There’s no shortage of outdoor activities in the Mile High City.
There’s a good reason Denver is routinely listed among the fittest cities in the United States, and if you find yourself in this outdoorsy city, you’re in luck. Within the city limits alone, Denver has more than 200 parks and 85 miles of paved bike trails. Whether you’re into hiking, biking, rock climbing, rafting or more, you’ll be able to find an appropriate location just a stone’s throw away from downtown.
There are more activities to keep you fit and active than could ever fill a single list, but here are a few of the best:
Cherry Creek Trail
The Cherry Creek Trail starts smack dab in the middle of downtown Denver at Confluence Park. It stretches for 24.6 miles southeast, running alongside its namesake creek, and is a favorite for runners and cyclists. Several parks dot the trail where you can stop for a break or picnic lunch, including the Downtown Children’s Playground, Creekside Park, Garland Park and Cook Park, to name a few.
Out-of-towners, keep in mind that the thin air in Denver adds an extra challenge for exercisers who aren’t acclimated to the high altitude. Be sure to pace yourself and carry water with you during any physical activity!
Running Stairs at Red Rocks Amphitheater
Talk about amazing scenery for an intense workout! Contained between the striking russet-hued stones that form the natural Red Rocks Amphitheater are two sets of stairs, each with approximately 380 steps. There are also 21 planter boxes that you can use for plyo jumps — a challenging addition to an already strenuous workout. Another option is to run lengthwise along all of the bleachers from bottom to top, which is roughly equivalent to running a 5K.
Local fitness groups and classes love to meet at Red Rocks, but you can also show up and work out solo. When there’s not a concert or event scheduled, the venue is open and free to the public. Weekend mornings are particularly popular, and you’ll likely see many other friendly faces getting their heart rates racing on the stairs.
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
This unique wildlife refuge is built on the old grounds of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, an army chemical weapons manufacturing facility built in 1942. Don’t let the refuge’s history scare you off though — the land was scrubbed of all pollutants and transformed into a haven for wildlife over 20 years ago. The grounds are a fantastic place to spot over 330 native species, including American bison, bald eagles, white-tailed deer, burrowing owls, and coyotes, so be sure to bring a camera if you visit. You can explore the refuge on more than 10 miles of easy-to-moderate hiking trails that are open year round.
Civic Center MOVES
If the weather is warm, you can join one of the free outdoor group workouts by Civic Center MOVES. Classes meet in Civic Center Park, a large plaza right next to the stunning Colorado State Capitol Building. Civic Center MOVES generally runs from late April to early October, with classes that focus on either yoga or full-body conditioning. Space isn’t an issue with the outdoor venue, so there’s no need to sign-up in advance — just show up at the designated time and be ready to move! Even if you don’t want to do a full workout while touring the city, a relaxing yoga session can be the perfect way to stay limber after a long day of walking.
Whitewater rafting on the Colorado River
Ice Skate at Skyline Park
Colorado’s exceptionally frigid winters send many people scurrying indoors to stay warm, but if you’d like to get outdoors, there are still plenty of options when the weather is cold. If you’re downtown in winter, head over to Southwest Rink at Skyline Park and strap on some ice skates. Open from November to February each year, the rink is free to use and charges a paltry two dollars to rent skates.
At an altitude of 12,836 feet, Summit Lake is among the highest lakes in the United States. Its alpine tundra terrain makes for a distinctive hiking location where you can view mountain goats, picas and other wildlife. Summit Lake is also home to certain types of wildflowers that don’t grow anywhere else outside of the Arctic Circle. After a hike past Summit Lake, you can head to the nearby Mount Goliath Natural Area to explore the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Regardless of the season, it should be no problem making your visit to Denver an active one. Last but not least, if you have an all-club membership and want to fit your regular workout into your trip, be sure to visit any of the 24 Hour Fitness clubs in the Denver area. The local staff will be happy to show you around their club and make you feel welcome.