Guide To Elitch Gardens

Elitch Gardens (credit: CBS)Elitch Gardens (credit: CBS)

Summer is here and the Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park is ready for the season. Located smack in the middle of downtown Denver, this amusement park happens to be the best value around for fun for all ages. The season pass at only $69.99 each actually pays for itself within two park visits. Also, the pass comes with early entry into Water Park to snag those perfect lounge chairs for the day. Another bonus is since the park is located downtown, an entire weekend can be filled with the adventure of riding the rides, riding the waves and enjoying everything downtown has to offer. Those who are used to the amusement parks of California and Texas might be a bit underwhelmed, yet Denverites know that Elitch Gardens has it all with thrills, plunges and even free concerts.

Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park
2000 Elitch Circle
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 595-4386

Must hit rides

Brain Drain: There is a reason why Elitch's newest addition to its thrills was given this name. This new seven-story ride complete with 360-degree loops is guaranteed to instill the rider with a head-over-heels adrenaline rush. The views of the Denver skyline and Rocky Mountains will never look the same after this ride.

Mind Eraser: There is a reason why this ride consistently draws some of the longest lines in the park. This is a sure thing with its fast and smooth twists and turns. Grab some water and stick out the long line because this is probably the fan favorite ride.

Half-Pipe: This is a skateboarder's dream come true. The view from the ground is deceiving and once the rider is launched, there is pretty much no chance of catching a breath of calm until it is over.

Twister II: This classic main attraction was moved from the original site and rebuilt to maintain the ultimate wooden roller coaster ride. Probably one of the scariest parts of this adventure is zipping along wooden beams that shake and rattle while the carts rumble across the tracks.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll: For the completely crazed thrill seekers, this insane ride will flip, tip and spin the riders upside down and round and round.

Disaster Canyon and Shipwreck Falls: Summer day heat can be a bit brutal and these two rides guarantee a much-needed soaking. Disaster Canyon is great for all ages and is a long, enjoyable ride through a faux canyon. Shipwreck Falls should set a record for shortest ride, yet plunging over a 50-foot waterfall into a tidal wave splash makes it all worth it.

Ferris Wheel: Last and certainly never least is the ride most everyone can enjoy, except for those with a fear of heights, of course. Enjoy a nice spin on a classic ride and gaze as some really nice views of the city

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Soak up at the water park

One of the best moves Elitch's ever made was creating a water park adventure. Being landlocked never stopped Rocky Mountain revelers from spending a day riding the waves and splashing through a day of fun.

Commotion Ocean: Like a California beach, this ride offers shallow swimming fun as well as the chance to body surf the giant waves.

Sun Plunge: For the brave thrill seekers, this water slide will drop the rider 62 feet down at a high speed.

Hook's Lagoon: Attention parents of little ones, this five-story treehouse offers 150 water gadgets, lagoon playgrounds and a giant overhead barrel that randomly drenches everyone below. Kick back and let the kiddos play.

Splashdown: One of the first things guests to the park will see is this giant red monster at the edge of the water park. It offers a 75-foot-long twisting, turning multi-person raft ride.

Food tips

When the family is headed to the park for the day, the best way to eat healthy and save money is to pack a cooler filled with a decent lunch. Take a break during the day and eat on the picnic tables in the parking lot. With that said, Elitch's does offer a variety of food and snack options throughout both parks. There are those times when there is nothing better than funnel cakes and ice cream on a hot summer day. The park also has a nice little air-conditioned food court with enough choices to make most everyone happy. Keep the carrying of purses and bags to a minimum and skip the locker purchase until visiting the Water Park. Most all of the rides have cubbies to store belongings.

Live it up in style

Indulge with a Retreat Cabana rental. The crowds in the water park can be a bit much and the Retreat Cabanas can be an oasis with luxuries such as a private cabana, a locker, concierge service, table and chairs, beer and mixed drinks available for purchase, one double or two single tube rentals, a bottled water per guest, free WiFi and a free meal. Elitch's also happens to offer catered events, birthday parties and school and youth groups.

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Colleen Bement is a freelance writer covering all things Denver. Her work can be found on