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If you’re looking for the best day trips from Colorado Springs to visit this year, keep reading.
These destinations offer lots of things to do, many of which are free to visit and are great for kids or couples.
You can make a plan to have to visit multiple destinations or national parks, or make a fun weekend excursion out of it.
How? All of the day trips from Colorado Springs listed below are just an hour or two away and can be considered half-day adventures.
1. Garden of the Gods
The absolutely best day trip from Colorado Springs is going to be Garden of the Gods.
Whether you are a frequent visitor (like we are!) or are visiting for the first time, Garden of the Gods is no less than stunning.
The park covers more than 1,300 acres but is unlike any city park you have ever visited.
The main attractions are the towering red rock spires that showcase breathtaking views of the nearby Rocky Mountains.
The rock formations are thousands of years old, and come in a wide variety of shapes and colors.
Because of the unique geology at Garden of the Gods, many visitors and locals alike will agree that it’s the prettiest place in Colorado.
There are 21 miles of hiking trails for walking and biking, plus several main scenic drives. Not to mention, horseback riding and rock climbing for the extra adventurous.
And the best part of all is that Garden of the Gods is open for free to visitors year-round.
The Visitor and Nature Center at Garden of the Gods is also a fun and free attraction! It has a gift shop, a scenic overlook, a free museum, and free parking.
Did I mention it’s free?! A day trip to Garden of the Gods will cost you nothing and will offer priceless memories.
Distance from Colorado Springs: 5 miles
Travel time from Colorado Springs: 14 minutes
2. Paint Mines Park
The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is another local gem that is within a short drive from Colorado Springs.
Located in Calhan, Colorado this is one of the more unique hiking spots in the state.
Instead of traveling west into the mountains, the Paint Mines Park is located east on the Colorado plains.
It features bulbous rock formations, called Hoodoos, that are made out of sandstone.
Over the many thousands of years, the wind and weather has worked to peel back the layers of rock revealing many different colorful layers.
History states that many Native Americans used the colors of the sandstone to create beautiful pottery and other items.
This site is popular for the wealth of geological discoveries found here, as well as bird watching and unique wildlife.
Visiting the Paint Mines Interpretive Park is completely free with parking available at no cost.
You can also hike the Paint Mines Trail which is a 3.5 mile path that loops throughout the park and is a very easy walk.
Distance from Colorado Springs: 37 miles
Travel time from Colorado Springs: 48 minutes
3. Woodland Park
The drive up to Woodland Park is almost as grand as the destination itself.
Located less than 30 minutes northwest of Colorado Springs, is the small but pristine town of Woodland Park.
To locals who know it well, the town is also called “The City Above the Clouds” due to an elevation of nearly 8,500 feet.
It is one of our favorite mountain towns to visit and it’s a perfect day trip from Colorado Springs. There are so many things to do here!
Try some delicious food at the Friday Farmers Market, discover local artists at the Annual Arts Festivals, or learn about dinosaurs at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center.
Pike National Forest is also on the doorstep of Woodland Park! It offers 1.1 million acres of trails, hiking, camping, fishing, biking, and outdoor recreation.
One of our favorite trails is the Red Rocks Trail which is an easy 3 mile loop that displays large red sandstone rock formations.
Or enjoy a day at Manitou Lake fishing, picnicking, or hiking around the lake with gorgeous views of Pikes Peak.
The Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center is also located in the Woodland Park area, which is a kid and tourist favorite.
Distance from Colorado Springs: 19 miles
Travel time from Colorado Springs: 28 minutes
4. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
If you’re looking to visit one of the top 4 best zoos in North America, check out Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Nestled into Cheyenne Mountain the zoo is just southwest of Colorado Springs and is one of the most unique zoos you will ever visit.
The zoo is open to the public 365 days a year and is solely supported by admissions, special events, membership costs, grants, and donations from citizens and guests.
Some of the special events that we enjoy visiting are Boo at the Zoo in October and the Electric Safari in December.
You can also feed the giraffes, check out the new Water’s Edge exhibit, or take a ride on the Mountaineer Sky Ride.
The Sky Ride is only accessible when purchasing admission to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo but we promise it’s a worthwhile venture.
Slowly ascend up Cheyenne Mountain with a short stop at the top to take in the expansive views of Colorado Springs below.
Distance from Colorado Springs: 6 miles
Travel time from Colorado Springs: 18 minutes
5. Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
For our last day trip adventure from Colorado Springs, the Royal Gorge Bridge is a must-visit.
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is located in Canon City and sits about 1,200 feet off the canyon floor.
It is the highest suspension bridge in the country and makes an amazing day trip from Colorado Springs!
It is also home to the highest Zip Line and a Skycoaster that can be quite hair-raising, if I do say so myself.
Tickets to visit the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park cost about between $20-29 for children and adults. For kids under 5 years old admission is free.
