After the long cold winter, it is time to head out and enjoy the all of the beauty that Colorado has to offer. The best part is that you don’t have to leave your dog at home either. Yes, Colorado is home to many pet-friendly options that will allow you and your pup to hike and take in the scenery. As always, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen for you and water for both you and your dog.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
18300 W. Alameda Parkway
Morrison, CO 80465
Red Rocks is much more than a concert venue. This stunningly beautiful destination is a favorite for locals and tourists to enjoy scenic Colorado. Plenty of hiking and biking trails, wonderful places for a picnic lunch, and a great visitor center make Red Rocks a great place for a day with your pet. Leashed pets are allowed on the hiking trails, but be sure to bring plenty of water for you and your pooch. Red Rocks Park is located near Morrison, just 15 miles west of Denver. Take I-70 west to exit 259, turn left at the bottom of the Morrison exit ramp. Head downhill about one and a half miles to the Red Rocks Park entrance.
Garden of the Gods
1805 N. 30thColorado Springs, CO 80904
Garden of the Gods is a truly spectacular park located just about an hour south of Denver. A great destination for the whole family as well, it promises tons of great activities for all. With biking, hiking, tours, exhibits, shopping, picnics, horseback riding and even junior ranger programs, this is a day trip for the whole family. Don’t leave the family pet at home either – leashed dogs are allowed on the trails, so take the pup with you, and prepare for some of the best photo opportunities Colorado has to offer. Drive south on I-25 toward Colorado Springs, then take exit 146, Garden of the Gods Road. Head west for 2.5 miles, then turn left on to 30th street. The visitor and nature center will be a little more than a mile ahead on the left.
Mount Princeton Hot Springs
15870 County Road 162
Nathrop, CO 81236
Just because you enjoy a day at the hot springs does not mean your pup has to be left at home. If you are staying for the night, or just heading up to enjoy all of the great amenities, Mount Princeton is a wonderful place to play and relax. Of course, dogs are not allowed in the actual hot springs, but you can enjoy the hiking and trails with your pup. If you do want to take advantage of the pools, the hotel allows dogs as well, so check in, get the pup settled in and then head out to the pools.
St. Mary’s Glacier
7599 Fall River Road
Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Price: $5 parking
St. Mary’s Glacier is another wonderful day trip perfect for you and your leashed dog. This scenic beauty is the only place in the entire United States where a river flows into a creek, producing amazing views and a year-round snowfield. Yes, you can even have a snowball fight in August here. As the weather in Colorado can be difficult to predict, be sure to dress in layers, and bring plenty of water. St. Mary’s Glacier is just more than an hour from Denver. Head west on I-70 to exit 238 to Fall River Road. Turn right onto Fall River Road for approximately seven miles. St. Mary’s will be ahead on your left.
Union Reservoir Dog Beach
461 County Road 26
Longmont, CO 80504
Price: $6 per vehicle
The Union Reservoir Dog Beach is the perfect place to take Fido for the day. Just a short drive outside of Denver, watch your beloved pup swim and frolic on the beach on a day out you can both enjoy. Dogs are allowed unleashed in the designated areas, but must remain leashed in all other areas of the park. In addition to the great dog beach, enjoy fishing, swimming, camping and windsurfing. Head north on I-25 to exit 240 for CO-119 West toward Longmont. Turn left on to CO-119 for about two miles. Then turn right on Colorado Road 3 ½ for one mile. Turn left on to Colorado Road 26 and it will be on the right.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.