Family Road Trip Southwest Colorado and Durango with Kids

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Many people have memories of road trips traveling across the United States as a child.

This past summer we were fortunate enough to be able to experience the beauty and natural wonders of southwest Colorado.

We especially loved Durango with kids as they experienced rafting and tubing and loved it.

Colorado road trip

We started our journey in Colorado Springs with our first destination of Pagosa Springs, a wonderful resort town, built around the natural hot springs.

Then, we traveled onward to the towering natural monument that is Chimney Rock.

Next, we visited the legendary town of Durango, experiencing Old West living and culture, and a thriving downtown mixed with a never-ending supply of outdoor recreational activities.

Finally, we ended our expedition in one of the most remote, yet still memorable, places you can find in Colorado, Four Corners.

Overall, our road trip through the southwest of Colorado was an unforgettable experience that we will always remember.

Prior we had spent an entire week in Denver with kids which was also fantastic.

Wyoming with Kids

Southwest Colorado Durango Four Corners Area
Southwest Colorado Durango Four Corners Area

Southwest Colorado and Durango with kids

Pagosa Springs

Like so many wonderful, little Colorado mountain towns, Pagosa Springs offers spectacular beauty, outdoor activities for all ages of the family, and a tremendous opportunity to luxuriate in the local hot springs.

Prior to our visit, we knew that we would be visiting the namesake hot springs in town, but that they would probably be more enjoyable in the late evening when the cool, high-altitude night air replaces the heat of the day.

The San Juan River runs right through town.

We saw a lot of people tubing on it so we went in to the Chamber of Commerce to ask for information about it.

They offered a lot of brochures of things to do and had a very helpful and friendly staff.

Pagosa Springs Tubing Juan River
Pagosa Springs Tubing Juan River

Pagosa Springs Tubing on San Juan River

Nearby there was a company who outfitted us with life jackets and river shoes.

We took their bus to the drop-off point on the San Juan River.

We enjoyed our tube down, getting the hang of it as we went.

They had told us where to stop and get out so that we could walk back to their location.

It was a quick two block walk. We took the bus a second time and tubed again.

Two trips down plus walking back took about an hour and a half for our “novice” family, which included a seven year old.

We were all new to tubing.

More experienced tubers could probably have made it down at least three times in the two hours that you rent the tubes for.

This was really a fun experience.

We would definitely do it again.

It was absolutely gorgeous. I only wish we could have brought our camera along to capture the beauty.

Next time we will buy/bring a waterproof camera.

Chimney Rock Colorado
Chimney Rock Colorado

Pagosa Springs Hot Springs

Finally, we finished our visit to Pagosa Springs by soaking in the hot springs.

There were several different options to choose from, as the hot springs are not localized in one spot.

All of the resorts allow you to pay for a day pass, but we discovered that it was more economical for us to rent a room at one of the local resorts because then use of the spa was free.

For a therapeutic and soul-enriching experience, plan on visiting Pagosa Springs.

We will definitely tube there again, and it will probably be even more fun given we will know what to expect.

We will also be sure to check out the 18-hole disc golf course called Reservoir Hill, which we heard nice things about.

Chimney Rock Tower
Chimney Rock Tower

Chimney Rock National Monument

Heading west, looming out of the plains, we came upon one of the tallest natural wonders in Colorado, Chimney Rock.

We are drawn to this monument today much as Native Americans were thousands of years ago.

Located between Durango and Pagosa Springs, it is a not-to-be-missed part of Southwest American geology.

Though more expensive than we expected, we opted to take the guided tour over the self-guided tour, so we could get a better understanding of what life was like for the native peoples 1000+ years ago.

Our tour guide did a great job engaging not only adults, but children as well.

He explained to us how the local flora and fauna were used for food and tools.

He helped everyone go back in time, and feel like we were here when this was a bustling community.

Check their calendar online for their interesting events and classes.

We missed their “Life at the Chimney Rock Festival”, which we learned included hands-on activities: making small clay pots, pounding yucca plants to separate the fibers and even the chance to paint a small pictograph.

With some great experiences and photos of the beautiful natural landscape, we will never forget Chimney Rock.

Durango

At the heart of southwest Colorado is the town of Durango.

When we arrived in downtown Durango, nestled in a valley, surrounded by towering pine tree covered mountains on all sides and a picturesque river in the center, we knew that we had arrived at a location that all ages of the family would find activities to enjoy.