Or you can get a free ticket by booking a Colorado Jeep Tour, which is the only vehicle allowed to drive across the bridge, aside from maintenance vehicles.
The gorge is in a valley so you’re surrounded by the Sangre De Cristo mountains, and the Arkansas River below.
Some nearby attractions include hiking the Royal Gorge Overlook Loop or Arkansas River Canyon Rim Trail for free.
Or visit the famous Skyline Drive which is a historic and narrow one-way road.
It rises about 800 feet in elevation from the surrounding valley and does not have any guardrails or safety railings.
When visiting the Royal Gorge, get ready for some gorgeous views and sites that may literally take your breath away.
Distance from Colorado Springs: 58 miles
Travel time from Colorado Springs: 65 minutes
6. Pikes Peak Highway
In less than 30 minutes from our house in Colorado Springs is the Pikes Peak Highway. This 3-hour road loops back-and-forth all the way to the top of this 14,000+ foot mountain.
Whether you’re a tourist or a local, the Pikes Peak Highway is a fun day trip near Colorado Springs.
Not only that, but this is one of the highest roads in the country while also being one of the most scenic. Once you’re at the top of Pikes Peak you will be stunned by the breathtaking views.
Be sure to bring a camera! It’s a destination you don’t want to miss.
Oh and we recommend stopping at the Pikes Peak Summit House to grab a donut or a pickle to snack on.
Distance from Colorado Springs: 14 miles
Travel time from Colorado Springs: 27 minutes
7. Manitou Springs
Just 15 minutes west of Colorado Springs you can escape to the quirky mountain town of Manitou Springs.
Spend some time shopping at local boutiques or enjoy playing at the vintage Penny Arcade.
After walking through downtown and shopping for hours, stop off at one of the many local restaurants for a yummy bite to eat.
Then treat yourself at Patsy’s Chocolates for some classic treats.
Or if you’re looking for one of the best natural hot springs near Colorado Springs, check out the Sunwater Spa.
This is a relaxing hot springs spa using water from the nearby 7-Minute Spring.
Or enjoy a casual walk through the city by going on a mineral springs walking tour. It’s free and each spring has a different taste with health benefits.
Distance from Colorado Springs: 6 miles
Travel time from Colorado Springs: 13 minutes
8. Cripple Creek
If you’re looking for a day trip near Colorado Springs that features gold mining history and modern day gambling, check out Cripple Creek.
But it’s not a town for adults only as this small town is filled with tons of things for families to do, too.
Kids will love riding the Cripple Creek Narrow Gauge Railroad or touring the Heritage visitors Center with interactive exhibits.
We recommend grabbing some coffee at the Prospector’s Perk Coffee House or enjoying an ice cream break at the Crippled Cow.
On your way to Cripple Creek, check out the Phantom Canyon Road. This scenic drive runs through the town of Cripple Creek, along with the cities of Canon City and Florence.
It winds along the walls of the canyon, stone tunnels, and up old narrow and twisting roads.
Distance from Colorado Springs: 45 miles
Travel time from Colorado Springs: 1 hour 2 minutes
9. Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado Canyon State Park is one of the lesser known state parks in Colorado but none-the-less gorgeous. It’s located just northwest of Denver, within a few miles of Boulder.
From beautiful rock formations to incredible scenery and great rock climbing, there is so much to do here.
The park is full of pine trees, huge canyon walls, a small river, and winding trails that are perfect for exploring.
Kids and adults will love to go hiking, fishing, and picnicking in these beautiful outdoors. Plus, there is lots of bird watching and wildlife to be seen.
Distance from Colorado Springs: 97 miles
Travel time from Colorado Springs: 1 hour 42 minutes
10. Estes Park
We can’t make a list of the best day trips near Colorado Springs without mentioning Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Estes Park is considered the gateway to the Rocky Mountains and is completely surrounded by all kinds of outdoor activities.
During the summer it’s a great place to experience waterfall hikes and swim in some of the most beautiful Colorado lakes.
In the winter, the trails are perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
And in the fall you can see hundreds of elk migrate through the city during the famous, Elk Fest event.
And we haven’t even mentioned one of the most iconic destinations, the Stanley Hotel, which was made popular for Stephen King’s book, The Shining.
It will take longer to drive to Estes Park for the day versus other destinations on this list, but once you arrive, you’ll see why it’s worth it!
Distance from Colorado Springs: 133 miles
Travel time from Colorado Springs: 2 hours 27 minutes
The best day trips near Colorado Springs
These are just a few of our favorite day trip destinations that you can visit near Colorado Springs.
And all of them are perfect half-day trips that can be combined into full weekend excursions if you choose.
Plus, check out some of our other favorite day trips from Denver that include cities like Idaho Springs, Red Rocks, and Boulder.
There is always something historic to explore or adventure to discover near Colorado Springs.