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54 Must-Do Colorado Adventures


36) Cowboy Adventure
If the idea of staying in a luxury cabin seems a little too posh for a western adventure, try a good ’ol cowboy outing with Out West Guides based in Marble. This outfit will personalize a multi-day horseback riding pack trip for you. A chef prepares hearty meals like steak, pork chops or maybe even the day’s catch when you wind down. You’ll retire to a tent complete with cots and a wood stove. It’s like being a cowboy with an entourage. —LJS

37) For Ski-Starved Folks
It’s already time to head up to Vail Pass for a few turns—on wheels and pavement. Ski skating is an incredible way to stay in shape for the ski season during the summer. Skating develops the same muscles as skiing, not to mention helps with coordination, flexibility and endurance. One disadvantage; pavement is a lot less forgiving than snow. Roller skis start at $200 (try Boulder Nordic). When planning a roller outing, keep in mind this sport is illegal on state highways. So try the Vail Pass bike path going up, just be sure to hitch a ride down (it’s steeper than a black diamond). —LJS

38) A Steep Descent Into the Past
Mesa Verde National Park is known worldwide for housing the most unique cliff dwellings that can be imagined. Centuries ago, local Natives built multi-tiered homes in the rocks of massive cliffs. The ingenuity alone is amazing and breath-taking. But let’s be honest, it gets crowded come summer (it’s a national park thing). The Ute Mountain Utes will take you on tours of their tribal park, showcasing four ancient ruins in nearby Towaco. This is not for the faint of heart—a 90-foot descent on wooden ladders is required to access them. Once you’ve survived the last descent, a menacing 30-foot ladder, try your luck at tables of the nearby casinos on the reservation. —JH

39) The Biggest For a Reason
Water World is America’s biggest water park, its claim based on most “family attractions,” 44 in all. Regardless, it’s a fine way to cool off. The Travel Channel has rated it one of the best parks in the world. Try the “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” a trip through a tunnel of robotic dinosaurs. —LJS

40) Another Use for a Ski Lift
There still are reasons to ride a ski lift up in the summer—alpine slides. Normally reserved for kids, you’d be bummed to miss the half-mile plus track at Winter Park. Gravity will pull you down fast. Try getting through a hairpin turn without applying brakes for bonus points. If you get tossed, be prepared for some mountain rash. —LJS

41) Frisbee Golf
Some disc golf geeks out there who may get offended by this, but we think it’s best to skip the courses and bag full of different “clubs,” and just head off into the foothills with some friends and a Frisbee each. Make it an all-terrain game, using trees, rocks, stumps and other objects as holes. —JH

42) Gold Rush!
If you’ve never checked out Gold Hill and Sugarloaf just above Boulder, it’s worth a trip just to see the remnants of the old mining days (and some million-dollar homes that have popped up). The area seeps with history. It also seeps with a little bit of gold—enough so that an active mine, the Cash Mine, reopened a year ago. We’re not saying you are going to get rich, but if you buy a cheap set of tools (widely available on the Internet), you may just find a nugget. Or at least a little dust that will cover the cost of the gallon of gas you expelled driving. But it’s really not about the money, it’s about feeling like a gold prospector 100 years ago—if you happen to strike it big, consider putting a down payment on one of the beautiful homes nearby. —JH

43) Hiking is Still Pretty Cool
Yeah, we know it’s almost cliché to recommend going for a hike. Still, we love hiking. Our pick is a six-hour trip through Glacier Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park. The 10-mile trip will work every muscle in your body, but the reward of the beauty is worth the pain. Right? —LB

44) How Did This Get Here?
If you were to look on a map of Colorado dated to 1900, there’d be a list of towns you wouldn’t recognize: Abbeyville, Freeland and Tasmania. They are now among the more than 300 ghost towns left throughout the state. Saint Elmo is a favorite. Just west of Buena Vista, it’s been labeled the state’s Best Preserved
Ghost Town. —LB

45) Dude Ranching in Style
Admit it, Billy Crystal got you amped on trying to be a real-life cowboy when City Slickers hit the Silver Screen several years back. Jack Palance made us all want to ride off into the western sunset. We’re guessing that movie was a boon to the local dude ranch industry. We also know that the best cowboy adventure comes with a dash of luxury. Vista Verde, located just outside of Steamboat Springs, will have you riding horses into the mountains during afternoon outings, and back to the lodge for a five-course dinner and an evening in your private hot tub. Seems like a better way to enjoy the rugged west than how Mr. Crystal did it. —JH

46) Get Ready to do Nothing

Laying in the grass, soaking in the super strong Colorado sunshine is one of the most enjoyable hours you can spend. This isn’t rocket science, people. Sun, warmth, a long beach towel and some quiet is a recipe for a great afternoon. Head over to Chautauqua Park in Boulder for the ideal place to do absolutely nothing at all. It will be epic. —JH

47) Postcard Pic
There is something quintessential about walking a trail surrounded by wild flowers. Generally, finding a paradise filled with them requires a long hike. Much easier is the 2.4-mile paved Fossil Creek Trail in the Cathy Fromme Prairie near Fort Collins. While leisurely strolling, take in the Nuttall’s violets, upright prairie coneflowers, milkweed and more. Prime bloom is June through August. —JH

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