For adults there were great restaurants, local craft artisans, and an eclectic downtown.

Durango with kids
Downtown Durango Colorado
Durango River Rafting
Durango River Rafting

Water activities – Durango Rafting and Tubing

For children there were opportunities to splash around and go tubing in the Animas River.

For all ages, there was lots of fun rafting down the Animas River.

There are a number of local rafting outfitters, so shop around for one with a schedule and price that suits your family.

We found a rafting company that was suited for young children and were very pleased.

It was thrilling enough for them but still very safe.

We had a great time.

Learn about great places for river rafting adventures in the US.

Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum

You can’t help but be charmed by the train tracks and seeing the train pass through the town.

In the few days we were in Durango, we saw tour busloads of people who went on the historic, scenic train ride from Durango to Silverton.

We really wanted to make a reservation and go; however, we had spent a lot of time in the car and still had many more days of driving.

We didn’t want the kids to be cooped up for a 10-hour round trip excursion.

It is still on our bucket list of things to do, and hopefully we will the next time.

Durango Mountain Resort
Durango Mountain Resort
Durango Mountain Resort
Durango Mountain Resort

Durango Mountain Resort

We were glad to have seen a brochure in our hotel for the Durango Mountain Resort because our kids loved it.

It is located a little bit outside of town, but worth the journey.

It is the local ski area, formerly called Purgatory.

There was a chance to try out more “extreme” type of sports (ziplining) and a wide-variety of activities.

We bought the package where each child was able to choose five different activities.

Be prepared to have a race with your child on the double-track alpine slide.

These sleds on wheels are a fun way to experience downhill sledding without snow.

My kids enjoyed these activities very much but their favorite was the “mining,” as they love rocks.

Look online in advance, and explain to your child what the different activities are.

They may want to change them once they actually see them which is fine, but get them excited about it and thinking about the choices in advance.

It will be less overwhelming to have to make on-site decisions with so many great options to choose from.

They also have an amazing-looking hotel on-site and even run a day camp.

Pinkerton Hot Springs
Pinkerton Hot Springs
Pinkerton Hot Springs
Pinkerton Hot Springs

Pinkerton Hot Springs

On our drive back to downtown Durango to go back to our hotel, we saw this on the side of the road.

It was fun to learn about it, touch it, and climb on Pinkerton Hot Springs

Durango is modern-day towns with Old West flavor, where you can see architecture from more than 100 years ago, enjoy art in a style that truly represents the vastness of the Southwest and in the same day be able to participate in recreational activities that the whole family will like.

Four Corners
Four Corners

Four Corners National Monument

At a location seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Four Corners National Monument is still a can’t-miss destination for anyone in the southwest area of Colorado.

The reason my family and I visited the monument was because nowhere else in the US can a person stand in four different states at the same time.

Actually, there are more than the four different political territorial jurisdictions of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico coming together at this point.

Two more, the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Reservations, also adjoin at this famous point in the world.

For me, the feeling of time and space you get straddling the boundary marker is similar to what you feel crossing the equator or the international dateline.

For my children, their reactions were varied about the monument.

My youngest was gleefully running from “state to state,” enamored with the idea of being able to visit four different states so quickly and on a whim being able to jump from state to state like a game of hop-scotch.

Our visit to the boundary marker itself only lasted for around 30 minutes, enough time to get individual pictures of everyone, as well as a group photo.

However, a more complete experience can be enjoyed by staying for lunch, exploring all the local Navajo vendor stalls, as well as visiting the tourist information center for a complete story of the history of the location.

If you are looking for a unique experience not replicated in any other state, then visit Four Corners National Monument.

If you are in the area, learn what to do in the Summer in Keystone, Colorado for a great vacation.

If you travel to the Midwest, be sure to see what there is to do with kids in Nebraska, Iowa, as well as Chicago and Milwaukee.

The familial summer road trip is an event that all families with children should try to make happen.

This is especially true when the trip includes the many beautiful and sometimes-isolated natural occurring attractions located in southwestern Colorado.

Make sure you fill up at gas stations when you see them, and enjoy what to do in southwest Colorado and Durango with kids.

Summer in Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado is known for its fantastic skiing during the winter months, but it’s also great for a summer getaway.

The inexpensive summer lodging and outdoor activities make the Keystone Resort the perfect destination for a summer vacation.

Here’s what to do in the summer in Keystone, Colorado.

