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Posts Tagged ‘outdoor activity’

Mom, I’m bored. (Said no BackCountry kid ever.)

by | June 23rd, 2015

Okay so that’s wishful thinking, but it’s no exaggeration that BackCountry is an incredible place to be a kid. You see it in the way children ride their bikes freely and play in happy little packs, roaming from yard to yard and house to house. (Gated communities where people know each other promote that kind of easygoing vibe.) And naturally, the Sundial pool and abundant parks and open spaces are huge kid magnets in the summer. But BackCountry’s child-friendly planned events also play a critical role in keeping the young’uns busy, physically active, and connected with each other year-round.

BackCountry boasts an exceptionally active HOA, guided by full-time Lifestyle Director Britany Chambers and a committee of residents. Together, they plan special events that target the interests of all kinds of residents, including the young ones. Case in point, this kids-only science event featuring exotic animals and cool experiments that use everyday items.

backcountry science snake

backcountry science experiment

Or annual Easter Egg hunts with a special appearance by a very popular, cotton-tailed guest.

BackCountry Easter Bunny

BackCountry Easter egg hunt

Or an afternoon of star-struck hobnobbing with Rapunzel and Spiderman at a Superhero and Princess Party.

BackCountry Superhero and Princess party

BackCountry Rapunzel and Spiderman

So what’s on tap for kids this summer? Below, you can read about a couple of annual favorites followed by a complete summer calendar of activities planned with BackCountry’s youngest residents in mind. Get ready. It’s going to be a fun-filled summer for children at Backcountry.

PATRIOTIC BBQ & COUNTRY MUSIC CONCERT
Saturday, July 11, 5:30pm-8:30pm
This is high-quality family time, listening to live music, dancing and sharing good food in the BackCountry Amphitheatre with the gorgeous foothills as your backdrop. Performances include Chris Daniels & The Kings, one of the hottest country rock bands to hit the Colorado scene in years, and a real cowboy uniquely talented in rope-spinning tricks. Kids, get ready for pumpkin seed spitting, lasso jumping, and more fun activities to enjoy.

“DRIVE-IN” MOVIE
Saturday, August 1, 6pm
Far more picturesque than any drive-in parking lot ever, the Amphitheatre is the ideal summer evening setting for watching the Tom Hanks classic, Big. The movie starts at 8pm, but the pre-movie entertainment (including a real-life “Zoltar” machine offering silly fortune telling a la the movie), root beer floats, and popcorn will begin at 6pm.

Other summer events include:

  • Snow Cones & Pool Games, June 8
  • Ventriloquist, June 11
  • Family Concert at Amphitheatre & Food Truck, June 18
  • Tween Pool Party, June 23
  • Snow Cones & Pool Games, June 25
  • Reptile Show, June 29
  • Snow Cones & Pool Games, July 7
  • Kids Painting Event, July 14
  • Tween Pool Party with Water Wizard, July 21
  • Snow Cones & Synchronized Swim Team, July 23
  • Kids Educational Event, July 29
  • Back-to-School Party, August 6
  • Labor Day Luau, August (date TBD)

 

Long days, light hearts: June in Colorado

by | June 4th, 2015

The summer solstice is coming up on June 21, a happy reminder to squeeze in more hours of fun on our long, gorgeous Colorado days. So now’s the time to let your inner kid out for good behavior and take advantage of these events—several of which will keep you nice and close to your BackCountry neighborhood.

Sundial House View

Senior Adult Fun at the Park-June 9, 9am-noon
Parks aren’t just for kids anymore. Seniors, try something new or revisit a favorite activity, such as Zumba, gentle yoga, bocce ball or cornhole, and stop by educational booths, all at nearby Redstone Park.
This event is hosted by the Highlands Ranch Metro District, Highlands Ranch Community Association, and 50 & Better Together. For more information, contact Jodie McCann at 720-240-4922 or jmccann@highlandsranch.org.

