Imagine if there was a way to explore Boulder’s wilderness — from the highest peaks to the waters, from bikes to belays — like a pro, even if you’re a total newbie. A way to significantly reduce risks, automatically know the best places to visit in Boulder, instantly get all the gear and details sorted out and magically impart a ton of knowledge into your brain with the snap of a finger. Or a click of the mouse.
That’s what an outdoor tour is for.
While you can absolutely explore all the popular attractions in Boulder on your own, there are also a ton of reputable tour guides in town to organize outdoor excursions.
Here are some of our favorite tour guides and just a sampling of some of the adventures they offer.
Sightseeing and Artsy
Outside Imagery Photo Tours
This Boulder-based tour company offers half- and full-day photo tours run by John Kieffer, long-time photographer and author on the topic. The tours, held year-round just about anywhere in the Denver and Boulder area, typically include driving, walking, sightseeing and photography, but are tailored to meet your needs. Topics may include taking photos of wildlife, flowers, nature, downtown, sunrises or sunsets. Bonus: You get personalized photo instruction, plus water, a snack, related park fees and transportation.
Front Range Anglers
This Boulder-based tour company specializes in guided fly-fishing trips in Boulder, along the Front Range and in Rocky Mountain National Park. Front Range Anglers has more than 15 experienced guides and customizable excursions for different types of fish. Tours include everything: equipment, waders, boots, flies and transportation. You have to provide your own fishing license, though.
If you’re looking for adventure beyond the Boulder Bubble, Front Range Anglers also runs adventure travel trips around the world, in Belize, Mexico, Alaska and more.
Boulder Bike Tours
Boulder Bike Tours runs bike trips for people of all experience levels, from beginners to experts, across all kinds of terrain. Ride up the mountain, on the back roads, past farms, on hidden-gem trails or popular routes and even through the city.
Look for special themed tours, including bike-to-farm tours and trips with fine dining as the reward after a day of pedaling. Explore the city of Boulder via bike, or for the hardcore wheel operator, sign up for a customized multi-day bike tour that includes everything you need.
Boulder Area Bicycle Adventures
Here’s another way to see Boulder in a bike tour. On these Boulder Area Bicycle Adventures tours, you pedal along a scenic route, downtown Boulder and can stop by a brewery or coffee shop for a taste. Book a picnic lunch on the creek, or request a bike lesson by a coach.
Tours can be tailored for your needs and vary in length from two hours to a full day; they can be on any kind of bike, even tandem bikes or bikes with kid trailers.
Front Range Rides and Guides
This outfitter offers custom mountain bike tours of Colorado, including the Boulder area (there’s an office in town). Guided rides are adjusted for your needs, abilities and schedule. One unique offering is the winter fat bike tour (fat bikes have extra wide tires so you can safely ride them on snow and ice). Front Range Rides and Guides claims to be the only tour provider in the area offering winter fat biking tours.
Also check out the mountain bike skills clinics, brewery tours and family outings.
Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides
Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides also offers mountain biking tours, but that’s not all. This tour guide company also organizes several other fun things to do in Boulder like guided backpacking, hiking, fly fishing, float trips, rock climbing, sightseeing, photo tours, peak ascents, ski tours, snowshoeing, ziplining and whitewater rafting. Tours are for people of all levels and experience.
The peak ascents are a particularly cool offering. Guides will safely take you up a mountain while teaching you about safety, injury prevention, the weather (Colorado’s gets pretty wild) and how to curb altitude sickness.
Local tip: Ask about the custom packages in partnership with the St Julien Hotel & Spa and the Boulderado.
Beyond Boulder, you can venture across Rocky Mountain National Park, Roosevelt National Forest, White River National Forest, five Colorado state parks, the Kremmling Area, Grand Junction and Moab, Utah. One thing that makes this guide stand out is it’s one of only six guiding services in the country that received the permit for technical mountaineering, climbing and ski mountaineering in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Want to push yourself? Book a Superhuman Day tour, a multi-day tour in the national park; these days start early and are pretty hardcore both in terms of distance and elevation gain. But you’ll conquer multiple peaks. This company claims to be the only Colorado outfitter offering these kinds of excursions.
Beyond Boulder Adventures
Beyond Boulder features relaxing, scenic bike tours all year. Pedal off the beaten path, to tasting rooms and through nature in a non-competitive, low-stress environment.
This is ideal for new visitors or people who don’t have the ability to propel through a tough mountain biking trip. The Boulder Canyon Electric Bike Ride brings you up the mountain to a private, creekside pool, but you can take an electric bike to help you with the hilly parts. Or you can request a city bike or mountain bike if you prefer.
Another unique offering is the Views and Vines Foothills Ride, which takes you on wheels through Boulder’s historic neighborhoods and off-road a bit, then to a boutique winery, where you can enjoy local wine, hard cider, appetizers and more.
Boulder Climbing Guides
This company brings you climbing, whether it’s an easy scamper up the Flatirons or extreme endeavors in Eldorado Canyon. Boulder Climbing Guides offers professional instruction and guidance to take you around Boulder and beyond, even across the western United States and into Europe.
American Alpine Institute
The American Alpine Institute brings climbers to some of Boulder’s top spots: the Flatirons, Boulder Canyon and Eldorado Canyon. Want to venture out farther? This company can also arrange trips to Rocky Mountain National Park, even Longs Peak. Climbing excursions are offered year-round.
Avid 4 Adventure
Kids need to explore nature, too. Avid 4 Adventure offers summer day camps, programs and overnight camps that teach about the outdoors. Kids will experience a variety of adventures, from biking to hiking to rock climbing and kayaking.
The Women’s Wilderness Institute
The Women’s Wilderness Institute connects women and girls with outdoor educators who teach technical skills and more. The nonprofit offers one- to 10-day adventures for girls that include rock climbing, camping, backpacking, canoeing, art and other fun activities.
The classes include everything from guided fly-fishing to backpacking. For example, there’s the Women’s Canoeing and Mini-Solo Experience, a canoe trip that’s more than just floating down the river. Participants set an intention and seek to connect.
In addition, Women’s Wilderness offers LGBTQ+ nature programs in partnership with Queer Nature. These programs aim to connect LGBTQ+ people with the outdoors.
Best of all, Women’s Wilderness has a sliding scale for its experiences, and it claims that all pricing scales are “significantly below” the prices of for-profit businesses.