4 Days in Colorado Itinerary: Denver, Boulder, RMNP, & Colorado Springs

Visiting Colorado soon? Here’s a guide to 4 days in Colorado, with time spent in Denver, Boulder, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Colorado Springs! Looking for some of the best things to do in Colorado? Keep on reading!

We visited Colorado for the first time together during the summer of 2017 and had a super fun long weekend exploring three major cities, Rocky Mountain National Park, and eating delicious food. We always say that if we were to live anywhere else besides the West Coast, it would definitely be Colorado!

From the awesome food and coffee scene to the endless outdoor adventures, it’s our kind of state! You could easily spend more than 4 days in Colorado and we have so much of the state left to explore, but if you’re considering heading to The Centennial State for the first time and want to visit some of the main cities (Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs) and Rocky Mountain National Park without breaking the bank, here’s an itinerary for 4 days in Colorado to help you out!

Note: This itinerary is based out of Denver and involves a decent amount of driving, but the drives are typically very scenic and worth it! If you are only going to spend time in a couple of these areas, check out our “if you have extra time” section at the end for more ideas of things to do in Colorado and places to eat!

To read a more detailed recap of our trip to Colorado, check out our blog!

Note: this blog contains affiliate links. Full disclosure– if you click on these links and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

Leave No Trace Principles

Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!

  1. Plan ahead & prepare. Make sure you research and prepare for every adventure so that you know the rules, stay safe, and to minimize resource damage.
  2. Travel & camp on durable surfaces. Stay on the trail and only camp in designated areas, as well as the required length away from water sources.
  3. Dispose of waste properly. Whatever you pack in, pack it out! Make sure to carry out your trash, as well as any trash you find. If you have a dog, please do not leave poop bags on the trail. For human waste, use a trowel to dig a hole far from water sources or use a wag bag (sometimes required).
  4. Leave what you find. Do not take any items from the trail with you, including rocks, plants, or artifacts.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts. Know the rules of where you can and cannot have campfires and if allowed, use designated fire rings. Use local firewood to prevent bringing any pests or diseases to the area you’re visiting and make sure to fully extinguish your fire.
  6. Respect wildlife. Keep your distance from wildlife, control your pets on the trail, and never ever feed them! Make sure to keep your food stored properly as well (we like this bear canister).
  7. Be considerate of other visitors. Be respectful to others on the trail. Hikers going uphill have the right of way on hikes and it’s always courteous to let those quicker than you pass. Avoid playing music out loud, talking loudly, and having your pets bother others.

​Where to stay in Colorado

Where to Stay in Denver

We recommend staying in Denver because it’s the most central spot to all of the destinations on this guide and has a great food scene. On the days we traveled outside of Denver, we loved coming back to Denver at night for a delicious dinner and some ice cream. :)​

Some good Airbnb options in Denver are: Option #1, Option #2, Option #3. If you prefer a hotelThe Crawford, inside of Denver’s Union Station looks super cool!

And if you’d rather stay in one of the other cities, here are a few good options:

Boulder: Airbnb Option #1, Airbnb Option #2Airbnb Option #3Hotel Boulderado, St. Julien Hotel & Spa

Colorado Springs: Airbnb Option #1, Airbnb Option #2, Airbnb Option #3 

Getting Around Colorado

While within Denver and Boulder you could easily walk or take an Uber/Lyft around, we highly recommend renting a car for your trip so you can easily get from city to city and to the mountains.

Day 1: Denver

  1. Grab coffee at Huckleberry Roasters! We loved the murals both inside and outside of this coffee shops, as well as their seasonal drinks!
     
  2. Get breakfast at Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. This place is SO good! They are originally from Colorado, but have locations in Texas, Arizona, and California, but it’s worth checking them out in their hometown. Make sure to get their pancake flight! If you’ve had Snooze before, check out Sassafras American Eatery instead!
     
  3. Wander around Union Station, which is a beautiful renovated train station from 1914. It’s still a working train station, but is also home to restaurants (like Snooze, mentioned above!) and shops!
     
