Feature

Summer Daze

Hop on a road bike. Cast for giant trout. Hike a new trail. Catch a baseball game. Relax on a sunny patio. Colorado calls to us in the summer and draws us outside to play in its spectacular landscape. Here, we present nine itineraries that promise to get you outdoors—and loving every minute of the hot days of June, July, and August.

June 2009

Something happens to time during the summer months. The clock seems to slow as the days lengthen, and this downtempo metronome changes the way we move—and play. There’s more time to think, dream, meander, and relax, and it is in those unscripted, unhurried hours that the perfect summer day develops. Those casual days where you wake up with a glimmer of a plan, go with the flow, make detours, and settle down at the end of the night to marvel at how seamlessly it all flowed together. Here, nine itineraries that promise to help you capture that feeling of the perfect, blissed-out Colorado summer day.

  1. Wet and Wild in Salida
  2. Copper to Vail (and Back) on a Road Bike
  3. Mile High Art Walk
  4. Tube Boulder Creek
  5. Cruising Around Old Town
  6. I Love You, Man
  7. Prospecting the Gold Belt
  8. Road-trip Around Estes Park
  9. Foothills Fun

Wet and Wild in Salida

Cast for giant trout along the mighty Arkansas River.
By Lindsey B. Koelher
 

Up and at 'Em If you want to taunt the fish before they hunker down during the heat of the day, you should arrive along the banks of the Arkansas River by 10 a.m. Scream out U.S. 285 and make a grub stop at the Brown Burro Cafe in Fairplay for huevos rancheros with house-made salsa. From there, wind your way through red rock–studded scenery before cresting the rim of the valley—the stunning Collegiate Peaks and the river far below will come into view quickly.

Tie One On With waders, fly rod—and, of course, a Colorado fishing license—you can get a line wet nearly anywhere along the Arkansas River as you make your way south toward the town of Salida. When your windshield wipers begin to smear bug guts—May and June see periodic hatches of caddis that make the fish go absolutely wild—this is your cue to tie on a dry fly. Make a morning of it and pull into three or four of the dozen or so county roads that jut off of U.S. 285 and 291, on which you’ll find plenty of accessible areas to cast for trout.

Refuel Park anywhere you find a space in downtown Salida, and belly up to one of the outside tables at Benson’s Tavern, a barfly’s kind of place with well-worn furniture and an easy ambience. Order an appetizer and let the sun dry the river water off you.

Relax Pop into kid emporium Kaleidoscope Toys, dive into the stacks at the Book Haven, and wander around the Mixing Bowl gourmet shop before pulling up a piece of grass at Riverside Park. If you’re in Salida on July 11, you can catch the Colorado Brewers Rendezvous in the park. Otherwise, sit a spell and listen as the Arkansas babbles by.

Go Italian At Amicas, order dinner at the counter before finding a table in the cozy dining room. Start with the Insalata Spinaci before gobbling down the Terracina pizza (topped with pepperoni and veggies). Wash it down with a brewed-right-there pint of Amicas’ No Name Wheat, an unfiltered hefeweizen-style beer—or take a 64-ounce growler to go.

Last Cast Before the last rays of the sun set behind the Rockies, grab your rod out of the car and take a few final casts right near the bridge at the end of F Street, a spot that often roils with fish just before dark. Cast away with the other die-hard anglers until dusk swallows your fly.

If You Go
Brown Burro Cafe: 706 Main St., Fairplay, 719-836-2804; Benson’s Tavern: 128 N. F St., Salida, 719-539-9391; Kaleidoscope Toys: 116 F St., Salida, 719-530-0533; The Book Haven: 128 F St., Salida, 719-539-9629; The Mixing Bowl: 148 F St., Suite A, Salida, 719-539-2655; Colorado Brewers Rendezvous; Amicas: 136 E. Second St., Salida, 719-539-5219.

Copper to Vail (and Back) on a Road Bike

Conquer 10,666-foot Vail Pass on this classic—and epic—high-country ride.
By Amanda M. Faison
 

Fuel Up On the way to your starting point at Copper Mountain, stop at Silver Plume’s Sopp and Truscott for breakfast. The old-fashioned bakery is best known for its breads (buy a loaf of the multigrain Johnny or jalapeño-cheddar to take home), but the morning goodies are just as tasty. Munch on a slice of pumpkin bread or a softball-size cinnamon roll, grab a cup of joe, and consider this fuel for the ride ahead. If you’ve got empty water bottles, ask owners Gail or Patrick Buckley to top ’em off.

