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.
I’ve included a map at the bottom, 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 seven hidden gems you’ve got to visit, with some extra sights to see along the way!
1. Aldefer/ Three Sisters Park, Evergreen
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
This amphitheater might not be quite a hidden gem since it’s famous for it’s cool design and great shows.
But the real hidden gem lies in the perfect sunrise view it offers.
The amphitheater is usually pretty empty at sunrise, other than a few other early birds.
I recommend arriving at least 20 minutes before sunrise for two reasons:
- The sky starts turning into beautiful colors well before the sun rises.
- 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.
3. A Golden Sunrise in Golden
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.
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.
4. This dreamy gem at Rocky Mountain National Park
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:
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.
Walking around the inside of the main building definitely gives you the heebie-jeebies with its antique decor and the very close air inside.
We didn’t see anything paranormal, but I will say that the elevator shocked me every single time I used it.
5. Mount Sanitas, Boulder
Harrison and I hiked Mount Sanitas with his brother and sister-in-law, who know the Boulder mountains like the back of their hand.
Our hike spanned six miles, and by the time we reached the top of the mountain, my quads were burning like they’ve never burned before.
The entire trek took about five hours. Get ready for beautiful red rocks and gorgeous scenery.
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.
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.
6. Get a taste of Tajikistan at 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 too good for words (and has unlimited refills!).
But not only is the food incredible. The architecture will blow you away 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.
And 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
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!
We found this lookout completely by chance, 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 you’ll find this panoramic view just waiting for you at a stop off.
Locations & Itinerary
Check out where each spot is located, and check out the itinerary below!
Here’s a sample itinerary if you want to fit these within a 4 day weekend. Feel free to cut out a day if you’re short on time:
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Do you know of another hidden gem in the Denver area? Comment below so that we can check it out on our next stay in Colorado!
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