golden Canyon State Park
  • Drive to Denver
  • Have dinner in Denver or at the airport
  • Fly home
girl sitting on rock in forest
flagstaff mountain view
sunset in golden canyon state park

Do you know of any other hidden gems in Denver, Colorado ?

Comment below so that we can check it out on our next stay in Colorado!

And if you want to see my 36 favorite Instagrammable spots around Denver, click here!

Safe travels!
Jasmine

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13 Responses

  1. Hi Jasmine,

    May I ask what season did you go to Colorado. I will be going in mid October and wan’t to know if I’ll be lucky to see any snow.

    1. Hi! We have visited over Thanksgiving break, in January, and in March. During all of those times there has been snow on the ground, though I’m not sure about October! I bet that certain areas, especially in the mountains, get snow earlier than the big cities, so hopefully you’ll be able to find some snow then!

  2. Hey! What road did you take from Gross Reservoir to Gold Gate Canyon State Park? I love that road trip idea and it looked beautiful!

    1. Hi Emma! It was such a fun, peaceful road trip, I hope you get to do it!

      From Gross Reservoir we took Gross Dam Road to Coal Creek Canyon Rd to S Beaver Creek Rd to Gap Rd!

      And then we actually headed to the airport after exiting Golden Gate Canyon State Park so just followed our maps to get out of the park after reaching the panoramic view point!

  3. What rental company do you use for good transportation during winter months? Coming to Denver for my honey moon in January and not sure what to do about transportation.

    1. Hi Sidny! I usually just check generic rental sites and compare based on pricing! In the winter you almost always are required to have 4WD if you’re leaving Denver. One time we had booked a sedan and ended up having to upgrade, so I’d book a bigger car before going if you plan on exploring out further!

  4. Hello! I love this article thank you so much. I hope you donโ€™t mind me asking where exactly did you guys take that photo at windy saddle park? I went today trying to get some good portraits of my son and was unsuccessful 1. Finding parking and 2. Finding a place with beautiful scenery where We didnโ€™t have to hike up. Any info would be so greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Melissa! I’m so glad you loved it! And the first photo at Windy Saddle Park was right at the trailhead entrance (I believe it is the Lookout Mountain Trailhead but I can’t say for sure), at the bottom of the stairs. (Also it probably looks different without the snow!). There was parking when we went, right at the base of the trailhead. We had hiked this loop before and I just wanted a photo this time, so I just hopped out of the car and ran to the steps where we got this photo!

      And the second picture was taken off the side of the road! We pulled over right as we turned around a bend, then I got out and sat on that rock! You can’t see it in the photo, but the road is literally right behind me. We used a 120mm zoom lens (my husband was far away and fully zoomed in) to make the mountain look huge behind me.

      Good luck, I hope you’re able to get some awesome photos here!

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Hi, I’m Jasmine! I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. I’ve quit my 9-5 to become a travel blogger, and my goal is to show others how they can too! And if you love your full time job, stick around for travel tips and inspiration! Thanks for following along on my adventures!

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