Clip In Drive to the west end of Copper’s village—there are parking spots aplenty during the summer months—where you will find the start of the paved bike path. The gradual, five-mile climb, much of it through a wide-open valley, gets steeper as you near the summit. Make a pit stop at the top and take in the spectacular views of the Copper ski runs to the southeast, then don a long-sleeve jersey for the fast, chilly, and sometimes precipitous 12-mile ride down into Vail. The trail—which alternates between bike path and road—winds through pines and aspens, but there’s also a short stretch that runs a few nerve-wracking feet from I-70.

Refuel On the valley floor, take the south frontage road to Vail Village, and park your bike at Up the Creek, Vail’s only creekside-patio eatery. Stretch your limbs, keep an eye on your ride at an outside table next to Gore Creek, and order the grilled eggplant sandwich or a BLT. If you need spare tubes, pop into Vail Bike Tech in Lionshead, and then start back the way you came. The climb on this side is far more difficult, so keep a steady pace and have water or Gatorade at the ready. Once you’ve crested the pass, stop roughly halfway down the path back to Copper and look closely for the avalanche chutes that naturally spell out the word “SKY.”

Recover Post-ride, make for the Boatyard Pizzeria & Grill in Frisco. Order a cold pint and the feta-and-artichoke Greek pie. If you have time left in the day, drive over the Dillon Dam Road to the Dillon Marina and watch the sun set over the sailboats gently rocking on the lake.

If You Go
Sopp and Truscott: 1010 Main St., Silver Plume, 303-569-3395; Up the Creek: 223 Gore Creek Drive, Vail, 970-476-8141; Vail Bike Tech: 555 E. Lionshead Circle, Vail, 970-476-5995; Boatyard Pizzeria & Grill: 304 Main St., Frisco, 970-668-4728; Dillon Marina: 150 Marina Drive, Dillon, 970-468-5100.

Mile-High Art Walk

Take in some of the nearly 100 pieces of public art sprinkled around downtown Denver.
By Natasha Gardner
 

Fuel Up Capitol Hill hipster-hangout City, O’ City serves eye-opening coffee, freshly baked goodies, and a shot of funkiness in the early morning hours. Grab something to go and walk west down 13th Avenue.

Be the Critic From 13th, you’ll have one of the best vantage points for analyzing the Daniel Libeskind–designed wing of the Denver Art Museum. Around the base of the building are several pieces of art, like Beverly Pepper’s gently curved monolith towers of aggregate and the spindly legs of Spider by Louise Bourgeois. Look, but don’t touch—the bronze sculpture gets blazing hot in the summer sun. Denver’s Public Art Program puts together a guide to these projects, including a map with thumbnails of more than three-dozen pieces in the downtown area.

Take a Stroll At the nearby Denver Public Library, standing tall above the Children’s Lawn on the east side of the Michael Graves–designed building, is Donald Lipski’s The Yearling. Installed in 2003, the paint horse stares down from a gigantic red chair at the downtown traffic (dial 1-877-336-2787 to hear a phonecast about the piece). Across the street, the Greek-inspired Civic Center Park is home to older, iconic Denver art, like the 1920 Bronco Buster, where a cowboy clings to a bucking horse, or the playful Sea Lions Fountain (1922).

Pack a Picnic From the park, head to Cook’s Fresh Market to pick up a carryout lunch with a prosciutto di Parma sandwich. Toss in a few ripe Bosc pears and a slice of butterkase cheese, and head toward 14th Street. There’s a treasure trove of art between Welton and Arapahoe streets, including the mischievous I See What You Mean, aka the “Big Blue Bear,” and the 2007 All Together Now monument. Turn right on Curtis Street to walk over Jim Green’s Soundwalk—a collection of raucous noises coming from grates on the west side of the street—to find the Chess Tables on the 16th Street Mall. Take up a challenge, and you can munch on your lunch while you ponder your pawn’s next move.

Relax As the sun starts to slink in the west, meander to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a cocktail at the MCA Cafe’s rooftop garden patio. Designed by landscape artist Karla Dakin, the indigenous plants help draw your eye outward to the 360-degree views.

Last Look Even if the sun has set, walk over to the 16th Street Pedestrian Bridge to catch sight of National Velvet. Created by Colorado artist John McEnroe (no, not the tennis player), the hand-cast red plastic sculpture looks like a playful tower of lava to some and a phallic monstrosity to others.

