Eldorado Canyon State Park and Coal Creek Canyon Scenic Drive
Total Drive Time: 1 hour 40 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.
Important: The park is very busy (it almost always hits capacity on summer weekends and holidays) and timed-entry reservations are needed from May 15-Sept 15.
Please use caution when driving mountain roads. It's best to download a map before you leave in case you go into areas with no cell coverage. In winter, ensure you have snow tires or chains. And if you need to take a moment to enjoy the scenery or consult your map, pull over in a safe, out-of-the-way spot.
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).
Stop to enjoy a burger on the scenic patio at the Canyon Tavern, then continue on until you reach the turnoff for Hwy. 119 to Nederland, a little mountain town with a historic carousel and great coffee at Salto.
Continue back on 119 to head back down to Boulder through Boulder Canyon, a forested canyon with Boulder Creek running through it. About 7.5 miles from Nederland is the turnoff for Boulder Falls. This petite waterfall is just a short walk from the highway (use caution crossing the road).