This summer we were fortunate enough to spend some quality time in Boulder, Colorado, soaking up the sun and enjoying the Rocky Mountains. The front range of the Rockies are plentiful with outdoor activities. Here are some of our favorite things to do while in and around Boulder, Colorado.
South Arapaho Peak - Less than an hour drive from Boulder is the 4th of July Campground, in the Indian Peaks National Forest. From here, the Arapaho Pass trail will take you to a number of different destinations. We have hiked quite a few of these trails and feel that it is safe to say that the South Arapaho Peak is the most bang for the buck. The trail is 8.6 miles out and back and has 3,213 feet elevation gain to the summit at 13,356 feet. The summit rewards you with views of the the Arapaho Glacier and the Rocky Mountains. On a day with high visibility, you can even see Pikes Peak. You’ll see plenty of Marmots and they might even try to take your lunch, so be on the lookout. This hike offers amazing views, wildlife, wild flowers and lakes.
Crater Lake - Just on the other side of the 4th of July Campground is Monarch Lake unfortunately it’s a 2 hour and 30 minute drive from Boulder, but it’s worth it. The trailhead for Crater Lake (Monarch Lake, and Cascade Trail) is located near the Monarch Lake parking lot. The hike isn’t a short hike either at just about 15 miles round trip and a little over 2,000 feet vertical. It’s a big hike for an overnighter, but 100% worth the effort. The hike is packed with wildflowers, wildlife, and waterfalls. You’ll want to set out for Mirror Lake the smaller lake before Crater Lake. Mirror Lake will be your best bet for views and photos of Lone Eagle Peak. This was our first experience backpacking with a hammock and we loved it. This was one of the most scenic places I’ve ever been to in Colorado it was an amazing night of stargazing and hanging with new friends.
Take a plunge down the Boulder Creek. You’ll need to head to McGuckin’s Hardware to grab a $11 River Rat tube or come prepared and order online. Once you have the tube, head over to Eben G. Fine and get ready to send it down the Creek. This is one of my favorite activities to do on those sweltering Boulder days. You’ll want to start about a half mile up the bike path from Even G. before the path curves to HWY 119, you’ll see a bunch of people hanging out around the launch spot. From here, it’s a series of small rapid drops to pools and nothing is too extreme. I would say ages 10 and up can hang on this mellow course when the water is lower. The course is some some good ol’ fashion fun! Remember to keep your butt up or you will slam a rock or two.
We always talk about how great the Valmont Bike Park is in Boulder. We came here at least twice a week it’s a great place to work on skills and progress for the trails, without the drive or having to ride 10+ miles with tons of uphill. You can find tons of lines in this park. There is a 2 mile Hot Lap, to get the blood flowing, as well as, a slope stye course for all levels.
Outside of Boulder, there are plenty of bike trials all around table mesa and in the front range. A trail we really enjoyed and found at the end of our stay was the Betasso Preserve, a 7.4 mile loop that’s rated intermediate, but has some challenging technical sections that we struggled on. But over all, this was our favorite trail near Boulder.
We just recently bought the Intex Challenger K1 for $50 on Amazon Prime Day and we love them. While in Boulder, we went down the creek plenty of times on the K1’s as well as paddled at lakes and down rivers. One of our favorite spots was the Gross Reservoir just an hour from Boulder. This is a no wake lake and has calm glassy water and is great for paddling. Another option that you can convert into a camping trip is heading to Lake Grandby on the other end of the Indian Peaks.