27 Reasons to Love Colorado in the Summer
Everyone knows about our famously beautiful winters, but Coloradans know that our summers are equally stunning—and, dare we say it, maybe just a little bit sweeter.
Because it's (finally) warm enough to use all that open space Colorado is famous for
You've probably heard of the state's four breathtaking national parks, and might even be able to rattle off a number of the dozens of state parks. Don't get us wrong—those places are well worth your time. But cities, towns, counties, and conservation organizations all over Colorado have also worked hard to preserve hundreds of thousands of acres of lesser-known (and often less visited) open-space areas. The kinds of places that are perfect for hiking, biking, camping, nature watching, picture-taking, or just escaping the city. Below, five examples of open spaces you should visit this summer. —Chris Outcalt
Get Out and Explore
- White Ranch Park
Even among Jefferson County's robust open-space system, White Ranch stands out as a jewel. Located about 20 miles outside of Denver, the park offers two camping areas, 18 miles of trails for you and your hiking boots or mountain bike, and great views of the Mile High City and Colorado's Eastern Plains.
Directions: Drive north on Highway 93 about one mile past Golden and turn left on Golden Gate Canyon Road. Continue west about four miles to Crawford Gulch Road (Highway 57). Follow the signs to White Ranch Park.
- Red Mountain Open Space
The red rock- and green plains-vistas are vast on this rugged, 15,000-acre open space in northeastern Colorado that was once home to Native Americans. Hike the 3.6-mile Cheyenne Rim Trail and spend part of your afternoon walking around Wyoming (the trail briefly crosses the border).
Directions: Red Mountain Open Space is located about 25 miles north of Fort Collins. The trailhead is on County Road 21 between I-25 and US-287.
- Smuggler Open Space
Need a short but challenging trail to hike while you're in Aspen for the weekend? Minutes-from-town Smuggler Mountain is your spot. Check out the old mine buildings on your way up and take in the hypnotizing 180-degree views of Aspen and the four local ski mountains when you reach the viewing platform at the top.
Directions: In downtown Aspen, follow Main Street to the east side of town. Take a left on Park Avenue and follow it to a small parking area and Smuggler Mountain Road.
- Hall Ranch open space
Eagles, owls, hawks, mountain lions, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, coyotes, bobcats, and prairie rattlesnakes—they all call this 3,206-acre Boulder County open space home. Explore the area's 14 miles of trails on foot, by bike, or by horseback, and you might get a glimpse of Colorado's abundant wildlife.
Directions: The entrance to Hall Ranch is on the north side of Highway 7, one mile west of Lyons.
- Star K Ranch
Heading west toward the Rockies isn't the only way to find Colorado's open space. The 204-acre Star K Ranch is a quiet spot jammed between busy Aurora streets. Stop in the Morrison Nature Center—located on the ranch—to see the rotating nature exhibits and sign up for a guided tour of the open space.
Directions: Take I-225 north to Exit 10. Follow East Colfax Avenue for about a mile, then turn left on North Chambers Road. After another mile, turn right onto Smith Road. Take the first right off Smith Road onto Laredo Street. Follow Laredo Street to the ranch.
Because farmers' markets replace supermarkets
Bring a reusable sack and a handful of cash because you'll want to buy all of the following: Palisade peaches, hot kettle corn, fresh tamales, Rocky Ford cantaloupe, raw honey, Olathe Sweet sweet corn, grass-fed bison, locally made cheeses, Colorado-grown vegetables, cut flowers, and artisanal breads.
- Aurora Farmers' Market
1470 S. Havana St. (Aurora)—Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 22 to Oct. 26
- Boulder Farmers' Market
13th Street between Arapahoe Avenue and Canyon Boulevard (Boulder)—Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 3 to Nov. 6; Wednesdays 4 to 8 p.m., May 5 to Oct. 6
- City Park esplanade fresh market
Intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Columbine Street—Sundays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 16 to Oct. 31
- Cherry Creek Fresh Market
Intersection of First Avenue and University Boulevard—Saturdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 1 through Oct. 30; Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 16 to Sept. 29
- Old South Pearl Street Farmers Market
1500 block of South Pearl Street—Sundays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 6 to Oct. 31
- Stapleton Farmers Market
The Founder's Green, East 29th Avenue and Roslyn Street—Sundays 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., June 20 to Oct. 17
- Highland Farmers Market
1500 block of Boulder Street—Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 5 to Oct. 30
- Golden Farmers' Market
Intersection of 10th Avenue and Illinois Street (Golden)—Saturdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 5 to Oct. 2
- Highlands Ranch Farmers' Market
9288 Dorchester St. (Highlands Ranch)—Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 3 to Oct. 31
- Littleton Farmers' Market
7301 S. Santa Fe Drive (Littleton)—Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 16 to Oct. 27