Here’s our top picks of what to do in Keystone, CO when visiting during the warmer months.

Ride a Gondola Up the Mountain

You can take the gondola part-way up the mountain and hike down.

If you’re not up for hiking, you can sit back and enjoy the stunning view of the Rockies while riding up the mountain and back down.

Hop off at the top for some great photos ops.

Go Mountain Biking

One of the first things you’ll notice upon arriving in Keystone is the abundance of mountain bikers.

There are trails everywhere.

Hardcore mountain bikers even take their bikes up the ski lifts and bike down the mountain.

You don’t have to be a daredevil to try out mountain biking, though.

Keystone offers mountain biking for all skill levels.

Try Out Tubing at Adventure Point

Snow tubing in the summer?

Yep!

There’s not enough snow for safe skiing but there sure are other snow activities.

It’s great for kids and adults will love it, too.

It’s great not having to pack all of the winter gear you would usually need for snow tubing in colder months.

Remember to apply your sunblock.

Grab a Beer and Burger

If you’re a beer fan, stopping at Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse and Brewery in Silverthorne is a must.

Sip their award-winning brews on the outdoor patio overlooking the Rockies, and sample their delicious family-friendly food offerings.

They’re famous for their fish and chips and the Uptown Dillon Burger.

They are open for lunch and dinner.

Silverthorne, CO

Indulge with an Ice Cream Sandwich

After you finish your burger at Pug’s, head over to Blue Moon Bakerybfor tasty baked goods.

The cookie ice cream sandwich is delicious and is sure to go over well with kids and adults alike.

Sometimes the best memories are made over dessert!

Check Out Zip Lining or Rock Climbing

If you’re an adventurous traveler, consider adding zip lining or rock climbing to your itinerary.

Typically more expensive than other types of adventures, but zip lining and rock climbing are sure to be experiences your kids will talk about and remember.

And if you are traveling with kids, be sure to check out Denver with Kids for some great ideas of things your entire family will enjoy.

Hike Around Loveland Pass

For breathtaking views and a number of hiking options, check out Loveland Pass.

It’s just over 8 miles from the River Run base area in Keystone and you can bike or drive to the summit and hike around from there.

As the signs will tell you, Loveland Pass is on the Continental Divide.

From the pass, you’ll have great 360 views of the mountains and flora. Pack a picnic from a local grocer, and enjoy eating outside in this amazing space.

Loveland Pass, Keystone, Colorado

Rent Paddle Boats at Lakeside Village

Lakeside Village sometimes seems a little touristy, but it’s sure to be a fun time.

Soak up the sun while you paddle around the small lake with your family.

Have a Rafting Adventure

Rafting is a popular activity for visitors to Keystone, Colorado in the summer.

There are river rafting adventures for all skill levels and you can even find kid-friendly options.

I vividly remember going rafting with my family near Keystone when I was 12.

I was being a typical preteen — not happy to be seen with my parents and determined not to have fun — but once I got on the raft, I had a blast.

I took my kids rafting in Durango, Colorado, and they loved it so much that days later we rented tubes while in Pagosa Springs, Colorado so they could go on the water again.

There are amazing places to experience river rafting adventures across the US.

River Rafting Keystone Colorado

Experience a Guided Tour on Horseback

Regardless of your skill level, you can go on a guided tour of Arapahoe National Forest on horseback at the Keystone Stables.

The tour is a fun way to take in the scenery and learn about the area’s history.

Plus, there are pony rides for the little ones.

Picnic by the Dillon Reservoir

Pack a picnic lunch, then rent bikes or drive west on Route 6 to the Dillon Reservoir.

Take in the beautiful mountain and lake scenery during your leisurely lunch.

There’s also fishing at the Reservoir.

Be sure to obtain a Colorado fishing license in advance.

Find affordable lodging and enjoy plentiful outdoor activities in Keystone, Colorado, a great summer vacation destination.

Still not sure about spending your summer vacation at a ski resort?

Read this post to learn why you should give it a go.

Summer in Keystone, Colorado is sure to be filled with adventure and fun all with breathtaking views.

Top Things to do in Denver with Kids

Colorado is a fantastic vacation destination for families with children, especially Denver with kids.

Most people come for the skiing, hiking, and camping.

There is also lots to do in Colorado’s capital and largest city, Denver.

The high altitude and dry climate of the Mile High City make for a pleasant location for enjoying different types of activities.

In addition to taking in a Rockies game, there is a great selection of kid-friendly activities throughout the Front Range.