  4. Walk around downtown Denver. Some spots to visit:
     
  5. Explore and have lunch at the Denver Central Market. This indoor market has multiple restaurants to choose from, a bar, coffee, and more! After finishing lunch, grab an ice cream flight from High Point Creamery, which is also in the market and sooo good!
     
  6. Head to Red Rocks Park and hike the Red Rocks Trail and then stay for an outdoor concert among the red rocks! You can check out their concert schedule here. Not a fan of anyone playing during your trip? Check out a game at Coors Field instead or go brewery hopping!
     
    • Note: If you go to Red Rocks you’ll want to pack a dinner or snack to eat before the concert. Trader Joe’s in Denver has lots of great pre-made options!

Day 2: Boulder

  1. Kick off the morning with breakfast at Denver Biscuit Co. before heading to Boulder (a 35 minute drive). This biscuit spot has been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives and is a super popular spot in town, so try to get there early! 
     
  2. Grab coffee at Boxcar Coffee Roasters in Boulder. This is right on Pearl Street, which is the coolest little street with a view of the mountains.
     
  3. Walk around Pearl Street Mall. This tree-lined street is super cute and a bit touristy at times, but we love walking around it! Boulder Book Store was one of our favorite finds on Pearl Street.
     
  4. Have a quick lunch on Pearl Street. A handful of cheap options:
     
    1. Roxie’s Tacos
    2. Foolish Craig’s
    3. Illegal Pete’s
    4. Rincon Argentino
       
  5. Hike the trails at Chautauqua Park! We recommend the Royal Arch Trail—3.4 miles, 1,358 ft elevation gain. Make sure you’re adjusted to the altitude change (unlike we were) otherwise this will feel a LOT harder!
     
  6. Dinner at Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery. This is a cash only spot is a Boulder institution and has a lot of variety for all different taste buds. 
     
  7. For dessert, head over to Gelato Boy
     
  8. Head back to Denver for the night. Try to get some sleep because tomorrow will be a big adventure!

Day 3: Rocky Mountain National Park

  1. Leave Denver bright and early to drive to Rocky Mountain National Park, which is a 1.5 hour drive. It gets crazy busy there in the summer and parking can be hard (and there are long shuttle lines), so try to leave as early as possible.

    NOTE: Rocky Mountain National Park now has timed entry in the park between June 4-October 12 to help control crowds. Reserve your time to enter here. You can also enter the park without a permit before or after the permit hours.

    The park also offers a free shuttle, which you may need to take if you arrive late and parking is full.
     
  2. You have a handful of amazing hiking options for your one day in the park! We’d suggest one of these options:
     
    • Emerald Lake Trail (3.2 miles, 620 ft elevation gain)- This hike starts at Bear Lake and passes Nymph and Dream Lakes before ending at Emerald Lake. The trail is gorgeous and all of the lakes are so pretty! You can even add on Hiayaha Lake for a total of 4.9 miles.
       
    • Alberta Falls and Mills Lake (5.4 miles, 938 ft of elevation gain)- We loved this hike! We did this in combination with Emerald Lake and Mills Lake was a lot less busy and the views were gorgeous (the main photo for this guide was taken from the Mills Lake hike!)
       
    • Sky Pond (8.5 miles, 1,761 ft of elevation gain)- It’s said this is one of the BEST hikes in the park, although it’s a bit more strenuous than the previous hikes. We plan to hike this in the summer of 2021.
       
    • Chasm Lake (8.2 miles, 2,542 ft of elevation gain)- Another amazing lake hike that requires a good uphill climb to get to.
       
    • Mount Ida (9.3 miles, 2,362 ft of elevation gain)- This trail is located off of Trail Ridge Road and has an incredible view from the top!

      Tip: Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the trail!
  3. If you have enough time or just want something easy to do, drive Trail Ridge road, which is 48 miles one way and offers amazing views, chances to see wildlife, and overlooks to stop at!
     
