Summer's Last Hurrah

July 30 2014, 2:00 PM

—Image courtesy of Snow Mountain Ranch

I hate to be the bearer of this news, but the days of summer are numbered. If you’re anything like me, you’ve already checked off the one big family vacation and are over days spent at the pool, zoo, or park. It's not time to get out the sweaters quite yet, though. Before you find yourself with back-to-school supply lists in hand, fend off the season's end with these three manageable daytrips. 

Need for Speed

If another meandering hike isn't on your kid's list of end-of-summer must-dos, head inside to zip around the go-kart track at speeds up to 45 miles per hour. K1 Speed is opening its first Colorado outpost in Highlands Ranch the first week of August. At this track, the European-style karts are fully electric and emission-free. "People are used to driving karts with lawn mover engines in them," marketing specialist Randall Hoppe says. "Our karts hold 20-horsepower motors." There is no age limit for riding, but drivers are divided into two groups—juniors and adults—and there’s a height requirement for each (junior drivers must be at least four feet tall; adults four-foot-10-inches). Speed demons can simply walk in, but make a reservation if you want to keep the contest between friends and family. 8034 Midway Drive, Littleton, 1-855-517-7333, k1speed.com

Slip 'N Slide

What do you get when you mix a snow-tubing track with an old-fashioned Slip 'N Slide? Snow Mountain Ranch's brand-new summer tubing hill, which launches thrill-seekers down a 400-foot-long, bumpy hill in about eight seconds (without getting drenched). Sliding down the Snowflex material—activated by gentle misters—on snow tubes feels like cruising down the mountain on mid-January snow. "It’s fast," says Martha Sortland, Snow Mountain Ranch's marketing director. "It’s not just for little kids. It appeals to teens and adults, and it’s safe for older adults, too." Kids three to six years old need to pair up with an adult, and little ones under two will have to spectate. Stay tuned: The tubing hill is just the first phase of the ranch's summer developments that will eventually include interactive playgrounds, a five-acre dog park, and other adrenaline rush-inducing activities.1101 County Road 53, Granby, 970-887-2152, snowmountainranch.org

Little Wings

For the first time, the Butterfly Pavilion is taking its stars south. The Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield is the new home of a seasonal greenhouse filled with colorful winged bugs. Mini entomologists will spot native Colorado butterflies such as two-tailed swallowtails, monarchs, silver-spotted skippers, and painted ladies, and they can get an up-close look at the chrysalis chamber where 100 new butterflies-to-be wait to emerge each week. (Tip: The chrysalides often hatch mid-morning when the greenhouse warms up.) Less than four hours after emerging, the butterflies are released into the greenhouse to take flight in a habitat made up of more than 50 Colorado plants. After checking out the butterfly exhibit, wander over to the farm to go nose-to-nose with miniature horses, goats, chickens, and ducks before grabbing a seat at a shaded picnic table for lunch. Bring $5 cash per car for the park entry. Admission to the butterfly house costs $2 to $4 for Botanic Gardens members and $3 to $6 for non-members; tykes younger than two years old get in free. 8500 West Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton, 720-865-4336, botanicgardens.org

Follow editorial assistant Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter at @LindseyRMcK.