Colorado Renaissance Festival-Opens June 13
Entering its 39th season, the Colorado Renaissance Festival offers eight weekends of engaging time travel to the rowdy festival days of 16th century England, full of authentically costumed (and interactive) jousters and jugglers, hearty fare, and seven stages of performances. Pick up BOGO tickets for the opening weekend at Wendy’s, or hit the Royal Ale & Art Festival (with free ale samples) on June 20-21, or check out the Celtic Festival (with men’s kilt contest and hard lemonade samples) on June 27-28. Held at Perry Park in Larkspur. Learn more.

Colorado Renaissance Festival

Empty Nesters Summer Potluck-June 25, 6-8:30pm
For BackCountry residents only, this summer potluck offers a sweet opportunity to hang out with your neighbors while enjoying a delicious meal. Bring a dish to share that will serve eight, as well as your own beverages. Log into www.backcountrylife.org and RSVP by Friday, June 19.

Denver Museum of Natural Science Free Day -June 29
If you haven’t visited lately, it’s time—especially on one of the museum’s free days, which give you license to stay just as long as you’d like. You’ll have plenty of reasons to linger, of course, between all the permanent exhibits and the current Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids. You’ll explore stories and uncover the truths behind the myths of the aforementioned beings, along with kraken, giant squids, flying horses, and the ever-popular Nessie and Big Foot. Learn more.

mythic-dragon-Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Ready, set, get wet!

by | May 18th, 2015

It’s time to test-drive your new swimsuit: BackCountry’s first pool party of the season is almost here. On Friday, May 22, the Sundial House pool officially opens for summer at 9am. Then, stop by from 3-4:30pm for the Memorial Day Weekend pre-party, complete with beer, popsicles, and a meet-and-greet with this year’s lifeguard crew and pool management company, Perfect Pools. (For residents only; please RSVP at backcountrylife.org by Monday, May 18.) And be sure to come back the next day for the big event—our Red, White, & Blue Celebration.

Held on Saturday, May 23 from 4pm-7pm, this annual event is the season’s much-anticipated kick-off. What’s on tap? High-energy, interactive games and fabulous face painting (come right at 4pm for a shorter wait for our truly talented painters). Free hot dogs sponsored by As You Wish Pet Sitters. Plus snow cones, popcorn, a DJ, and prizes. Please RSVP at www.backcountrylife.org by Monday, May 18.

With so much going on right in the neighborhood, why not make the Lantern House your Memorial Day weekend HQ? Hang out with your family and neighbors—a much more relaxing choice than fighting the masses headed to the mountains. Plan that trip for a non-holiday weekend!

Here are a few photos from previous summers to wet, er, whet your appetite for another season of happy memories.

backcountryfirepit

It is May in Colorado after all, where a firepit is as practical as it is delightful.

backcountrygirlwithribbons

And so it begins: Rhythmic Gymnastics champion, Olympics 2028?

backcountrygirlfacepaint

On a hot day, even kitties love a snow cone.

backcountrygirlssmile

The smiles say it all. Summer vacation has arrived.

backcountrycoolfacepaint

True artistry happens at our face-painting booth.

backcountrypartymtns

Beautiful foothills views create an idyllic party backdrop

backcountryboyhulahoop

How does he do that?

backcountryirises

Colorful, late spring decor just in time for the Red, White & Blue Celebration

More Ways to Enjoy Springtime

by | May 4th, 2015

It’s May, that blessed month when our nature-deprived senses get a wake-up call. The feel of cool, damp earth while planting a garden. The sweet fragrance of fresh-cut grass. Or the way-better-than-an-alarm sound of robins singing in the morning. Life is such a feast for the senses, this time of year. Below are five suggestions for savoring the season even more, from gathering tasty, just-picked cilantro at the farmers’ market to tapping your toes to the music of an outdoor concert.

Highlands Ranch Farmers’ and Street Market-Sundays, starting May 3, 10am-2pm
Goodbye, tasteless tomatoes. Well maybe not just yet, but even now you can pick up early season delights such as rhubarb and asparagus, along with a cornucopia of artisanal sauces, pastas, bread, and flowers. Plus, adjacent to the farmers’ market, the Highlands Ranch Community Association Street Market features more than 20 vendors selling handbags, accessories, cooking utensils, garden adornments, and more. Stay apprised of what’s coming in from the fields with this handy Colorado produce calendar. Held at Town Center South. (map) Learn more.

