Things to Do in the Denver Metro Area

The Denver Metropolitan Area is the state's most populous region, so even though geographically it only covers a small part of the state, this region is packed with interesting things to see and do.

The map above is from www.Colorado.com, the state's official tourist website. They define the region as including the metro area north to Boulder, south through Douglas County, west to approximately Evergreen, and east through the western parts of Arapahoe County.

If you're visiting this part of the state, there are things to do for every taste. If you're into cultural activities, there's the Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens and many other museums and cultural centers in Denver alone. In other parts of the metro area you can also find small museums and places of interest. Spring and summertime visitors are also likely to find some kind of festival going on in downtown. There are many historic buildings to visit as well for those interested in history and architecture.

If you're looking for something to do outdoors, you may not think of Metro Denver as the place - but actually, there are many places right in the metro area to experience the outdoors. Boulder offers the Flatirons while Evergreen has Mount Evans and Echo Lake. You'll also find several State Parks in the region: Golden Gate Canyon and Eldorado Canyon near Boulder; Barr Lake, on the northern edge of the region, south of Brighton; Cherry Creek State Park in Denver; and Chatfield, Roxborough, and Castlewood Canyon south of Denver. The City of Denver also has a mountain parks system.

Whether you're visiting from out of town or live in the metro area and are looking for a weekend activity, be sure and visit Colorado.com's website of attractions for the area. If you're heading to the outskirts of the region, be sure and travel along some of the area's scenic byways.

If you're interested in finding out more, you can find many publications in our library collection that tell more about this part of the state, including:

  • Denver's Historic Markers, Memorials, Statues, and Parks

  • Denver Mountain Parks

  • Denver: An Archaeological History

  • Denver Landmarks & Historic Districts

  • Denver: Mining Camp to Metropolis

  • Denver Metro Trails Guide

  • Urban Trails in Colorado: Denver Metro

You can also search our web catalog for more publications. For geological maps and information, search by county name.


Things to Do in South Central Colorado

South Central Colorado offers a wide variety of things to see and do. The area includes everything from some of the state's most majestic mountain scenery, to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, to the fertile agricultural lands of the historic San Luis Valley. Some of the cities and towns in the region include Alamosa, Antonito, Buena Vista, CaƱon City, Colorado Springs, Cotopaxi, Creede, Cripple Creek, Fairplay, Leadville, Manitou Springs, Palmer Lake, Saguache, Salida, San Luis, Victor, Westcliffe, Woodland Park, and more. South Central Colorado is also home to Colorado's largest army base, Fort Carson, as well as the United States Air Force Academy.

In South Central Colorado you can visit Pikes Peak; cross the Royal Gorge via the world's highest suspension bridge or go underground at Cave of the Winds; ride the famous Cumbres and Toltec Railroad; visit historic mining towns; experience the outdoors - and much, much more. The area includes several beautiful State Parks. Spinney Mountain and Eleven Mile are great places to go fishing, Mueller offers 55 miles of trails, Cheyenne Mountain and San Luis offer great wildlife viewing, and Arkansas Headwaters is one of the state's premier spots for whitewater rafting. For other things to see and do in the South Central region, be sure to visit the regional attractions page on the state's official tourism website, colorado.com. This page offers an amazing list of attractions with something for everyone - in fact, you can filter the list by what kinds of things you'd like to see and do. And while you're visiting the region, be sure to travel along the region's six amazing byways for some unforgettable scenery.

If you're interested in more about the area, be sure and check out some of our library's collection of publications covering many topics of interest regarding the South Central region. A sampling of these include:

Also be sure to search our web catalog for more publications. We have a large collection of Geological Survey maps and documents pertaining to this area as well.


Things to Do in Southwest Colorado

Southwest Colorado is one of the state's major tourist areas, with everything from great skiing to significant historical sites. Towns and cities in Southwest Colorado include Gunnison, Delta, Montrose, Dolores, Cortez, Mancos, Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, Pagosa Springs, and more; the area also includes the state's Ute Indian reservations. There are many things to do in Southwest Colorado. The region is home to Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado's only World Heritage Site (and one of only a few in North America). Mesa Verde is a major Indian cliff dwelling site occupied nearly one thousand years ago. While you're there, you can also visit the four corners and stand in four states at one time. Southwest Colorado's other major feature is the San Juan Mountains, which include some of Colorado's most majestic peaks. Be sure to ride the Durango & Silverton train while you're there. Another scenic area is the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and river rafting are popular outdoor activities in Southwest Colorado, depending on what time of year you plan to visit. There are several State Parks where you can enjoy these activities: Navajo (good for boating); Mancos (good for fishing); Lone Mesa (lots of wildlife); Ridgway (known for its campgrounds); Sweitzer Lake (fishing, boating, swimming, water skiing); and Crawford (great views, near Black Canyon of the Gunnison). The state's official tourism site, Colorado.com, has put together an excellent list of attractions for Southwest Colorado - be sure to check this site if you're planning a trip there. And while you're visiting the area, be sure to travel along some of the region's gorgeous byways.
If you're interested in more about the area, our library has many publications on a variety of topics regarding Southwest Colorado. Some of these include

You can also search our web catalog for more publications. The easiest way to search is to use the term "southwest" or to search by one of the towns listed above. For information on the geology of the region, search by county name. We have many geological maps for all parts of the state.


