Looking forward to visit Denver and worrying about how to move around? What are the options? Do you need a car in Denver? We’ve done the research! This article will answer all your questions!
The clear blue skies, chef-driven dining, and world-class cultural attractions of Denver are sure to tickle any traveler’s fancy. Just watch out for the thin air up here!
Also known as the “Mile-High City” (precisely because it’s one mile above sea level), Denver is situated on the Front Range Urban Corridor, between the High Plains and the Rocky Mountains.
The city has seen many improvements in its public transportation system over the years, and Denver has many affordable ways to travel around, even if you don’t own a car.
Being one of the largest cities in the state, many tourists wonder if exploring Denver without a car is even possible.
If you’re thinking: do you need a car in Denver? Is Denver public transportation good? Read on, and we’ll give you all the answers!
Table of Contents
- Do You Need a Car in Denver?
- Is Denver Public Transportation Good?
- Light Rail
- Airport Rail
- 16th Street Free MallRide
- Horses and Carriages
- Do You Need to Rent a Car in Denver?
- Do You Have Other Options to Get Around Denver Without a Car?
- By Foot
- Exploring Denver Without a Car: Is It Possible?
- The Stunning Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- The Captivating Botanic Gardens
- The Aesthetically Pleasing Art of Santa Fe Arts District
- The Weaponless Rocky Mountain Arsenal for Animal Lovers
- Admiring the Fairytale Cherry Creek Trail
Do You Need a Car in Denver?
Traveling in a car is always helpful. For example, if you live in one of Denver’s most populous suburbs and are looking to go hiking, skiing, or to other far-off places to meditate and recoup, you might need a car.
Also, if you have small children, exploring Denver with a car might be a better option. However, if you just want to explore the city for the sake of its exciting attractions and dining, there is no harm in moving around without a car.
So, whether or not you need a car in Denver depends on your travel preferences.
Is Denver Public Transportation Good?
The large, densely populated city with massive amounts of traffic make vehicular travel almost a necessity when traveling Denver.
The good news is, Denver’s public transportation is pretty reliable and easy to use. The Regional Transportation District (RTD) has experienced continuous growth and development, making travel more accessible.
Also, it offers a variety of local transportation systems, so you have more than just one option to rely on. Below, we’ll uncover what the city provides in public transportation.
The Denver light rail system has you covered, whether you plan to travel during the day, evening, or nighttime. All you need to do is review the schedule and hop on board when you need to go.
The Rail lines in Denver connect to many of the city’s major points of interest, including main sports arenas (Pepsi Center, Coors Field, and Mile High Stadium), Auraria Higher Education Campus, University of Denver, Elitch Gardens Amusement park, and the Colorado Convention Center.
It also offers service in the Central Business District, Denver Union Station, and extends to five points in the northeast. The light trail runs 34.8 miles of track from the burbs to the city, stopping at 36 stations along the way.
One-way fares range from $3 to $10, depending on the length of your journey. You can choose to pay for the ticket vending machines at every rail station or purchase them at sales outlets. All in all, the Light rail system is a pretty affordable and safe way to travel if you’re living in Denver without a car.
Getting from Denver International Airport to downtown Denver has never been easier. With Airport Rail, you can get to the city center for as low as $10. Also, you may be eligable for several discounts!
Denver public transportation from airport covers a total of eight stations. Another plus is that you won’t miss the train, since there’s one that leaves after every short interval.
Nevertheless, note that between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., it leaves every 15 minutes and after every 30 minutes besides those hours.
Whether you want to travel locally or regionally, the RTD offers 125 bus routes with over 1000 buses!
The bus service charges are paid on a per-person basis, and they vary for local and regional travels.
What’s more is that the RTD offers discounts for kids and youth. You can either pay for the ticket in cash or book a ticket online to avoid the hassle of paying by hand.
Nevertheless, if you plan to purchase your ticket with cash, there are various different locations for you to do so: 150 King Soopers, Denver International Airport, Boulder Transit Center, RTD’s Union Station Bus Concourse, and RTD’s Civic Center Station, or as you are boarding the bus – in this case, make sure you have exact change!
Want to get around town in style? Pedi-Cabs are the way to go!
Call them bike taxis, pedal cabs, or Rickshaws, whatever, these absolutely brilliant carriages are a fun way to move around Denver without a car.
You can either take a tour and negotiate the price with the driver or travel a city block for as low as $2.
Mile High Pedicabs have been operating in downtown Denver since 1988, making them one of the oldest public transport options still in operation.
Lastly, the drivers provide you with a safe and comfortable ride, and know Denver like the backs of their hands, to help you get the most out of your travel experience.
16th Street Free MallRide
With fancy restaurants, alluring shopping centers, and stunning galleries, tourists go gaga over 16th Street and its attractions.
Fortunately, if you want to roam around to catch up on all that the street has to offer, you can hop on RTD’s Free 16th Street MallRide!
Since it is 100% free, you won’t have to worry about the cost of tickets. It can hold a maximum of 88 passengers, standing and sitting, with 18 seats and two wheelchair spaces, plus it’s air-conditioned, so you won’t drown in sweat in the sweltering summers of downtown Denver.
Horses and Carriages
Another adventurous yet classy way of roaming around the city street of Denver is the horse carriages. The delight of sitting up high in a Cinderella-style carriage is adored by children and adults alike!
Even if you don’t intend to dine in or shop around the city, the distinguished trundle and clip-clopping of the horse carriage is a worthwhile experience.
