We were very excited that our youngest daughter joined us for a week in Denver. We knew that Denver is a rapidly growing city so there would be many areas that we could explore while she was here. Not only does Denver itself offer many possibilities of things to do, it is near the Rocky Mountain National Park, the city of Boulder, the Red Rock Amphitheater, and many other locations.
What we did not expect was the July heat in the Mile High City. It hit 100 degrees three days while we were there and was always in the 90’s. Turns out, while this is above average, it is typical that in mid-summer Denver gets really hot. After the mild temperatures of Northern New Mexico, this was a shock for us. To escape the warm temps we planned to go up in elevation for many of our day trips.
Mount Falcon Open Space Park
One of the recommended excursions was to visit the Mount Falcon Open Space Park near Morrison, Colorado. This free park has very nice trails, an observation tower, castle ruins, and large scenic meadows. We started at the popular West Trailhead which had ample parking, picnic areas, restrooms, and numerous trails. The trails are aptly named such as Castle Trail, Meadow Trail, and Tower Trail. We walked parts of all three trails to make an enjoyable loop. The elevation of Mount Falcon is 7,841 so you can enjoy the cooler temperatures as compared to Denver.
In addition to the hikers, there were many bike trail riders getting some exercise. The trails are very well maintained and that brings out many families too.
The popular Castle Trail passes through the remains of the impressive chalet of millionaire John Brisben Walker. The large home built in 1909 overlooks the mountains, red rocks, and the valley, much of which he was able to purchase. His acquired property is the core of the current park.
Eldorado Canyon State Park
Next, we visited Eldorado Canyon State Park near Boulder, CO. This park is in a narrow gorge and is popular with rock climbers, hikers, and picnickers. It is also very busy on weekends. There were plenty of folks during our weekday visit, but we did not have a problem finding a parking spot. There is a $9 vehicle entrance fee for this small park.
The South Boulder Creek rushes along the red rocks and the park service has placed multiple picnic spots along the single road that follows the gorge. The small visitor center at the end of the road has water refill stations, which you will need in this warm environment.
We hiked the Eldorado Canyon Trail and the shorter Fowler Trail. Both have great views of the gorge. The Canyon Trail receives a significant amount of sun so the wildflowers were plentiful this time of year.
We were so close to Boulder that we visited its downtown pedestrian mall to grab a cup of afternoon coffee. The place we discovered was “Piece, Love, and Chocolate” on Pearl Street. While we were enjoying an espresso the owner chatted with us and gave us a sample of a new type of chocolate that they were creating. They had multiple gluten-free items as well.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Many people in Denver recommended that we visit the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO. It was hard to imagine what this might be like, but we quickly realized that it is located in the 868 acre Red Rocks Park which is beautiful.
The Amphitheatre itself is very impressive and must be a great place to go to a concert. The location has an impressive history of famous acts and is a busy venue. The Amphitheatre has a visitor center which features history and loads of information about past concerts.
We hiked the Trading Post Trail which is a loop around the park through the red rocks. This short hike has many views of the signature red rocks and starts/ends at the Red Rocks Trading Post.
Up next is part two of our Denver area explore.
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