While some places are beginning to reopen, the current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many of our favorite summer activities. However, there are plenty of new and alternative activities to try in and around Denver! Don’t feel like you need to compromise your summer plans because of COVID-19; we at Denver Walking Tours are here to help! From outdoor art to incredible wildlife, this list has you covered!
1. Missing the Denver Zoo? Try the Rocky Mountain Arsenal!
While the Denver Zoo is unparalleled with it’s lions, tigers, bears (oh my!), you can get an up close wildlife experience at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in North Denver. You can go for an 11 mile drive through herds of native bison and deer. If you’re lucky you might be able to spot a few wiley coyotes! This is a great way to get personal with some of Colorado’s native wildlife. If you want to get out and stretch your legs, the Arsenal has 10 miles of hiking and walking trails. The 2 mile loop around Ladora Lake is a great place to practice your birding and look for waterfowl. Don’t forget to bring binoculars for an incredible game of I-Spy wildlife!
2. Like the Museum of Contemporary Art? Head to RiNo’s Crush Walls.
While the Museum of Contemporary Art is temporarily closed, head outside for a city of street art! Denver is filled with graffiti art - if you know where to look. There is street art all over the city, but one of our favorite areas is the RiNo art district. The Crush Walls include over 100 works of art, spread across 10 city blocks. The murals are constantly changing so the experience is different every time!. The Crush Walls began over 10 years ago and have been filling this city with unique art ever since. Make street art your afternoon, grab an iced coffee and go for a wander around RiNo looking for the perfect Instagram photo! For the current list and locations of their art check out: https://www.crushwalls.org/event-map
3. Missing the playground? Go to Garden of the Gods!
Denver has temporarily closed all playgrounds in the city, so head to one of nature’s playgrounds - Garden of the Gods! Just 90 minutes south of Denver, at the base of the Rocky Mountains, is one of Colorado’s best Natural Landmarks. With stunning views over the front range and Colorado Springs, you won’t be disappointed. The rock formations are great for climbing - you can do formal rock climbing or head on a hike and explore the safer rock formations on your own! More information on rock climbing in Garden of the Gods can be found here.
4. Looking for Flowers? Try Well Gulch!
The Denver Botanic Gardens has started to reopen, but if you’re looking to avoid lines and crowds head to Well Gulch in Lory State Park. It’s 90 minutes north of Denver and just west of Fort Collins. The Well Gulch trail is an easy 2 mile mostly flat loop, but filled to the brim with wildflowers. With both a creek and waterfall along the way, you’ll be transported out of the bustling city life and into nature. To make for the perfect day trip from Denver, stop off at Walrus Ice Cream in Fort Collins on your way home!
5. Missing Denver Museum of Nature and Science? Dig for Dinosaurs in your Backyard!
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has a phenomenal collection of dinosaur fossils and artifacts, but while the museum is closed - you can search for dinosaurs in your own backyard! Millions of years ago dinosaurs roamed on the land that is now Colorado. During the Cretaceous Era, the strong rivers flowing off the Rocky Mountains created the ideal conditions for dinosaur fossils. Sedimentary rock, rock created by pieces of many other types of rocks (and fossils) piling on top of each other, was formed at the base of the mountains - where Denver sits today. The rivers were able to quickly preserve many dinosaur fossils including Triceratops and T-Rexes. Just last year Triceratops fossils were found in Highlands Ranch! The perfect storm of geological phenomena in Denver means that you could find a dinosaur fossil in your backyard! If you find anything that looks like a fossil you can contact the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to help identify it!
*Thanks to Victoria Crystal for her help with explaining the geology of Denver!
6. Want to head to the Water Park? Go to Bear Creek Lake Park instead!
Although Denver is not a coastal city, there are plenty of opportunities for playing in the water! Head to Bear Creek Lake Park, just outside of Lakewood, to get your fill of water sports. You can rent SUP (stand-up paddle boards), kayaks, or paddle boats. Water Skiing is also available to those adventurous at heart! There is even a proper sand beach on one side of the lake, the perfect place for sunbathing and swimming. With shaded picnic tables, it’s the perfect day to bring a packed lunch. If you’re not interested in swimming or water sports, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails to keep you busy. Or you can give your best shot at the archery range!