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Outdoor Spring Adventures in Denver
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10 Outdoor Spring Adventures in Denver

It’s not a coincidence that one of the best times to visit Denver is from April through May, as the days begin to see more hours of sunlight and the weather starts to warm up. Denver has some of the best thrilling outdoor recreation options found in the United States. Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush or fun for the entire family, the city is close to multiple parks, mountains, and exciting tours that do the spring season justice.

  1. Take an Electric Bike Tour of Denver

Experience a unique view of Denver with an e-bike tour of the city. Ride Colorado is a family-owned and operated business that has been built around the foundation of exploring beautiful urban locations. Tours begin at $95 and they’re a great way to introduce visiting friends, family, and loved ones to the Mile High City. Helmets are provided and each bike is fitted to the rider. Comfortable shoes are recommended, as well as sunscreen.

Encompassing both scenic and historic attractions, this ride lasts for approximately two hours and spans 10 miles. Participants can choose from multiple power levels, either opting to manually pedal the bike or going full assist. Each tour begins with a bike and riding safety demonstration, allowing everyone to get acquainted with their ride before they take off. Each tour guide is highly experienced and knowledgeable about the area they’re touring.

PRO Tip: Ride Colorado not only offers tours of Denver, Boulder, and Estes Park — they also service bikes from scheduled maintenance to major repairs.

  1. Go Rafting in Confluence Park

Confluence Park is one of Denver’s most urban parks, located at the edge of LoDo. There are baseball and soccer fields, as well as dog parks and trails that follow the meandering river. Fishing is permitted in designated areas, including the South Platte River. Those interested in getting on the water in kayaks or tubes should visit Confluence Kayak & Ski to rent equipment. They’ve been in business since 1995 and have a range of rental options, from single to multi-day use, and a convenient online booking option that allows interested parties to browse the available inventory before they leave the house.

There are several packages to choose from, including the SUP Package, Recreational and Tour Kayaks, Rafts and Inflatable Kayaks, and River Tubes. The building is located near the whitewater chutes of South Platte, allowing rafters to rent their gear and drop into the water nearby. Don’t forget to pack a cooler of snacks and plenty of water to stay hydrated. There are several picnic areas around the park.

PRO Tip: Those who want a lesson or two before heading out on their own will be glad to know that Confluence Kayak & Ski offers lessons, as well as outfitting and repairs. 

  1. Wander Around the Denver Botanical Gardens

Denver Botanical Gardens is one of the top five botanic gardens in the United States. With an emphasis placed on educating the public and spearheading conservation efforts to save species and protect natural habitats, this garden is a testament to the natural beauty found within Colorado and across the world. Spanning over 23 acres, the gardens present an oasis in the bustling urban city. Featuring the largest collection of plants from cold temperate climates found in North America, the botanical gardens attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

There is an ever-changing schedule of special events and exhibitions, such as concerts in the sunken amphitheater and free days throughout the year. Guests are permitted to bring food and beverages (non-alcoholic) and enjoy a relaxing lunch at one of the picnic sites. The Japanese Garden, “Shofu-en,” is a can’t-miss. Designed by Koichi Kawana, this Garden of Wind and Pines represents a stunning natural experience that promotes serenity. There is also a tropical conservatory to visit, showcasing a variety of plant species found in tropical rainforests across the globe. 

PRO Tips: Guests should plan to walk through the garden for 1.5-2 hours, so wearing comfortable walking shoes is recommended. No pets are allowed, with the exception of service animals.

  1. Explore Habitats at the Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo is considered a non-profit conservation organization. The facility sees nearly two million visitors each year. With over 80 acres, the zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals from over 450 species. There are a variety of daily events and talks that both educate guests on the importance of habitat conservation and provide entertainment value for the little ones. Late springtime is one of the best times to visit the zoo, as this is when many baby animals are making their initial appearance. 

Some of the rarest animals found within the zoo include the Siberian Tiger and Black Rhino species, as well as African Black-Footed Penguins, Asian Elephants, and California Sea Lions. Stingray Cove is a popular attraction that allows guests to hand feed the gentle cownose and southern stingrays. This is a seasonal operation, opening for the year in March. Other popular up close and personal experiences include feeding the giraffes and visiting the Johnson Animal Hospital. 

PRO Tip: The paths are easily walkable and can be completed within 2-3 hours. There are restaurants and food booths situated around the zoo, providing an opportunity to re-energize before carrying on to the next adventure. 

  1. Enjoy Some Spring Season Skiing

Many of Colorado’s major ski resorts are open through the first or second week of April, with some staying open until early summertime. Larger operations have access to powerful snowmaking machines, allowing the slopes to open earlier and close later. While different from winter skiing, springtime skiing has its own set of unique benefits, such as shorter lift lines, cheaper accommodations, and fewer tourists.

Most tourists travel to Colorado during January and February, which are consistently the best months to ski in terms of snowfall and weather. This can equate to long lines, packed slopes, and skyrocketing prices for hotels and rooms at the lodges. There are often more outdoor events, including concerts, during the spring as more locals want to enjoy the patio space in the sunny weather.