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Music Arts Festival-May 16-17
Dig out your picnic basket and blanket—it’s outdoor concert season again. Presented by the Highlands Ranch Concert Band, the annual Music Arts Festival features two days of performances by music ensembles from around the metro area. Bring the whole family to enjoy music, plus arts and crafts by local vendors. Food and drinks also available for purchase. Held at Civic Green Park. Free. Learn more.

Photo courtesy of Highlands Ranch Music Arts Festival Facebook page

Photo courtesy of Highlands Ranch Music Arts Festival Facebook page

Opening Day at the BackCountry Pool-May 22
Just in time for Memorial Day (and your children’s out-of-school, over-the-top energy level), the BackCountry pool is open for business. Located next to the Sundial House, the space offers something for everyone with a big pool, splash pad, water feature, lap pool, and plenty of lounge chairs for dozing with a book and a nice cool beverage.

Jump into warm weather fun at BackCountry!

Jump into warm weather fun at BackCountry!

ArtStir Denver & Downtown Denver Arts Festivals-May 23-24
Not one, but two visual arts festivals are yours to explore over Memorial Day weekend. And conveniently, they’re within blocks of each other. ArtStir Denver, voted Best New Festival in 2014 by Westword Magazine, happens at the Denver Pavilions downtown and features more than 225 Colorado-only artists specializing in painting, photography, textiles, furnishings, handcrafted goods, and more. Beyond moseying through the booths, enjoy art and style demonstrations and performances, a flea market and food, craft beers and local wine. Drop by the Day of Rock concert at the nearby 16th Street Mall. Free. Learn more.

Denver Day of Rock 2014

Photo courtesy of Denver Day of Rock Facebook page

Then, be sure to catch the 17th year of the Downtown Arts Festival at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Ranked the #1 art show in Colorado by the Art Fair SourceBook, this juried fine art exhibition features some of Colorado and the nation’s best artists representing 15 artistic media, including painting, photography, glass, leather, sculpture, wood, and clay. Free. Learn more.

Downtown denver art festival

Where the wild things are. Locally, anyway.

by | April 8th, 2015

The obvious answer is, of course, the Denver Zoo. Or the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, both especially handy for BackCountry residents. Even if you consider yourself an ardent animal lover, you may not be aware that Colorado is home to several wildlife sanctuaries. These home-away-from-home facilities do an outstanding job of taking in wildlife in need of care. And good news for humans: visitors are welcome too.


The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Located outside of Keenesburg, 30 miles northeast of Denver, The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a haven on 720 acres of rural, rolling grasslands. Established in 1980, it’s the largest sanctuary of its kind and one of the oldest in the United States. Who lives there? More than 350 animals, including tigers, African lions, black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions, leopards, wolves, servals, bobcats, foxes, lynx, coyote, coati mundi, raccoon, porcupine, ostrich, emu, camel, alpaca, horses, and rescued dogs and cats.
 And why? Most were exotic “pets” confiscated for being kept in illegal or abusive situations. Others were surplus animals from zoos and other wildlife facilities, where they faced euthanasia. The animals enjoy life grouped with their own kind in large, open fields, underground dens, and inside/outside enclosures depending on species. Each day, the facility welcomes between 600 and 1,200 visitors. Elevated catwalks and observational platforms give a good view of the grounds and include coin-operated binoculars. Stop by the 1,200 sq. ft. education center, too.

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Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center

Out of approximately 250,000 wolf-dogs born in the US each year, 80% will likely die before they reach their third birthday. When these adorable pups grow into semi-wild adults, they’re often surrendered to a shelter, where they are typically euthanized within 24-72 hours. The Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center helps save these animals. The center is on a 35-acre property in Divide, populated by arctic, timber, and Mexican Grey wolves, along with coyotes and red and swift foxes. Take a one-hour standard tour and learn about hunting, howling, hierarchy, and even communicate with the pack in a group howl. Check out the monthly Full Moon Tour and Full Moon Feeding Fests, too.

