There’s nothing quite like getting out into the great outdoors for some nature-filled adventure. Living in Centennial, Colorado, means you’re close to many amazing national and state parks that are packed to the brim with your family’s favorite outdoor activities, like hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, and camping.
What’s more, many of these locations are within an hour’s drive of Centennial so you don’t have to go far to take advantage of the state’s amazing landscape. That’s why Crème de la Crème of Lone Tree curated this list of five awesome nature-filled spots in and around our hometown.
Cherry Creek State Park
Cherry Creek State Park in nearby Aurora offers a little bit of everything that your family could want. There’s a shooting range for hunters in need of some practice, horse stables that offer rides and lessons, a marina to bring a boat out on the water, trails for the nature lovers, and a campground to stay one or a few nights in the great outdoors. There are picnic areas with grills, beautiful rugged hikes that are great for birding and wildlife spotting, as well as winter activities like cross-country skiing and ice skating.
If your family is into water activities, you’ll love hanging out at the reservoir, where you can swim in the summer, ride jet skis, and explore the water on paddleboats, kayaks, and canoes. You can fish off the marina while on a boat, or off the shore of the reservoir, and try to catch species like largemouth bass, rainbow trout, wiper, and walleye. What’s more, you can even go ice fishing when the weather is right.
Bluffs Regional Park
Bluffs Regional Park is located in nearby Littleton, and it’s a hiker’s paradise. This park is home to some awe-inspiring views of the Colorado Front Range Mountains and amazing regional trail connections. The park itself offers 3.72 miles of soft-surface trail, which is easy enough for kids to see some of the more beautiful views of the terrain.
You can either hike the 2.7-mile loop, hike directly to the overlook for a 1.4-mile out-and-back hike, or do both portions for the best of the park. If you’re looking for a day-long hike, you can start here and connect to the Highlands Ranch trail system, the East/West Regional Trail, or the South Suburban Parks and Recreation trail system.
Lookout Mountain Park
Over in Golden, Colorado, you’ll find Lookout Mountain Park. This park boasts a nature preserve, a visitor’s center with a mini museum, interpretative trails, and guided nature hikes and other educational programs. Your trip to Lookout Mountain will take you to a 7,377-foot peak, an amazing yet not-too-challenging feat. Unlike other parks on this list, you can’t quite get a view of the beautiful terrain below because the area is heavily wooded. However, in some parts, you can get a few small glimpses of the Denver skyline and Front Range Mountains.
But what’s great about this park is just how closely you can commune with nature and wildlife because of the dense forest. You and your kids can spot squirrels, deer, elk, and a wide variety of birds, including blue jays and hawks. In addition to amazing nature, you also get to learn a bit of history. That’s because the peak is also the gravesite of William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. You can visit the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave to learn more about his life and see actual artifacts from his past.
Roxborough State Park
Roxborough State Park is in nearby Littleton. This park is almost 4,000 acres of red-rock formations, diverse wildlife habitats, and preserved nature areas. The park doesn’t allow biking, climbing, camping, or pets, but the area is fantastic for families who want to spend a few hours exploring nature. You can hike the park’s trail system, which is made up of nine different trails, totaling 14 miles. Many trails connect to other regional trails, including the Douglas County Open Space Trails, Pike National Forest Trails, and the Colorado Trail. In the winter, these trails are awesome for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
You can even take part in guided nature hikes and educational programs to learn more about the mammals, birds, and plants that call this area home. Plus, this park hosts events to celebrate the diverse natural features, including archeological sites and birding spots.
Pike-San Isabel National Forest
The Pike and San Isabel National Forests are located in nearby Sedalia, Colorado. While it’s a bit of a longer drive out here, it’s an amazing outdoor space to visit. There are plenty of activities to enjoy, including biking, climbing, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, OHV riding, and much more. This region is also great for taking a scenic drive, a perfect option for parents with small children and even infants. You can drive to various peaks and see gorgeous views of historic towns and mountain ranges.
Bring your camping gear and OHV to Rampart Range Recreation Area and explore the rugged trails and terrain. You can go day hiking with the younger kids and explore the interpretive trails, or you can complete a backpacking hike with your teen children on the Colorado Trail or Continental Divide Trail, both of which intersect this area. If you have an active Colorado fishing license, you can take part in ice fishing during the winter months as well as lake, pond, and river fishing. Consider camping in the available cabins, campsites with full and partial hookups, and primitive camping spots.
So there you have it, five awesome nature-filled experiences near Centennial. There are many other small and large natural areas to visit, including those that are a few hours’ drive away, like Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Juan National Forest, and Rio Grande National Forest. Did we miss any of your family’s favorite outdoor recreation destinations in and around Centennial, Colorado? If so, contact Crème de la Crème of Lone Tree and let us know. We’ll be sure to add it to our list!