7 Tips for Visiting the Dillon Ice Castles in Colorado

The Dillon Ice Castles are a magical place to visit! Located in the heart of small-town Dillon, the Ice Castles are a must-see. 

They are a great place for a romantic date night out, a night of family fun, or a great place to visit with friends.

The Ice Castles are the main attraction in Dillon in the winter months, and it’s a popular winter Denver day trip!

Dillon is just one of the four locations in the US that hosts the construction of these gorgeous man-made ice castles.

How Are the Dillon Ice Castles Made?

Magical ice castle made entirely of water and ice and snow in the sun on a winter day in Colorado

The Ice Castles are hand-built by ice architects! These masters grow then place icicles one by one in the design they want. After, these icicles are sprayed with water. 

They repeat that process many times over the span of two months until the castles grow to the size of their liking. Typically, this requires about 25,000 tons of ice!

Where Are the Dillon Ice Castles?

Area around the Ice Castles in Dillon with trees and mountains behind the castle formation

The Ice Castles are located off of Highway 6, on Lake Dillon Drive in the Dillon Town Park. 

The outside of this attraction can be seen from the streets throughout town, but the inside will blow you away!

From a distance (in the daylight) the castles will look blue because of their density, but as you get closer the intricacies will have you taking a second look. 

Once you walk inside, you enter into another world!

In this article, I am going to give you some tips to make visiting the Ice Castles a smooth trip!

7 Tips for Visiting the Dillon Ice Castles

Get your tickets online in advance.   

The beautiful ice formations in a brilliant turquoise pale blue color against a cloudy winter sky

Getting your tickets online in advance will guarantee you entry into the Ice Castles on the day you want. It is $17.99 to get in during the weekdays and $22.99 Friday through Sunday. You can buy tickets online on their website here.

There are lower prices for children’s tickets as well and children under 3 are free. If you buy tickets the day of, the prices are typically more expensive, and there is no guarantee they won’t be sold out.

When you purchase tickets, you are not only purchasing a ticket for the date you want, but for the time you want to go as well.  No matter what arrival time you purchase tickets for, you can stay as long as you want.

Opening and closing days do vary each year at the Ice Castles due to weather conditions.  Getting tickets online will also ensure that the Ice Castles will be open.

Typically in Dillon, the castles open in late December or early January and close at the end of February or in the first few weeks of March.

Arrive early.

Close up detail of icicles at the Dillon Ice Castles

When you purchase a ticket for the Ice Castles, you are buying an arrival window.  For example, if you purchase an arrival window from 5 PM – 5:30 PM, you can enter the castles anytime between those times and stay as long as you want.

If you arrive before your time slot, you will just have to wait to enter. If you arrive after your time slot, you may lose your ticket and not be able to enter at all. 

You may have to wait in line to enter into the Ice Castles during the more popular times from 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM, so arriving early will ensure you have enough time to wait in line and still enter during your arrival window.

It is also important to arrive early because parking can be scarce. There is a pretty large parking lot right on Buffalo Street in front of the Ice Castles. This is prime parking and it fills up very quickly!

If that lot is full, there is some overflow parking in the Town Hall parking lot. If both of those lots are full, you can find some parking along Lake Dillon Drive, which will leave you a short walk to the castles. Make sure to obey all parking signs in town and only park in designated areas.

If you are looking to avoid the parking situation, look into taking the free Summit Stage Bus from anywhere in the county. The Summit Stage bus drops you off and picks you up right on Buffalo Street.

You can get off at stop number 193 on the schedule if you’re taking the bus from Silverthorne or Keystone. Typically the bus comes every 30 minutes and runs on time.

If you are taking the bus from Frisco or Breckenridge, be sure to check out the Summit Stage schedule online.

Dress appropriately.

Person wearing a jacket and gloves while visiting the Dillon Ice Castles

The winter months in Colorado can be frigid! When visiting the Ice Castles, be sure to wear the correct clothing to ensure your comfort.

I recommend that everyone in your party wears snow pants, base layers (like this merino wool top and bottoms) and mid-layers (like this North Face fleece, one of my winter staples), a winter jacket (I also suggest a North Face parka), and a hat and gloves.

The Ice Castles hardly shut down due to adverse weather so be prepared for anything!

You will be standing on cold snow and ice mixture the whole time, so wearing warm winter socks and boots will help you stay warm. The only kind of boots that will keep your feet sufficiently warm is snow boots (I love these Sorel boots), which will be perfect for the 30-60 minutes you may be in the castles.