Photo courtesy of The Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary Facebook

Photo courtesy of The Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary Facebook


Serenity Springs Wildlife Center

Big cats feel right at home at Serenity Springs in Calhan (22 miles east of Colorado Springs). This safe place specializes in caring for more than 120 felines, such as lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats, cougars, and other exotic animals that have been in a situation where their well-being or life was in jeopardy. Serenity Springs also provides educational outreach. Guided tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Photo courtesy of the Serenity Springs Wildlife Center Facebook page

Photo courtesy of the Serenity Springs Wildlife Center Facebook page


Mission: Wolf 

Mission: Wolf is an intentionally remote sanctuary in Westcliffe (southwest of Pueblo) geared to captive wolves and wolf-dog mixes. All residents were born in a cage—part of the more than 250,000 wolves currently living in captivity. (For perspective, fewer than 10,000 wolves still live in the wild.) This fact inspires the organization to tour the country with “ambassador wolves” to educate people not to put wolves in cages or keep wild animals as pets. Mission: Wolf has more than 200 acres of land: 150 are in conservation and provide a buffer zone, 50 acres are fenced for wolves. Everyone over the age of six is welcome. Tours are free. Their nature center and tent campsite is free of charge.

Photo courtesy of the Mission: Wolf Facebook page

Photo courtesy of the Mission: Wolf Facebook page

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Federation

Wolves and wolf-dog hybrids have a happy home at Rocky Mountain Wildlife Federation just outside of Guffy, on 35+ acres complete with sweet views of Pikes Peak, the San Juan Range, and the Collegiate Peaks. RMWF provides sanctuary, rehabilitation, and environmentally-natural housing for captive-born wolves and wolf-dogs who have suffered from injuries, neglect, or abuse, and cannot be released back into the wild. Tours at this sanctuary are free and impressively interactive, including visits with the animals inside their cages.

Photo courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Federation Facebook page

Photo courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Federation Facebook page

Colorado Rites of Spring

by | April 3rd, 2015

Buttery daffodils and greened-up lawns. Kids with their Easter baskets and, sometimes, snow boots. Elves and fairy-winged folk roaming the streets of Boulder. Yes, these are a few of the much-loved rites of spring in our part of the world. Here’s a selection of some activities to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of something magical: springtime in Colorado.

HRCA Easter Egg Hunt
Easter Egg Hunt
– Apr. 4, 10am sharp!
The Easter Bunny is on his way to Highlands Ranch! So grab your favorite egg-hunters (ages 1-11) and head over to Northridge Park behind the Northridge Recreation Center. Be sure to bring your basket to collect all the goodies, and a camera, too, since the Easter Bunny himself will make a special appearance. Come early—parking is limited and the hunt will begin at 10am sharp—rain, snow or shine. Free. Learn more.

Rocky_Mountain_National_Park_in_September_2011_-_Glacier_Gorge_from_Bear_Lake
Author Talk: Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years
– April 20, 7-8:30pm
If you’re itching for that first warm-weather trip up the hill, celebrate the centennial of Colorado’s premier national park at a talk by Mary Taylor Young, the naturalist and award-winning author of Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years. Witness the rise, fall, and rise of mountains. Meet ancient people, explorers lured by the mountains’ call, and engineers who sculpted Trail Ridge Road. Discover how a changing climate may greatly alter the park in its next 100 years. Southridge Recreation Center. Learn more.

Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens Free Day
– Apr. 22, 9am-5pm
Enjoy Earth Day by wandering through one of Denver’s most beautiful settings. Stop by the Botanic Gardens at York Street for free eye candy and to get ideas for your own spring garden. This time of year is likely to showcase nature’s more delicate masterpieces, such as columbines, bellflowers, lily of the valley, irises, honeysuckle, and crabapples. But if you’d like to know for sure what’s currently in bloom, check out their Gardens Navigator hereLearn more.

Boulder Tulip Fairy Parade
Tulip Fairy and Elf Festival
– Apr. 26, 1-5pm
Think of it as a springtime Halloween, featuring a beautifully costumed Tulip Fairy who leads hundreds of pint-sized fairies and elves around Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall as they “welcome the tulips.” A celebration of the 15,000 tulips that adorn the Pearl Street Mall, the Tulip Fairy and Elf Festival is a favorite springtime tradition that includes live stage performances, face painting, and free activities for children. Learn more.