Here are some of the sites my family enjoyed as we road tripped via Durango across Southwest Colorado.

Hammond Candies Three Globs of Candy
Hammond Candies Three Globs of Candy
Hammond Candies Hand Rolling Candy
Hammond Candies Hand Rolling Candy

Hammond’s Candies in Denver

I am so glad I saw the Hammond’s Candies Factory flyer in our hotel’s brochure stand.

My husband and I love factory tours.

The only tour our kids have been to is the Jelly Belly Visitor Center in Pleasant Prairie, WI.

They offer a warehouse tour and have a candy store.

We were very happy that on Hammond’s Candies factory tour we would actually be able to see the employees make the candy on-site.

My kids were excited there was candy involved!

Just imagine, a free tour of a candy factory that includes free samples.

I can’t imagine it getting better than that.

Their hand pulled lollipops, ribbon candy, and candy canes are second to none.

Tours are approximately 30 minutes, and everyone gets to wear a paper hat.

They begin with a short video of their history and explain the types of candy they make.

It was interesting to learn their candy is handmade and hand-packaged from beginning to end.

We had a very friendly tour guide.

It was empty when we were there; just our family of four and three other people went on the tour.

We were able to ask all the questions we wanted and see the factory up-close through the glass.

Our favorite part was seeing the employees handle the huge candy they made.

Their candies are pulled, twisted, and shaped by hand, just like when the company was started, in 1920.

When the tour was over, our guide gave each of us a candy cane.

We couldn’t believe all the flavors: cotton candy, cherry, cinnamon, strawberry, and more.

They were fantastic!

In addition to their world famous candy canes, ribbon candy, and lollipops, Hammond’s Candies also offers gourmet chocolate bars, taffy, marshmallow creams, and much more.

The tour is a fun and educational experience for everyone and covers a subject everyone understands.

It was interesting to see a company who still does so much of their work by hand, instead of 100% machines.

And it was really nice to see a company who still offers an actual factory tour.

Following the tour is the candy store, which is beautiful and well-stocked.

There were hundreds of choices.

We bought more than we needed of course, and some we bought as gifts.

What a souvenir!

It was wonderfully nostalgic to be able to actually “buy local.”

We ate some of our treats at their little tables in their cafe.

Hammond Candies’ Candy Store Denver with Kids

There is no need to make a reservation for the tour, so if your family is like mine and incorporates some down days to just see what happens, this is the perfect place.

Just stop in Monday through Saturday before 3 p.m.

And remember to plan for time to linger in the candy store.

There really are a lot of tempting choices.

Hammond’s Candies is located north of downtown Denver on Washington Street just off Interstate 25.

Castle Rock Colorado
Castle Rock Colorado

The Rock in Castle Rock

Just 20 minutes south of Denver on Interstate 25 is the town of Castle Rock, famous for its famous outcropping.

A small park surrounds the rock that was used as a landmark for native Indians and early settlers alike.

A pleasant, short path leads to the top of the hill.

You can also climb to the top of the rock itself for views of the Front Range and Pike’s Peak.

Although the hike can be completed up and back within an hour, allow yourself plenty of time to stop and look around.

Be sure to take along water for hydrating.

Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison

When we visited Dinosaur Ridge, we didn’t quite know what to expect.

We were happy to experience this was the real thing, not gimmicky at all.

We learned this is the site where the first ever stegosaurus was discovered.

There are many ways to enjoy Dinosaur Ridge.

We chose the Guided Shuttle Tour.

Guided Shuttle Tour

We enjoyed a 45-minute tour with a very knowledgeable and informative tour guide.

It was $5 per person, 3 years and under free.

There were three stops, the Dinosaur Bone Site, the Brontosaur Bulges, and the Dinosaur Track site.

We had enough time at each stop to look around.

It was nice to have the guide there to explain what we were looking at and to answer our questions.

We also liked that we were able to touch the fossils.

Dinosaur Ridge Standing in Dinosaur Foot Prints
Dinosaur Ridge Standing in Dinosaur Foot Prints

Self-Guided Tours

This is a great way to get some exercise.

Both of these trails are free.

You go at your own pace but definitely expect to take at least an hour.

Depending on your ability level, who is with you, and what you want to see, you may choose to do both.

Our family loved the guided tour, but when our children are older, we will be back to walk these trails on our own.

Dinosaur Ridge

We saw people walking right along where our bus took us.

