Three of the best road trips from Denver, Colorado

Three cities. Too many miles to count. ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ blasting from the stereo… The most fun way to discover northern Colorado is by taking one of three road trips from Denver.

Colorado might be best known for Denver’s city swagger and soaring mountain peaks that draw snow-lovers from around the world. But beyond the bright lights and winter powder, epic Colorado road trips to Loveland, Fort Collins and Steamboat Springs, via the Cache la Poudre Scenic Byway, await.

Read on to discover three of the best road trips from Denver:

The best romantic road trips from Denver: Loveland

Best for…

Love, of course! You can organise to have a Valentine’s Day card sent to your amore from Loveland. Also ‘lock’ your love onto a LOVE sculpture for extra brownie points. The locals take Valentine’s Day seriously here, with the Loveland Sweetheart Festival and Little Miss Valentine/Little Mr Cupid contest being particular favourites.

If you are thinking of getting hitched consider a group wedding in Colorado’s most romantic town. Just a 45-minute drive from downtown Denver and Denver International Airport, Loveland is an easy escape from the city centre.

Loveland LOVE Lock Sculpture

Things to do in Loveland…

Valentine’s Day aside, there’s plenty to see and do on a road trip from Denver to Loveland. Start by checking out the Benson Sculpture Garden. Opened in 1985, the gorgeous gardens are home to 172 sculptures valued at more than $5 million. The sculptures, dotted over the 10-acres of gardens, paths and picnic areas, were created by renowned artists from all over the world. Don’t miss Circle of Peace by Gary Lee Price. In addition, if you’re thinking about a summer road trip from Denver, try to time it for the famous Sculpture in the Park event hosted by the Loveland High Plains Arts Council.

Loveland Lake

Looking for a real ranch experience? Saddle up and head for Sylvan Dale, where you can enjoy a trail ride along the ridgeline, with commanding views. Or, if you prefer to stretch your own legs, try hiking along the Devil’s Backbone. One of the most easily recognised landmarks in the county, keep your eyes peeled on the hike for red-tailed hawks and other wildlife.

Where to stay in Loveland….

The best road trips from Denver are the ones you don’t have to rush. Extend your stay with a night at Sylvan Dale Ranch, where you’ll find cosy cabins with scenic views after a trail ride.

Where to eat in Loveland…

Head to Door 222 for tapas and sangria, or sign up for a tasting at Sweet Heart Winery. Have pent up energy? Order a beer at Axe to Grind before throwing axes at a target. Or perhaps vice versa…

The best family-friendly road trips from Denver: Fort Collins

Best for

A touch of Disney – downtown Fort Collins provided inspiration for Main Street USA at Disneyland. Just over an hour from Denver, spend a weekend wandering Fort Collins’ picturesque streets, lined with local boutiques, cafés and stores. Additionally, with more than 300 days of sunshine per year and a wealth of outdoor activities to try, there’s plenty to keep the whole family outside…and occupied!

Old Town Fountain, Fort Collins © Richard Haro

Things to do in Fort Collins

Get the lay of the land on the Magic Bus, which takes in the city’s most alluring sights. When you alight, stroll around the Old Town admiring heritage buildings – pause to play one of the 65 painted pianos. For a little adventure, go white-water rafting on the Cache la Poudre River or paddle on scenic Horsetooth Reservoir.

From here, it’s also easy to extend your Denver road trip and access the Rocky Mountain National Park. Just 35 miles away from Fort Collins, the national park covers more than 400 square miles, 150 lakes and 18 peaks about 13,000 feet.

Kayaking in Poudre Canyon © Ryan Burke

Where to stay in Fort Collins

History-lovers will adore the historic, refurbished Armstrong Hotel. Opened in 1923, the hotel still has many of the original features as well as popular Ace Gillett’s – Armstrong’s underground cocktail and music lounge. Alternatively, music-lovers might want to check into stylish The Elizabeth. This elegant hotel has something of a music theme, with in-room record players and even an instrument lending library for guests’ use.

Elizabeth Hotel, Fort Collins

Where to eat in Fort Collins

Carnivores will love the steaks and chops at The Cache at Ginger and Baker. Beer enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a trip to Coopersmith’s, one of 20 craft breweries in town. Afterwards, indulge flight of chocolate at Nuance chocolate shop, which has the largest selection of single-origin chocolate in the world.

The best road trips from Denver for outdoor enthusiasts: Steamboat Springs

Best for

Adventure, whether you’re visiting in summer or winter. Steamboat Springs is roughly a 3.5-hour drive from Colorado’s capital. While it might be a longer road trip from Denver than the other two, it’s well worth the extra time spent on the road. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, the town offers plenty of adventures, both on and off the slopes.

best road trips from Denver Colorado
Downtown Steamboat should be included on best road trips from Denver, in summer or winter

Things to do in Steamboat Springs

Go hiking in summer or skiing or snowboarding in winter. The tree skiing is epic and there are runs for all levels. Channel your inner cowboy (or cowgirl) on a horse-riding expedition at Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch, then continue the theme in the authentic Western town – cowboy boots are essential. Finally, soak your adventure-weary limbs at Strawberry Park Hot Springs – part of the 720-mile Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop route.

Hot Spring Steamboat Springs Colorado
Relax after a busy day of adventure at the Springboat Springs Hot Spring

Where to stay in Steamboat Springs

As one of the longer options for a road trip from Denver, you might want to stay a little while. Choose from more than 50 luxury homes with Moving Mountains’ One Steamboat Place. With stylish interiors and scenic views over the town, these homes are ideally located just steps from the gondola.

One Steamboat Place © Moving Mountain

Where to eat in Steamboat Springs

Dine on local, sustainable produce at Café Diva. Or enjoy contemporary cuisine and craft cocktails at The Laundry. For something more indulgent, travel by snowcat-drawn sleigh to the on-mountain, Scandinavian-style Ragnar’s for a sumptuous five-course dinner.

This article was produced in partnership with Colorado Tourism Office.

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