Hikes near Denver to impress your visiting friends
You did it. You joined the hordes of millennials who planned, saved, packed, and moved their small lives to the great state of Colorado. Which means Denver (for those who don't know how millennials work). You've begun to integrate with the Patagonia-sponsored lifestyle and posted a few Instagrams of the front range from your office window.
But now the real work begins: you must convince your less-adventurous friends to join you in the Mile High City. All it took for you was one trip into the mountains, so you need to emulate that experience for the others. However, a weekend visit doesn't leave enough time to trek four hours to Aspen or three to the Great Sand Dunes. You need something really close and really inspiring. Look no further, young millennial transplant.
A mere 20 minutes from the city, this little network of hikes and scenery offers unforgettable views for minimal effort. You'll be able to convince even your laziest and least-athletic visitors to buck up and make the trip. Take the Lookout Mountain exit off I-70 West, and drive the windy mountain road to one of a couple different parking areas. From these spots, there are some easy trails that lead you to stunning views of the front range and of Denver itself. If you go at sunset (which I recommend), you can see the sky turn orange over the Rocky Mountains, while behind you, the urban sprawl begins to illuminate and display its own magnificence. Just make sure the driver is confident on mountain roads, or you might get some squealing from the back seat.
Garden of the Gods
It's easy to disregard the natural beauty that exists to the south of Denver. After all, the Rockies serve as a constant distraction on the horizon as you go about your everyday city life. But to ignore I-25 South and all of its gifts would be to fail in your mission of attracting your friends to Colorado. To compliment the white-capped Rocky Mountains, you get places like Garden of the Gods: completely free, massive red rock formations that jut from the ground like snaggle teeth. It's only an hour away, and will leave a lasting impression on your flatlander friends. Tell them to bring a camera.
Flatirons 1 & 2
Boulder is Denver's cool cousin who seems to know about all the good craft beer and music a couple years in advance. It also has its own set of iconic hikes that will stick in your friends' memories like A-Basin's spring snow. The Flatirons serve as a centerpiece for a network of trails, and the main trail to the top is the most exciting (you'll probably see people free-soloing along the rock face as you hike). The jagged peaks and views of Boulder are enough to make your friends forget about the lack of oceans here. It's the toughest hike on this list, but I'd recommend not being a baby for this one (you'll thank me later). Grab a craft brew back in Boulder before you leave, and lament the fact that you didn't go to college in this beautiful town.
It's possible to hit all these spots in one weekend, but don't try too hard. One taste should be enough to get into the bloodstream and incept the idea of moving here. Let it manifest as you continuously post photos of mountain lakes and 420 parades.