While we stopped at three sites with the tour bus (which was “enough” for our kids), there are more than 15 interpretive sites on Dinosaur Ridge.

The footprints here are approximately 100 million years old.

The tracks we saw were “positive tracks,” meaning the imprint was pushed into the earth, like how we would leave an impression walking in mud.

Triceratops Trail

This trail is also free to walk and includes six interpretive sites along a 1.5 mile trail.

We learned the tracks at Triceratops Trail are “negative tracks,” and actually stick out of the walls.

Tracks here are approximately 68 million years old.

We were told there are some difficult spots along this trail (not able to use a stroller or wheelchair) which is why we did not choose to explore it.

Denver with kids at Dinosaur Ridge
Denver with kids at Dinosaur Ridge

Exhibit Hall

There is also an Exhibit Hall with lots of information and interactive displays.

It is $2 per person.

Red Rock Amphitheater Denver Colorado
Red Rock Amphitheater Denver Colorado

With some advance planning for out-of-towners or for locals, there are a lot of special events and classes at Dinosaur Ridge as well.

Our kids enjoyed the gift shop and picked out some rocks and minerals as souvenirs.

Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison

While Red Rocks Amphitheater attracts the biggest names in entertainment, you don’t need to see a concert there to enjoy it.

It is worth a trip and absolutely astounding to behold.

The Amphitheater and Visitor Center are open for everyone to enjoy as long as they aren’t preparing for a performance.

Check in advance.

On concert days, they close in the afternoon to prepare.

It is all free to explore.

We saw a lot of fitness enthusiasts running up and down the stairs.

At 6,400 feet, we were winded just walking around!

There are trails to enjoy as well.

Teenage children may be interested in the performers who have appeared here.

Smaller children will think it is a fun place and enjoy looking at the rock formations.

As beautiful as it was outside, we really enjoyed the visitors’ center as well.

My kids were happy to get their flat penny here too.

We stayed about an hour walking around and enjoying the views, but really, you can stay as long as you’d like.

Especially if you pack a picnic and enjoy lunch which we plan on doing next time.

Outside Money Museum Colorado Springs
Outside Money Museum Colorado Springs
Money Museum Colorado Springs Display
Money Museum Colorado Springs Display
Money Museum Colorado Springs Displays
Money Museum Colorado Springs Displays
Money Museum Kids' Zone
Money Museum Kids’ Zone

Money Museum in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is about a 90 minute drive from downtown Denver.

Once you are in the Springs, a great place to visit with kids is the Money Museum.

Our kids love coins and collect them so we knew they would love it.

It was very interesting, educational, and fun for all of us.

The Money Museum is run by the American Numismatic Association and located on the campus of Colorado College.

It is set in a really quaint area; I wish we had planned time to walk around the neighborhood.

The Money Museum is beautifully set on two floors.

There are different sections with displays teaching the history of currency.

They have on exhibit an enormous collection of very rare coins and paper money as well as early currency from the centuries ago across the world.

It is self-guided. We spent almost two hours there but easily could have stayed longer.

We were there on a Saturday, and it was surprisingly empty.

When we entered, the staff member told us that downstairs they were doing a Mini-Mint demonstration.

We enjoyed it, and our kids enjoyed getting one as a souvenir.

This area was right next to the Kids Zone.

It was small but had lots to do and was very hands-on.

Downstairs there were also a lot of display cases and currency from the United States as well.

There was lots to learn and lots of currency to look at.

The Harry W. Bass Jr. Collection was in an entire section and was amazing.

There was his huge collection on display.

We were shocked to learn that there was a lot more to his collection that wasn’t housed here.

There is a small but extensive gift shop.

Our kids enjoyed getting their flat pennies and looking around.

The absolute highlight of the visit for our children was being able to choose a rare coin from the treasure box at the end.

Each child could choose one for free.

Additional ones were $2 each.

There were at least one hundred to choose from, and they were from the around the globe.

They sifted through them for over 10 minutes, and would have stayed longer if we let them.

They each chose coins from different countries from the 1920’s.

Even when we were states away, our kids were begging to go back to get another coin from the treasure box.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday.

It is $5 per person.

There are discounts for military and retirees.

Their website, especially under the Scouts section, is full of information about coins, collecting them, storing them, etc.

Kids Climbing on Rocks at Garden of the Gods
Kids Climbing on Rocks at Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs

This is another place to enjoy the natural beauty that is so characteristic of Colorado.

