The Front Range
Travelers heading west toward Colorado’s Front Range pass through miles upon miles of the Great Plains before a hazy outline of mountains appears on the horizon. As you get closer, the immense size of the Rockies becomes clearer. Before long, the foothills begin bursting through the flatlands before forming the snow-capped peaks of the mountains west of cities like Denver and Colorado Springs. The Front Range can be a jumping-off point for adventures in the Rockies, or you can explore all that the small towns and big cities offer.
Home of the Rockies
The Rocky Mountains form a spectacular north-south barrier that bisects Colorado. To the east, the Front Range includes the expanse of foothills between the mountains and the plains. Running north and south, Interstate 25 connects the towns of Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo, forming the eastern border of the Front Range. Interstate 70 is a popular route west into the mountains, connecting several chic ski towns. Travelers heading into Rocky Mountain National Park often take U.S. Route 36 northwest from Denver to Estes Park. Weather varies greatly by season and by elevation. Towns at higher elevations are substantially cooler. Summers are mostly pleasant, with some of the hotter days reaching the high 80s.
Teeming With Fish and Game
Colorado is often on anglers’ bucket lists, thanks to the plentiful trout streams. Four types of trout are found in the waterways of Rocky Mountain National Park. In the Front Range, the Big Thompson and the Poudre (a National Wild and Scenic River) are legendary for their rippling waters and scenic surroundings, with towering pines and mountain peaks. Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins and Cherry Creek Reservoir near Denver, as well as a number of lakes across the region, are popular picks for boating, fishing and paddling. Colorado’s plentiful wildlife is legendary, and robust populations of elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, small game and waterfowl can be hunted on public lands. Check out the Pike National Forest and Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.
The “Mile-High City” of Denver is Colorado’s capital and largest city. Urban adventures abound, with world-class museums, a renowned botanical garden and zoo, and a vibrant downtown entertainment district. The neighboring college town of Boulder is considered one of the happiest — and healthiest — cities in the nation. Its location at the base of the Rockies puts mountain adventures at your fingertips. At just over 7,500 feet in elevation, the resort town of Estes Park is considered the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. To the south, Colorado Springs offers natural beauty all its own, with Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak as the crowning jewels.
Events, Festivals and Food
The Front Range region celebrates its brews the way Napa Valley celebrates its wines, and Denver’s Great American Beer Festival is considered the granddaddy of all beer festivals, with over 4,000 brews to sample. Each fall, herds of elk take over downtown Estes Park during rutting season. The city’s Elk Fest takes place in late September, with bugling contests, craft displays and live entertainment. Since 1916, the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has challenged racers to make the fastest climb up Pikes Peak in all kinds of vehicles. The accompany Fan Fest street party is a regional favorite.
History, Museums and Monuments
With an exterior that is a work of art itself, the Denver Art Museum is an adventure waiting to unfold. Offering everything from Native American relics to quirky modern art, this museum showcases great works in a great space. While Colorado is known for its untamed wild spaces, the Denver Botanic Gardens delights the senses with manicured landscapes. Those with an interest in flight will find two fascinating places to explore in Colorado Springs: the National Museum of World War II Aviation and the U.S. Air Force Academy. An hour southwest of town, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is worth the drive. Walk or drive across one of the world’s highest bridges, at almost 1000 feet above the Arkansas River.
The Front Range is home to some of the nation’s most stunning landscapes. Epic adventures can be found in Rocky Mountain National Park. Over 355 miles of trails take you to dizzying array of waterfalls, alpine lakes, fields of wildflowers and forest woodlands. A drive along Trail Ridge Road offers sweeping views of the spectacular scenery. More eye-popping vistas can be found in Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods, where massive red rocks dominate the landscape. An exhilarating way to experience the scenery is with a rafting trip on one of the Front Range’s rugged waterways. Fair warning: You will get wet.
For More Information
Colorado Front Range
Colorado Tourism Office