The national parks near Denver are plentiful. Expect dramatic landscape at Black Canyon, historical cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde and Sahara-like scenery at the Great Sand Dunes. Culture Trip’s local insiders have listed the best national parks near the Colorado city for you to explore.
Rocky Mountain National Park
300 miles of hikes and trails, some of the regions greatest displays of wildlife and ‘The Overlook Hotel’ from The Shining. The Rocky Mountain National Park is extremely popular so booking in advance is essential. The incredible drive along the Trail Ridge Road summits several 12,000-foot (3,658-meter) peaks and on a clear day, the Rocky Mountains stretch as far as the eye can see. The small town of Estes Park is where you’ll be stocking up on supplies and where you can take a ghost tour of Room 217 at the Stanley Hotel. Recommended by local insiders Rose Corbett and Lily Shipman
Are you ready to get sand absolutely everywhere? Take the picturesque route south via Highway 285 and head to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Bring your own shade in the summer months as there isn’t much around. Take a refreshing dip in the glacial waters of Little Medano Creek to cool off and wash away the sand. Do not forget to bring your own mini surfboard for the ultimate sand-sledging experience. Recommended by local insiders Rose Corbett and Lily Shipman
Home to some of the oldest rocks, craggiest spires and steepest cliffs in North America, the Black Canyon is a magnificent example of the force of nature. Start your explorations in the visitor center with the in-house film and expert advice from the rangers there. There are many trails suitable for different walkers, just make sure you head off prepared with sunscreen, water and the all-important map. The views from the North Rim are spectacular and there is a high chance of spotting an eagle, elk or bighorn sheep on your walk. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman
An exceptionally historically and culturally significant national park in Colorado. The ancestral Pueblo people lived in Mesa Verde for 700 hundred years, creating elaborate cliff dwellings in the side of the mountain. The very same dwellings are still standing today and offer a unique glimpse into the old way of life here. Treks can be self-guided or with an in-house expert. Culture Trip’s local insider recommends that the less confident hiker takes extreme care at certain points. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman
A bit of a drive from Denver but well worth it when you catch your first glimpse of this historical rock formation. Rising 870ft (265m) out of the earth and said to be created from the remains of a volcano, the Devil’s Tower National Monument holds incredible importance in Native American religious ceremonies. Nowadays, it is a hub for the modern climber and hiker with the challenge of the formation famous in climbing circles. If you have the time and unusual rock formations are your thing, keep heading north to the Badlands in South Dakota. Recommended by local insider Lily Shipman