A registered National Natural Landmark, the park and Visitor’s Center are free.

There are 15 miles of trails in the park, ranging from moderate to more challenging.

We enjoyed driving our car through and getting out at the various stops, without really “hiking” any of the trails.

There was only one section that was questionable, and my husband stayed with the car to safe-keep our things.

This is free to enter, so at certain times, you might have people just “hanging out.”

Be street smart.

Lock your car doors, and keep valuables out of sight.

All was well; my kids and I climbed some rocks, enjoyed the views, walked around a bit, and we drove to the next section.

Located west of Interstate 25, the park can be approached from either the interstate or Highway 24.

The park is great for kids because it can be driven through or hiked and enjoyed as much as you and your kids desire.

In total, we enjoyed this park for about two hours.

Denver Mint in Denver

One last thing to mention, as this was on my list of things to do while we were in the Front Range.

You know how much my kids love money.

I had this idea that we would also go the Denver Mint.

Little did I know this books up months in advance.

It is free, but you must register your time on the internet.

I mistakenly looked it up online just weeks before our trip, and it was too late.

We will plan this better for our next trip.

Day trip in the Mountains outside of Denver

When you are on the road with your kids, the journey is often more important than the destination.

I have found a section of Colorado that is great for exploring with children of all ages.

Close to Denver is the Evergreen area, southwest of the big city.

It is about 35 miles from downtown, but gets you into the clean, mountain air and away from the distractions and traffic of the Front Range.

In addition, there is more than one way to approach the Evergreen area, so you can go one way and return another.

You also have options if road conditions or the weather deteriorate.

Heading out I-70, you can catch State Highway 74 in the Genesee area and head south.

An alternative is to avoid I-70 and catch 74 out of Morrison.

Whichever way you choose, the Evergreen area is ripe with lots of outdoor activities to choose from.

Evergreen, Colorado – Mountain Town

We love it in Evergreen, Colorado.

At 7,200 feet, even higher in some locations, the topography is beautiful.

It is awe-inspiring to be so close to the rock formations.

Wildlife abounds.

On our day trips from Denver, we often see deer and elk.

Evergreen Lake

This is one of our favorite places to go.

It is great to go with younger children particularly because of it’s size.

While there is lots to do, it isn’t every big, and the parking lot is close by should you need to leave.

As my kids get older, I become more willing and able to take them on longer hikes.

But this trail is still perfect for us and remains our families’ top pick.

There is something for everyone at Evergreen Lake, and it is beautiful.

Evergreen Lake Denver with Kids

Sitting slightly above the town of Evergreen, the lake is open for activities all year.

It is very scenic and a wonderful place to spend the day.

My family makes it a point to walk the trail around the lake, 1.3 miles, each season.

We are able to enjoy other activities too, and often pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the picnic tables or in the grass.

Depending on the season, there is always something to do.

Walking the 1.3 Mile Trail

Part of the lake borders peoples’ backyards and homes.

Another portion of the lake trail is a very lovely boardwalk, which is fun and easy to walk on for kids of all ages.

Dogs on leash are welcome on the trail as long as the owners act responsibly and pick up after them.

Fishing

The lake is stocked with rainbow trout.

You can fish year round at Evergreen Lake with a state license.

It is also very affordable to rent a fishing boat for the day.

Evergreen Lake
Evergreen Lake

Boating

Depending on the conditions and the season, boating is available.

There are kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, and even trikes available to rent by the half hour.

Our kids have had an exceptional time in these.

You can also rent sailboats and fishing boats.

You can even bring your own for a small fee.

We have seen paddle boarders here too.

Ice Skating

You can pay to ice skate or play ice hockey on the 8.5 acres of ice in the winter months, depending on the conditions.

Call their hotline before driving out there to be sure it is safe.

The Lake House has skates to rent as well.

With hockey rinks and a large public skating rink, the last time we were there skating we learned that Evergreen Lake is the world’s largest Zamboni-groomed outdoor ice rink.

We usually go at off times and avoid the special events as they get VERY crowded.

River Feeding Evergreen Lake Colorado
River Feeding Evergreen Lake Colorado

No swimming but…

Though there isn’t a designated swimming area, and we have been told it is prohibited, we have seen children wading in the water where the waterfall runs off.

When we were there in late July, our children joined others and worked together to build dams out of rocks. Industrious and fun!

