Escape rooms are all over Denver, and if you are out of the loop, it’s time to jump in. The concept is simple: you and your team are locked in a themed room where you must solve a series of puzzles in order to escape in under an hour, and possibly complete a specific objective before escaping. The tasks can be complex, but you won’t need any special skills and all ages are welcome and encouraged. Most commonly, you will solve riddles and operate tasks that require teamwork in order to find combinations for a variety of small locks scattered throughout the room, leading you to a final combination or key that allows you to exit the simulation.

The Denver area now hosts 14 escape rooms, which have grown in popularity over the last few years after Clue Room set up in Centennial two years ago. And that’s because escape rooms are more than just a fun thing to do with an hour of your time. Think of it as a workout routine for your mind. Successfully escaping a room using a cocktail of outside-the-box thinking, logic, strategy, creativity and deductive reasoning is a triumph unmatched by many other competitive pursuits — one that will give you a truly remarkable sense of accomplishment. It’s the perfect pastime for us nerds, engineers, crossword puzzle junkies and those who appreciate role play. And there is even a new term for the people who have made this their ultimate hobby — live escapers. Don’t let the puzzles intimidate you if you don’t fall into one of those categories because these rooms will help you develop critical thinking habits, making the hour a more worthwhile use of your time (and $30) than going to happy hour, again.

So you want to try an escape room now, right? Well I’ve spent the last several weeks (20 collective hours solving puzzles) trying one or more rooms at each business in the Denver area to create a fool-proof guide. What is most remarkable about this trend is how much each room and each business varies in design and logic. Even if you decide to go all in like I did and try every single room, you will continue to be entertained to the last one. Read on to find out what makes each place special, decide on your own which one to try or check out the Writer’s Choice at the bottom of the article for my personal favorites.

Puzzah!

Where: 1440 Blake St #150, Denver
Cost: $25 per person per room (Sunday-Friday) $29 (Saturdays and Holidays)
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9:45 p.m.

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Inside Kazam! Photo by Ryan Pachmayer

The Lowdown: All four of these rooms are outstanding in both design and logic. With a software system in charge of hints and clues, Puzzah! soars ahead of the curve for escape rooms. Depending on how well you solve the clues, the room adapts and provides more hints or more puzzles. Themes are: Kazam!, Tik Tok, The Steal and I.R.I.S. Puzzah! is right around the corner from Larimer Square, making it a great choice before going out to dinner or drinks (and you will want to talk about the room whether you succeed or not).

The Best Part: The puzzles are the locks, and decor is top-notch. You won’t be finding a bunch of codes for locks so prepare yourself for solving clues with music, morse code, magnetic mazes and a special pair of glasses — to name just a few of the techniques. Plus, co-owner Ryan Pachmayer commented that they hope to create rooms which reset themselves after each game — a clever notion that will again keep them ahead of the curve and ahead of your problem-solving skills.

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Reserve here.

 

Sprightly Escapes

Where: 1455 Quince St, Denver
Cost: $27 per person per room
Hours: Thursday-Tuesday 12-8:30 p.m.

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Photo courtesy of Sprightly Escapes

The Lowdown: Partners Kara and Denise prove that an indie escape room is possible, and more than that, a top competitor to the bigger businesses in Denver. Together they built their two puzzle rooms upstairs in their small home and are the only employees. They layer their clues in ways that require keen observation around the room in order to solve — a unique technique that gives an advantage to more kinds of people than the typical crossword crusher. Currently, the themes are Mission: Improbable (saving the dinosaurs by disarming a bomb set by an insane time traveler)  and Weekend Getaway (you and your friends hope to check in to a hotel but find out there is something wrong.)

The Best Part: Once you enter the escape rooms here, you will be transported to your mission immediately with almost all of your senses captured by some clever contraption. Sounds, smells, textures and plenty of props combine to make your imagination escape from the reality of being in a small house right off east Colfax.

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Reserve here.

Zombie Room Escape

Where: 451 Broadway, Denver
Cost: $28 per person per hour
Hours: Friday-Saturday until October 31—check website for specifics.

