Blue skies at Maxwell Falls Trail

Photos: Anna Norris

Such great heights

At over 5,000 feet above sea level, the Denver metro area offers breathtaking views and myriad activities for nature lovers. But what if you only have a long weekend to enjoy the mountain splendor? With so much to do, it's easy to get lost in the planning stages — but there are ways to accomplish an amazing experience with limited time.

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View from a cliff at Maxwell Falls Trail


Pick a trail

Trails like Maxwell Falls Trail work for hikers and climbers of all skills and ages — and the more challenges you conquer, the more rewarding it is. A scramble up the rocky edges of the upper trail is rewarded with a sweeping view of Arapaho National Forest, all within a mile of the trailhead. With a quarter-mile hike to the falls, it's perfect for a quick afternoon hike, but climbers can happily spend hours here.

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Horseback riding in Castle Rock, Co.


The countryside is close by

Less than an hour from downtown are gems like the town of Castle Rock, where you can drive for just 10 minutes off the interstate and forget that you're anywhere near the hustle and bustle of the city and its suburbs.

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Hummingbird in Castle Rock, Co.


Natural wonders to behold

Another way to make the most out of a short time in a beautiful place is to keep your eyes open. It's easy to look ahead and plan what to have for dinner. But if you take some time to sit and relax, you'll get to know the wildlife in the area much better.

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Summer storm over the Boulder Flatirons


View from the road

Go on, roll down the windows. Take the back roads. It's worth the extra time (and often times, it's just as fast). Set your shutter speed to account for the motion and snap away.

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View at Red Rocks park


Check out Red Rocks

The famed amphitheater offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for listening to music — but remember that it also is nestled in a beautiful park, with amazing views of the sparkling skyline. And once you enter the venue, take the time to look up for a spectacular view of the stars.

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Sunset over Metro Denver


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Anna Norris is an associate editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.
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There are ways for nature lovers to accomplish an amazing experience with limited time in the Denver metro area.