Denver - A city with a road trip in every direction
This may seem like a topic more in tune with the needs of a photographer than a writer, but it is easy to forgot how important strong visuals are for providing inspiration to the literary inclined. Colorado is brimming with amazing locations. Whether you're looking for an example of the heart of urban culture or the frosted chill of snowy mountains, one does not need to drive more than an hour to find incredible vantage points within our great city. The best part is many of them are free to visit!
While future articles will expand this listing, here are five basic examples:
- Diamond Hill: It's easy to miss this outstanding view of downtown Denver. I discovered it thanks to a local production assistant who suggested it as a b-roll location for the camera crew of American Idol (it makes a short appearance in the 2010 Denver audition episode). The location is actually home to an office complex and several motels. It can be most easily reached by either taking Federal to 26th Ave. and turning east, or taking Speer just beyond the I-25 bridge and turning south. I usually park at the motel across the street from the main lookout since its rarely busy. The spot offers an amazing view of the Denver skyline, the Speer street bridge, and the mountains beyond the city. Map
- Red Rocks Amphitheater: Whether you need a location visual for fantasy, science fiction, or just the great outdoors, Red Rocks is a must see for anyone living in the Mile High City. With its burnished crimson landscape and otherworldly rock formations, this is a wonderful spot for getting away from the rush of Denver. It is easily accessible from 6th Avenue, I-70, and Hampden (285) in Morrison, CO. I've made it a habit to visit whenever I have work in Lakewood, Golden, or Arvada. It's an awesome place to enjoy the majesty of local landscape, as well as to get a workout from hiking nearby trails (or just walking up and down the stairs). There is no charge to visit the park unless a concert or film is scheduled, which usually doesn't take place until the weather warms up. Mapquest gives several options for the location of the amphitheater, so I would recommend double checking their website before you go. Fortunately, the signage is pleasantly easy to follow. If you're traveling on 6th Ave, 285, or I-70, you may not even need a map. Just follow the signs carefully. Map. Official Directions.
- City Park: If variety in an urban environment is what you're after, City Park and the surrounding attractions take the cake. Located in the general vicinity of 23rd Ave. and Colorado Blvd., this spot offers a flip side of the skyline view found at Diamond Hill, with peaceful lakes in the foreground. Parking can be found on several sides of the park. On a warm day, charge up your laptop battery and do some writing on a park bench or picnic blanket there. Within a stone's throw you can also find The Museum of Nature and Science and The Denver Zoo. Map.
- Lookout Mountain and the Buffalo Herd Overlook: I am profoundly embarrassed to say this is the only famous Denver view listed that I have not seen myself (though I plan to within the next two weeks). However, judging from the pictures I've seen of the amazing views in these two locations, I see why it is constantly recommended to photographers and filmmakers as a great spot to view the beauty of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains. Located in Golden, this attraction features the Lookout Mountain Nature Center, Buffalo Bill's grave and museum, and the Buffalo Herd Overlook where you can (ideally) see a local bison herd that inhabits the area. Located about a half-mile off the Lariat Loop, the area is easily accessible thanks to signage on 6th Ave. and I-70. Map.
- Confluence Park: This is another one not to miss if you live in Denver. Confluence Park is located where the Platte River and Cherry Creek converge. It's a beautiful juxtaposition of nature and city life and is frequently a hot spot for kayak and tubing fans during the summer. Finding the park isn't difficult if you just come up with an excuse to visit REI's flagship store near I-25 and Speer (specifically on Platte Street). While I'm sure there is parking elsewhere, I personally have never found it, though it is possible the directions Mapquest gives hold the answer. Just make it a point to visit Starbucks or cruise around REI, and you shouldn't be given any trouble about parking. There is also a historic trolley ride available on certain days. Map to REI. Map to Park.
You don't need to drive far to find hordes of inspiration in and around the Denver metro area. What other awesome views and locations have you found?