Wind Down Nab a table on Root Down’s patio. The remodeled garage faces the downtown skyline, and the menu at this field-to-fork eatery is constantly changing. This summer Root Down will use produce from its two gardens in everything from its drinks (melon mojito with homegrown mint) to the veggie sliders. Sip and snack while watching the last bit of sunlight reflect off the glass façades of Denver’s skyscrapers.

If You Go
City, O’ City: 206 E. 13th Ave., 303-831-6443; DAM: 100 W. 14th Parkway, 720-865-5000; Denver’s Public Art Program; Cook’s Fresh Market: 1600 Glenarm Place, Suite 120, 303-893-2277; MCA: 1485 Delgany St., 303-298-7554; Root Down: 1600 W. 33rd Ave., 303-993-4200.

Tube Boulder Creek

Float through a day in the shadow of the Flatirons.
By Natasha Gardner
 

Wake Up Slowly Indulge in a cappuccino and a raspberry-orange muffin on Spruce Confections’ patio before meandering east down the Pearl Street Mall.

Get Wet When the sun starts to strengthen, stroll to the Conoco station at the corner of Broadway Street and Arapahoe Avenue to buy a black inner tube ($12.50) for floating down Boulder Creek. Eben G. Fine Park (follow other tubers up the concrete path to the water’s edge) is the perfect place to launch your vessel, and sits only a 20-minute walk away. When the water is high, the float to the Boulder Public Library’s bridge lasts 15 minutes. But the short walk back to the park means you (or at least the kids) can repeat the trip again and again and again. Make sure to ride one of the rope swings strung from the trees along the way.

Grab a Dog Don’t bother toweling off for lunch—Mustard’s Last Stand has been doling out hot dogs to dripping-wet tubers for 31 years. Order your wiener smothered with ’kraut and Swiss cheese, and ask for one of the stand’s picnic blankets so you can munch next to the creek and watch other tubers. Take a few more runs before flopping onto the creekside grass for some good ol’ sun tanning and an afternoon catnap.

Hike a Canyon Head back to the Pearl Street Mall, stopping in to browse West End Gardener’s bright red Adirondack chairs and shabby-chic antiques, before picking up dinner at the 14th Street Bar and Grill. The eatery’s oven-roasted chicken has been churning away since the morning hours, and reaches perfection in the afternoon. Order it to go—it comes in a biodegradable container with a side of potatoes and veggies. Dinner in hand, drive up Sunshine Canyon and stop midway at County Road 52 for a 15-minute hike at the Bald Mountain Scenic Area. There’s a quiet bench at the top that offers a postcard-worthy vista of Denver’s skyline and plenty of room to spread out your picnic.

All that Jazz If it’s a Sunday night, the near–ghost town of Gold Hill jumps—or at least sways—with jazz concerts at the Gold Hill Inn. Drive farther up Sunshine Canyon and take in a set before heading home.

If You Go
Spruce Confections: 767 Spruce St., Boulder, 303-449-6773; Conoco: 1201 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-442-6293; Eben G. Fine Park: 101 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder; Mustard’s Last Stand: 1719 Broadway St., Boulder, 303-444-5841; West End Gardener: 777 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-938-0607; 14th Street Bar and Grill: 1400 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-444-5854; Gold Hill Inn: 401 Main St., Gold Hill, 303-443-6461.

Cruising Around Old Town

There’s no better time to visit Old Town Fort Collins than the summer, when students are scarce and locals frolic.
By Vanessa Martinez
 

Smart Start Get your blood circulating first thing with a few holes of sunrise disc golf at Fort Collins’ 18-hole Edora Park. The dewy morning hours all but ensure a crowd-free course; just don’t forget to bring your own discs.

Eat Up Stow your car in one of two city-run parking garages in Old Town, and then head to Café Ardour for a house-baked snack made from locally sourced, seasonal, and organic ingredients. Don’t miss the lemon verbena sage biscuit or double-chocolate scone.

Tour de Old Town After breakfast, make your way to Café Bicyclette, a bike-lending kiosk that will loan you a cruiser, dispense helpful maps, and help you with directions. Pedal down Remington Street to the University Center for the Arts, the latest addition to the Colorado State University campus and the city’s visual arts scene. The freshly renovated historic building houses four galleries that feature works from the school’s collections as well as touring exhibits. Across the street, stroll among the thousands of colorful flowers in the Annual Flower Trial Garden—an outdoor “laboratory” for CSU’s horticultural department—before gliding under the College Avenue underpass to Mason Street, a north-south corridor that stretches across the entire city, transporting cars, bicycles, and coal trains.