Packing some hand warmers in your pockets will allow you to enjoy your stay longer if you do start to get cold! I suggest these Karecel rechargeable hand warmers as they are less wasteful than the disposable ones, and they’re very affordable!

Bring a nice camera.

I know that many of us have really nice cameras on our smartphones that we bring everywhere!

If you really want to capture the intricate details though, I recommend bringing a nice camera and visiting the castles in the daylight to capture each individual icicle in a photo that will last forever.

If you plan to arrive around 4:00 PM, you will be able to see the castles in the daylight, catch the sunset over Lake Dillon, and enjoy the ambiance that darkness creates!

Ice Castles lit up at night with blue light and icicles

Take care of your bodily needs before you enter!

As a ski instructor, we always say “NO PEE, NO SKI” before we take the kids outside to ski. Well, the same goes for the ice castles!

Even though you aren’t going skiing, it’s almost the same in my eyes because there are no bathrooms inside. 

There is also no reentry allowed if you have to leave to use the bathroom. I am just trying to say that you should plan ahead!

No food is allowed inside.

Unfortunately, food is not permitted inside the Ice Castles. Plan to have eaten before you go inside, or plan a meal for afterward. 

Your journey inside can last a long time, especially if you’re into photography and capturing every last detail, so be prepared for anything! 

If you are planning to eat in Dillon afterward, both Pug Ryan’s and Arapahoe Cafe are within walking distance of the castles and have great offerings.

Take your time inside.

One room of the Dillon ice castle with blue, orange, and purple lighting creating a unique ambiance

As soon as you walk into the castles, you will be greeted with so much to look at: beautiful walls, archways, rainbow-colored lighting, and carved ice sculptures!

There are many different rooms to explore all with something different to offer. The castle is lit up with all different colors inside creating a different ambiance in each room.

Insider Tip: If you are looking for a nice romantic or private getaway, be sure to book a VIP experience in a private alcove!

If not, you can explore multiple different rooms, ice slot canyons, and walk under the many arches. Be sure to look up when you’re under the arches, to see what looks like a beautiful ice chandelier!

Looking up at the icicles under one of the arches in Dillon Ice Castles

Don’t forget the ice slides.

If you’re looking for more action, make sure to visit the ice slides inside.  There are ice slides of different sizes throughout the castle.  Believe it or not, many slides are both adult and kid-friendly!

The lines can get long at the slides so make sure to keep your eyes on it. Visiting during the middle of the week and at unpopular times can help you avoid these lines.

If you’re not seeking the adrenaline rush the slide has to offer, you can slide your way through ice tunnels of all different sizes!

They are adult and kid-friendly as well.  As the darkness sets in, the tunnels will light up with all different colors.

Colorful ice castle lit up at night with bright colors of purple and pink

If traveling with kids

If you have young kids, I recommend bringing a sled to tow them around!

Strollers are not permitted in the castles and would be extremely hard to push through the snow. Bringing a sled will allow you to stay longer even if the young ones start to get tired.

***

No matter how you choose to enjoy the ice castles, it will be a great time! 

The Ice Castles are so easy to look at, that you may spend hours wandering around looking at every little detail. 

The architects do an amazing job every year creating these castles bringing something new and different each year to the design. 

I highly recommend planning some time for the Dillon Ice Castles when you are planning your trip to Denver in winter.  This is an experience like no other!

5 Must-Do Hikes in Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge, Colorado is home to world-class skiing in the winter months and exceptional hiking in the summer.

In the summer, hiking in Breckenridge means beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, a myriad of wildflowers, and great forests to immerse yourself in. 

There is truly something for everyone in Breckenridge in the summertime. You can walk down Main Street, window shopping and eating delicious food, or you can dive into the vast trail network in the area.

There are over 100 different hiking trails in Breckenridge, Colorado. The five trails in Breck I will be talking about are a few of my favorites and offer a wide variety of terrain and scenery to enjoy.

A Note Before Hiking in Breckenridge

The mountains around the resort town of Breckenridge Colorado

Hiking and mountain biking are very popular in and around town. Many trails in the summer do become very saturated with mountain bikers.

If you do find yourself on a trail with a ton of bikers make sure to stay alert, always listen for bikes and keep your eyes up.

If you are hiking and encounter bikers, it is always helpful for hikers to step off the trail and let the bikers through so they don’t have to dismount, especially if the bikers are climbing.

