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Guide to Visiting the Denver Zoo

The city of Denver is filled with many memorable attractions, but no trip is truly complete without a visit to the Denver Zoo. For over one hundred years, the Denver Zoo has thrilled visitors coming to admire its plethora of animals from all over the world, including the renowned Komodo dragon.

The zoo itself spans 80 acres and was modeled after Carl Hagenbeck‘s open zoo concept: instead of bars or fences enclosing the animals, exhibits attempt to simulate the animals' natural environments with rocks, trees, or other elements of nature separating the animals from admirers.

Toyota Elephant Passage at the Denver Zoo

You'll see Asian elephants, Malayan tapirs, clouded leopards and more at the newest exhibit designed to exhilarate guests and make them feel as if they were on safari. The Denver Zoo puts forth an admirable effort to ensure its residents have an engaging and comfortable life. With five separate habitats filled with mud baths and giant swimming pools, the animals are incredibly well cared for. And thanks to two miles of trails crisscrossing the 10-acre elephant habitat for animals to wander upon, you are likely to catch more than a glimpse of some majestic pachyderms.

Predator Ridge: Big Cats Live Here

When it comes to magnificent beasts, it's hard to beat African lions. They rotate among different areas of the exhibit along with their fellow continental residents – spotted hyenas and African wild dogs – to avoid the boredom that captive animals frequently encounter. Don't miss the daily demonstration where you'll learn how zookeepers keep the animals healthy and engaged in their simulated environment.

For more big cats, check out the Feline House to admire sleek Amur tigers and leopards, and even a fossa, a cat-like creature that's closely related to the mongoose family.

Tropical Discovery: Meet the Komodo Dragon

This tropical paradise immerses guests in tropical habitats ranging from coral reefs to steamy jungles. Check out the stingrays straight from a South American river, or peek into the bat cave to watch the winged creatures flit around at dusk. The coral reef will delight you with hordes of bright clownfish and yellow tang, and if you're a fan of scaly animals, there's even a Mayan temple filled with slithering snakes.

The real star of the show is the Komodo dragon. Denver Zoo's Komodo dragon exhibit was the biggest of its kind when it first opened and remains one of the most expansive Komodo dragon displays in the world today. The largest lizard in the world, Komodo dragons are fierce animal that can run at speeds of up to 11 mph – consider yourself warned!

Photo Credit: ©, Ronald C. Bebus Jr.

Lorikeet Adventure at the Denver Zoo

It's impossible to walk through this open-air aviary without breaking into a smile. Filled with tiny, neon-colored parrots from Australia and the South Pacific, the Lorikeet Adventure is a treat for all ages. Pick up a cup of nectar for the birds and they'll flock to you, gobbling up their sweet treat while perched atop your arm.

The Denver Zoo's Northern Shores

Not to be outshone by their land-loving compatriots, the residents of this aquatic exhibit exude natural charm. Watch the otters frolic as they indulge in pleasurable playtime antics, and admire the polar bears' elegant swimming skills. The twice-daily Sea Lion Show is a treat for all ages and adds to the charming experience.

Up Close Animal Encounters

For those not satisfied with appreciating the creatures from afar, the Denver Zoo offers up-close animal encounters, where you'll get to feed the giraffes straight from your hands, watch a training session with an Amur tiger, or play with waddling penguins sporting natural tuxedos.

Denver Zoo Hours

For current hours of operation, please refer to the attraction's website.

Denver Zoo Tickets

Like the hours of operation, ticket prices fluctuate with the season. If you're planning on stopping by the Denver Zoo during a visit to the Mile High City, or you've always wanted to visit several of Denver's top tourist destinations, try a Denver CityPASS to save money. You can choose three to five of Denver's most popular attractions, and you'll get quick ticket delivery to your phone.

Denver Zoo Parking

You can find free parking in any of the lots adjacent to the zoo or in its four-level parking garage. Access the parking near the zoo's main entrance on 23rd Avenue, between York Street and Colorado Boulevard.

Denver Zoo Lights

During the winter holiday season, 60 acres of the zoo's campus are filled with exciting holiday entertainment. Watch illuminated animal sculptures zip across fields and jump from tree to tree. And be sure to stay on the lookout for Santa Claus during this magical holiday happening. The Zoo lights are open to visitors from 5:30pm – 9pm and additional admission is required for entry.

Nearby Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Denver, we recommend finding lodging near Denver's top attractions like the Denver Zoo. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

With its many enchanting exhibits featuring Mother Nature's natural splendor, it's not surprising that the Denver Zoo is a perennial favorite among animal-lovers young and old. Plan your visit today for cherished memories that will last a lifetime.