Estimating that an average car holds 15 gallons of gas and gets 22 miles per gallon, a full tank of gas should last approximately 330 miles. By that math, these trips, all within 150 miles of downtown Colorado Springs, are perfect one-day excursions that only require a single stop at the pump. Note: Distances and travel times are one-way.
The Outlets at Castle Rock
40 miles, 46 minutes
With more than 100 factory stores, the Outlets at Castle Rock let you shop brands like Polo Ralph Lauren, Gap, Nike, Levi's, Coach, Ann Taylor, Timberland, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Tommy Hilfiger and J. Crew. Holiday weekends often include sidewalk sales with even more mark-downs on the already discounted prices.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
58 miles, 1 hour and 19 minutes
Colorado's grandest canyon offers sweeping views from "America's highest suspension bridge." The park includes elk, bighorn sheep and more in their natural habitat; an aerial tram; and an incline train ride to the bottom of the gorge. Adventurers can also raft some of the most dangerous rapids on the Arkansas River; visit royalgorgebridge.com/WhitewaterRafting.aspx for a comprehensive list of companies in the area.
70 miles, 1 hour and 13 minutes
Some of the best cultural attractions in the capital city include the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Denver Art Museum. The Denver Zoo and Botanic Gardens both offer great nature stops. If you're into shopping, try the Cherry Creek North neighborhood and the 16th Street Mall or visit LoDo, an artsy, nightlife-friendly neighborhood on the north-central end. After dark: The Denver Post recently named the Tavern Downtown, LoDo's Bar and Grill, and Beta Nightclub the best spots for the college crowd.
95 miles, 1 hour and 56 minutes
Relax in Buena Vista's hot springs after a hard day on the Monarch ski slopes. With biking, whitewater rafting, hiking, camping and more, the town offers just about everything for the outdoorsman or -woman looking for that iconic Colorado experience.
97 miles, 1 hour and 39 minutes
When Manitou can't satisfy the local hippie quota anymore, zip up to Boulder for a true college-town party experience. Shop on the pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall, or tour the Celestial Seasonings tea factory. On Wednesdays from 4 to 8 and Saturdays from 8 to 2, the city also plays host to one of the top farmers markets around.
Rocky Mountain National Park
134 miles, 2 hours and 35 minutes
Home to scenic drives, camping, fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing and even photo classes, the park's 265,770 acres encompass some of the state's most magnificent natural mountain beauty. Drop by Estes Park and see the Stanley Hotel, the place that inspired Stephen King to write his book The Shining, and then grab a pizza at Bob and Tony's to settle your nerves.
132 miles, 2 hours and 18 minutes
Recently voted the No. 6 best American town in which to live by Money magazine, Fort Collins is a great Colorado spot for bikes and beer. With 29 miles of idyllic trails and dozens of local lagers, pilsners and ales — highlighted by free tours and tastings at New Belgium Brewing Co. — visiting FoCo (as the locals call it) is well worth the drive.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
134 miles, 3 hours and 2 minutes
North America's largest piles of sand challenge those who whine about the lack of beaches in Colorado. During spring and early summer, water runoff creates a creek perfect for sand-castle building. Visitors can always hike the dunes and enjoy sliding/running/jumping/falling/rolling down them. Plus, the dunes themselves are a sight to see, towering more than 750 feet high against the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.