Denver visitors typically have a lot of activities planned, from exploring the Rocky Mountains to biking around the city to brewery hopping. So determining what to pack for Denver requires a little forethought. Fill your suitcase with outfits that will work in a variety of settings and weather conditions.
Keep in mind that Denver’s elevation also means the climate is dryer and the sun is more intense, so make sure that your toiletries bag has some extra room.
What to Pack for Denver
If that sounds like a lot to think about, don’t worry. To get you started, here’s a list of what to pack for Denver.
Being a mile high means the sun’s ultraviolet rays are more strongly felt, and you may burn more easily. Protect your skin by packing a travel-size sunscreen. If you apply moisturizer every morning, make sure that it has some SPF protection so you don’t have to think about applying sunscreen the moment you step outside.
Denver’s casual style extends all the way down to the ground. Whether you’re wandering through museums, playing volleyball in the park, biking along a city trail, or hopping from bar to bar, supportive shoes are a must.
It’d be a mistake to visit Denver and not get out of the city, even for a day. Workout pants, sweat-wicking shirts, and an all-weather jacket should keep you comfortable during pretty much any activity. (Add a swimsuit if white-water rafting or kayaking are on the itinerary.) Bonus: No one will look at you oddly if you wear your hiking outfit around the city.
Spring and summer are afternoon thunderstorm seasons. A raincoat that rolls up small is a necessity. Pack one that also keeps you warm to avoid weighing down your suitcase with too many jackets.
Reusable Water Bottle
Denver’s high elevation is dehydrating and, for some people, can cause altitude sickness. Everyone, and we mean everyone, carries water bottles around. Bringing your own reusable option can help stave off headaches, and it lessens your environmental impact.
The metro area is chock-full of photo-ops, and it’s worth it to travel with a legit camera instead of just your phone. From the blue bear sculpture outside the Colorado Convention Center to the view at Red Rocks Parks and Amphitheatre and the gilded Colorado State Capitol, you’ll be happy to have higher-res images to flip through when you return home.
Denver’s semi-arid climate translates to dry, dry, dry. Avoid uncomfortable cracked lips by double-checking that you have at least one lip balm in your carry-on.
Speaking of dry, your skin is also going to feel the impact of Denver’s elevation and climate. Make sure to throw some lotion in your bag; you’ll miss it if your hotel doesn’t provide any.
Denver dress code is relaxed. Bring enough T-shirts for every day of your trip—plus a jacket or sweater to throw on top for colder temps—and you’ll fit right in.
A small backpack will serve many uses. If you’re planning on any outdoor adventuring, such as hiking, it’s important to have somewhere to store water, extra layers, and other necessities. Around town it can hold, well, the same stuff. Ladies: Stash all your other essentials (wallet, keys, etc.) in a small cross-body bag, so you can leave the backpack at home for dinner or the distillery.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Denver Travel Guide
- 10 Best Luxury Hotels in Denver
- 10 Best Cheap Hotels in Denver
- 10 Stylish Boutique Hotels in Denver
- 10 Must-See Denver Attractions
- 10 Best Day Trips from Denver
- 10 Fun Things to Do in Denver
- The Best Cheap Eats in Denver
- 10 Best Denver Restaurants
- 10 Best Denver Breweries and Distilleries
- What to Wear in Denver
– Original reporting by Daliah Singer