The Lowdown: Located in the lower level of the Wizard’s Chest on Broadway, Zombie Room Escape is a veteran on the escape room scene. You still have to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape this room, but every five minutes a “real” zombie can lengthen his/her chain in an attempt to reach you and your teammates. Unless you reserve all of the spots or contact them for a private party before Halloween, you will have to communicate and work together with strangers, raising the stakes in this thrilling escape room adventure.

The Best Part: The zombie, of course! This “real” zombie is hidden when you enter the room, so prepare yourself for a couple of jumpy moments as you paw around the room looking for clues. When the zombie exposes him/herself, you will have a rare glimpse of the raw reactions of the other people in the room. Adding the pressure of solving puzzles creates an hour of hilarity and self-inflicted stress, which ultimately will leave you with an adrenaline high. This is best for those of us not suited for a truly creepy haunted house this Halloween.

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Reserve here.

 

Epic Escape Game: Englewood

Where: 37 West Floyd Avenue, Englewood
Cost: $27 per person per room
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 1-9 p.m.

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Inside the Inventor’s Garage, photo by Jake Holschuh

The Lowdown: Epic Escape Game is a franchise, but Englewood’s location is owned and created by brother-sister team Peter and Katie Lewis, who really capture a childlike sense of curiosity and wonder in their four rooms. Begin with The Inventor’s Garage pictured above — with one of the highest success rates in Denver, 68 percent. The other three rooms are: The Lost Continent, Sweet Dreams and Escape Earth.

The Best Part: The plot lines. Epic Englewood really shines with their ability to create a story which makes more sense as you work through the room. Unlike some other rooms where the clues are loosely related to the theme, Epic ensures that adhering to the plot will help you solve the puzzles and escape. Also, The Inventor’s Garage was the only escape room I tried in Denver which had a working Rube Goldberg machine. And who doesn’t enjoy a Rube Goldberg machine?

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Reserve here.

 

Epic Escape Game: Denver

Where: 1750 Gilpin St., Denver
Cost: $27 per person per room
Hours: Monday-Sunday 1-9 p.m.

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Lobby and staircase , photo by Cori Anderson

 

The Lowdown: Set in a house built in 1893 — now on the National Register of Historic Places — Epic Escape Denver has the unique quality of creating an atmosphere in the lobby before you enter any of the themed rooms. Many of the other escape rooms are in office spaces — which are functional — but if you want more mood with your adventure, this is the place to go. The four themes right now are: Timescape, Pikes Peak or Bust, The Mustache Thief and Conspiracy Theory.

The Best Part: The atmosphere and location in Denver. This would be an outstanding spot for a date (try the hardest ones for a true test of the relationship) or a large group of friends before going out for drinks (mental acuity is essential for successful escapes.)

Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced

Reserve here.

Enigma Escape Room

Where: 1426 Pearl St. #20, Boulder
Cost: $28 per person per room
Hours: Wednesday-Friday 2:30-9 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 12-9 p.m.

enigmaboulder

Inside The Missing Scientist, Part I, photo courtesy of Enigma

The Lowdown: If you find yourself in Boulder, probably on Pearl Street, then you should absolutely try one of Enigma’s rooms — The Missing Scientist Part I and Part 2Owner Mathew Sisson took advantage of a small downstairs space in an office building on the East end of Pearl (and the first riddle is figuring out you have to call to gain entry through the main locked doors). Once inside, you will lose yourself in the fast-paced problem-solving that is required to successfully escape the rooms.

The Best Part: The uncertainty of which props might help with your quest. Commonly known as red herrings, the rooms resemble actual spaces more than other rooms I visited, and because of this, finding clues is the hardest part. My pro tip — do not discount any item in the room but do not stay fixated on a prop if it doesn’t immediately seem like a clue.

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Reserve here.

Escape Works

Where: 1529 Champa St., Denver
Cost: $25 per person per room
Hours: Monday-Thursday 3-10 p.m., Friday-Sunday 1-11 p.m.

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Photo by Cori Anderson

The Lowdown: Go to Escape Works if you want a challenge. The clues (like anywhere else) do not require a special set of skills, but experience with live escape will tremendously increase your chances of succeeding. They use combination locks, directional locks, key locks and a few surprise locks — but not in an overwhelming number. Instead, what makes it challenging is deciding which clues unlock which locks. Hints are given, but cannot be requested. The three rooms they currently have operating are Egyptian Tomb, The Big Game and Casino Heist.