  4. Walk around Estes Park​—Inkwell & Brew is a cool coffee shop if you need a caffeine boost!
     
  5. Head back to Denver for dinner. We highly recommend  Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery. It was one of our favorite meals our whole trip! The food feels very high quality and fancy, but it’s an order at the counter joint
  6. Walk across the street to grab dessert ​at Nuggs Ice Cream!

Day 4: Colorado Springs

  1. Leave Denver relatively early to drive to Colorado Springs, which is about 1 hour 15 minutes away from Denver. You’ll want to make sure to have enough time to explore there!
     
  2. Enjoy breakfast + coffee at Switchback Coffee Roasters or Loyal Coffee.
     
  3. Drive to the top of Pike’s Peak—the round trip journey to the 14,114′ summit is between 2-3 hours. It does cost money to do this ($10/adult or $35/car with up to 5 people), but the views are amazing!
     
  4. Grab lunch at Skirted Heifer or Piglatin Cocina.
     
  5. Explore the trails at Garden of the Gods. This park is SO cool and really fun (and easy) to walk around. It’s perfect for all ages and athletic abilities!
     
  6. Head back to Denver for dinner. Some options:
     
  7. Enjoy one last ice cream at Little Man Ice Cream or Sweet Action Ice Cream ​(Can you tell we love ice cream?!)

If you have extra time…

Have more than 4 days in Colorado? Here is a list of more things to do in Colorado, including food, hikes, and more!

Food

Coffee
Colorado has a solid coffee scene!

Activities

Heading to Colorado?

Pin this 4 days in Colorado itinerary + guide to help plan your trip!

about us

Hi y’all! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream (we’re a 5+ taco and 2+ scoop household), and enjoying nature.

search

affilliate disclosure

This website contains affiliate links from websites such as Amazon.com, Booking.com, and Rentalcars.com. If you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

instagram

Never miss an adventure

Sign up to get travel updates, guides, vlogs, and other resources delivered straight to your inbox once a month!

48 Comments

  1. Luiza

    Thank you for this post! I’m sitting in Warsaw, Poland right now but feeling like I was in Colorado 🙂

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Wow, Warsaw! That’s so cool! Thank you for checking out our guide 🙂 We hope you can make it to Colorado soon!

      Reply
      • Luiza

        Yes, we will visit USA in September and we’re planning to see North California, part of Oregon and Colorado, so now I’m reading all your posts! Tips and photos are amazing:)

        Reply
        • Kathryn Frazer

          That is going to be an AMAZING trip! We have a bunch of guides/blogs for all of those areas that can hopefully help. Let us know if you have any questions! 😀 And thank you so much!

          Reply
      • Mark

        Would like a interested in 5days Denver Colorado what’s the best and most seen

        Reply
        • Kathryn Frazer

          Hi Mark, we personally have only ever spent a couple days at a time in Denver, using it to explore all of the amazing outdoor areas nearby (and in this guide). We hope to spend more time there in the future and can elaborate more on things to do just in Denver.

          Reply
  2. Kristin

    I’m from Evergreen, Colorado and LOVE this list you put together!! Amazing recommendations!

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Wow, thank you Kristin! Having someone from Colorado say such nice things about our guide is the best compliment we could ever receive and means so much to us!

      Reply
  3. dj

    wonderful introductory tour to the amazing state of Colorado, where i lived for MANY years! you’ve definitely hit the highlights. good callouts for Manitou and Maroon Bells. thanks for taking me along a nostalgic road!

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Thanks DJ! We can’t wait to explore more of the state later this year and visit some of the lesser known spots. If you have any suggestions, let us know! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Julia Jones

    All of your Airbnb links are just taking me to the main Airbnb page and not to a specific home. Anyway to copy links to the exact homes?? Thanks!

    Reply
  5. Robert Jackson

    Hello,
    This article is very amazing and Colorado is a really really cool place. I love to visit. thanks to sharing this blog.

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Thank you so much Robert! We love Colorado and cannot wait to go back soon!

