Why we love it: A kid-friendly excursion without an admission price.
When to go: Anytime you—and the little ones—need a quick break.
As I sit, looking out my window at the winter wonderland outside, it is hard to imagine that I was applying sunscreen and hiking on Saturday—or that I will be again this weekend. If you're like me, the snowstorm means your spring planting to-do list is a little behind, and the next few weekends will be spent catching up. That doesn't mean you don't have time for a quick outdoor adventure, which is where Morrison's Dinosaur Ridge comes in.
If you grew up in Colorado, you probably spent numerous school trips traversing this paved two-mile trek (roundtrip). For us newbies, though, we haven't heard the spiel yet. Stop in the visitor's center and you'll get a quick education about "Morrison Quarry Number Five." In the late 1800s, dino bones were discovered in the area, including one from a Stegosauraus. Today, the spot is a National Natural Landmark with a road that meanders past more than 15 sites of fossils, rock outcroppings, and must-take-a-picture overlooks (click through the slideshow above to see). The path follows the Dakota Hogback formation and is steep, but gentle enough so that your kids can tackle it without too many complaints. You'll find a scampering area for dinosaurs with more than 300 tracks, learn about the volcanic activity of the area, and see where water currents cut deep ridges into solid rock. It is enough fun that you'll wish you were on a school trip again.
Getting there: Take I-70 west to exit 260 for CO-470 East. Drive 2.1 miles on CO-470 before taking the Alameda Parkway exit; a large parking lot and gift shop will be on the right.