The Best Part: The challenge. More than two players is definitely suggested because even if a member of the team does not contribute much in the critical thinking arena, he or she will be useful with the multitude of tasks that are required for some of the puzzles. Teamwork will benefit you here more than some of the other places, and do not discount someone’s ideas until you have tried them out.

Skill Level: Advanced

Reserve here.

Colorado Escape

Where: 8651 Grant St, Thornton
Cost: $25 per person per room
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 2-8 p.m.

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A decommissioned room called The Heist, photo courtesy of Brandon Meza

The Lowdown: Right off I-25 and 84th Avenue, Colorado Escape provides a competitive edge to the escape room scene. Do not expect a relaxing atmosphere here because you will either be solving a room with more-than-average amounts of locks, or you will be competing with another group to finish your puzzles first. Even though the four rooms are crammed into the second floor of a Tool Zone building, they still provide a thematic experience that will make you feel transported. Currently their themes are: Prison Break, Temple of Doom, Space Ship and Black Out.

The Best Part: The stakes seem high. Black Out is the only competitive escape room in Denver, where your team is split into two groups pitted against each other. Though I was not able to try this one, I witnessed several groups coming out of it and saw a noticeably higher level of excitement than people coming out of other escape rooms had demonstrated.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Reserve here.

Room 5280

Where: 142 W. 5th Avenue, Denver
Cost: $28 per person per room
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 3-10 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 12-10 p.m.

room5280

Stairs leading to The Dark Room, photo by Nikolay Kirilenko

The Lowdown:  Owner Alex Kurylin, originally from the Ukraine, provides two creepy and difficult rooms in a small house on 5th and Bannock which are definitely worth a visit (and even more so before Halloween). The Dark Room and The Experiment are your choices, and the vague nature of those themes is on purpose because part of your mission is figuring out the story behind the room. Be prepared to be distracted by the atmosphere, any sensory deprivation you might encounter and the general feeling that you might not make it out alive. Overall, this room offers a wonderfully different vibe than other escape rooms in Denver.

The Best Part: The creepiness. Part of the strategy for Kurylin is to create a theme that will have you distracted while you try to solve the puzzles. In The Dark Room, for instance, you are plunged into darkness with only one flashlight for your entire group. Discovering the story along the way might leave you with some goosebumps, so it is not suggested for the faint of heart.

Skill Level: Advanced

Reserve here.

Golden Puzzle Room

Where: 860 Tabor St #210, Lakewood
Cost: one or two-person team- $50, each additional person- $25
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 1-10 p.m.

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Inside Rocky Mountain Zephyr, photo by Cori Anderson

The Lowdown: Only opened in May of this year, Golden Puzzle Room (GPR) is a force on the escape room scene. Arwen and Jason Pond went all-in to create two unique and brain-teasing rooms— The Nightingale and Rocky Mountain Zephyr. They do not have the intensity of some other rooms (The Nightingale is a downright peaceful room to spend an hour in) but the clues are created with a lovely mixture of analytical and creative thought. You might have to smell, feel or piece together your clue. They also offer to rent a kitchen and dining room space for $25 per hour, where you may bring food (but not alcohol) to host a party or business function while groups try the rooms.

The Best Part: The variety of puzzles. Arwen Pond commented that she intended for the rooms to use all five of your senses, engaging your brain in a variety of ways and allowing for certain talents to dominate at different times during the experience. It will benefit you greatly to have a diverse team while solving these rooms.

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Reserve here.

Conundrum Escape Rooms

Where: 9255 West 58th Avenue, Arvada
Cost: $25 per person, per room
Hours: Thursday-Friday 3-9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

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Photo by Cori Anderson

The Lowdown: Tucked away in a shopping center in Arvada, Conundrum may be small, but it manages two rooms worthy of seasoned live escapers. Of course, beginners are always welcome and the owner, Kurt Allison, gives a thorough (but not boring) introduction with some strategy tips if you want them. Requests for hints are also unlimited, so you may challenge yourself more by refusing to ask. Cabin in the Woods has a recommended four minimum players, while Mystic Chambers suggests three. Prepare yourself to encounter gadgets that require teamwork and excellent communication skills.