      Reply
  6. Chris

    Great site! Your blog and travel guides are outstanding! My brother and I just traveled to Colorado and we were able to plan a good portion of our visit using suggestions from your guide! We at Skirted Heifer and Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery and were sure to take the Emerald Lake Trail. It was well worth it. I hope I am able to use more of your guides in the future and look forward to reading about your travels!

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      This makes us so happy Chris! We are so glad that you found the guide helpful and had a great trip! Once we hit the road in our van we will be creating many more guides for spots all around the US…stay tuned! 😀

      Reply
  7. Alicia Hall

    My, now, Fiancé used your guide to help us plan our trip itinerary and WOW!! We had such an amazing time. Thank you for your help!!

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      This just made our day! We are SO glad you had an amazing time! And congratulations on your engagement!

      Reply
  8. Robert Jackson

    Hello,

    This is the best vacation is looking days in Colorado is the best information is Awesome. thank you for share this blog

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Of course Robert! We are glad you found it helpful!

      Reply
  9. Hannah Baker

    Hello! This guide it has helped me plan a trip to Denver in November. I love photography so I am excited for the Rocky Mountain Park. I also saw your YouTube videos on the food and I cant wait to try the Denver Biscuit Co. Other than Rocky Mountain Park, what is one place I must visit for photos?

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Hi Hannah! We’re so glad the guide has helped! We love the Flatirons for photos and also Garden of the Gods, especially if there is some snow! The white snow + orange color of the Garden of the Gods = stunning!

      Reply
  10. Laura Acevedo

    Hello! Looking to visit Colorado in the early part of 2021 (Jan/Feb), which I read are freezing cold months. Are the weather and COVID risks for using this itinerary?

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Hi Laura! This guide was more intended for the summer and was written pre-COVID, but with that said, a lot of these activities can be done in the winter, assuming roads are clear enough. Rocky Mountain NP is open in the winter (although parts are closed) and you can snowshoe by Bear Lake, among other activites. They have some info here with current conditions too! Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods are both open in the winter too, weather permitting! As for COVID, I would need to double check that all of these spots are still open, but with takeout and picnicking they should all still be doable! Outdoor dining may be a bit cold 🙂 I hope that helps some!

      Reply
  11. Frank

    Great Site.
    Any recommendations as to where to stay and other thoughts on adding Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP to a CO trip?

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Hi Frank! We actually haven’t been there yet, but planning to this summer! It looks really cool, so we’d suggest adding it if you have the time. Montrose is the closest larger city to there, so that would probably be your best bet for places to stay.

      Reply
  12. Deanna

    Thank you for sharing your adventure with great detail! Your blog made me without a doubt want to visit the areas you outlined. We look forward to visiting Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Rocky Mountain National Park in earl June. Your blog gave me so many great ideas for hikes and things to do for our trip. We are planning a total of 10 days split between a couple different AIRBNB. One is in Nederland and the other in Old Colorado City (due to work events we need to attend).We did some of the Colorado Springs stuff on our last trip. I did come across Paint Mines Park in Colorado Springs and wondered if you have be there or had any pointers. Thanks again!!

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Hi Deanna! We are so glad the guide gave you some ideas for your trip. It sounds like an incredible trip across the state. We unfortunately haven’t been to the Paint Mines Park, but it looks super cool! Another spot that is sort of close (1.5 away, so not really haha) is Bishop Castle. We have always wanted to go there! We hope y’all have a great time 🙂

      Reply
  13. Jess

    I followed this guide almost to the tee and our trip was everything and more I could of hoped for! Thank you for putting together such an easy guideline to follow for us first tome travelers to Denver!

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Hi Jess! We are so happy to hear this! Thank you so much for following our guide!

      Reply
      • Erin Ploeger

        I also followed this guide to a tee and it was the best thing we could have ever done for a first-time trip to Denver! I used your Itinerary Sheet as well and it made the planning process that much better to make sure we got in all of your amazing recommendations. I have no doubt I will be using more of your itineraries in the future, thank you so much for putting this together 🙂 Cheers!

