Boulder is one of the most stunning places to live in Colorado. With thousands of trail miles, mountainous terrain, and incredible landmarks, there are plenty of places to visit, explore, and make memories.
Those who own Boulder real estate or are seeking out Boulder homes for sale likely already know just how gorgeous the city is and its surroundings are. But with so much to see, the following is a guide to help you broaden your Boulder horizons!
SETTLERS PARK TRAILHEAD
Settlers Park, which received its name because it was the first non-Native American settlement in Boulder, sits atop an underground sandstone rock formation. If you walk along the Red Rocks Trail, you’ll be privy to the astonishing view of red rock jutting up from the ground. The hike itself is a short one, but it’s worth making it just to see the exquisite natural beauty of the landscape.
The one-mile loop with a .4-mile spur is easy to walk and will only take you around 45 minutes, tops, to complete. If you follow the outer perimeter, you can’t miss the rocks, which extend from the center of the park. Because the hike is so short, you might consider taking the Anemone trail west, adding 400 ft. of elevation to give you unparalleled views of the Colorado Front Range, Red Rocks Park, and the cityscape.
With an astounding number of trails available in Boulder, it’s easy to overlook some of the most exciting options. One such hike, Mallory Cave, ends in a massive bat cave. Local adventurer E.C. Mallory discovered the cave in the early 1930s. It’s located to the west of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
That said, you won’t be allowed to enter the cave itself. In 2011, rangers from Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks installed a gate in front of the popular bat-roosting spot to keep humans out and protect Townsend’s big-eared bats from the potential spread of white-nose syndrome. There are only 11 known maternity colonies of these bats in Colorado, one of which is at Mallory Cave. Still, you’ll be able to get a peek at the mouth of the cave and take a photo of the gate itself, which has a giant bat symbol on it.
The Rayback Collective is a one-of-a-kind experience in Boulder’s backyard. Not only does it function as Boulder’s first-ever food truck park, but it also features a beer garden, a live music venue, and stunning mountain views. Offering both indoor and outdoor accommodations, guests can cozy up around a fire pit with a beer while looking out at the vast, surrounding mountainscape.
With more than 30 different beers on tap and a rotation of the most beloved food trucks around, the Rayback Collective is the backyard party and event venue you never knew you needed. It’s great for individuals and groups alike, whether you want to relax after a long day at the office or chill with several friends. Inside, there’s also a lounge, parlor, and coffee shop for anyone who wants to get some work done before they start partying!
There are a few COVID regulations in place to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe, including outdoor patio and tent seating only, seating being spaced six feet or more apart, groups of 10 or less, and mandatory masks whenever guests over the age of 10 are not at their tables. Rayback Collective is currently operating with reduced hours, closing at an earlier time of 8 p.m.
SPRUCE AND 11TH PARKING GARAGE
You might find yourself asking, “How can a parking garage be a scenic gem?” Well, in Boulder, you might be surprised how many rooftop patios and terraces boast the most spectacular views in the city. The parking garage on Spruce and 11th happens to be a perfect example of this.
For those looking for something quieter and more convenient to access, this parking garage offers surprisingly impressive views of the Flatirons and the city. Plus, since not many people know about it, you’ll likely have it all to yourself. No, it’s not exactly the most glamorous place to see the city and its glorious natural backdrop on this list, but don’t underestimate it!
SHADOW CANYON RIDGE
Boulder’s Shadow Canyon Ridge is no easy feat. That said, this 7.5-mile round trip hike might be challenging, but the result is worth it. Along the worn path, hikers are privy to spectacular views of the Flatirons and the post-wildfire recovery in the surrounding forest. The trail begins in open grasslands and starts with a peek at the mountainous terrain. Every step along the path will leave you amazed.
But don’t plan on undertaking this hike if you’re not anticipating a workout. The rocky summit and incline will get your legs pumping. One of many attributes is a dramatic look at Boulder’s “Devil’s Thumb” rock formation. Thankfully, as it is a long trek there and back, a few outhouses are placed along the way, so don’t be shy about bringing plenty of water! Dogs are also welcome on the trail, so long as they remain leashed or under voice and sight control.
If you’re an avid rock climber, then Eldorado Canyon State Park is the place for you. Located in Boulder County, Eldorado Canyon comprises two main areas, the developed Inner Canyon and Crescent Meadows. Sitting on 885 acres, Eldorado Canyon State Park features numerous recreational opportunities. However, the most attractive addition is its comprehensive rock climbing area, considered one of the best in the world.
The park’s astounding beauty and variety of more than 1,000 rock climbing routes are what draw people into the park, but many visitors tend to overlook the trails that wind through in favor of rock climbing. Hikers and mountain bikers will find some of the most beautiful routes in Boulder at Eldorado. But keep in mind you can only access the park during daylight hours as it closes at dusk.
OLDE STAGE OPEN SPACE
Driving down Olde Stage Road, you might be surprised to find out you’re near a calming trail (about two miles round trip) that leads down into the valley of Buckingham Park. To reach it, you’ll need to travel down the turnoff ahead of Olde Stage Road that connects with Lefthand Canyon.
There, you’ll discover a small parking area and trailhead. The parking area is different from the official Bucking Park area, so make sure you’re going to the right one. The best part about the Olde Stage Open Space is that it’s brimming with vibrant wildflowers outlining the entirety of the trail. The route takes you into the high cliffs, offering sweeping views that frequently include bald eagles arcing overhead. It’s usually not too packed, so you’ll likely find some solace away from the crowds.
BOULDER CREEK PATH
Boulder Creek Path is a beautiful, mostly paved path for joggers, bikers, and skaters. Along with taking you into the mountains along the scenic Boulder Creek route, the route also takes you past a park and a playground. Travel from the foothills to the plains in the east along this scenic trail. It makes for a refreshing bike route and is a beautiful gem tucked away in Boulder.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a local or a tourist; the Boulder Creek Path is an excellent way to get to know the city. As an added tip, you can make your journey longer depending on where you connect, as the trail works its way to the Goose Creek Greenway and South Boulder Creek Path, near the eastern end. The Southern path takes you through the city and county for an extended passage.
Near Gross Reservoir, you’ll find the 2.2-mile hike that leads to the Forsythe Falls. The trailhead is easy to miss, so you might want to do some research ahead of time to ensure you know the exact spot to start your trek. Bring your dog with you on the walk, so long as they remain leashed, and your kids, too, as they’ll likely love seeing the shaded alcove hiding the striking Forsythe waterfall.
This trail is a good one to make if it’s sweltering hot outside, as there is a lake, stream, and plenty of shade to keep you cool. Along the way, you’ll spot tons of wildflowers, the woodland canyon, and natural wildlife, so you might want to bring a camera!
LONG CANYON TRAIL
Have you ever wanted to see a prehistoric forest? Well, Long Canyon in Boulder is one of the only places in Colorado where you can see paper birches that have been standing since the end of the last Ice Age. It’s not just paper birches you’ll see along the trek, but surviving black snakeroot, wild sarsaparilla, carrion flowers, and more.
The hike through Long Canyon is one deeply immersed in history, and it’s a fascinating trek. Just make sure you obey all of the signs, don’t stray from the path, and in general, don’t mess with anything you see as the area is known for being extraordinarily fragile (you would be too if you’d stuck around for 11,000 years!).