Seven years. No itch.

by | March 9th, 2015

It’s been seven years since Roxie Mountain-Weed and Rick Weed moved into what was then a brand new community named BackCountry. And back then, in the days before the Sundial House, Discovery Center, or even a single model home, when all there was to see was a trailer and some drawings, this was a leap of faith.

But when they saw the views of the Front Range and downtown Denver and understood the vision for the community, they both instantly agreed: “This is it,” Roxie recalls saying. “It was kind of wild. But because of Rick’s work in land development, we knew Shea’s reputation. We wanted a Shea home, and we loved all the open space that was going to be attached to the community.”

new homes oudoor space colorado

Over the years, Rick, Roxie, and their three children (now in college) have logged quite a few miles on those trails in the 8,200-acre Backcountry Wilderness Area. Still do. One of Roxie’s favorite activities is taking a walk at sunset with her walking stick, “Moab,” and watching the deer and other wildlife come out. Other tried-and-true favorites include concerts and movie nights.

“There’s something wonderful about lying on the grass, under the stars, and watching a fun movie with all the little kids running around. And now you can run into Indulge [at the Sundial House] and grab something to drink. It’s just so cool here. Sometimes I just think…‘pinch me’!”

BackCountryCo.com

Seven years later, Roxie still speaks enthusiastically about their decision, noting how well the community has evolved. “We’ve lived here long enough to know that Shea keeps its promises and does everything well. The Sundial House turned out so beautiful and high-end, so far beyond our expectations. And I can’t say enough about the landscaping.” Their home still makes them happy, too. It feels a little big with the kids gone, but Roxie says she can’t see herself moving. “Actually, I should probably get out more, but I just love to be home!” The indoor-outdoor living features are among her favorites, with a wrap-around deck that can handle a party of 50, plus French doors off the morning room that create a huge extension of the house. Perfect for the Colorado lifestyle.

So, no, they don’t plan on leaving BackCountry any time soon. “I am so happy that I live here,” says Roxie. “Even after all this time, I still feel like I’m on vacation. It’s like I have a mountain home, but in the city. I just can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Here’s a video of Roxie and Rick sharing their thoughts on BackCountry back in 2012.

Foodies, this month’s for you.

by | March 5th, 2015

If there’s one thing everyone can rally around, it’s a good meal. Sure, preferences will vary, but that’s the beauty of this month’s bounty of culinary events, ranging from swanky Broadmoor cuisine to St. Patty’s Day comfort food. Bon appétit, BackCountry!

Broadmoor
Broadmoor Taste & Savor
-March 5-8
What better place to sample ambrosial delights than The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs’ iconic, five-star resort, framed by the majestic Rockies? At this inaugural Taste & Savor epicurean weekend, you’ll rub elbows with acclaimed chefs and beverage experts from around the country, savor gourmet dishes, world-class wine and craft cocktails, and attend seminars and panel discussions. Two- and three-night packages include events, a gala, and brunch starting at $750 per person. Learn more.

ChefLeahAtBackCountryHighlandsRanch
Cooking Class with Chef Leah
-March 10, 6-8pm
Not long ago, local Philippines-born Chef Leah Eveleigh sliced and diced the competition on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. Now this winning chef will be on your team, teaching you to make this Taste of Asia menu: miso soup, shrimp and vegetable tempura, Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, and sticky rice with mango. Best of all, you’ll sit down together and enjoy the delicious fruits of your labors. Feel free to bring your own bottle of wine. $50 per person at the BackCountry Sundial House, 6 – 8pm, Residents only; minimum of 12, maximum of 16. RSVP by March 9 through ActiveNet or at the Sundial House.

BackCountryHighlandsRanchStPatricksDay
Adult St. Patrick’s Day Event
-March 13, 7-10pm
Lucky you, there’s a fun St. Patty’s Day party right in your neighborhood at the Sundial House. Join the gang for Irish-inspired food, drink, and toe-tapping music from Ruby Rakes. Don’t forget to wear green for a session in the photobooth! Menu includes mixed field greens with fresh vegetables and balsamic vinaigrette; chicken breast in Jameson Irish whisky cream sauce; colcannon potatoes; Irish heritage cabbage with Irish bacon, nutmeg, and red wine vinegar; and dinner rolls. $15 per person before March 1. After March 1, $17. RSVP through ActiveNet or at the Sundial House.

