Outward Bound

The 5280 field guide to taking your child’s learning outside of the classroom—and into the world. 

August 2015

—Jan Von Holleben / Trunk Archive


Seven road trips and more than 1,200 years of history—right here in the Centennial State.

Four Mile Historic Park
Odometer: 5 miles from Denver
What You’ll Find: These 12 acres are devoted to the Mile High City’s frontier days, complete with a blacksmith and farm animals.

Hidee Gold Mine
Odometer: 36 miles from Denver
What You’ll Find: This 135-foot-deep, still-in-use mine sits on “the richest square mile on Earth.” Kids willing to chisel gold ore can walk away with nuggets (valued around $1) and a few smudges of rock dust on their faces.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway Station
Odometer: 74 miles from Denver
What You’ll Find: Ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the 14,115-foot peak of Colorado’s most famous mountain for the view that inspired “America the Beautiful.” (Don’t miss the Summit House’s cake donuts, which have been served on the mountain since 1916.) 

Bent’s Old Fort
Odometer: 183 miles from Denver
What You’ll Find: The Santa Fe Trail’s Mountain Route, which was the main trading path connecting what is now New Mexico and Kansas, passes by Bent’s Old Fort. The reconstructed 1840s trading post hosts special tours throughout the year, including the Fur Trade Symposium September 23 to 26. 

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Odometer: 239 miles from Denver
What You’ll Find: Take the kids on a trek through North America’s tallest sand dunes, which were created after prehistoric Lake Alamosa and smaller lakes dried up as temperatures warmed around 440,000 years ago. 

Dinosaur National Monument
Odometer: 244 miles from Denver
What You’ll Find: After roaming the 210,000-acre monument (partly in Utah), which has plenty of bones and petroglyphs, camp out under the stars in one of the darkest places remaining in the United States.

Museum of Western Colorado
Odometer: 254 miles from Denver
What You’ll Find: In Grand Junction, the Museum of Western Colorado’s Native American artifacts, one-room schoolhouse, and dinosaur exhibits are just a primer for heading out on an all-day paleontological dig to find fossils (reservations required). —Kiran Herbert

Illustration by Sol Linero