Is Denver in the Rocky Mountains? A First Timer’s Guide

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Welcome to Denver, CO, the Gateway to the Rocky Mountains! These impressive mountains are the highest section of the chain that begins in northern British Columbia, Canada, reaching down into the United States of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and southern New Mexico. Colorado is home to 78 of the 100 highest peaks, as well as the 30 tallest peaks of the chain. There are also eight sub-ranges of the Southern Rockies, and it is in the Front Range that we begin our journey of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Rocky Mountains in BC

The Front Range is much more than what the locals like to think. Although it homes big cities such as Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder, the Front Range in truth begins to the north in Casper, WY and travels south to Pueblo, CO, extending west to the Eastern Slope of the Continental Divide. The Continental Divide of Colorado is a portion of the Great Divide that begins in Alaska and travels through South America, making it a point of interest while visiting the Rocky Mountains.

Colorado in summer

My favorite view of the Continental Divide is best seen from the top of Loveland Pass, just 60 miles west of Denver. In the summertime, the patches of wildflowers make it great for those panoramic photos of the Great Divide and the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Continuing west, past the summit of Loveland pass will bring you to Summit County – Colorado’s Playground. Here you will find 3 fourteeners: Quandary, Grays and Torreys. Located just over an hour from Denver, these are suitable for beginner to more advanced hikers.

man outside tent, Colorado

Looking for a fourteener with a bit of a lower elevation? Just outside of Vail, CO in Red Cliff is the start to the Mt of the Holy Cross which tops at 14,007’, but don’t let that fool you. This is a 11.7-mile hike in and out that takes about 9-10 hours to complete. Traveling south to the San Juan Range of the Rocky Mountains, Handies will give you the perfect beginner fourteener to hike with only a 2,500’ elevation climb over 5.5 miles and amazing scenic views!

Vail Pass Colorado

Hiking a fourteener isn’t necessary for a fantastic adventure in the Rocky Mountains. Just outside Denver about 30 minutes away, is the Mount Evans Via Ferrata and Cliffside Zipline in Idaho Springs. Here you can climb, swing, walk and be in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Although you can drive up the nearby Mt Evans, 2-3 hours each way, my children really enjoy the Cliffside Zipline Adventure where a photo opportunity with Mt Evans awaits just after the first line.

two girls ziplining

While the high peaks and the Continental Divide may be to the west of Denver, this gateway city can call the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains home. There are so many areas of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado which can be seen and explored by foot, car or shuttle (having someone else drive makes for better picture taking). There are plenty of mountains to connect with and see what makes Colorado an amazing place to visit and share with your loved ones.

Written by Mandy Hope, Contributing Member of the Sales and Marketing team

Edited by Rosa Canales, Marketing Specialist