You can plan a tour with any of the carriage drivers you see in the 16th Street Mall. Also, you do not need early booking or reservations. All you’re required to do is approach a parked carriage driver and see if they’re available.
A horse carriage can cost you up to $50, which is a little steep, and combined with the speed (or lack thereof) of this mode of transport, it may not be the best way to get around day to day.
However, if you’ve got time and money to kill and want to see the best of Denver, there is no better way than in one of these babies.
Do You Need to Rent a Car in Denver?
Many tourists do not prefer the local transport system to travel across the city. Luckily, renting a car is one of the most accessible and hassle-free ways to roam around the city.
What’s more convenient is that you can manage your car booking online by submitting the date, time, location, of your visit, and the driver’s age.
While it’s a common idea that renting a car can get a little expensive, it’s honestly pretty reasonable, especially compared to horse-drawn carriages! There are plenty of options to compare various rental car deals in Denver and choose the right one for you and your family.
Renting a car is perhaps more suitable if you’re touring with a couple of friends or family.
See Related: Best Things to do in Colorado
Do You Have Other Options to Get Around Denver Without a Car?
If you don’t feel like riding public transport, or think your car is uncomfortable, or too expensive, don’t give up too early on your dream to wander around the Mile High City! We still have a few other options for you, so let’s dive right in!
You can hop on a bike to experience the fresh air of High Mile City if you love nature. Over the past few years, Denver has become one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US, with hundreds of bike tracks across downtown. Also, there are no restrictions regarding which areas allow cycling and which don’t.
For instance, you can accessibly ride from Cherry Creek State Park in the southeast to Cuernavaca Park on the northwest side of the downtown, without any traffic restrictions (save the obvious ones like stop signs and traffic lights, etc). You’ll cover around 15 miles and reach your destination in a short while!
Most Denver neighborhoods in and around the city are pretty safe, so there is little harm in taking a stroll downtown. Denver has so much to offer regarding sightseeing and alluring city lights to entice with each block you walk.
While 16th Street looks stunning at night time, during the day, you can walk around Wallace Park, Sloan’s Lake Park, Skyline Park, or the Millennium Bridge to hang around and click some fantastic photos.
The great weather, picturesque views, and incredible atmosphere of Denver should pique the interest of all the scooter fanatics! So, if you don’t want to walk or ride a bike, a scooter can be an easy, fun, and cheap ride.
You can easily rent a scooter to explore the city. You will also get some training, a pair of goggles, a helmet, fuel, and insurance in the rental deals. Nevertheless, you need to have a valid driver’s license and be 18+ to take this ride.
See Related: Best Things to do in Denver
Exploring Denver Without a Car: Is It Possible?
Yes, exploring Denver without a car is totally possible. As mentioned earlier, it all depends on your preferences. Below, we’ve compiled a list of fun places in Denver where you would not need a car!
The Stunning Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Take a walk in the red rocks amphitheater, and you’ll fall in love with the absolutely stunning marvel of ochre sandstone!
Many visitors believe “there’s no better place to see the stars” because the view is spectacular at night, even in the middle of a city!
it’s not all stargazing though! For instance, you can hike up, dine in, watch a film, enjoy a concert, or get clued up on Denver’s history, all centered in one place.
The Captivating Botanic Gardens
Located in the Cheesman Park neighborhood of Denver, the Botanic Gardens are sure to appeal to any garden lover or person looking to soothe frazzled nerves!
From the tropics to the tundra, the fascinating plant specimens of the garden will delight and fascinate any visitor.
That’s not all; from musical concerts to plant shows, nearby York Street hosts various events all year that draw in massive crowds.
The Aesthetically Pleasing Art of Santa Fe Arts District
The aesthetically pleasing street art of Santa Fe brings imagination and illusion to life. While street art doesn’t appeal to everyone, those with an eye for aesthetics will perhaps indulge in the creativity of Santa Fe street art. Plus, it’ll be a pleasant, memorable stroll for them.
Since this spot has many great things to see, ditching the car and taking a walk is actually the best way to appreciate it.
The Weaponless Rocky Mountain Arsenal for Animal Lovers
Here’s to all the wildlife photographers! Get your camera and head to Rocky Mountain Arsenal.
Whether you adore animals or love to click their photos, Rocky Mountain Arsenal is the place to visit!
In the past, this place was utilized to produce horrifying chemical weapons (EEK!), such as mustard gas, chlorine gas, napalm, and WORSE. It was also used as a pesticide production site and dumping ground for harmful chemicals. Hence, in no time at all, it became one of the most polluted areas around the city.
However, today, after years and years of cleaning, it is home to hundreds of majestic Bison. These awe-inspiring animals are the heaviest land mammals in North America, and pretty delicious too!
Here, you can explore the history of Rocky Mountain Arsenal and watch these iconic animals roam free!
Admiring the Fairytale Cherry Creek Trail
Whether you prefer biking or walking, Denver has got something fun for you. Many Denver residents express their love for the Cherry Creek Trail, and rightfully so. It’s just not an ordinary trail to pass by; you’ll come across lush green trees, running water, a few side rocks, and a bridge.
At the end of the trail, there are a few coffee shops, so you can grab your favorite latte and get going.
So, do you need a car in Denver? Perhaps. It really depends on what places you plan to visit. While some sites are best visited by car, others can be explored without a car. Summers are a great time to rely on public transport, but the super chilly Colorado winters may have you looking to rent a car!