The town of Breckenridge is located at an elevation of 9,600 feet. It is important to drink plenty of water in the days leading up to traveling into town as well as continue to hydrate when getting to town. 

Some signs of altitude sickness are headache, fatigue, and trouble breathing in adults.  For children, altitude sickness often manifests as a stomach ache. 

It is important to give yourself time to acclimate before pushing yourself on a challenging hike.

Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you on the trails. It is helpful to carry a backpack on all of your hikes.

It is also extremely important to pack a few extra layers. The weather in the mountains can change extremely fast, and oftentimes it does not matter what your weather app says.  Be prepared for anything!

If you have some binoculars, I would pack them as well because there is no shortage of wildlife in this area.

Enjoy your trip!

The Best Hikes in Breckenridge

Bald Mountain Trail

Snow dusted mountain in Breckenridge Colorado hiking trails

Distance: 10.5 miles out and back

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: 3,075 ft

The Bald Mountain Trail leads you to the top of one of the infamous 13ers in the community, Bald Mountain. 

The Bald Mountain trailhead is located just east of town. On the drive to the trailhead, you get a tour or the beautiful homes in the community. 

For this trail, you park at the intersection of Baldy Rd (Rd 520) and Goldenview Dr, right by the Summit Stage bus stop. After you park look to the other side of the road, for the dirt road that is the Bald Mountain Trail.

This hike is best accessed from June through October.  Snow can still be found along the trail in June as you get higher in elevation. 

This trail offers expansive views of Breckenridge Ski Resort, The Ten Mile Range, and  Mt. Guyot, as well as beautiful wildflowers and some wildlife. 

Look for a cabin in the woods on your right within the first 0.5 mile of the hike! Further along the hike, about 1.5 miles in you will pass by Iowa Mill, which was built in 1935.

When you get to the top, be prepared to put on extra layers as you will be at the top of a 13,000-foot mountain and it can be a bit breezy up there.

When you are finished, you can head back down the same way you came to get back to the car!

Quandary Peak Trail

People hiking up the steep section of Quandary Peak in Colorado near Breckenridge hiking spots

Distance: 6.6 miles out and back

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation gain: 3,570 ft

Quandary Peak is the only 14er in the Ten Mile Range and is a great  introductory 14er. 

This is a heavily trafficked hike near Breckenridge, best accessed July through September, that offers a spectacular journey through various landscapes. 

When attempting to do any 14er, make sure you are acclimated to the elevation that you are starting at, because you will be going to an elevation of over 14,000 feet. 

Start early, not only because the parking lot can fill up fast, but you want to give yourself ample time to get to the top. 

In the mountains, it is typical for afternoon showers to come in, so getting up and down the mountain as early as you can is helpful. 

Bring layers! Sometimes it can feel like a different climate on the top than it did at the parking lot. A wind/rain layer and an extra mid-layer can help you stay warm at the top so you don’t have to cut your time short.

Last but not least, pack snacks and more water than you think you will need.  Anything can happen on this adventure. You want to be prepared for weather, injuries, and anything else you can think of. 

Parking for The Quandary Peak Trail is located off of Rt 9 on Blue Lakes Road.  Once you park you walk onto McCullough Gulch Rd for a short while until you come across the Quandary Peaks Trail on your left. 

At this point, you will be on a single-track trail that switchbacks through the amazing forest.  After you get above the treeline, you are hiking an exposed ridge with 360-degree views. The trail gets extremely rocky and the wind will start to howl! 

As you get closer to the top you might see some mountain goats. Once to the top, you get great views of the Gore and Sawatch Ranges.

Once you’re done taking in the views, head back down the same way you started. Take your time on the way down and watch your footing.

Spruce Creek Trail to Mohawk Lakes Trail

Mohawk Lake is surrounded by lichen covered rocks. It is a popular hiking trail in Breckenridge Colorado

Distance: 8.4 miles out and back

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation gain: 2,106 ft

The Mohawk Lakes Trail is a must! This is a heavily trafficked trail, best used from July through October.

You start at the Spruce Creek Trailhead and begin gradually gaining elevation.  Once you get to an intersection of the Wheeler Trail and McCullough Gulch Rd, continue straight to get to the Mohawk Lakes Trail.

There are seven lakes along this trail and you can see all of them if you would like. First you will get to Mayflower Lakes. 