Refuel Eat lunch on Choice City Butcher & Deli’s patio, where the Colorado Reuben (corned buffalo substitutes for corned beef) is a must-try. But don’t overindulge—at least not yet—because you’ll want room to enjoy the suds at Odell Brewing Company, where tours run on the hour at 1, 2, and 3 p.m., and the taps pour with award-winning suds until 6 p.m.

Back in the Saddle Drop onto the Poudre River Trail for a short and scenic ride along the tranquil waterway. Exit the trail at Lee Martinez Park, then take Cherry Street across College Avenue and dismount at the Center for Fine Art Photography in the Poudre River Arts Center for a peek at the latest exhibit.

Sweet Stuff As the sun begins to drop behind the foothills, cruise back to Old Town for a cone of Dutch dark chocolate at Walrus Ice Cream. If it’s a Thursday night, grab a blanket and bike to the front lawn of New Belgium Brewery to join the locals for what’s quickly becoming a summertime tradition in the Fort: Bike-in Cinema. The program features pop-culture and cult classics, best viewed for a second or third time in the twilight with a Skinny Dip in hand.

If You Go
Edora Park: 1420 E. Stuart St., 970-221-6660; Café Ardour: 255 Linden St., 970-493-9683; Café Bicyclette: 19 Old Town Square, 970-419-1050; University Center for the Arts: 1400 Remington St., 970-491-1989; Annual Flower Trial Garden: 1401 Remington St.; Choice City Butcher & Deli: 104 W. Olive St., 970-490-2489; Odell Brewing Company: 800 E. Lincoln Ave., 970-498-9070; Center for Fine Art Photography: 400 N. College Ave., 970-224-1010; Walrus Ice Cream: 125 W. Mountain Ave., 970-482-5919; New Belgium Brewery: 500 Linden St., 970-221-0524.

I Love You, Man

Get the boys outside for a full line-up of Denver bro-mance.
By Patrick Doyle
 

Come Prepared You’ll need a pitching wedge, putter, appetite—and a 12-pack of frosty canned beer (we recommend New Belgium Brewing’s newly canned Sunshine Wheat). Locked and loaded, pick up your buddies and head over to Old South Pearl Street. Your destination? The Duffeyroll Cafe, a laid-back spot for coffee and sugary cinnamon rolls. Order a mixed dozen of the bite-size treats (the toffee and pecanilla glazes are the best).

Tee Time Head a few blocks south to the Harvard Gulch Golf Course, an unassuming nine-hole par-3 covered in Bent grass, surrounded by park space, and made for slow play (read: beginners). Stuff a beer or two into your pockets for later, and pay your grounds fee, a downright cheap $8. Canned beer is allowed on the course, so don’t be afraid to crack a cold one on the first tee and shout “Noonan!” during your buddy’s backswing. Harvard Gulch is no St. Andrews—the longest hole is less than 150 yards, and nine holes will only take about an hour—but you’re here to hack away and have fun, not to improve your handicap.

The 10th Hole Uptown’s Vine Street Pub, a less-hippy version of its sister taverns in Boulder, is a wallet-friendly joint with two roomy patios. After 4 p.m., order the grilled cheese with bacon and a pint of the house-made suds for a late lunch. Vine Street brews a number of fine libations, like the Colorado Kind Ale, in addition to offering a number of “guest beers” on tap (if Oskar Blues’ Old Chub is on the nitrogen tap, order it—trust us). You could stick here all night, lolling on the patio, but the first pitch at the evening Rockies game flies around 7 p.m.

Batter Up Coors Field may not be the oldest or most legendary ballpark, but there’s nothing like bats cracking while the sun sets over the mountains. Ask for seats in right field so you can catch both the action and the evening sky, but once the sun falls behind the hills hunker down at the Blue Moon Brewing Company at the Sandlot, the test brewery for MillerCoors (located just behind the first-base foul pole). The pub’s bartenders dole out the standard Silver Bullet and Banquet Beer, as well as experimental craft beers (we tried an “interesting” peanut-flavored beer last summer).

Last Call Grab a nightcap and a half-dozen oysters on the half shell at Jax Fish House. LoDo is filled with bars, but that’s where all the pretty people (OK, women) hang out afterward. Strike up a conversation or simply enjoy the view.

