Less than fifteen miles from downtown Denver, the free and open-to-the-public Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge offers a fresh-air escape on nearly 16,000 acres of grassland, wetland and woodland that more than 300 species call home. You're not going to see them all while wandering the ten miles of easy, flat trails — the meandering 1.8-mile Ladora Loop Trail is a good introduction — but definitely seek out the herd of more than eighty bison and keep your eyes peeled for coyotes, deer, bald eagles, burrowing owls and a plethora of prairie dogs. Folks come here just to fish the small lakes and ponds for largemouth bass and northern pike in an area that attracts a lot of migrating waterfowl as well as a staggering variety of birds, and the floating boardwalk leads to a more tucked-away and quiet space with viewing benches. Time your visit for sunrise or sunset to get the best photo ops, complete with the Rocky Mountains and the Denver skyline.
Readers' Choice: Chautauqua Park