Denver might be one of the best destinations in the country for food, culture and incredible views, but sometimes you just want to get closer to the mountains. Luckily for outdoor enthusiasts, there are more than enough remote mountain towns to visit that are a short drive away from Colorado’s capital city. If you don’t own a vehicle or you’re coming in from out of town, Avail makes it easier than ever to rent a car for a road trip from downtown Denver.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a tourist in town for a week or a resident looking to escape the rush of city life: These seven destinations will bring you closer to the mountains while offering fantastic small-town charm.
Best mountain towns near Denver
It’s hard to narrow down the list of best mountain towns when Colorado offers so many to choose from. We decided to stick with a few that are close enough to Denver to drive there and back in a single day if you wanted to.
Distance from Denver: 45 miles (1-hour drive)
Things to do: Hiking, eating, biking, relaxing, art
A great fit for: Families, friend trips, couples, single-day trips
Whether you take I-25 north or hop on Highway 36 and pass through Boulder (which is also worth visiting), the 45-mile trip to Lyons should take just over an hour. Nestled in the mountains, Lyons is one of many mountain towns in Colorado near Denver and offers visitors a unique combination of eclectic art, world-class music, mountain activities, beautiful public parks and a quiet — but inviting — downtown area with shops and dining.
If you love Lyons enough to stay longer than one day, you’ll need to plan carefully: lodging is limited to a few locations, and most restaurants and bars close by 9 pm. Its busiest season for tourism is from June through August, followed closely by the winter months.
Distance from Denver: 45 miles (1-hour drive)
Things to do: Hiking, skiing, museums, dining, camping
A great fit for: Couples, families, friend trips, weekend trips
Head an hour east along I-70 to reach Georgetown, a lovely mountain town. Visiting Georgetown is an adventure no matter what time of year you go, as there’s plenty to do during all four seasons. Whether you’re a fan of hiking, history or hitting the slopes, visiting Georgetown is an excellent way to experience what the locals call “Vintage Colorado.”
Georgetown is a fantastic day trip, but don’t overlook the option of staying overnight there. Visitors have their pick of accommodations, from quiet bed and breakfasts and short-term rentals to a few traditional hotels. That makes it an excellent fit for couples seeking a quick getaway or families who want to spend a weekend in nature.
Distance from Denver: 29 miles (45-minute drive)
Things to do: Art, hiking, biking, ice skating, skiing, dining
A great fit for: Families, music lovers, art lovers, friend trips
Home to one of the best hikes near Denver, Evergreen is just a 29-mile drive to the west along US-6 W, I-70 and CO-74. Like many Colorado mountain towns, visitors flock to Evergreen for its outdoor recreation, including the Evergreen Nature Center. But that’s not the only thing to do. Downtown Evergreen is a destination for art lovers, foodies and concert enthusiasts.
Like many spots on our list, there’s never a wrong time to visit Evergreen. It just depends on your priorities. Summer visitors will enjoy hiking and biking. Winter tourists will find themselves drawn toward ice skating and skiing.
Distance from Denver: 46 miles (1-hour drive)
Things to do: Skiing, museums, shopping, dining
A great fit for: Outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, families, one-day wanderers
Passing through Boulder along Highway 36 and heading west will lead you to Nederland. As the gateway to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, it’s another great destination for those who love the outdoors. It’s also great for family ski trips, as the town is a base camp for the Eldora Mountain Resort, one of the best ski resorts near Denver.
History buffs will enjoy an afternoon at the nearby Mining Museum, while visiting First Street means shopping and dining at local businesses you can’t find anywhere else. Unless you plan on camping, Nederland is a location you may want to reserve for day trips, as this tiny town doesn’t boast much in the way of hotels.
Distance from Denver: 70 miles (roughly a 1.5-hour drive)
Things to do: Skiing, dining, shopping, water sports
A great fit for: Families, outdoor adventurers, avid hikers, friend trips
Take the 70-mile trip west along I-70 and don’t stop until you get to Frisco, where you’ll find the perfect combination of mountain thrills and small-town charm. Frisco’s proximity to six mountains makes it an excellent spot to start your ski adventure. Don’t neglect a visit to its charming main drag, which features no shortage of shops and spots to grab a bite to eat.
Some of Frisco’s most popular destinations include the Frisco Adventure Park, Nordic Center and the Marina. Each offers unique experiences depending on the time of year. One can’t-miss attraction? The Tubing Hill. It closes during summer, but it’s a fun experience for the whole family in the winter.
Distance from Denver: 67 miles (1 hour, 15-minute drive)
Things to do: Hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, shopping, brewery hopping
A great fit for: Single-day trips, camping, overnight getaways, families, friends, couples
Another stop along I-70, Silverthorne — which you probably passed through on your way to Frisco — is a hub for hiking and biking in the Colorado mountains. Whether you visit in winter or summer, there’s plenty to see and do. In addition to the typical outdoor activities, like fishing and skiing, Silverthorne offers visitors and residents the chance to enjoy local shops, breweries and artisanal coffee.
If you plan on visiting Silverthorne for a day trip, consider getting an early start; the drive can take around an hour and 15 minutes in low traffic. Otherwise, consider staying at one of the area’s hotels, private rentals or even campgrounds to make a fun-filled weekend out of it.
7. Woodland Park
Distance from Denver: 89 miles (1 hour, 35-minute drive)
Things to do: Hiking, outdoor activities, museums, breweries, restaurants
A great fit for: Families, couples, single-day trips, weekend adventures
If you head south on I-25 to Colorado Springs and then northwest on U.S. 24 from Colorado Springs, you’ll make the 89-mile journey to Woodland Park, a “city above the clouds.” This mountain enclave is a perfect place to experience the great outdoors, with plenty of trails and parks. Like many of the idyllic locations on our list, it’s also home to a bustling main street.
What makes Woodland Park particularly fun for families? Visit the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center to find out. It’s a fantastic museum with hands-on fun for kids. If you can’t get enough of the animals, perhaps the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center might be worth a visit. Add plenty of craft breweries and local restaurants and there’s enough fun to pack a full day (or weekend) trip.
Visiting mountain towns near Denver
Easy access to so many cute mountain towns near Denver is one of the best parts of visiting or living in the Mile High City. From skiing and hiking to shopping and dining, each of these places has something to offer seasonal visitors and weekend warriors alike. But if you’re currently without a car and stumped on how to get there, there’s no reason to worry: Avail makes it simple.
When you use Avail to reserve a car in Denver — even if it’s just for a day — you can hit the road and head to one of these destinations in less than two hours. That’s more than enough time to spend a day of fun outside the city and be back in time for dinner.
Denver mountain day trips frequently asked questions
Where can I go for mountain day trips from Denver?
One of the best parts of life in Denver is the easy access to mountain towns as day trips. In addition to the spots on this list, you can head to nearby locations like Boulder, Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak and Estes Park. Many of these destinations are within two hours of downtown Denver and perfect for a family or on your own as a day trip.
What town in Colorado has the best mountain views?
If you ask 100 people about their preferred town for mountain sightseeing and activities, you’d probably get at least 50 different answers. Living at the edge of the Rocky Mountains means there’s no shortage of options. In addition to the locations on our list, some of the most popular spots to check out mountain vistas include:
- Estes Park
No matter what destination you choose, Avail makes it easy to start your trip quickly with self-service pick-up and drop-off at every location throughout downtown Denver.