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54 Must-Do Colorado Adventures


12) Far From a Lazy Float
A lazy trip down Boulder Creek on a tube sounds innocent. But there are mini waterfalls, white water sections and enough obstacles to toss you during high flows. Bumps and bruises are expected. That hasn’t stopped the creek from being a hot spot for families, college kids and adrenaline junkies to test their mettle and cool off from the heat. Start at the western point of Eben Fine Park and float to the library. By the end of a hot day, watch the tired tubers walk home dragging their flip-flops while nearby dumpsters become tire tube graveyards. —LJS

13) Price of Corn
The lawn needs mowing, the tomatoes are planted, the golf clubs have been fished out of the corner of the garage and your bike wheels are finally trued. And while the ski areas are closed, backcountry conditions are at their peak. The sketchy couloirs, cornices and steep bowls that filled with snow from the prodigious storms last winter have stabilized with spring’s freeze and thaw cycle, making them safe playgrounds.
Innovations in backpacks, skis and bindings—not to mention tell-all books like Ron Haddad’s Indian Peak Descents: Ski Mountaineering and Snowboarding—make getting there, enjoying the ride and getting out much easier than, say, 10 years ago. Among the most accessible and varied terrain within easy striking distance of the Front Range is Point 13,010. Identified on most topo maps as the unnamed high point on the Continental Divide above the Eisenhower Tunnel, some of the area beneath the peak is included in Loveland Ski Area. Getting there is easy. Just park off the road that loops over the tunnel portals on the east side, apply skins to your slippery sticks and head west up what during the season is the intermediate run, Scrub, bearing south after passing the bottom of Lift #9.
Traversing south toward the top of the ridgeline, you’ll pass the top of Lift #4. Keep heading up until you get to the ridge and follow that south toward the rocky top. The trek up takes about an hour. The snow will have softened by then. It’s worth hanging out on top for an early lunch and view. Then get ready for some sweet corn turns; there’s something here for everyone: small or big air (scout landings, please), steep faces (50 degrees or so) and more manageable routes for those less gonzo. In late spring, avalanche danger has all but vanished. Still, check with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center for the latest info, especially if a recent storm dropped some
fresh inches. —JB

14) Thank Mother Nature
The Dolores River meanders through some of the most majestic canyons in Colorado. But the snowpack in recent years has decimated the flows through the southwestern Colorado river, meaning there hasn’t been a full year of commercial trips on it since 2001. It’s back this year (Global Warming be damned!). Record snowfalls have opened opportunities to raft; you will think you are traveling through Canyon Lands. It’ll run high through the better part of the month; check with Dvorak Expeditions for trips. If you can’t get there in the next few weeks, check out the Black Canyon near Gunnison. —JH

15) Flying Without Noise
Picture yourself floating a few thousand feet off the ground, with nothing to distract you but the snow-capped peaks. There’s not even the hum of an engine to bother you because you’re cutting through the air on a glider plane. These trips can be serene or you can ask your pilot to pull any of a number of roller-coaster type maneuvers. Boulder’s Mile Hi Gliding offers 40-minute rides through the foothills for $179. You won’t even have to clear security to board the flight. —JH

16) Snowball Fight in August
St. Mary’s Glacier isn’t a true glacier. But it’s a whole lot easier to drive I-70 than navigate the Artic Circle. The permanent snowfield is nearly 10 acres (it used to be a lot bigger—stupid Global Warming!). There are several hiking trails; watch for flying snowballs. —JH

17) Enjoy the Colorado Trail
The Colorado Trail gets most talked about in terms of hiking, but near the start of it, there is a singletrack gem. The Green Mountain Trail is a 16-mile out and back mountain bike trek that gains nearly 3,000 feet of elevation with breathtaking Front Range outlooks. —LB

18) Remote Walk in the Mountains
There is one major difference between going for a hike or bagging a mountain and backpacking: Backpacking can take you off the super highway hiking trails that are annoyingly congested in the summer. Storm King Peak, buried deep in the Weminuche Wilderness, is one of the most breathtaking mountains in Colorado. Hitch a ride with the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (see page 43) to the Needleton stop. From there, it’s a two-day hike to the base of Storm King. You’ll camp below the picturesque Lake Silex, looking up at the 13,752-foot peak. The climb is rugged, but it is a classic around these parts. All told, you’ll need at least four nights for this trip. You may not see another person the entire time. —JH

19) Pop Wheelies
We were set to write a blurb about some cool trail to take an ATV on when we starting talking with the folks over at Allenspark ATV Rentals in Lyons. Last month they added dune buggies and sand rails to their fleet. Both have the advantage of being able to hold more than one passenger unlike a typical ATV. But sand rails are perhaps the coolest vehicle on four wheels. Built with just an engine, steering wheel and roll bars, they offer a few hundred horsepower on light frame. These suckers can fly, literally, and are known for being able to pop a wheelie pretty easily. For about $200, rent one for half the day, and pick the brain of Allenspark owner Jeff Mead on trails to fit your skill level. You’ll need to sign waivers and are responsible for the damages if you flip. —JH

20) Sand in Your Bindings
Sand like you’d find in the Sahara usually doesn’t sound appealing. But when it’s close and provides snow-free skiing, it’s another story. The Great Sand Dunes National Park provides steep hills for carving, but you have to earn your turns by hiking. The consistency of sand takes a little getting used to, but it’s still better than skiing on ice back east. —LB

21) Stop Pounding the Pavement
Street running is for city slickers. That’s why you need to be pounding your Nikes on some fresh trail dirt. If you spend more time eating than exercising, start on the Niwot Trail loop near 79th and Lookout. Then try Boulder’s Anne U. White Trail, offering a tougher workout and beautiful towering canyon walls. —LB

22) Floating by Longs
Hovering a few thousand feet off the ground in a basket being propelled by hot air is both relaxing and unnerving. How stable can one lil’ old basket be? Frankly, they are really stable. And when you hop on a balloon ride through Longmont Hot Balloon Company, you’ll be floating with the majestic Longs Peak to your side. It doesn’t get any better than that, except the champagne breakfast that follows, perhaps. —JH

23) Big Water
There are few bodies of water in the state that offer enough room for wakeboarding, yet it’s become a popular sport around these parts. Chatfield Marina in Littleton attracts boaters and offers a space for wakeboarders. The flat water is ideal for cruising—you don’t even have to worry about running over those pesky manatees. For a big water experience try the Curecanti National Recreation Area near Gunnison. Three different lakes allow you to find the perfect spot. Early morning boasts the best conditions and least chance of running into an out-of-control tourist. —LB

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