We all want a little adventure in our lives.
Someone who’s fresh out of rehab may miss the rush of his or her old life, however destructive it may have been. One of the best ways to rekindle that feeling—in a completely healthy way—is by seeing new places.
Colorado is known for its ski resorts, or course, but there are plenty of things to do year-round. Here are three day trips from Denver to get you started, including one that offers the chance to test out the rock climbing skills picked up while at The Raleigh House.
Colorado Mountains and the Colorado Gold Rush—45 Minutes from Denver
Head out west from Denver along Interstate 70—then continue along through the Rocky Mountains for some of the best views in the west.
After about 20 miles, you’ll come to the town of Idaho Springs where, in 1959, George A. Jackson discovered “placer” gold at the spot where the Chicago Creek empties into Clear Creek. It was the first substantial discovery of gold in Colorado—and Jackson tried to keep it quiet. He was found out, however, when he paid for some supplies with gold dust. Word got out fast and prospectors flocked to the mountains.
The town has big plans to turn itself into a tourism Mecca, complete with a luxury hotel and conference center, but it’s an authentic, unique experience just the way it is right now.
The heart of the town is the Argo Gold Mill & Tunnel, which was constructed to process gold ore and became the largest mill of its type in the world. Today, visitors can take a guided tour that includes part of the legendary Argo Tunnel used to transport gold bearing ore through the mountains to Central City.
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Garden of the Gods—One Hour from Denver
This 1,367-acre free park in Colorado Springs offers 15 miles of trails that wind up the base of Pikes Peak mountain. It’s also easy to explore the park by car, stopping off in designated areas to take photos and look around.
The real draw, though, are the towering deep-red, pink and white sandstone rock formations that entice both photographers and rock climbers alike.
Kids love scrambling up the formations, while more serious climbers can bring their gear and go higher (you just need to fill out a free registration first.)
Afterwards, stop at the visitors center for lunch. If you’re up for more adventure, book a tour with Challenge Unlimited to ride the cog railway up more than 14,000 feet to the summit of Pikes Peak, then bike down the north face.
Mesa Verde National Park—Eight Hours from Denver
We know; this one is a bit too long for a day trip, but Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado is worth the extra effort.
About 1,000 years ago, the Ancestral Pueblo people decided it was time to leave behind their homes on the top of the mesa where they had lived for hundreds of years. But they didn’t move far. Their new homes were located just below their old ones—on sandstone ledges hovering over the Soda Canyon.
No one is certain why they moved. It could have been to be closer to their water source. Or for protection from potential enemies. It might also have been to free up more room on the top of the mesa to grow corn, squash and beans.
Whatever the reason, there is no denying that their cliffside dwellings are remarkable. The homes are made of sandstone that was shaped into blocks using stone tools and then mortared into place.
Visitors can take guided tours through three of the dwellings, including Cliff Palace which, with 150 rooms, is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. It includes living rooms with hearths, towers, plazas and 21 large, circular, partially subterranean rooms called kivas, which were used for social and ceremonial purposes. Using hand and foot holds, the Ancestral Pueblo people could climb up to the fields on the mesa tops or down to the valley below. (Today, visitors must climb ladders to ascend from the cliff dwellings, including one that is 32-feet high.)
Spend the night in the Farview Lodge where all rooms have sweeping views of the park. Dine on elk Wellington or pan-seared trout at the Metate Room Restaurant, then end your day star-gazing from your private balcony.
About The Raleigh House
The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that believes addiction isn’t just a physical problem. Our master’s level trained therapists get to the root cause of addiction and, with your loved one, will develop a strategy to manage and enjoy life without drugs or alcohol. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the treatment programs at The Raleigh House.