Things to Do in Northwest Colorado

Northwest Colorado (as seen above in a map from Colorado.com, the state's official tourism site) is a beautiful area including mountains and mesas. Much of the area is on Colorado's western slope. Towns and cities in Northwest Colorado include Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Rangely, Craig, Hayden, Aspen, Carbondale, Kremmling, Eagle, and Rifle. If you're planning to visit this part of the state, there is much to do. The Grand Junction-western slope area is known for its wineries, while the mountain areas, particularly aspen, are known for their skiing. In the summer, the mountains are wonderful places for hiking, mountain biking, and fishing. The area includes several state parks, including Highline Lake, James M. Robb-Colorado River, Harvey Gap, Rifle Gap, Rifle Falls, Stagecoach, Yampa River, Elkhead, Steamboat Lake, Pearl Lake, State Forest, Vega, and my favorite, Sylvan Lake. Each of the preceding State Park websites includes a link with a list of nearby attractions, so you can plan a great vacation no matter how long or short your stay. Colorado.com has also published a list of attractions for the area. Here you can filter for city/town, search radius, and type of attraction you're looking for (historical, outdoors, etc.) The region also has several byways worth traveling. In our library have a number of publications focusing on different topics of interest in this area of this region of Colorado, including:

  • Northwest Colorado Prehistoric Context

  • Greater Sandhill Crane Nesting and Success in Northwest Colorado

  • Northwest Colorado Transportation Study

  • The River Otter (Lutra canadensis) in Northwest Colorado

  • A Survey and Analysis of Existing Information on Fishes in Northwest Colorado

  • Terrestrial Ecosystems of Northwest Colorado

  • Colorado, the Northwest Plateau (historical document from 1925)

  • Aspen: The History of A Silver Mining Town

  • Colorado Flora: Western Slope

  • Climate Summary: Eagle and Glenwood Springs

  • Western Slope Trails Guide

You can also search our web catalog for more publications. The easiest way to search is to search for one of the towns listed above. For information on the geology of the region, search by county name. We have many geological maps for all different parts of the state.


Historical Maps

The Colorado State Archives features a website of historical maps of Colorado and the U.S. Here you can view an 1895 map of Colorado, historic maps of Colorado cities and towns, and much more. Also on this site you can find a 1795 map of the "Interior Parts of North America," an 1855 map of the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico, and maps of discovery, state admissions, and territorial acquisitions. There are also several maps of transportation routes, including stage routes, railroad maps, and stops on the Overland Trail. This is a fascinating website for learning about what Colorado and the West looked like over a century ago.


Colorado Heritage Timeline

One of the largest sectors of tourism in Colorado is called "heritage tourism" - touring the historic sites around the state. So, the Colorado tourism office and the Colorado Historical Society have put together an amazing website with a timeline of historic Colorado events. Click on a date, region, or category and you are presented with a number of pictures. Click on a picture and it tells the story of the significant person, place, or event in Colorado history. Last I heard the site is continually being developed, so check back often for more content. This is a fun, engaging way for tourists and residents alike to visually learn about our state's colorful past.

Bike to Work

June is Bike Month, and Bike to Work day is on June 22nd this year. To help get psyched up for the ride, the Colorado Department of Transportation has tips and resources for bicycle safety, motivation, and bike efficiency. They also have free materials you can order to help promote bicycle use. The Bike to Work website has all the information you need to find out about the events planned for the 22nd, including breakfast and bike home stations, a list of group rides and how to get your Bike to Work Day t-shirt. Get out there and start pedaling!



Did you know that the Colorado Division of Wildlife issues weekly Fishing Reports that tell you where there is the most fish activity, and the best places to fish right now? They also post tips for fisherman, and news about upcoming fishing events. It's now possible to buy your fishing license online, and take a look at the Fishing website for even more tips and fishing resources.



Colorado.gov, the portal for state government information online, has a brand new look. They are asking for feedback, so now's your chance to help shape the site. After you've explored the new site, click on the "Help us improve this site" icon in the bottom left corner to submit your feedback.


Colorado Wine

This week has been declared Colorado Wine Week by Governor Hickenlooper. There are close to one hundred wineries here in the state of Colorado. June 9-11 is Colorado Winefest, an event in Northfield Stapleton with food and wine pairing seminars, wine tasting, and other festivities. Check out the Colorado Wine Industry website: www.coloradowine.com for information on other events happening around the state this summer. If you are interested in exploring Colorado wine country, or would like to plan a wine-tasting daytrip they have maps and "wine trail guides" to help you on your way. Get in the spirit and raise a toast to Colorado!


Air Pollution Control

With summer and warmer weather comes increased air pollution. You can always find an up-to-date air quality index on the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment's Air Pollution Control webpage (right now air quality is moderate in Denver). The site also includes all you need to know on such various air quality topics as asbestos, climate change/greenhouse gas, fire and burning, indoor air quality, lead, mercury, motor vehicles, oil and gas, ozone, regional haze, and more. For instance, if you're experiencing health ailments you suspect might be attributable to the air quality in your home or office, you can check this webpage for information on what might be causing the problem. Or, if you're wondering how to make your vehicle run as cleanly as possible, you can also find information on this site. As wildfire season approaches, it will also be helpful to check the air quality index as smoke and ash can drift for miles. This is a very helpful resource for any information you might need on Colorado's indoor and outdoor air quality.

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