There is no shortage of Boulder, Colorado things to do; something about this gorgeous chunk of land that keeps drawing you in – no matter what season. It’s just about a 30-minute drive from the main hub of Denver but significantly closer to the mountains, which makes it a great base camp for hiking, snow sports and other adventure. If you don’t want to go the rental car route (which we suggest, with 4-wheel drive if you can manage, if you want to do any trails) there is a shuttle that runs between the airport. Read more of our suggestions for Boulder, Colorado things to do to start planning your trip (safely) for any season!
Boulder, Colorado Weather
First and foremost – Boulder, Colorado weather can be volatile. No matter what season, it’s worth checking out the forecast because it can change at the drop of a hat (for example, high 90’s one day, 30’s and snowing 2 days later) – but the best advice we can give you is to layer up. Because of its location, Boulder, Colorado weather means lot of precipitation. Plan ahead!
Hiking in Boulder
As we mentioned, Boulder is a great place for making basecamp, and as far as hiking in Boulder (or in the surrounding areas) goes, you’ve got plenty of options.
Chautauqua Trail & Hiking the Flatirons
Probably one of the most iconic views in in Boulder? The majestic five faces of the Flatirons. You’d know them if you saw them! The Flatirons are actually made up of fragments of rock from what’s known as the ‘Ancestral Rocky Mountain’ range, which was in the area many, many years ago. The Flatirons gradually got pushed up on a tilt by an uplift of the region 65 million years ago. Because of the varying elevations, there are a lot of different trails for all kinds of fitness and ability levels. Some of the best trails to look out for?
- Chautauqua Park & Trail: elevation isn’t too steep and there are tons of shaded places for breaks, insta-opportunities and gorgeous views.
- Royal Arches Trail: this one is HARD, but worth it. Caution, though – there are a lot of places you need to watch your step, lest you twist an ankle. Gorgeous views at the top!
- Green Mountain West Trail: good, moderate trail with great foliage, views and varied availability levels; good for families too!
Red Rocks Amphitheater
You can’t go hiking in Boulder and not take a day or half-day trip to the Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater. In addition to being one of the most iconic outdoor performance venues in the country (and the highest in elevation), it’s also home to some amazing hiking. Red Rocks Amphitheater is about a 40-minute drive from Boulder and 100% worth the drive. A hike up to the top of the amphitheater will get your heart pumping, but there are plenty of trails around the area too. A couple of favorites:
- Red Rocks Trading Post Trail: a gorgeous loop through the red rocks of the area good for families and all ability levels.
- Red Rocks Trail: a long trail that will take you down toward the road as a connector to Dakota Ridge Trail – not too steep, but be careful in the colder months.
- Dakota Ridge Trail: a moderate trail that is definitely worth crossing the road for – probably some of the best views of the Red Rocks Amphitheater itself! As a note, you can see some dinosaur tracks along the trail, too. And a raceway!
Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the major draws of staying in Boulder is the proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park – one of the nation’s highest national parks. Just within the boundaries of the park, there are 77 mountain peaks over 10,000 feet! Rocky Mountain National Park is a great destination for camping, hiking, and even just driving around, though depending on when you go, you may need to watch out for road closures.
Another important note: right now, you need to book a timed entry reservation for your visit – and they book up FAST! The easiest way to do it is through the Recreation.gov app (it’ll also allow you to access your ticket with ease when you enter, just make sure to grab a screen shot somewhere in Estes Park before you lose signal!). Final tip: it’s best to plan out what area of the park you want to visit depending on how long you plan to visit; the park is huge and it will take you a few days to explore. Below are some great options for hikes in the Bear Lake area of the park:
- Bear Lake Loop: an easy to moderate loop trail around a beautiful lake, great for all abilities. Just be careful if you head there after it’s snowed – it can be a little slippery!
- Bear Lake to Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lakes: This offshoot from Bear Lake is a great trail with lots of scenic terrain – basically ‘over the river and through the woods’ – almost like something out of a fairy tale!
Honestly, you can spend a LOT of time in the park – and each experience changes with the seasons!
6 Quick Tips for Hiking in Boulder
- Make sure to bring sunscreen and bug spray.
- Mask up! Be respectful and mask up around others – gaiters are great for this.
- Definitely bring a bottle of water with you.
- Hit the bathroom BEFORE you head to the park – options are few and far between when nature calls.
- Be ready to smile and say hi to everyone – people are VERY friendly.
- Be aware that there may be dogs off leash on the trails – stay alert!
- Bring hiking boots if you have them – you’ll be able to spend way more time checking out the scenery instead of worrying about tripping over rocks like I did.
Restaurants in Boulder, CO
There are TONS of great restaurants in Boulder, CO – between Pearl Street, near campus, and downtown Boulder, you’ll have tons of options to choose from. Two of our top picks from the area? Read on to see for yourself:
- West Flanders Brewing Company: In addition to great eats, you will also find lots of unique and delicious Belgian-style beers, brewed in-house. Food-wise, think of delicious pub fare, but then elevate it and add a couple of plot twists for good measure. The space is beautiful and also boasts outdoor seating.
- Avery Brewing Company: Picking up on a theme here? We promise there are more places to eat than just breweries, but with the fresh mountain air and the prime location, Colorado is a hot spot for brew. Word on the street is that it was a favorite pass-through spot for miners during the Gold Rush era – seems fitting! Avery Brewing Company has a gorgeous indoor space, but the outdoor patios are really where it’s at. They also do tours (usually – but call ahead) and have a great food menu – lots of pub eats, comfort sandwiches and tacos and smoked BBQ to satiate your appetite. Not in the mood for beer? They also make their own spiked seltzers!
Stay tuned for more of our favorite Boulder, Colorado things to do. Know of one we missed? Feel free to DM us any time @color.and.curiosity!