BringFido's Guide to the Colorado Rockies

Posted by Billy Francis

Spanning 3,000 miles from British Columbia to New Mexico, The Rocky Mountains are the longest mountain range in North America. Fortunately for Fido, a chunk of the mighty mountains straddles Colorado, one of the most pet-friendly states in the U.S. With more than 100 mountain towns that offer outdoor activities, epic dog parks, fantastic accommodations and a thriving food scene, there’s nowhere better to take your outbound hound for an unforgettable adventure than the Colorado Rockies.

Things to Do

“I’m giving you a three second warning.” Photo by @muddogmike403

Explore diverse landscapes on scenic roads and a pet-friendly train ride, let Fido roam through off-leash areas as far as the eye can see, and check out one of the most desirable destinations in the country on a tail-wagging trip to the Colorado Rockies.

Gardens That Rock

As featured in the 2021 edition of our Ruff Guide to the United States, Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is the closest thing Fido will get to a Mars visit without getting in a space rocket. Immerse yourself in the unique surroundings on 21 miles of pet-friendly hiking trails that lead to breathtaking views of Pikes Peak. The park is free to enter, and guided tours are $5 per person with advance reservations. Dogs are also welcome to join you for a tour of 1,000-year-old ruins at Manitou Cliff Dwellings nearby, where striking red rocks were once used by the Anasazi people to create rudimentary homes. Admission is $12 for adults and free for dogs.

Can’t Hike? Drive!

Rocky Mountain National Park, just outside of Denver, is one of the most popular national parks in the country. Unfortunately, only two-legged explorers can venture off the paved roads. Fido can still get his fill of nature on a scenic drive along the 48-mile Trail Ridge Road, which connects Estes Park on the east with Grand Lake on the west. This incredible road is a great introduction to the Rockies, offering expansive views on all sides. Watch for bighorn sheep, elk and pikas along the way. Elsewhere in the park, you and your pooch are invited to drive on the highest paved road in the country, Mount Evans Scenic Byway.

“This land is our land!”Photo by BringFido/Morgan

Colorado Springs Is Off The Leash!

Colorado Springs ranks highly on our list of the most pet-friendly cities in the U.S. because it’s truly off the leash! Positioned at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the city and surrounding area offer an abundance of outdoor opportunities where dogs can run freely. Stratton Open Space boasts a cool lake to dive into after exploring hiking trails. Cherry Creek State Park Dog Off-Leash Area provides 107 acres of fenced-in “pawradise” for pups to explore for just a $3 day pass. Bear Creek Dog Park is another large fenced park with winding pathways and a creek. And Red Rock Canyon Open Space lets pups roam leash-free among its iconic red rocks.

Walkies in Denver

Fido won’t need a reservation for Denver Walking Tours. Just look out for the guide on the front steps of the Colorado State Capitol building at 10 a.m. every day of the week to embark on a free 2-2.5 hour tour of the city. First, snap a picture on Mile High Marker, the 18th step said to denote exactly 1 mile above sea level. The knowledgeable guide will then lead you and your pooch on a 1.7-mile jaunt around the city’s most notable sites, like Denver Public Library, Denver Art Museum, U.S. Mint, Larimer Square and more, describing the history of the city along the way. Furry ghostbusters might prefer a bone-chilling tour by night with Denver Terror Tours. The one-hour trip covers 1 mile and take you to spooky sites around the Capitol Hill area. Tickets start at $12.

Thick fur + hiking = panty pups!Photo by @autzenandpiper

Take a Hike in Boulder

The People’s Republic of Boulder topped our list of pet-friendly cities to move to in 2021. If Fido loves to hike, he’ll adore Boulder’s access to the “grrreat” outdoors. With 300 days of sunshine a year, there’s plenty of time for outbound hounds to explore. Get as close as you can to one of Boulder’s most interesting Rocky Mountain features, the Flatirons. These giant flat slabs of rock leaning against the foothills can be admired on the Royal Arch Trail. For an epic sunset hike, head to Flatirons Vista and Doudy Draw Trail and watch the sun slowly go down over the Rockies. Dogs who are experienced at hiking (or fit in your backpack) might prefer South Boulder Peak and Bear Mountain Trail. At the end of a long day on the trails, make your way to Boulder Reservoir for a dip. In the summer, the free Park-to-Park shuttle will ferry you and your pooch to popular park trailheads around the city.

