If you live in Denver and want to get out of the city or just want to visit Mile High City, there is plenty to do and see in a day's drive from Colorado's largest city.
The rocky mountains are close at hand, with skis, hikes, scenic roads in the clouds and scenic lakes between the snowy peaks. Then there are historic cities, mining towns and even a wolf sanctuary to visit. And Denver is a perfect getaway for many of these incredible places. In the U.S. state day trips from Denver are the most adventurous.
Central City and Blackhawk
They appeared during the Pike Peak gold rush that started in 1858 and is known worldwide for the wealth found in the mountains. But as cities developed, mining collapsed in the early 20th century with mine exhaustion.
When the cities shrank, there was a big change in the 1990s with the introduction of gambling. Today, Blackhawk and Central City share 24 casinos.
In addition to the casinos, there are hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as two separate highways, each of which means that they compete against each other to attract players. Since Blackhawk was the first city along the original route, it's the busiest of the two with 18 casinos in the city, but you can stay in both and enjoy the attractions because they're so close.
There are other things to do, including excursions and local breweries, but we'll be honest: there are better places for these things. If you want to play cards or feed a penguin bandit, plan a day trip to Central City and Blackhawk.
White River National Forest
The White River National Forest is Called large preserve to the west of Denver, covering a big chunk of the Rocky Mountain landscape.
You enter the White River National Forest as you drive along the I-70, approaching Vail and stretches into much of Northwestern Colorado.
There area includes 12 ski areas with some of the best known in the U.S. all within its boundaries such as Aspen, Vail and Beaver Creek. But if you're not into skiing, there is a whole lot of nature to see.
There are 10 fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet tall) in White River and a number of large wilderness areas that are perfect for hiking - there are 2,500 miles of hiking trails so you can go on day trips every weekend for years and not have to follow the same track!
Unsurprisingly, White River is the most visited National Forest in the United States but with the size of it and the number of different activities, it doesn't feel crowded.
Keep your eyes open for the deer, moose and elk on your way around the forest but take care as there are lynx, bobcats and mountain lions in the area, although your chances of meeting one are very slim.
If you're feeling lazy, White River has some amazing roads that wind through its area and you can go on a scenic drive around instead!
Georgetown is not what you would expect from an old mining town, an hour's drive from Denver to the Rocky Mountains.
Georgetown is located on Lake Georgetown and along I-70 and is surrounded by mountains. It is known for its recently restored Victorian buildings.
At the gates of the city is the Georgetown Loop Railroad, where you can catch a train up and down during the summer months on an 1880 narrow gauge railway.
If you are visiting Georgetown or just passing through Vail, Aspen or other parts of the White River National Forest, it is worth stopping if you have time.
A good tip is to take the Guanella Pass Road, which leaves I-70 in Georgetown and winds its way south towards the mountains until it meets Route 285 in Grant. Open only during the summer months, you are guaranteed to have a breathtaking view and not too many visitors as it is one of the least known mountain roads in the region.
Pawnee National Grassland
Day trips from Denver usually go west to the Rocky Mountains because of the landscape, activities, cities, and nature reserves, and the city is so close.
We felt guilty because the first 10 points on our list were all geared towards the Rocky Mountains or at least on foot. So here is a day trip in the opposite direction to the plains of Pawnee National Grassland.
It lies on the northern border of Colorado, where it meets Wyoming and Nebraska. It is a huge area with wild meadows that stretches for miles without a hill in sight.
There are a number of itineraries and even campsites if you want to stay longer, but you can get a really good idea of the place and enjoy it on a day trip from Denver.
Beware of the network of small roads and dirt roads that cross the prairie - some are public roads, others are private roads. Therefore, pay attention to signs, as this can disturb local farmers.