After this, the trail begins to get steeper, but it is worth the effort to keep going to see the biggest lake, Mohawk Lake. Once you get to Mohawk Lake you can turn around to make the hike shorter, or you can continue on to see three more lakes.

I do recommend hiking to all seven lakes if you have the energy to get there as there are not many hikes in the county to see that many alpine lakes!

Gold Hill (Colorado Trail seg 7.1 & 7.2)

A partly cloudy day hiking in Breckenridge with trees and mountains capped with snow in the distance
Photo Credit: Katie Jakubowski

Distance: 7.2 miles out and back

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: 1,466 ft

The Upper and Lower Gold Hill Trails offer you an opportunity to hike a small section of the Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trails runs 567 miles from Denver to Durango.

You park just off of Route 9 at the bottom of Sherwood Trail Road.  From there you get on the Gold Hill Trail. 

You start to climb on the trail and continue to gradually climb for 3.6 miles until you reach the Peaks Trail. 

Just a quarter-mile into the trail, you get amazing views of Breckenridge ski resort.  When you look back across Route 9, you can see the Colorado Trail switchbacks.

The sage in the area smells amazing and the wildflowers in peak season are incredible. 

You can go as far as you would like on this trail, and even add extra miles on the Peaks Trail if you’re feeling good!

B & B to Reiling Dredge to Minnie Mine

The remains of an old mine by the water in Breckenridge Colorado
Photo Credit: Katie Jakubowski

Distance: 3 mile loop

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain: 413 ft

This 3-mile heavily trafficked loop trail in Breckenridge offers you a view into history!

Breckenridge started as a mining community. On this loop, you are able to see The Reiling Dredge, which used to mine gold in the area, as well as all of the rock and sediment the dredge left behind.

You park at the B & B trailhead off of French Gulch Road and make your way to the B & B Mine Trail. 

After hiking for about 1 mile, you will come across the Railing Dredge, which has sunk and now sits in the most beautiful water.  

After leaving the dredge you will cross the road and head to the Minnie Mine Trail.  Once you get back to French Gulch Road, make a right to head back to your car.

This is a low-intensity trail in Breck you can do if you just want to get out for a nice walk. You will come across many old artifacts around the trail so keep your eyes peeled! This is the trail to do if you are interested in seeing history.

13 Adventurous Day Trips from Denver, Colorado

beautiful light falling on garden of the gods

Denver is a great location to access so many different places from, making it a great base for day trips in Colorado.

There are just so many great things to do and see within a few hours from Denver! 

In this article, I hope to give you some great ideas on how to spend some of your days trips from Denver — in both the summer and the winter, because Denver is truly an all-season destination!

No matter what you like to do, you can find somewhere to do it on one of these incredible Denver day trips.

13 Best Day Trips from Denver, CO

Lookout Mountain Park

Views over the town of Golden Colorado as seen from Lookout Mountain Park, a popular day trip from Denver

Drive Time: 30 minutes

This is a great place to visit for awesome views of Golden, CO, and to immerse yourself in the wilderness just 30 minutes outside of Denver.

This foothill of the Rockies is a road bikers heaven! The northern part of Lookout Mountain Road is curvy and often has a lot of road bikers climbing to the summit at 7,377 ft.

If you’re not feeling cycling to the top, you can drive your car to Lookout Mountain Park by taking I-70 to exit 256 to Lookout Mountain Road, one of the most scenic drives in Colorado.

If you want to take the more scenic, longer route get on to W Sixth Ave and make a left on 19th street until it turns into Lookout Mountain Road. You can follow that road all the way to the park. 

There is some hiking in this area, but I recommend packing a picnic and just hanging out and enjoying the views.

Bring a good book and a hammock and find a nice spot to take in the peaceful atmosphere so close to Denver!

The summit of Lookout Mountain is home to the gravesite of Buffalo Bill. There is a museum and shop you can visit here as well.

The Coors Brewing Factory

The interior of the Coors factory, a brewery in Golden CO that is a popular day trip from Denver
Photo Credit: daveynin via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Drive Time: 30 minutes

The Coors Brewing Factory, located in Golden, offers a 30-minute self-guided tour of their facility showcasing the malting, brewing, and packaging process while offering you a look into history.

The Coors Brewing Factory has been in operation since 1873 and is a staple in Colorado. The tour is $10 for out-of-state residents and $5 for Colorado residents.