The Best Part: The hint and clue system. There was never a moment during my experience in Mystic Chambers that I felt completely lost. Clues for combinations or keys are easy to match with their components, the riddles for the combinations take the skill and mental fortitude. So you won’t waste time trying to figure out which lock goes with which clue, and in the end you spend more of your hour working on actual puzzles and brain-teasers. The unlimited hints are also noteworthy; use them or don’t, it’s your choice.

Skill Level: Intermediate (easier with four or more players)

Reserve here.

Clue Room

Where: 7600 East Arapahoe Road #211 & 7255 South Havana Street Unit 101, Centennial
Cost: $28 per person per room
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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Lobby of the newest location on Havana, photo courtesy of Clue Room

The Lowdown: Clue Room was the first of its kind in Colorado, built after owners Elisa and Todd Mata came back from a trip to Valencia, Spain where they had tried the escape room X-Door.  Not finding anything like that back home, they decided it would be their mission to bring the puzzles to Coloradans. Clue Room only seems to be growing and expanding in popularity, now with two locations in Centennial. And with more rooms than any other place in the Denver area, it is a great choice for large groups or a team that wants a broad range of success rates to choose from. The Matas are intelligent and clever beyond a doubt, and all of the rooms are designed and implemented by them.

The Best Part: Unexpected hiding spots. Do not underestimate anything in the room. Inspect everything like your life depends on it because clues are everywhere. And do not expect everything to be a combination lock; you will encounter keys, electronic keypads and some other inventive contraptions that I can’t give away without giving away too much.

Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced (the whole spectrum)

Reserve here.

 

Denver Escape Room

Where: 11674 Huron St#300, Northglenn
Cost: $28 per person per room
Hours: Check website for days and times

The Lowdown: This is quite often people’s first attempt at an escape room in Denver, maybe because it is one of the first ones to appear on Google. And rightly so. With the Rookie Business of the Year Award and People’s Choice Northglenn in 2015, Denver Escape Room has a great reputation among escape rooms. The owner, Brian Lacertosa, became engrossed in live escaping after a visit to New York in 2014, and after traveling and escaping, he set up his very own in Northglenn. Try out Crimson Storm, Rampancy, or Pipeworks and figure out why everyone who goes here can’t stop talking about it.

The Best Part: Trust your gut. Instincts are essential in these rooms, where you might need to take a couple leaps of faith to correctly solve something. Everything takes logic as well, but these rooms are more about the experience than the puzzles. Loosen up and follow that feeling that might not have a clue to back it up just yet.

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Reserve here.

Writer’s Choice

Puzzah! 

My favorite was Kazam, followed closely by Tik Tok. Puzzah! far exceeds the other puzzle rooms in Denver in individuality because everything operates with a software system instead of ping-ponging you from lock to lock. The main advantage of the technological step-up from combination locks resides in the suspension of belief it provides you while you pursue your task in the room.

Epic Escape Game Englewood

These rooms will stretch your perception of yourself as a live escaper. I found myself completely absorbed in both rooms I tried (Inventor’s Garage and The Lost Continent.) Even with high success rates you will definitely need to think outside the box. My pro tip—if something seems simple, don’t overthink it.

Sprightly Escapes

I love the indie feel that Kara and Denise provide the escape room scene. You can tell they have a true passion for puzzles and live escape experiences in particular, and it shows in their attention to detail in the rooms. I would find it impossible to have a bad hour in one of their rooms because their love for the game shows in every way. And though the other places in Denver take or let you take pictures on a phone, Sprightly uses an instant camera and posts your picture on the wall (but only if you complete the mission).

Golden Puzzle Room

The lobby area and escape rooms at GPR are neat and tidy, and to me that was important for having mental clarity to solve the riddles. They still have red herrings and empty props, but for the most part you will use everything in some small way. If you use your time wisely, communicate with your team and inspect every artifact you will be successful. At no point did I feel like there was a mistake in the riddles or a big jump in figuring out what to do with a combination (like I experienced at a few places.) Also, GPR started a small contest with six other escape rooms, where if you earn a stamp at each place you are entered to win a grand prize, valued at over $600.

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One Response

  1. Escape Room

    If anyone come to Barcelona, Spain . You have 3 options in Escape Barcelona , La Maldición del Faraón, el Templo Perdido y Jurassic Land.

    Reply

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