If You Go
The Duffeyroll Cafe: 1290 S. Pearl St., 303-753-9177; Harvard Gulch Golf Course: 660 E. Iliff Ave.; 303-698-4078; Vine Street Pub: 1700 Vine St., 303-388-2337; Coors Field: 2001 Blake St., 303-292-0200; Jax Fish House: 1539 17th St., 303-292-5767.

Prospecting the Gold Belt

Rediscover this iconic Western landscape replete with outdoor escapades.
By Natasha Gardner
 

Coffee Break Get outta town before 7 a.m. to beat the traffic, but hold off on breakfast until you reach Castle Rock’s Java Guru, where you can order a buttermilk scone with maple frosting and fill up your coffee mug. Continue south, forgoing side trips for now, to make it to your morning rafting launch in Cañon City.

Get Wet Main Street’s Raft Masters, a company that’s been running the Arkansas for 21 years, has it all: kiddie wildlife-viewing rides, family floats, and a rowdy trip in the Royal Gorge that floats over rapids such as Boat Eater and Sledgehammer. If the Arkansas is flowing fast and mad, which it usually is in June, you can even tackle some Class V white water.

Drive Time The car ride north up Shelf Road (County Road 68) will firmly cement you back on terra firma after your day on the river. Roll down the windows and enjoy the scenery. One of three branches of the Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway, the roadway follows old railroad and stagecoach lines to mostly abandoned gold camps. This section parallels Fourmile Creek into the small hamlet of Cripple Creek, a former gold-mining paradise turned gambling town. Pop into the Cripple Creek Candy and Variety for some old-fashioned fudge. Stretch your legs and explore some of the mining ruins before picking up Colorado 67 north to Woodland Park and U.S. 24 east to Manitou Springs, a quirky artists’ haven (don’t miss DERO 72 Studios and Gallery), before pulling into Colorado Springs.

Window Shop As the mines in the mountains above started pumping out gold in the 1890s, Colorado Springs became more than just a dot on a railroad map. Today, some of that old spirit remains in historic Old Colorado City, a four-block area chock-full of shops. Poke into Vintage Revival and Barracuda Bazaar before stopping for dinner at Amanda’s Fonda, which has honed its craft after five generations of serving up authentic Mexican dishes. Sip a margarita on the patio, sample the green chile, and relax your paddle-weary shoulder muscles.

Commune with Nature Head north on I-25 to the Garden of the Gods to watch the sun set on the reddish-orange sandstone formations, and settle in for some stargazing. If you find a spot in the shadow of the Kissing Camels on North Gateway Rock, it’ll help block the light pollution from town. The park closes at 11 p.m., giving you a few hours to stare at the Milky Way.

If You Go
Java Guru: 4284 Trail Boss Drive, Castle Rock, 303-660-4878; Raft Masters: 2315 E. Main St., Cañon City, 1-800-568-7238; Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway: www.goldbeltbyway.com; Cripple Creek Candy and Variety: 325 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719-689-5902; DERO 72 Studios and Gallery: 934 Manitou Ave., Suite 103, Manitou Springs, 719-685-3376; Old Colorado City: W. Colorado Ave. from 24th to 28th streets, Colorado Springs, 719-577-4112; Vintage Revival: 2603 W. Colorado Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-635-2077; Barracuda Bazaar: 2502 W. Colorado Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-442-2202; Amanda’s Fonda: 3625 W. Colorado Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-227-1975; Garden of the Gods: 1805 N. 30th St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-6666.

Road-trip Around Estes Park

Peruse—and then get outside of—everybody’s favorite tourist town.
By Natasha Gardner
 

The Scenic Route Fly up U.S. 36, sail right through Boulder, and then stop for an iced espresso and chocolate chip–studded banana bread on the Stone Cup’s shaded patio in the tiny town of Lyons before making your way farther west into Estes Park. Past Lyons, U.S. 36 is spotted with pullouts along the tumbling St. Vrain River where you’re likely to glimpse bighorn sheep clinging to the steep crags that rise on the right side of the road. Skip the crowded overlook close to town and instead slip into the valley, pull over at Lake Estes, and take in the scenery.

Where the Tourists Roam Yes, there’ll be crowds of tourists ambling about, but you’ll still want to meander up and down Elkhorn Avenue, the town’s main thoroughfare, peeking into the T-shirt shops, sampling at the town’s plethora of old-fashioned candy stores (if you’re there on the weekend, don’t miss the lemon taffy spinning in the window at the Taffy Shop), and stopping for a frosty cold beverage on the riverside patio at Ed’s Cantina. When the throngs of summer tourists start to overwhelm you, head north on Wonder View Avenue to the MacGregor Ranch and the Twin Owls trailhead.