At the end of your tour, three 8-ounce samples of your choosing are included, as well as a commemorative glass. 

This is a great afternoon activity to do with a group of any size!

Boulder

The Flatirons in Boulder Colorado a popular hiking destination

Drive Time: 40 minutes

If you’re looking to check out a historic street with a myriad of shops and restaurants, check out Pearl Street in Boulder. There are over 1,000 places to shop and dine on this pedestrian-only street!

There is artwork all around, beautiful architecture, and festive lights to catch your gaze. Be on the lookout for musicians and performers as well!

Boulder is known for its high-quality restaurants and has ample breweries for you to visit. You can also go to see the historic Boulder Theater which has been around since 1906 and has hosted many world-class shows.

If you love tea, don’t forget to check out the tour of Celestial Seasonings. The tour is free and you get a tour of the production floor to see how teas are blended and packaged. Then you get to taste any of their 90 varieties of tea.

Another great destination for tea lovers is the Silk Road-style Dushanbe Boulder Teahouse, a gift from Boulder’s sister city which is the capital of Tajikistan. It was hand-made there, shipped to Boulder in pieces, and assembled on-site!

After having some tea, you can check out the Museum of Boulder. This museum is full of interactive exhibits which will show you how Boulder became the outdoor enthusiast, health-crazed, tech-savvy mecca it is today.  

While at the museum make sure to check out the rooftop views of the Flatirons. If you want to explore more, consider checking out the Boulder Creek Path, which is a paved recreational path that runs along the river with plenty of shade.

If you want more activity, consider hiking around the meadows of the Flatirons, starting at the Chautauqua Trailhead.

Boulder has no shortage of activities to do. It might take you more than one day to do all the things you want, so make sure to leave yourself enough time!

Red Rocks Park

The colorful red rocks amphitheater as seen at sunrise with a colorful sky

Drive Time: 40 minutes

Red Rocks Park is home to The Red Rocks Amphitheater, a must on any Denver itinerary.

I highly recommend planning your trip to the amphitheater to see a live concert. This venue is known for its amazing acoustic sounds. Pick your favorite artist and get ready for an emotional ride at this venue!

If you look out over the stage, you can see the hustle and bustle of the city while you enjoy the great sounds. It is the most epic venue I have ever been to.

Even if you can’t make it to The Amphitheater for a show, I would recommend taking a day trip from Denver to the park to go see it. It is a magical place!

The Trading Post Trail, a short 1.4-mile loop will take you around all the must-see rock features in the park. 

Indian Hot Springs

Photo Credit: Bradley Gordon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Drive Time: 40 minutes

When visiting Colorado, going to a hot spring is a must! 

Indian Hot Springs is just 40 minutes from Denver. There is a mineral water pool, geothermal caves, outdoor jacuzzis, and indoor private baths.

Be sure to check out their website for pricing and combo deals to use multiple amenities!

If you want to spend the night, they do offer lodging as well as a spa, so you can have a relaxing getaway.

Central City / Black Hawk

View from above Central City in Colorado, a fun town where gambling is allowed!

Drive Time: 45 minutes

Love to gamble?  Then you should make the trip to Central City and Black Hawk.

The two towns have been designated the Central City/ Black Hawk National Historic District. This is one of the three places in Colorado gambling is allowed!

There are over 18 casinos in operation in this area. Ameristar’s Blackhawk Casino is the largest in Colorado.

With these casinos only being 45 minutes outside of Denver, it’s easy to go for just the day, but if you want to spend more time, there is plenty of lodging in the area.

The drive to this area is very beautiful and offers great views so I would recommend making it in the daytime! Have fun gambling and come home a winner!

Fort Collins

Drive Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

North of Denver, Fort Collins is a historic town with an old-fashioned trolley, buildings from the 1800s, and a plethora of shops and restaurants.

Fort Collins is also the home of Colorado State University, so it can be very crowded during the school year.

Make sure to visit the Horsetooth Reservoir, just minutes outside of Fort Collins. This reservoir offers you all the summer activities you can think of including swimming, scuba diving, and paddleboard rentals.

Take the family here for the day to escape some of the heat and maybe think about renting a boat or getting a tour!

There is plenty of places to hike and bike in this area, and you can even go for a ride high in the sky on a hot-air balloon.

If you want to escape the elements, check out the many museums and art galleries located throughout Fort Collins. There is also plenty of live music and shows going on in town.