StPatricksDayDenverParade
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
-Mar. 14, 9:30am
This year’s theme, “Emerald Mile,” captures the close ties Colorado maintains with its Irish heritage. After all, Denver’s parade is the largest this side of the Mississippi, attracting more than 350,000 cheering wearers o’ the green. Enjoy the floats, bagpipers, marching bands, dancers, horses and stagecoaches, and more Irish-themed fun with Western flair. Learn more.

HighlandsRanchEaster
Annual Easter Egg Hunt
-March 28, 10am
Sweet surprises lay hidden for this year’s roving band of Easter egg gatherers, but no hunting is required for the doughnuts and other refreshments kindly provided by Royal Crest Dairy. Beyond enjoying all the tasty treats, children can hobnob with the Easter Bunny and Little Bo Peep, and ooh and ahh over a petting zoo full of furry animals such as rabbits, chickens, sheep, goats, donkeys, and a miniature horse. To keep things fun and fair, The Easter Egg Hunt will be broken into three age groups: 3 and under, 4-6, and 7 and up. Children MUST bring their own baskets to collect eggs. RSVP through ActiveNet no later than March 21.

The Quintessential Coloradan’s Bucket List

by | February 23rd, 2015

Our thriving economy is one logical explanation of why people keep moving to Colorado. But really, how many people do we know who came here on vacation… to college… to visit friends and family… and got hopelessly hooked on the state? It’s the natural beauty—and the endlessly fun, associated activities—that just keeps ‘em coming, year after year.

So as a welcome to all the newbies and a refresher course for you natives and long-timers, here’s a selection of “must-do” Colorado activities that capture the flavor of our state across the seasons. If you’ve already checked these ideas off your list, explore a more fine-grained rundown of ideas published in last month’s article in 5280 magazine. And be sure to share your bucket list with us on our Facebook page.

TellurideSkiResortCom
Ski at Telluride

Ranked the best overall ski resort in the US by powderhounds.com, Telluride Ski Resort Colorado Telluride offers stellar skiing and snowboarding far from the maddening weekend pilgrimage on I-70. That’s the beauty and curse of Telluride, of course, as its southwest Colorado location makes it a bit of a hike from metro Denver. But the rewards, beyond the powder, are a unique town with an extra-laidback vibe, colorful mining history, and its awe-inspiring canyon setting with steep mountain vistas. Learn more.

Bike on Independence Pass
Jaw-dropping gorgeous and a wee bit harrowing, thanks to narrow lanes, hairpin turns and dramatic drop-offs, traversing Independence Pass is truly a Colorado rite of passage. Driving the road is a badge of honor all by itself, but biking can take your Colorado cred to a whole new level. Start at Aspen and end at Twin Lakes, and in between, log 37.6 miles and gain 4,187 feet—while taking in magnificent, jagged vistas thick with aspen and evergreen. Open only from Memorial Day to Labor Day, due to high altitude and winter road conditions. Check for road closures here.

StrawberryHotSprings
Soak at Strawberry Springs

This destination is the perfect complement to your ski trip or summer vacation in Steamboat Springs, http://www.steamboat.com another must-see destination. Just outside of town, these hot springs clock in at about 104 degrees—a perfect contrast with the literally adjacent, frigid river. (One favorite diversion is to dip, courageously, from one to the other.) These mineral pools are of the more naturalistic type, with rocky, tree-filled surroundings, but there are private massage huts if you want to glam up the experience. Be warned: come evening, clothing is optional. Learn more.

