Top of the Town 2015: Sports, Fitness & Outdoors

The best reasons to work up a sweat, throw your tent in the car, hop on your two-wheeler, and more.

June 17 2015, 2:54 PM

—Guanella Pass; tandemstock

Sports, Fitness & Outdoors »


Car Camping

Editors’ Choice
Guanella Pass, Arapaho National Forest (pictured)
Load the car with an extra ration (or two) of s’mores and set the GPS for Guanella Pass. The easy-to-spot 18-site campground ($17 per night, open until Labor Day) sits less than nine miles south of Georgetown and is the perfect launch pad for an early morning ascent of 14,065-foot Mt. Bierstadt or other nearby thirteeners. Beyond the convenient location, the fire rings (bring firewood), picnic tables, running water, and vault toilets mean you won’t exactly be roughing it. 

Readers’ Choice 
(TIE) Golden Gate Canyon State Park and Rocky Mountain National Park


Best Reason to Lace Up Your Running Shoes

Editors’ Choice
City Running Tours Denver
When we found an excuse to re-experience the Mile High City as tourists and get a workout, we didn’t need much convincing. City Running Tours leads 5K- to marathon-length treks past landmarks (the state Capitol, Union Station) and sports stadiums. This year, the group—which has pounded city pavement for two years—plans to add tours based on craft beer, Red Rocks, and local ghost stories (around Halloween). The outings happen a few times a week; sign up in advance. You’ll be joined by like-minded—and like-paced—enthusiasts and led by a super-fit guide who will provide commentary and even carry small personal items in a backpack for you (with a heads up). While the $30 to $40 fee seems steep, it’s a steal compared to signing up for a 10K. 1-877-415-0058

Readers’ Choice 
BolderBoulder


Health Club/Gym

Editors’ Choice
Endorphin
Group workouts are trending right now (see: ClassPass, CrossFit, etc.), and we’re totally on board. The best we’ve found in town are at Endorphin, which has an all-encompassing roster of options—boxing, high-intensity interval training, barre, cycling, yoga, cycle/yoga, cycle/row (you get the idea)—and six locations at which to try them. Two more outposts are set to open in Stapleton by 2016. Don’t miss Friday afternoon’s Stink and Drink in Lowry, when you’ll get a free libation at the Lowry Beer Garden after your grueling full-body workout. A year-round deal cuts the membership fee ($89 to $159) to $59 for one month. (For more ways to work up a sweat, flip to “The Absolute Best Colorado Workouts For You,” page 108.) Multiple locations

Readers’ Choice 
The Denver Athletic Club 1325 Glenarm Place, 303-534-1211


Outdoor Gear

Editors’ Choice
Outdoors Geek
Tucked inside a Stapleton warehouse just off I-70 sits one of Denver’s biggest troves of outdoor gear, and it’s one you can access without leaving your couch. Five-year-old Outdoors Geek, an online gear store, has a massive inventory of Gregory backpacks, Big Agnes sleeping bags, Marmot tents, and more for sale. Even better, you’ll also find a rental collection with all the stuff you want but don’t need often enough to justify buying—like, say, a heated outdoor shower ($69 for three days) that might just come in handy at Salida’s two-day Stopover music festival next month. If you love it and must own it, Outdoors Geek will knock your rental fee off the purchase price. And then there’s the lazy-person perk: You can pick up your gear directly, but Outdoors Geek will also ship it straight to your door for a small fee. 12445 E. 39th Ave., Suite 517, 303-699-6944

Readers’ Choice 
REI multiple locations


Ski Resort

Editors’ Choice
Beaver Creek
We can be indecisive about skiing Beaver Creek; after all, those extra miles on I-70 mean less time on the slopes. But more often than not, we put the pedal down and go the distance—because the resort has some major advantages. Namely: smaller crowds. While weekend warriors are waiting for the gondola at the base of Keystone, we’re skiing laps on the steeps in Beaver Creek’s Rose Bowl or hitting the bumps on Grouse Mountain with nary a lift line in sight. (A new gondola/chairlift hybrid added last season moves 35 percent more people up the mountain each hour.) What’s more Beaver Creek also boasts some of the state’s finest sidecountry terrain in its Stone Creek Chutes. And—and!—the staff hands out freshly baked chocolate chip cookies every day at 4 p.m. We consider the treats a thank you for the additional mileage.