No matter how you choose to explore this wonderful place, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Garden of the Gods

Drive Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Garden of the Gods is located in Colorado Springs. It is a 1,300-acre public park full of sandstone formations. There are plenty of activities to do in the park and there is no fee to enter!

The park’s best attraction is its Visitor and Nature Center and museum. There are interactive exhibits where you can take the whole family to learn about the rock formations and enjoy a 20-minute movie about the park.

There is also a restaurant in which you can dine inside with amazing views of the park and Pikes Peak. When you are ready to get away from the Visitor and Nature Center there are plenty of adventures for you to participate in.

The park offers front-range climbing trips, jeep and segway tours, bike and e-bike tours and rentals as well as other adventure programs.

If you’re not feeling like participating in any of the tours, you can also grab a map and do some hiking on your own within the park.

Rocky Mountain National Park

clear water on the landscape at rocky mountain national park

Drive Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Rocky Mountain National Park is the most popular of the four National Parks in the state, and it’s an easy day trip from Denver.

This park showcases what Colorado is all about! There is plenty of wildlife, wildflowers, and beautiful mountain views to look at.

There is a $25 entrance fee per vehicle unless you have an annual National Park Pass which you can purchase for $80 at the park or ahead of time.

I would recommend the annual park pass if you are planning to visit more than one National Park in a year — it quickly pays for itself!

I recommend driving Trail Ridge Road in the park. It is the park’s most heavily trafficked road because of the epic journey it takes you on.

11 miles of the 48-mile road take you above the treeline at over 11,500 feet! This road winds through alpine meadows with a myriad of wildflowers, near rivers, through aspens and lush forest, and offers wildlife viewings.

Be on the lookout for bighorn sheep, pikas, and ptarmigans, and other Colorado wildlife.

On this journey, you will cross over the continental divide at Milner Pass. The Trail Ridge Road is one of America’s Byways.

Leave yourself at least half a day to do this drive so you can take in all that the park has to offer right from your car. There are plenty of pull-offs to take in the views if you need to stretch your legs.

If you’re looking to get away from some of the crowds and off of a paved road, consider checking out the Old Fall River Road.

This 11-mile road is primarily a gravel road, with no guard rails that take you up to Fall River Pass which is 11,796 feet above sea level. The road is narrow and has many switchbacks.

Be on the lookout for elk feeding in the meadow after passing Willow Park. Eventually, this road joins with Trail Ridge Road near the Alpine Visitor Center.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-visit if you are in Colorado because it gives you a look into many of the landscapes in Colorado all in one place.

High alpine tundras, lush meadows, aspen forests, winding rivers, a variety of wildlife, and amazing wildflowers.  Don’t miss out on these views!

Summit County

Summit County is a great getaway with so much to offer that you might need more than one day to explore it.

The county is home to Keystone, Silverthorne, Dillon, Frisco, and Breckenridge. Below, I am going to talk about some of those towns because they all offer something so unique!

Dillon

Drive Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Dillon, Colorado is a small town nestled off of Exit 205 on I-70 that has some of the best views in Summit County!

Dillon has a spot right on the Dillon Reservoir, which is Denver’s largest water supplier. The reservoir has 26.78 miles of shoreline and is bordered by Dillon, Silverthorne, and Frisco. 

The reservoir is a great place to recreate. You can head to the Dillon Marina and rent a vessel of your choosing: anything from paddleboards and kayaks to pontoon boats and sailboats.

If you’re feeling like being chauffeured around what the locals call Lake Dillon, you can hire a captain for the day. After you’re done exploring the lake, you can have lunch and drinks lakeside at the Tiki Bar, or you can head into town for other options.

There is a lakeside park for the kids to play in as well as an amphitheater right on the Lake to catch a show! Bicycle and e-bike rentals are another option for your group. There is a rec path that runs around the whole lake.

You can pack yourself lunch, and cycle somewhere around the lake to find a sweet secluded spot for a picnic. You can even ride your bike over the Dam!

If you love to shop, head one town over into the Silverthorne to check out the outlet mall, just off of exit 205 for some great deals!

Heading up to Sapphire Point Overlook for the sunset is something you don’t want to miss. The Sapphire Point Overlook Trail is a 0.6 mile, easy loop that offers you 180-degree views of the Lake and surrounding towns.

In the winter, Dillon is home to the Dillon Ice Castles, one of the most magical places in Colorado in winter, making in an absolute must on a winter day trip from Denver.

