The beauty and natural landforms present in Denver, CO, make this area a popular destination for tourists. With its close proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park, Denver boasts an enjoyable variety of excursions for people of all ages. Within the Mile-High City itself, Denver offers many different museums and historic destinations, including the U.S. Mint. Those who seek a more natural environment can take the direct route to Rocky Mountain National Park via Highway 66 or the scenic route via the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. Once in the park, a multitude of activities await, including hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, rock-climbing, and driving the scenic byways.
Brief History of Denver, CO
- History of the Capitol: The capitol building in Denver, Colorado, initially opened in November of 1894. A gold dome sits at the top of the building, covered with gold leaves.
- About the Denver Mint: As prospecting gained momentum in Colorado, the area needed an assay office to handle the processing of gold. The Denver Mint opened in 1863.
- Colorado Earthquake History: An earthquake occurred in Denver on November 7, 1882, going on record as the first earthquake to occur in the state of Colorado.
- Early Denver History: Prospectors discovered gold at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in 1858. This was the start of settlements in the Denver area.
- The First Store Opens in the Frontier Town of Denver, Colorado: Denver received its name in 1858 after the first store opened to cater to the miners and prospectors who were flooding the area in search of gold.
All About the Rocky Mountains
- Geological Activity: The Rocky Mountains have existed for nearly two billion years, and during this time, both uplifting and erosion have been occurring to continually change the landforms.
- Rocky Mountain Arsenal: Seasons of Wildlife: More than 330 different wildlife species call the Rocky Mountains home, and many of these animals exist in this environment throughout every season of the year.
- Life Zones of the Rocky Mountains: The Rocky Mountains feature five different life zones separated by different elevations. The alpine life zone is the highest zone.
- Colorado’s Rocky Mountains: The tallest peak in the Rocky Mountains is Mount Elbert, towering at 14,433 feet.
- Climate: Rocky Mountain High (PDF): The Rocky Mountains have a significant impact on Colorado’s climate, affecting both temperatures and precipitation.
- The Past and Future of Rocky Mountain Forests: Connecting People and Ecology (PDF): Colorado is located at the southern terminus of the Rocky Mountains, and they extend northward into Canada.
- The Rocky Mountains (PDF): The southern portion of the Rocky Mountains includes landforms in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.
- Mountains and Oceans: The Rocky Mountains (PDF): The Rocky Mountains have the title of largest mountain range on the continent of North America. This mountain range covers more than 3,000 miles.
- Top of the Rockies National Scenic Byway: This scenic byway is 115 miles long, and it features two lanes and full paving with many spots to pull off and hike.
- Quick Guide to U.S. Route 89 in the Rocky Mountains: Route 89 winds through the Rocky Mountain range, covering land in several different states.
- San Juan Skyway: The San Juan Skyway enables drivers to explore the San Juan mountain range, which is part of the Rocky Mountains.
- Favorite Scenic Drives: Trail Ridge Road snakes through Rocky Mountain National Park, offering visitors an opportunity to see majestic scenery and abundant wildlife.
- Mount Evans Scenic Byway & Wilderness: Travelers will move through three different life zones while driving the Mount Evans Scenic Byway.
- Peak to Peak Scenic Byway: The Peak to Peak Scenic Byway begins in Estes Park and meanders through the Rocky Mountains through canyons and mountain passes.
Hiking in Denver, CO
- Hiking and Backpacking the Colorado Trail: Hikers can choose day hikes that involve hiking between points over the course of one day or backpacking, which involves long-distance hiking.
- Day-Hike Trails Map: Estes Park: Estes Park boasts a number of day-hike trails, some suitable for families and with handicap accessibility.
- Rocky Mountain National Park Gear List (PDF): Hikers should pack lightly for alpine hiking with minimal gear. Recommended personal items include a wool base layer, a medium-weight fleece shirt, waterproof pants, a lightweight fleece jacket, hat, waterproof gloves, and hiking shoes.
- Hiking and Mountain Biking Guide (PDF): Hiking trails will often have natural plants and flowers growing abundantly along the pathways. Hikers must remember not to pick flowers and to leave all natural items in place.
- The Geology Along the Trails West of NCAR (PDF): Hikers can explore trails in the Rocky Mountains looking for geologic treasures such as specific land formations, fossils, and vistas.
- Rocky Mountain National Park (PDF): A goal when hiking is to minimize the impact on the surrounding fragile environment. Hikers can achieve this goal by staying on trails and trying not to trample plants.
Wildlife in Denver, CO
- Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats (PDF): The Rocky Mountains are home to both bighorn sheep and mountain goats, which live in both the foothills and the higher elevations.
- National Parks in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption (PDF): Animals living in the southern Rocky Mountains may be experiencing serious changes in their environment due to climate change. Some fish species, birds, and mammal populations have recently shown changes.
- The State of the Southern Rockies Eco-Region (PDF): This eco-region has approximately 90 different mammals, 203 birds, 18 kinds of fish, 10 reptile species, and seven amphibian species living in this environment.
- A Vision for Wolves in the Southern Rocky Mountains (PDF): A study in the 1990s indicated that the forest lands of Colorado could sustain more than 1,000 wolves, which suggested that the environment could withstand efforts to reintroduce wolves to this area.
- Rocky Mountain National Park (PDF): Large animals living in Rocky Mountain National Park include bighorn sheep, beaver, elk, coyotes, brown and black bears, mountain lions, and bobcats.
- Meet the Natives: Native animals of the Rocky Mountains include moose, Canada lynx, river otters, grizzly bears, bald eagles, porcupines, and wolves.
Other Rocky Mountain Information
- Rocky Mountain Geology (PDF): The Rocky Mountains that run through Colorado feature 53 peaks with elevations higher than 14,000 feet.
- Rocky Mountain Ecosystems (PDF): The topography of the Rocky Mountains includes basins, valleys, high plains, canyons, tundra, and glaciers.
- Rocky Mountains: Winters in the Rocky Mountains tend to be unpredictable, with blizzards, cold temperatures, and high winds. Weather in the spring, summer, and fall is usually mild due to the elevation.
- Rocky Mountain National Park: Rocky Mountain National Park dates back to 1915, and it boasts vistas with elevations between 8,000 and more than 14,000 feet.
- Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountains: The flowers that grow in the Rocky Mountains are determined by the elevation, with different species thriving in different environments.
- Top Ten Native Plants for the Rocky Mountains: Native plants growing in the Rocky Mountains include the Rocky Mountain Juniper, the Quaking Aspen, and the Dotted Blazing Star.
Hiking and Outdoor Safety Information
- Get in Shape for Your Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Trip: Because hiking in the Rocky Mountains involves exertion at high elevations, hikers must plan and prepare for a hiking trip.
- Learning From Recent Encounters With Mountain Lions on the Trails: Hikers must bear in mind that dangerous wildlife live in the Rocky Mountains. Hiking these trails may involve encounters with these predators.
- Colorado Hiking (PDF): Some people experience altitude sickness when hiking in Colorado due to the high elevations of the hiking trails. Drink water frequently and take breaks when hiking in the Rocky Mountains.
- Preparing for Safe Travel to High Altitude (PDF): People who are unaccustomed to high elevations may experience altitude sickness. Physical exertion at high altitudes can exacerbate symptoms.
- Ibuprofen Decreases Likelihood of Altitude Sickness: Taking ibuprofen when visiting high-altitude areas may decrease altitude sickness for some people.
- Hike and Camp in Clear Creek County: Hikers should pack plenty of water to ensure adequate hydration during hikes. Sunscreen is also important because the sun’s rays are stronger at higher elevations.