Snow Business!

Home to a selection of stunning slopes, the Colorado Rockies are a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. Start your adventure in Vail, where you and Fido can crunch through the powder on the snowshoe trails at Vail Nordic Center and learn how to skijor on a private lesson with Louisa Morrissey of High Country Dogs. In the shadow of the mighty Rocky Mountains’ Tenmile Range, Breckenridge Nordic Center welcomes canines for no extra charge on the 1.2-kilometer Nordic World Trail. Finish with a trip on the free-to-ride Telluride Gondola, connecting Telluride with Mountain Village. You can survey the snow below before heading to nearby Priest Lake’s main loop, where Fido can get his paws in the snow.

“Sorry, seat taken.”Photo by @jcpenny.catalog

All Aboard

Bring Fido on a scenic journey through the Rocky Mountains with Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad. Choose a seat in an enclosed section of the train or relax in an open-air car, and enjoy the panoramic vistas of the Arkansas River Valley as you rise up 1,000 feet from the valley floor. There, you’ll spot two of Colorado’s highest peaks: Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert. On the two-and-a-half hour tour through the breathtaking San Isabel National Forest, the conductor will educate passengers on the history of Leadville and share tales about legendary characters who once called the area home. Trains operate from the beginning of May through the first weekend of October. Tickets are $42 for adults and $22 for children. Dogs ride for free.

Places to Stay

“Slobbery kisses for choosing such a cool rental!” Photo by Airbnb

Whether you’re searching for seclusion in an untouched valley or to plant Fido’s paws in a greenhouse, the Colorado Rockies are home to a selection of the coolest pet-friendly pads in the west.

There’s No Place Like Dome

Snuggle up with your pup inside The Domicile, an adorable tiny home shaped like a dome. This unique property is designed to keep you snug in winter and cool in summer. Get up nice and early and stride out together on Arbaney Kittle Trail, a 20-mile pathway featuring beautiful wildflowers during spring. Once you’ve seen the sights, return to your rotunda and relax on the couch together. Dogs are welcome for no additional fee, as long as they don’t mind hanging with another pup who lives on the property.

The Key to Keystone

Hyatt Place Keystone is an ideal base for an outdoor adventure in the Colorado Rockies. Fido will be greeted with a treat and is welcome to lounge by the fireplace of the lobby bar while you enjoy a cocktail and bar bites. Ski and snowshoe with your canine at Keystone Nordic Center, which has trails located conveniently behind the hotel. Hyatt Place Keystone welcomes two dogs up to 50 lbs for an additional fee of $75.

A unique room with a view.Photo by Airbnb

Experience the Ranch Life

Located in the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley in Carbondale, this secluded Airstream & Tipi is the jewel in the crown of Ten Peaks Ranch, a boutique hospitality experience. Spend your days gazing over Mount Sopris and nine other peaks visible from the ranch, and enjoy unbelievable sunsets and twinkling stars by night. Dogs are welcome for no additional fee.

Mile-High in Monaco

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver offers exquisite accommodations in the Mile-High City. Dogs with the munchies receive a treat at check-in, and humans can grab their own from Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery on the next block. Before collapsing into bed, stroll through downtown Denver and stop off at Fuller Dog Park. Two pets of any size are welcome for no additional fee.

Dogs Who Live in Glass Houses ...

Treat your pup to two unique experiences at Gold Hill Greenhouse and Yurt. Sitting atop 3 private acres of the Rocky Mountains in the old mining town of Gold Hill, you and your pooch have access to a 2,800-square-foot greenhouse during your stay. Check out the plants, stride out on one of the nearby hiking trails, let Fido loose in the half-acre fenced space around the yurt, and enjoy the stunning views of the Rockies all around. Dogs are welcome for no additional fee.