Keystone

people ice skating at the keystone ski resort in colorado, a popular day trip from denver in winter

Drive Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Keystone, CO is home to Keystone Ski Resort, one of the best family ski resorts around!

Keystone Resort offers three peaks to ski with 4 hike-to bowls, steep tree skiing, and exceptional groomed runs that feel endless. Keystone also is known for its 3.5-mile green trail, Schoolmarm.

Every Saturday, Keystone hosts a parade where kids can walk and dance along with staff members, and Keystone’s mascot, Ripperoo the dog. They even give out cookies at the end!

In the summertime, Keystone offers a downhill Mountain Bike Park. The green trails take you on a 7-mile journey, winding throughout the mountain.

If you are not interested in mountain biking, you can take a scenic gondola ride to the summit, do a little hiking and have some lunch. The Keystone Village offers a variety of restaurants and lodging.

If you are in the mood to walk, walking along The Snake River on the rec path is a great way to spend the afternoon.

If you want to experience mountain golf, Keystone has two world-class golf courses. The River Course is an 18 hole true mountain golf course. The front nine winds along the Snake River, while the back nine offers elevated tee boxes and greens and amazing views of Lake Dillon, Buffalo Mountain, and the Gore Range.

The Ranch plays like a links-style course tucked away in a beautiful valley. There were many homesteads on this property in the 1900s and many are still standing on the course today.

If you want a fine dining experience, consider checking out the Ranch Restaurant for a multi-course meal inside one of the homesteads.

Keystone is a quiet, serene place to go and relax for the day or the weekend. If you are looking for some more activity, be sure to check online for their schedule of festivals.

Breckenridge

the city of breckenridge in the summer, surrounded by mountains and houses

Drive Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Breckenridge used to be a mining town in and 1880s and 90s; now, it’s an outdoor paradise all year round!

Breck, as the locals call it, sits at the base of the 10 Mile Range. It is a must-visit for its 2,908-acre ski resort, its vibrant main street, and a myriad of trails to recreate on!

There are plenty of lodging and dining options in the area as well as breweries and distilleries to visit.

In the winter, Breckenridge is home to Breckenridge Ski Resort which offers skiing off of 5 different peaks with multiple bowls to ski in as well as hike-to terrain.

There are plenty of ski-in ski-out lodging opportunities in the area!

In the summer, Breckenridge is a lively community with plenty of places to shop and eat locally on its victorian style Main Street.

If you want to get away from the pedestrian crowds, Airport Road is an alternative to Main Street. You can visit Broken Compass Brewing Company or the Breckenridge Distillery to check out local products.

If you are a road biker, Breckenridge, and Summit County as a whole is the place for you. The red path allows you to take a journey on your bicycle around the whole county.

If you start in Breckenridge, you can ride to Frisco, get some coffee and check out the shops. If you want to ride more you can either ride to Copper or Silverthorne. If you ride to Silverthorne, you will ride right next to Lake Dillon and Cross over the Dam into Dillon.

You can even continue on the path all the way into Keystone! It is quite the journey, and there is no other rec path like this.

There are plenty of bike and e-bike rentals in the county. If you are not a road biker, rent an e-bike and take the epic journey around the county.

Mt. Evans Summit

the road going up to the summit of mt evans in colorado

Drive Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes

This may seem like a far drive for a Denver day trip, but this is an amazing journey!

Just outside of Idaho Springs, Mt. Evans towers 14,265 feet above sea level and you can drive your car right up to the top in the summer!

This is the highest paved road in North America winding through vast meadows, with great views of the surrounding area. You pass right next to Summit Lake which sits at 12,860 ft.

After passing Summit Lake, the road begins to change to switchbacks as you begin the final ascent to the summit. Look out for mountain goats on the switchbacks — if you’re lucky you might even see some babies!

If you’re feeling really adventurous you can ride your bicycle to the summit, which many people do. If you do choose to ride your bike, you can park at Echo Lake, starting your journey above 10,000 feet.

It’s a 30-mile round trip ride with 3,800 ft of elevation gain. The road has many cracks and bumps in it because of the high alpine environment it is in, so be mindful of that as you descend.

I also recommend packing extra layers for the summit, because the wind may be howling and it can be a chilly ride down.

If you are not feeling like driving up to the summit of Mt. Evans, Echo Lake Park, just 55 minutes from Denver, is near the base of Mt. Evans and is a great place to go fishing, hiking, or have a picnic.