Alderfer Three Sisters Park in Evergreen Colorado
Alderfer Three Sisters Park in Evergreen Colorado
Alderfer Three Sisters Park
Alderfer Three Sisters Park
Three Sisters Park Evergreen Colorado
Three Sisters Park Evergreen Colorado

This park is all about the hiking.

Located just to the west of the town of Evergreen, it is reached via Buffalo Park Road off County Road 73.

When the kids want to “climb rocks,” we head to Alder fer.

There are rock outcroppings which are easy for the younger ones to enjoy as well.

With 770 acres, the park has about 15 miles of hiking trails.

The trails are doable, but there will probably be some huffing and puffing unless you and your family are well-toned athletes.

With close to 18 trails of varying distances and difficulty levels, you and your kids can design a course that matches your skills and energy levels.

We have been here five times.

The majority of the times, my sons lead the way, find a fun spot to climb and to look for interesting rocks, and we spend our time there.

Depending on how long we will be there, we bring snacks or lunch.

Once we spent the time just exploring the trails.

We’ve seen deer at Adler fer twice.

There is parking at the east trail head, and about a half-mile west, the west trail head has a larger parking lot.

Pets are welcome on leash and with responsible owners who pick up after them.

We usually see athletes on their bikes here, so be mindful of them, and remind your kids to stay to the right on the trails.

Other fun things to do near Evergreen Colorado

Staunton State Park in Pine

Continuing in a southwesterly direction is Staunton State Park.

It can be reached by heading south on 73 out of Evergreen and turning west on 285 or catching 285 just south of Morrison.

At 8,100 feet, this park is a little higher than those in the Evergreen area are, so be aware of possible colder and wetter conditions.

This is a little bit longer drive from Denver, so an early start is necessary in order to be at the park for a day of activity.

The appeal of the park to me is a fascination for the pioneers who settled the land.

Most of the park is made up of former ranches and some of the buildings are still standing.

This is a newer state park which opened in May 2013.

It does get crowded in the summer, especially on the weekends.

While we have only hiked, there is biking, fishing, rock climbing, and horseback riding.

It is $7 per vehicle to enter.

Colorado has 42 state parks.

Purchasing an annual pass is $70 and allows you to enjoy all of them.

After our first year living in Denver, we decided to buy the pass because now we make it a point to seek out different state parks.

It also encourages us to go even when we only have an hour to enjoy it.

South Platte River Conifer Colorado
South Platte River Conifer Colorado
South Platte River Decker Colorado
South Platte River Decker Colorado
South Platte River
South Platte River
Pine Colorado Rainbow
Pine Colorado Rainbow

Driving down the South Platte River from Conifer to Deckers

This is a lovely road for a leisurely drive with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the scenery and the river.

We made this trip one time.

I was glad my husband drove as I enjoyed looking at all the scenery.

We got out at a few spots that we thought we could get close to the water.

Just south of Conifer, Foxton Road, Road 97, follows the meandering river through Pike National Forest down to the fly-fishing mecca of Deckers.

Bring your fishing gear or stop along the way to cool off by the water.

There is also two sites where the railroad used to run.

It is worth getting out to read about this tragedy.

Funds were raised to create a memorial site.

A word of caution: during the spring melt, the river may be running swiftly.

This road is used by cars, motorcycles and bicycles, so be alert to sharing the road as you enjoy the glorious beauty of southern Colorado.

Not all of the road is paved, large section is unimproved but very passable even in our mini-van.

It took us hours to go the length of it because of our many stops.

It was fun but once was enough for us given all the other things we enjoy more in the area.

We saw a gorgeous rainbow on the way back to our hotel outside the restaurant in Pine called Zoka’s.

Have less time? You might want to enjoying summer in Keystone, Colorado.

Staying overnight in Evergreen to extend the fun

Want to extend your stay to more than just a day?

We were able to enjoy some activities in Evergreen, Conifer, and Pine, and then stayed longer to visit Dinosaur Ridge and the Red Rock Amphitheater in Morrison.

There is so much to do in the entire area, whether you make a day of it or a vacation.

There is something for everyone to enjoy, you can rent an rv from Denver RV Rental.

My family has found that there is never enough time to do all that we want during our vacations to the Front Range.

That reason, along with the comfortable weather and the unbeatable scenery, keeps us returning for one vacation after the other to enjoy the area surrounding Denver with kids.

(Photo credit: Keystone Resort, Amy Whitley)