“A little slice of 'paw-radise!'”Photo by @theritzcarltonbachelorgulch

Resort Life in the Rockies

The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is an exclusive address for outdoor adventurers. Four-legged guests are presented with a welcome dog packet at check-in, along with an overstuffed dog bed, dog bowl and gourmet treats. The resort provides luxurious services like in-room massages, dog-friendly guided snowshoe tours, and doggie room service with menu items like top sirloin with scrambled eggs and rice and German Shepherd's Pie. Two dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $125 for the first three nights, and $50 for each additional night.

Bring the Whole Pack

Bring the family to this large private home in Colorado Springs. Humans can shoot pool while Fido plays in the large fenced backyard with a small creek and playground. Incredible sights like Garden of the Gods and Old Colorado City are just a few miles away. Pets are allowed for $25 per day.

Dog-Friendly Restaurants

Howl if you love Pub Dog! Photo by @explorewithollie

Picky Pugs and laid-back Labs can satisfy their hunger pangs on a culinary caper around the Colorado Rockies.

“Pawtrons” Form An Orderly Line

Pub Dog Colorado is one of those special establishments that welcomes dogs to dine indoors. In fact, it’s the only indoor pet-friendly restaurant in the state of Colorado. Order the Dog Pile Nachos for yourself and choose from a Pupsicle, Puppy Patty, Bacon, Bark Bowl or Celery and Carrots from the dog menu. Fido can work it off later by playing with friends in the 3,000-square-foot, fully fenced, off-leash dog park.

Pub Grub and Lots of Love

The friendly staff at Blue Moon Bar & Grille love welcoming dogs on their patio with a fresh bowl of water. Sit under the shade of an umbrella and watch the world go by with a draft beer and a delicious bite from the varied menu, before taking a walk around downtown Grand Junction with your pooch.

Your Neighborhood Breckenridge Burger Joint

Distract your dog with a fresh bowl of water while you dig into a burger at Empire Burger. Located in Breckenridge, this popular eatery is a great place to refuel after a long day on the trails. If Fido begs nicely enough, the kitchen can whip him up a saltless patty to devour in three seconds.

“What’s the occasion?”Photo by @bss_hairwhisperer

Visit Your Best Friend's Bar

“Eat. Drink. Stay.” is the motto at Denver’s Watering Bowl, also known as “your best friend’s bar” because it pays special attention to four-legged guests. While you enjoy a taco, Fido can play off-leash in 7,000 square feet of fenced turf dog park. This eatery also has two pet-friendly patios where your pup can join you for a delicious meal. If he's been a good boy, order a round of dog treats for the table or a doggie cake on special occasions. When temperatures rise, your pup can cool off in a doggie pool or on a bed of ice. Dog park attendants are also on hand to keep an eye on your pup when your eyes are on a pie.

Make a Pit Stop

If you’re looking for high-elevation cooking, Smokin Yard's BBQ has it covered, smothered and served up to “pawfection.” This Idaho Springs staple located on the bank of Clear Creek River takes smoking seriously, and invites you and your pooch to taste the results on the pet-friendly patio. The much-loved meat is so popular that the pit champs have opened a second Colorado Rockies location in Denver’s Santa Fe Art District.

“Walk into the lights, Dad!”Photo by @ava_the_boston

Bite Into a Brat in the Biergarten

Lowry Beer Garden is one of our favorite pet-friendly beer gardens. With space to accommodate up to 500 human and furry guests at any one time, the expansive pet-friendly outdoor space buzzes day and night. Sample a local brew from the beer capital of Colorado and soak it up with traditional German dishes like brats and pretzels, or American classics like succulent burgers.

Dive Into the Doggy Menu

Can we have another menu for Fido, please? Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar in Aurora offers four-legged diners a tantalizing doggy menu that includes a grilled hamburger patty bowl and a grilled chicken breast bowl, both served with brown rice and veggies. This should distract him long enough for you to enjoy a modern take on a retro TV dinner.

What are your favorite pet-friendly places in the Colorado Rockies? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by BringFido/Lynne.