Spring season, while often less crowded, also sees a different snow texture. Crust snow occurs when the warm sun begins the process of melting the snow, causing it to lose its original structure. Once it refreezes overnight, the resulting now is hard-packed and can be ridden across on a bicycle in some instances. Beginner skiers may find themselves struggling with this packed icy snow, as opposed to fresh powder. 

Some spring season ski favorites include:

PRO Tip: Keep in mind, closure dates can be dependent on the weather and that year’s ski season as a whole. If it’s been an unusually warm season, resorts may opt to close a week or two earlier than originally planned. 

  1. Visit the Wild Animal Sanctuary 

The Wild Animal Sanctuary has several locations within Colorado, as well as one in Texas. The closest sanctuary to Denver is in Keenesburg, which is a quick 40-minute trip. Across all locations, there are over 1,200 acres of natural habitats to provide space for wild, rehabilitated animals to roam. There is an elevated walkway that traverses 1.5 miles. The path provides the opportunity for guests to see the rescued animals without disturbing them.

The sanctuaries provide respite for over 750 lions, tigers, bears, wolves, cheetahs, mountain lions, camels, and wild mustangs. The lions include rescues who traveled from Ukraine to find a safe place to call home. The Keenesburg location provides the animals with 1,214 acres of natural habitats, providing a serene setting that allows the animals to enjoy a calm escape from their past lives spent in illegal and abusive situations.

PRO Tip: There are no dogs or pets allowed, including service dogs. Due to many of the rescued animals being territorial carnivores, this is for everybody’s safety and the well-being of the sanctuary’s residents.

  1. Try Your Hand at Mountain Climbing

Denver Mountain Guiding has been providing climbing tours since 2010, allowing those with an adventurous spirit to push their limits on the mountains. All guides are certified, insured, and have been trained by the American Mountain Guides Association. Day trips span a variety of locations around the front range of Colorado, including day trips to the Flatirons in Boulder, Clear Creek Canyon in nearby Golden, and Three Sisters Park in Evergreen. Those who have never climbed before will find that making it up the first Flatiron is a rite of passage in the local climbing community.

There are over 100 routes alone on the Flatirons, which are one of the closest natural climbing opportunities for Denverites. Private guided climbing or group courses are offered, as well as a Flatiron Summit Package that comes in at $300. Whether you’ve never climbed before or you’ve been summiting for years, the day trips can provide new routes and an opportunity to make new friends within the community. 

PRO Tip: Denver Mountain Guiding also offers ice climbing lessons and trips during the winter months for those who want to push themselves to their limit. 

  1. Ride Through the Rocky Mountains on an ATV

ATV Tours Colorado is conveniently located just 30 miles from Denver, in the backcountry of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains. ATV rides are open to all ages and abilities, just as long as you have the willingness to tackle an adventure. Drivers need to be at least 16, with a valid driver’s license. The Polaris ATVs are automatic and easy to handle and before every tour, there will be an instructional tutorial, as well as safety training. Helmets are included.

The business is family-owned and operated, providing personalized attention to each group. With over 20 years of experience in the mountains of Colorado, the guides provide an exciting and safe experience. They’re first aid and CPR certified, as well as knowledgeable of Tread Lightly and the National Forest Service guidelines. Participants can choose from 1, 2, or 3-hour rides. Don’t be surprised if you want to come back for more after experiencing the serenity of the Colorado mountains combined with the rush of being on an ATV.

PRO Tip: For those with younger children or adults who aren’t comfortable driving an ATV, a double can be selected. This allows one individual to drive while the other simply enjoys the ride.

  1. Check Out the Scenery from a Zip Line

These fully guided zip line tours provide a unique opportunity to view the stunning landscape from an aerial view. Located half an hour from Denver at the Idaho Springs outpost, this makes for a convenient day trip for thrill seekers. With over 20 years in the business, AVA provides a variety of adventure tours in the state of Colorado such as rafting, rock climbing, fly fishing, horseback riding, and more.

Basic zip-lining skills will be taught during “ground school,” enabling those who have never been clipped into a hardness to find their bearings. Liability waivers will be required before every trip and can be provided upon check-in at the outpost. Each zip line course is unique, as the platforms have been built into the landscape as opposed to man-made towers. There are a variety of fun bridge crossings that provide a chance to overcome a fear of heights.

PRO Tip: Closed-toe shoes are required. All other gear, including lanyards, gloves, and helmets will be provided by the company. 

  1. Rent a Swan Boat in City Park 

Wheel Fun Rentals provides a fleet of boat rental options, including swan-shaped pedal boats and kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards. Grab your watercraft of choice and head out on Ferril Lake to soak up the beautiful springtime weather. There is also a location in Washington Park. Rentals become available for the season beginning on April 1st.

The swan boats begin at $11 hourly and they include a shade canopy, as well as lights for evening rides. The rental company also rents bicycles to tour around the city, including their flagship 4-wheel Surrey cycle. A valid ID must be provided at the time of purchase, proving the renter is at least 18 years of age. Life jackets are provided for every watercraft. 

PRO Tip: Each rental has a one-hour minimum before being prorated in 15-minute increments for the duration of the remaining period.