Go Climb a Rock The 3.6-mile Gem Lake hike falls within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park, but you’ll avoid the park fee at this trailhead. Rock climbers can lug their gear up to the colossal Twin Owls formation, while Gem Lake hikers will steal views of the park and 14,259-foot Longs Peak on the way to the chilly waters of the lake.

Wildlife Crossing When you get back to your car, travel east on U.S. 34 through Big Thompson Canyon toward Loveland. For 30 miles, the twists and turns follow the turbulent Big Thompson River as it streams out of the park, making the road a kick for those with manual transmissions. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, hairy woodpeckers, and flickers before stopping to pick up a homemade pie at the Colorado Cherry Company near Loveland.

Park It For a quiet bookend to the day, head to downtown Longmont. Cruise along this hamlet’s tree-lined streets, past brightly painted Victorian homes, to the Cheese Importer’s Market Europa—a veritable warehouse of all things dairy. Don a complimentary coat to peruse the pickings in the walk-in fridge, and buy the final touches for your picnic supper. Pack up your goodies for about a six-block walk to Roosevelt Park, one of Longmont’s oldest recreation areas—it was purchased by the city in 1871 for $2.48. There’s ample grass, plenty of solitude, and a mature rose garden, so scout out a picnic spot and munch on the day’s finds as the sun disappears.

If You Go
The Stone Cup: 442 High St., Lyons, 303-823-2345; The Taffy Shop: 121 E. Elkhorn Ave., Estes Park, 970-586-4548; Ed’s Cantina: 390 E. Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, 970-586-2919; Colorado Cherry Company: 1024 W. U.S. 34, Loveland, 1-888-526-6535; Cheese Importer’s Market Europa: 33 S. Pratt Parkway, Longmont, 303-772-9599; Roosevelt Park: 700 Longs Peak Ave.

Foothills Fun

Split your day between raucous adventure and total relaxation in Golden and Morrison.
By Natasha Gardner
 

Fuel Up On your way to Golden, stop to savor the oh-so-fluffy lemon–poppy seed pancakes at Lakewood’s favorite breakfast nook, Bisque.

Rip It Dip into rushing Clear Creek for a ripboarding lesson. A cross between surfing and kayaking, ripboarding lets you ride the current on a river board. Golden River Sports will hook you up with gear, and guides will spend a morning helping you master the technique in the Clear Creek Whitewater Park, an 800-foot-long playground for kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. Ripboarding may feel awkward at first, but the adrenaline rush is more intoxicating than kayaking and the closest thing to surfing in the Centennial State.

Slake Your Thirst Grab a cold beverage and venture onto the Bridgewater Grill’s newly renovated patio, which has the perfect vantage point for critiquing the ripboarders below—and watching the paragliders jumping off Lookout Mountain to the west.

Go Back in Time The jagged rocks that thrust out of the ground at Morrison’s Dinosaur Ridge, a national landmark where the first stegosaurus bones in the West were uncovered in 1877, resemble the spine of an ancient lizard. Today, it’s unlikely that you’ll trip over a T-rex bone, but the visitor center has information on what was found on location, as well as suggestions for quick hikes in the area.

Speed Racer Just minutes up the road is Action Karting, the go-cart track at Bandimere Speedway. Choose a car, climb into a racing suit, pull on some gloves, and don a helmet. These little machines reach speeds up to 55 miles per hour, and you can race to improve your time as eight of the 10 laps are timed.

Catch a Flick Order a cheesesteak to go from Tommy’s Subs, and make way for the lower parking lots at Red Rocks Amphitheatre for some preshow tailgating. Although the park is best known for its concerts, the “Film on the Rocks” series is a more wallet-friendly option for an evening out. Pre-movie, bands take the stage, and you can groove as you find a spot up top to settle in. The higher you go in the amphitheater, the better views you’ll have of the city skyline.

If You Go
Bisque: 224 Union Blvd., Lakewood, 303-985-4151; Golden River Sports: 806 Washington Ave., Golden, 303-215-9386; Clear Creek Whitewater Park: 1201 10th St., Golden; Bridgewater Grill: 800 11th St., Golden, 303-279-2010; Dinosaur Ridge: Located on West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, 303-697-3466; Action Karting: 3051 S. Rooney Road, Morrison, 303-781-4483; Tommy’s Subs: 14011 W. Quincy Ave., Morrison, 303-697-5530; Red Rocks Amphitheatre: 18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, 720-865-2494.