Ogle at Bridal Veil Falls
Let’s say you went skiing at Telluride and fell in love with that charming town. Be sure to go back in summer and explore its many warm-weather pleasures, including Bridal Veil Falls. With a 365-foot drop, these are the tallest free-falling falls in Colorado. It’s a 4.2 mile trek to the top of the falls with a gain of 1,650 feet, so let that inform your decision whether to hike, bike, or four-wheel drive up the road. Learn more.

manitouincline
Quiver on the Manitou Incline

Rare is the hiker whose thighs will not jellify on this incline, the former site of a cable car ride. After a rockslide in 1990, the Manitou Incline was closed and locals started (illegally) hiking up the remaining ties for a lung-searing workout. The incline was officially opened to the public in 2013 and is a popular, challenging hike of 2,741 steps—a one-mile ascent with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet. Good luck! Learn more.

Learn at Mesa Verde
While Mesa Verde National Park is open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, warmer months are a better bet for fully enjoying this national treasure. This park was once the home of ancestral Pueblo people from 600-1300 A.D. who lived both on the mesa tops and in dwellings carved into the rock below. These cliff dwellings are some of the country’s best-preserved. While you’re there, you can explore a variety of cliff dwellings and learn about the Puebloans’ way of life from well-informed park rangers. Nearby camping is also available. Learn more.

georgetownlooprrcom
Time Travel on the Georgetown Loop

This one’s an idyllic way to spend an afternoon with everyone from kids to grandparents. Nose around Georgetown, with its charming historic buildings, and then hop a classic train on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, built in 1884. This three-mile, 1-1/2 hour loop takes you through the mountainous terrain between Georgetown and Silver Plume, another quaint mining town. Options include mine tours, dinner, wine and hors d’oeuvres, and “ales on rails.” Learn more.

Show Winter Blahs the Door: FREE Winter Activities!

by | January 15th, 2015

If winter seems to be stretching on a bit too long for your taste, maybe it’s time to shake up your routine. And don’t worry about breaking those “spend less” resolutions just yet, as all of the boredom-busting suggestions below cost absolutely nothing.

Hudson Gardens Bird Tour
Free Day at Hudson Gardens
– Jan. 26, 9am-5pm
While this is a no-brainer destination in the growing season, Hudson Gardens is a beautiful place to explore this time of year, too, from the conifer grove, ponds, and wetlands, to the adjacent trail that runs for miles along the Platte River. Learn more.

Free Day at Four Mile Historic Park-Feb. 6, noon-4pm
Travel back to 1859 at this Denver landmark, where you’ll pan for gold, tour the city’s oldest structure, meet many farm animals, and enjoy a snapshot of frontier life. Learn more.

Denver Mint-Every Monday through Thursday, 8am-3:30pm
Take a free, 45-minute guided tour to learn about the history of the United States Mint and the craftsmanship required at all stages of the minting process, from original designs and sculptures to the actual striking of the coins. And don’t miss the gift shop for unique memorabilia. Reservations required.

NOAA Weather
National Center for Atmospheric Research
-Seven days a week
Through exhibits, self-guided tours, and guided tours (held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon), learn about global warming, the 21st century’s hottest topic. See a hailstone the size of a softball, watch as a miniature tornado is whipped up in front of your eyes, and get an up-close look at how lightning is created. Learn more.

Colorado State Capitol Tour-Weekdays, 10am-3pm
Tour the just-repaired, golden-domed Colorado Capitol Building, which boasts 200 ounces of 24k gold. Stand at exactly a mile high on the 13th western-facing step. Marvel at Allen True’s beautiful murals, the rose onyx wainscoting, and the live shenanigans of Colorado General Assembly. Learn more.

Celestial Seasonings Tea Tour
Celestial Seasonings Tour
-Mon.-Sat, 10am-4pm; Sun., 11am-3pm
A 45-minute tour gives you the inside scoop on how the largest specialty tea manufacturer in North America blends, packages, and ships its teas. Prepare yourself for the sinus-opening Mint Room, then enjoy free samples of every variety and discover a gallery of original artwork from their famous tea boxes. Learn more.

Colorado Sports Hall of Fame-Thurs.-Sat. 10am-3pm
Housed on the west side of Sports Authority Field At Mile High Stadium, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum honors the legacies of the city’s greatest sports heroes, and features the Gallery of Legends, a “Great Moments in Colorado Sports” exhibit, and a section celebrating the achievements of girls and women in Colorado sports. Guided tours are 75-90 minutes and include both the museum and stadium. Learn more.

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