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Denver Zoo

This zoo started with a single bear. Now, it’s an award-winning tourist destination housing more than 3,500 animals.

In 1896, a small black bear named Billy Bryan was given to the mayor of Denver and the Denver Zoo was born. Today it has more than 80 acres (32 hectares) of habitats and, with more than 1.6 million visitors a year, is one of the most popular zoos in the United States.

More than 650 different species, about 200 of them threatened or endangered, are housed in enclosures almost identical to their natural habitat. Watch monkeys swing through trees, wolves prowl through a shaded wood and giraffes graze on an open field, all just a 10-minute drive from downtown Denver. It’s easy to get around either on foot or by taking the zoo’s train, which is both reasonably priced and environmentally friendly. Pull-along wagons for kids, strollers and wheelchairs are also available for rent.

One of the first points of call should be Bear Mountain. When the enclosure opened in 1918, it was the first naturalistic zoo animal habitat in North America. Today it’s considered a national historic landmark, with a collection of bears, including grizzlies and the adorable coati.

Predator Ridge offers a safe way to get close up to some of Africa’s most dangerous animals, including lions, African wild dogs and hyenas. The enclosure is a recreation of aspects of the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya.

The zoo lays claim to a number of records: the world’s only rhinoceros that paints with a brush (his artworks are displayed in the Pachyderm Building), the world’s largest indoor Komodo dragon exhibit and one of the largest habitats for endangered gorillas. 

Daily feeding demonstrations draw hordes of curious onlookers. Check the timetable on the zoo’s official website to schedule them into the day. Stop for lunch at one of the restaurants, or pack a picnic. There are plenty of grassy knolls to sit on and large trees to relax under. In summer, between Memorial Weekend and Labor Day, there’s an extensive calendar of free programs, from wild encounters with reptiles to interactive bird shows. During the Christmas holiday season, the zoo hosts a spectacular light display. Millions of sparkling lights decorate the zoo along with animated animal sculptures.

Located within City Park, the Denver Zoo is a ten-minute drive from downtown, and there’s plenty of parking. It’s also easy to get to by light rail or bus. 


Guide to Exploring around Denver Zoo


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Best Lodging Options Near Denver Zoo

See all 1,190 Properties near Denver Zoo
Ramada by Wyndham Denver Downtown $84
Ramada by Wyndham Denver Downtown

Ramada by Wyndham Denver Downtown

1150 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Cheesman Park, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Ogden Theater and Fillmore Auditorium. Molly Brown House Museum and Colorado State Capitol Building are also within 1 mi (2 km). 25th - Welton Station is 21 minutes by foot and 20th - Welton Station is 22 minutes.

    Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center $149
    Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center

    Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center

    650 15th St., Denver, CO
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Downtown Denver, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Colorado Convention Center and Paramount Theater. United States Mint and 16th Street Mall are also within 10 minutes. 16th - California Station and 16th - Stout Station are within a 5-minute walk.

      Built in 2017 Luxurious 4 BR home in DT
      Built in 2017 Luxurious 4 BR home in DT

      Built in 2017 Luxurious 4 BR home in DT

      3639 East 27th Avenue, Denver, CO
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Skyland, this vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of City Park Golf Course, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Denver Zoo. Denver Botanic Gardens and Coors Field are also within 3 mi (5 km).

        Dapper in Denver New Luxurious 4 Bd Sleeps 12
        Dapper in Denver New Luxurious 4 Bd Sleeps 12

        Dapper in Denver New Luxurious 4 Bd Sleeps 12

        Denver, CO
           
          0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Skyland, this vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of City Park Golf Course, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Denver Zoo. Denver Botanic Gardens and Coors Field are also within 3 mi (5 km).

          Denver City Golf Vacation Home and Summer Retreat
          Denver City Golf Vacation Home and Summer Retreat

          Denver City Golf Vacation Home and Summer Retreat

          Denver, CO
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Skyland, this historic vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of City Park, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Denver Zoo. Denver Botanic Gardens and National Jewish Health are also within 3 mi (5 km).

            The Retro Escape City Park Hot Tub & Movie Theater
            The Retro Escape City Park Hot Tub & Movie Theater

            The Retro Escape City Park Hot Tub & Movie Theater

            Denver, CO
               
              0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Skyland, this vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of City Park Golf Course and Denver Zoo. Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Denver Botanic Gardens are also within 3 mi (5 km). 29th - Welton Station is 23 minutes by foot and 30th - Downing Station is 23 minutes.

              The Retro Escape City Park Hot Tub & Movie Theater
              The Retro Escape City Park Hot Tub & Movie Theater

              The Retro Escape City Park Hot Tub & Movie Theater

              2721 Clayton Street, Denver, CO
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Skyland, this vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of City Park Golf Course and Denver Zoo. Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Denver Botanic Gardens are also within 3 mi (5 km). 29th - Welton Station is 23 minutes by foot and 30th - Downing Station is 23 minutes.

                Built in 2017 - Luxurious 4 BR Home in DT Denver!
                Built in 2017 - Luxurious 4 BR Home in DT Denver!

                Built in 2017 - Luxurious 4 BR Home in DT Denver!

                Denver, CO
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Skyland, this vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of City Park Golf Course and Denver Zoo. Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Denver Botanic Gardens are also within 3 mi (5 km). 29th - Welton Station is 22 minutes by foot and 30th - Downing Station is 23 minutes.