Denver's great outdoors
It’s only when you leave the city that you realise the sprawling metropolitan area is but a speck in the monumental Midwestern landscape: to the west is the soaring backdrop of the magnificent Rocky Mountains, while to the east lie the big skies and slow, flat, endless slide of the Great Plains. Here are three ways to get a whole new perspective on the Mile-High City:
Hire a car and head about half an hour west to the naturally formed Red Rocks Amphitheatre (open 7am-7pm April-Oct, 8am-4pm Nov-March; free; redrocksonline.com), the striking 9,000-seat location of U2’s Under a
Blood Red Sky concert video. Tens of thousands come here every year to work out, hike, visit the museum, or simply to relive meaningful musical moments. The long view back to the city and airport beyond is extraordinary.
On the way, drive the twisting, climbing Lariat Loop road to the Buffalo Bill Museum (9am-5pm daily May-Oct, Tue-Sun Nov-April; US$5; buffalobill.org). Well-presented galleries tell the story of the army scout, buffalo hunter, cowboy showman and western pioneer. His grave is nearby on Lookout Mountain. The Colorado Sightseer provides half-day tours to both of the above (US$50; coloradosightseer.com).
For the ultimate outdoor adventure, head to the spectacular Rocky Mountain National Park, 115km northwest of Denver. The vast 1,075 sq km park has countless peaks, alpine lakes, deep glacial valleys, pine forests, 565km of trails, and wildlife such as eagles, elk and even moose; it’s like Switzerland – on a very good day. Aspire offers scenic day trips (US$115; aspire-tours.com).
From top: Red Rocks Amphitheatre; Buffalo Bill Museum; and Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park