Total Drive Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
It’s just a 20-minute drive to Eldorado Canyon State Park from Boulder — take Hwy. 93 south to Eldorado Springs Drive. Once in the park (entry fees apply), set off on a hiking trail through sandstone cliffs or along South Boulder Creek to find your perfect picnic spot among the pine trees and golden rock walls. "Eldo," as it is known to locals is a rock climbing mecca, so keep your eye out for climbers, or arrange a climbing lesson!
Once you’re finished exploring the park, backtrack east on Hwy. 170 to exit the park, then continue on Hwy. 93 again and turn west up beautiful Coal Creek Canyon (Hwy. 72). Please note that construction is happening on Hwy. 72 with 20-minute traffic delays through fall 2020.
Return to Boulder via Gross Dam Road and famously scenic Flagstaff Road. This will take you at least a couple of hours, depending on how often you stop to explore.
Along the way, you may want to fish at Gross Reservoir (check for closures in advance as an expansion project is currently underway), try the popular hiking and biking trails at Walker Ranch Loop, or stop at Sunrise Amphitheater or Panorama Point on Flagstaff Mountain, both of which overlook all of Boulder.
Top photo: Eldorado Canyon, Flickr Creative Commons/Max and Dee Bernt