That Rocky Mountain high comes free with a trip to Colorado. Hike some of her tallest peaks to discover endless vistas or hold the line with trout in storied lakes and streams. Dinosaurs wandered her hills, and today’s wildlife seem just as taken with her forests and meadows. Travelers bike, ski and boat across the state’s ample terrain, chasing yet another challenge from her vast selection of activities. Yes, Colorado loves nothing more than sharing her abundance of beauty with visitors, no matter what the season.
Peddle your way through time on Dakota Ridge Bike Trail, where dinosaurs once roamed. This mountain bike double track will test your technical skills, but riders will end up at Red Rocks Amphitheater, where concerts are set amid Mother Nature. The sandstone outdoor “concert hall” is the ultimate performance venue. Then head to LoDo for a sampling of micro brews from the state that helped to put craft beers on the map.
2) Idaho Springs
Drive 33 miles, 41 minutes
Rafting spring runoff in Clear Creek is an adrenaline kick, with rapids rated from Class II to Class V. While paddling through the narrow river, keep your eyes open for nuggets, as you are in gold country. With a rich history of mining, Clear Creek was a favorite stream for panning. Today’s visitors can see how the ore was transported through a 4-mile-long tunnel from Central City mines to Idaho Springs for processing. Tours of the Argo Mill and Tunnel run seven days a week, and tourists can keep any of the shiny mineral they find during panning demonstrations.
Drive 35 miles • 37 minutes
Get your rod ready for some trout fishing on Dillon Reservoir, as this freshwater lake captures the hearts of anglers everywhere. With pristine mountain views and 300 days of sunshine each year, it is the perfect setting for catching dinner or sailing away into the sunset. Weekly summer regattas provide entertainment for those offshore, while others choose to cycle around the lake on a paved trail. And end the day at a local favorite just up the hill, the Dillon Dam Brewery. You will find good eats and a vast selection of micro brews to quench any thirst.
Drive 14 miles • 25 minutes
For those who like an outdoor challenge, tackle the Ten Mile Range Traverse, a hiking trail that leads from Breckenridge to Frisco, tagging ten mountain peaks along the way. Chances are you will run into some friendly mountain goats while scrambling up Peak 1 or 2. The trail is not for the faint of heart, but the views are well worth the effort, as your ascent goes up to 13,500 feet. Be sure to return in the winter for some stellar skiing on some of these same peaks or point your skis downhill at nearby Copper Mountain or Keystone.