From spotting owls and sniffing wildflowers to searching for hidden elves, here are some fun-filled ways to enjoy springtime in Colorado as a family.

Spot a Great Horned Owl | Bluff Lake Nature Center

The mile-long loop around Bluff Lake is a great place to search for wildlife, including the three baby Great Horned Owls that were recently spotted in one of the cottonwoods by the lake. If you’re really lucky, you might also catch a glimpse a reclusive American Beaver along nearby Sand Creek. Cost: free

Wildflower Walk | Roxborough State Park

The gentle, 1.4-mile-long Willow Creek Trail, which begins by the Visitor Center, is known for its abundance of wildflowers in spring, including tall scarlet and orange paintbrush, purple and white prairie flowers, larkspur, and poppy and copper mallow. Older kids will also like exploring the Fountain Valley Trail, which passes beneath the park’s biggest red rock formations. Cost: $7 day pass or $70 annual pass per vehicle

Plant Some Seeds | Various

Visit your local nursery or hardware store to buy some seeds, potting mix, and containers, then spend a few fun hours planting your child’s favorite veggies and flowers. Place the pots in a sunny window, water them regularly, and watch them grow until early May, when you can safely transplant to your yard. Cost: varies

Watch a Baby Zebra | Denver Zoo

Kids of all ages will enjoy watching the antics of one of the Denver Zoo’s most recent additions—an endangered Grevy’s zebra named Denali, who was born on New Years Day. Cost: $17 for adults, $12 for kids ages 3 to 11, and free for 2 and under

Family Backpack Adventure | Lory State Park

Lory and some other state parks offer adventure backpacks to families with younger kids. These come stuffed with bug boxes, magnifiers, binoculars, guidebooks, and suggestions for activities sure to interest your budding naturalist. Older kids will enjoy exploring the park’s extensive trail network or launching their own boat in one of Horsetooth Reservoir’s sheltered coves. Cost: $7 day pass or $70 annual pass per vehicle

Elf Scavenger Hunt | Denver Museum of Nature and Science

If it’s raining or too windy outside, head instead to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. In addition to towering Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, and T. Rex dinosaurs, the new Mythic Creatures exhibit, and the kid-friendly Exhibition Health hall, the museum has eight painted elves hidden in its dioramas. Can you find them all? Cost: $14.95 for adults, $9.95 for ages 318, and free for 2 and under. A $90 annual family membership is also available.

(Check out these no-cost kids programs around Denver)

Terri Cook
Terri Cook
Terri Cook is an award-winning freelance writer based in Boulder. More of her work can be found at