        Reply
        • Kathryn Frazer

          This was the BEST comment to see today, thank you! We are so happy to hear you had a great time! Thank you so much for trusting our advice and for using the itinerary sheet too! It has helped us stay organized so much and we are really glad it helped you too!

          Reply
  14. Rajesh

    Man, This is a perfect plan. I stopped further search after reading this. Just following it! Thank you.

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Hi Rajesh! We’re so glad you found it helpful!

      Reply
  15. Caitlin

    Thanks for the tips! I saved your guide for a trip we had planned before cancelling bc of covid last summer. Very excited to take this trip in the next few weeks to CO. Looks like these spots are centrally located around Denver so we will stay there for 4 days, any suggestions if we want to visit Winter Park? Should we plan to stay there too for a few days or just visit for the day? We are traveling with a toddler and baby so want to do all the fun things but also make it easy to travel with them. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Hi Caitlin! We are glad the tips helped! We haven’t personally visited Winter Park, but it looks like it could be a pretty short day trip from Denver (closer than Rocky Mountain NP actually!), assuming you only want to spend one day there. If you want to spend more time there, it may be good to split up the locations you stay at! This guide definitely involves a lot of driving, but if you’d rather have one home base it’s definitely doable!

      Reply
  16. Amit Houston

    Hi Adam & Kathryn, thanks for sharing your recommendations and documenting nicely in this blog. We just took trip to Denver and Colorado springs. Your blog was very helpful in planning our trip. Your restaurant recommendations were top notch…thanks a lot!!!

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Hi Amit! We are so glad that the guide helped and that you enjoyed the food!

      Reply
  17. Danielle

    Well done on this post! I live out here in Colorado, and you really touched on everything that would make a great 4 day trip out here. Your hike picks for Boulder and RMNP are perfect! Hope you get to do Sky Pond this year – it’s incredible! I have one suggestion – there’s a place in Estes Park called Cinnamon’s Bakery – they serve different cinnamon rolls each morning until they run out, and they are AMAZING. Highly recommend trying them next time you’re there. Cheers!

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Thank you so much Danielle and thank you so much for the Cinnamon’s Bakery tip! We will try to swing by there (if we can get there early enough) next time we are in Estes Park!

      Reply
  18. Gurpreet Chahil

    My husband and I just got back from visiting Colorado. We were looking for a quick get away with a short flight 3.5 hrs from Jersey. This was a perfect trip! We stayed in Boulder and made day trips to Denver, RMNP, Colorado Springs, Peak’s Pike etc. We loved the downtown Colorado Pearl street lively area and Denver for dinner and ice cream. The street performers were very entertaining.
    Adam/Kathryn,
    You guys did a great job writing out the activities and places to visit! We kept referring to your list and it made our trip more wholesome. I will definitely look at the other places you have visited and your recommendations.

    Thank you so much! 🙂

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Hi Gurpreet! So happy y’all had a great trip! We love Boulder and that is a great place to stay! Thank you so much for using our guide, we’re so glad it was helpful and we hope that we can help you with a future adventure 😀

      Reply
  19. Lukasz

    Great trip, any advice for 4 day skiing trip ( 4 days 4 mountains)

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Hi! We haven’t personally skiied in Colorado, but we LOVE the town of Telluride and would love to go there in the winter. You can take the gondola from town to the ski area easily and the town is historic and beautiful!

      Reply
  20. Mag

    Is last week of October 2021 too late to have access to trails and activities with regard to weather/temps?

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Most of the hikes should still be doable in normal conditions, but an early snow storm could mess things up. We visited Boulder and Denver in late October 2019 and they got a bunch of snow, but we hear that was a bit early compared to normal. It was 80 degrees the day before and then snowed…which we also hear is normal haha, but it cleared up pretty quickly.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2021 Adventures of A+K. All Rights Reserved. Website built with love by Dreamworthy Design.