19 Photos That Prove Boulder Is the Ultimate Destination for an Outdoor Adventure

Boulder Flat Irons in the fall. Front Range, Boulder County, Colorado
Photo: Gerardo Brucker/Getty Images

When you choose to live somewhere, you’re usually sacrificing at least one thing. In New York City, you pay a lot for a little. Los Angeles? Traffic, frustrating commutes, and lengthy Uber rides. Chicago is beautiful in the summer, but in the winter, it’s the classic example of a so-cold-my-face-hurts city. In fact, there are a lot of places similar to Chicago in that you compromise year-round comfort for seasonal circumstances that can really wear you down. It’s easy to lose motivation to go outside when the temperatures dip below freezing and the trees around you look barren and tired. So, what do you do when you just need to get outside and have your faith in nature’s ways restored? Boulder, Colorado, is a special destination, remaining as picturesque in the cold months as in the warm and fluttering with joie de vivre every month of the year. The quirky mountain town has the best of a lot of worlds. A snowy day promises reward, soon warming up again to 60 degrees to give hikers clear views of snow-capped mountains. Foodies and beer fanatics will find their fill in Boulder’s prominent restaurant and brewery scene, and even a tired traveler after a long day of outdoor activity will be rejuvenated by the energy of the nightlife, buoyed by the presence of the University of Colorado Boulder. If your rut calls for a serious battery recharge, these 19 pictures will have you galavanting Boulder’s mountainous landscape for your next great escape.

01 of 19

When the Sun Shines

Hiking in the Flatirons
Denise Chambers

Because Boulder has 300-plus sunny days in a year, there are limited excuses to get outside and take in the unobstructed views, and many restaurants and breweries capitalize on their geographical situation. After a long day on your feet, you can kick back at one of Boulder’s many breweries overlooking the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

02 of 19

Get Up and Get Out

Hikers head into the foothills below the Flatirons as the storm fades.
Cliff Walker/Getty Images

If Boulder had to be described in just one word, it would be active. No matter the weather, people get outside and revel in the physical activities facilitated by their scenic environment.

03 of 19

Plan for a View

Wild yucca plants in bloom during a spring Boulder, Colorado sunrise
Ron Blekicki/Getty Images

A lot of Boulder residents time their day’s activities to catch sunrises and sunsets. With more than 60 urban parks, the city offers a lot of opportunities to catch a nice view even if you’re not summiting a mountain. Of the more notable parks is Valmont Bike Park, a 42-acre natural cycling haven.

04 of 19

So Many Ways to Get Where You’re Going

Boulder Flat Irons in the fall. Front Range, Boulder County, Colorado
Gerardo Brucker/Getty Images

With over 45,000 acres of preserved land and 151 public trails, Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks is an outdoor sanctuary that gives visitors access to diverse wildlife and scenery.

05 of 19

Winter Cheer

The west end of Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado
Andrea Burolla

Even in the winter, in part thanks to the reliable sunshine, Pearl Street is an energetic hub of art, shopping, and nourishment. Special events are scheduled from the start of November through the Lights of December Parade, which features a guest appearance by none other than Santa Claus.

06 of 19

A Bright Future

US Highway 36
Denise Chambers

Hopefully, with sustained effort and community collaboration, everyone can continue exploring the great outdoors in Boulder for years to come.

07 of 19

Farm-fresh Ingredients Dominate

Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, Colorado
Denise Chambers

Boulder is known for its civic and environmental consciousness, striving to support residents and sustainability practices. Restaurants, like Pizzeria Locale, follow suit and often partner with local and family-operated farms to bring patrons the freshest ingredients, with changing menus to match the season and uphold a high standard of quality.

08 of 19

Music and Views

Aerial shot of Boulder Colorado from the Fern Canyon Trail
Getty Images

Great bands come through Boulder, and you can catch a concert at the Boulder Theater or the Fox Theatre. For a live music experience you'll never forget, check out the Gold Hill Inn. The old tavern is in a mining town just up the canyon from Boulder and puts on bluegrass shows on Friday nights throughout the summer. You can also attend a murder mystery dinner, but reserve in advance, because they tend to sell out.

09 of 19

Work Hard, Work Out Harder

Kayaker, Boulder Creek
John Kieffer/Getty Images

Because of its diverse geological settings, Boulder is regarded as a top destination for rock climbing, cycling, mountain biking, running, paddle boarding on Boulder Reservoir, and kayaking.

10 of 19

Any Mode of Exploration

Two cyclists riding on country road, rear view
Getty Images

In addition to the trails and parks, the city, which is situated at the base of the Rocky Mountains and to the east of the Flatirons rock formations, provides many kinds of organic playgrounds.

11 of 19

Stretch It Out

Winter southwest Highway 12
Rudi Sebastian/Getty Images

If it's too cold to be outside or you just need to stretch those sore muscles, Boulder has one of the highest rates of yoga studios per capita in the country. Studios offer everything from hot yoga classes to HIIT variations.

12 of 19

Careful Coexistence

Longs and Meeker Peeks in Colorado
Gerardo Brucker/Getty Images

Boulder is serious about protecting its wildlife, so people are asked to remain on the marked trails and avoid contact with any animals they may come across. There’s even a city ordinance designed to ensure black bears and humans can safely coexist in the urban environment.

13 of 19

Who Else Is Out There?

Brick bridge across Varsity Lake in winter, University of Colorado campus, Boulder, Colorado.
Ethan Welty/Getty Images

Even if you choose a trail at random and begin to wander, you’ll probably stumble upon some of Boulder’s natural inhabitants. Made up of versatile terrain, the city provides a lot of different animals with comfortable ecosystems and shelters and is home to at least 59 mammal species, more than 100 bird species, and a good amount of reptiles and amphibians.

14 of 19


Flare from an Iridium satellite
Tim Martin/Getty Images

Camping is a natural fit with the laid-back, hippie persona of Boulder. Speaking of: recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, and there are numerous dispensaries you could visit before an overnight expedition.

15 of 19

A Mecca of Tasty Food

Pearl Street at dusk
Denise Chambers

In the heart of Boulder, people flock to the bustling Pearl Street. Ambling down block after block — four of which are pedestrian-only — you’ll find craft and tchotchke stores nestled between major brands and plenty of food and drink options, many of which have outdoor seating and patios. On particularly nice days, street performers, outdoor art displays, and people-watching can provide more than enough entertainment on their own.

16 of 19

Let’s Keep It This Way

Three horses grazing on a western mountain ranch in Boulder Colorado.
Getty Images

The Boulder community and local government are dedicated to preserving the environment and residents can join initiatives that deal with climate change, energy conservation, sustainable ecosystems, waste reduction, and water conservation.

17 of 19

Layer Up

Winter Flatirons in Boulder Colorado
Getty Images

Instead of holding people back, winter in Boulder provides the opportunity to snowshoe, cross-country ski, ice climb, or visit the nearby Eldora Mountain Ski Resort, located 30 minutes outside downtown.

18 of 19

Past Pearl Street

City view from Flagstaff Mountain
Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

Beyond Pearl Street, people can continue a night out in a variety of ways. As the home of the University of Colorado Boulder, the city has a lively nightlife scene, which you can cater to your own preferences. You can find everything from dive bars in a neighborhood near campus called The Hill to live bands at the St Julien Hotel & Spa on Friday nights.

19 of 19

Find the Right People

Mountain Climbers in El Dorado Canyon Colorado
Getty Images

No matter what your sport is, you can always find another enthusiast equally obsessed and eager to join in on the fun. Even when it’s below freezing, you’ll still pass a fellow runner on the trails.

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