It's crowded in the summer, but Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers some of the best of the Colorado mountains very close to the big city on 12,000 acres of gorgeous pine and aspen forests, meadows and trails. Set just thirty miles from Denver, the park boasts a fantastic visitors' center, along with camping, cycling, horseback riding and fishing. And if you want to commune with nature — and the past — hike the two-mile Coyote Trail at Bootleg Bottom in the fall, when the leaves are changing. You'll get an education on Colorado's glorious moonshining past and a clue as to why people who come to Colorado never want to leave.
Readers' Choice: Mount Falcon Park