Why we love it: Eldorado Canyon is more well-known for its more than 500 rock climbing routes, but if you prefer keeping your feet on terra firma, the hiking is pristine and the views are expansive.

When to go: Mid-afternoon when the sun shines right through the canyon.

If you want to get away for a few hours in the mountains, but want to avoid I-70 traffic, check out Eldorado Canyon. Tucked behind the quaint town of Eldorado Springs, the canyon is about 45 minutes from downtown Denver, and has trails ranging from easy to intermediate.

Our favorite trek is the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, which offers a lookout vista of the Continental Divide and plenty of ruins. The 3.5-mile path takes you to the remains of the Crags Hotel, which stood at an impressive 6,717 feet before burning down in 1913, as well as old railroad tracks that are 1,200 feet higher than the trailhead.

Getting there: From Denver: Take US-36 West toward Boulder then take the McCaslin Boulevard exit toward CO-170 West/Superior/Louisville. Turn left onto McCaslin Boulevard and then take the first right onto CO-170/Marshall Drive. Turn left onto CO-170/Eldorado Springs Drive and follow the road into Eldorado Springs.

–Photo courtesy of Jerry Bargar photographer & Great Western Art