Readers’ Choice 
Vail mountain


Sunrise Hike

Editors’ Choice
Colorado National Monument’s Liberty Cap Trail
Some rock formations really do rise above the rest—when it comes to catching the sun coming up, that is. There’s something special about watching the golden glow appear over the smooth sandstone rock from your perch atop Liberty Cap, a formation that resembles a camel’s hump on top of a massive slickrock saddle in Colorado National Monument. The 14-mile trek (round-trip) is not for the casual hiker, but, hey, if you’re up two hours before the sun—which is about how long it’ll take you to make it from the trailhead near Rim Rock Drive to Liberty Cap—to catch a view of the world waking up, you probably aren’t one. A gentle reminder: Bring along a camera to capture views of piñon-juniper forest and Grand Junction’s Book Cliffs in the distance. You may not want to ever wake up this early again. 1750 Rim Rock Drive, Fruita

Readers’ Choice 
Red Rocks


Organized Bike Ride

Editors’ Choice
Denver Cruiser Ride
Perhaps nothing epitomizes summer in Denver better than the outrageously themed Denver Cruiser Ride. For 10 years, thousands of participants have taken to the streets, hooting and hollering around town every Wednesday night dressed in everything from bathing suits (July 8’s theme) to Western wear (August 26)—and, in their glee, have helped cement our city as one of the nation’s biking hubs. These around-town jaunts aren’t cardio rides, but biking is supposed to be about having a good time, right? And on any given night, cruising around town with friends, new and old, seems like a heck of a lot more fun than climbing Lookout Mountain. 

Readers’ Choice
Denver Cruiser Ride


Yoga Studio

Editors’ Choice
Yoga Pod
In most cities, they say you can find a Starbucks on every corner; in Denver, it’s yoga studios (and, sigh, Starbucks). We’ve tried a lot of om-worthy classes, but we keep going back to Yoga Pod thanks to a plethora of options to suit our ever changing mood du jour. Nicole and Gerry Wienholt started this Boulder-based franchise just two years ago, and the duo have already added three Denver-metro locations with hundreds of classes to pick from each week. With seven disciplines available at Yoga Pod, you can break a sweat (PodHot), test your physical limits (YogaTone), or try something new (PodBarre), all for the price of one pleasantly affordable membership ($99 per month). No more excuses. Multiple locations

Readers’ Choice 
Kindness Yoga 
multiple locations


Pilates Studio

Editors’ Choice
Whole Body Pilates 
A visit to Cheesman Park’s Whole Body Pilates is more than just a workout; rather, it’s a private lesson in body mechanics. Owner Dana Dreifus built her almost-three-year-old business with individuals in mind. (Disclosure: Dreifus is the longtime girlfriend of a 5280 editor.) New clients can expect instructors to pore over their filled-out questionnaires with a focus on injuries or concerns before their first sessions. Class sizes are small—equipment classes max out at four attendees, yoga and barre at 10—meaning you’ll receive personalized attention whether you’re signed up for a variety of Pilates options, yoga, personal training, or the new sweat-inducing barre (in the adjacent Whole Body Barre studio). Yes, the instructors are encouraging, invested in your success, and graciously attuned to injury prevention and recovery, but they’re also truly focused on supporting the whole body—and mind. 1207 E. Ninth Ave., 720-936-3667

Readers’ Choice 
Pilates Aligned 475 W. 12th Ave., Unit A, 303-886-6925


Ski/Snowboard Company

Editors’ Choice
Icelantic
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the best skis on the market are made in Colorado. After all, the mountains are our playground and the outdoors our church—and no local ski company understands that better than homegrown Icelantic. Started nine years ago in Evergreen by skier Ben Anderson, each new release (all products are American-made) channels the mountains with the perfect balance between gravity-defying technical capability and a graceful, nature-inspired aesthetic. The 2015 line, dubbed Return to Nature, earned a nod in Powder magazine’s Buyer’s Guide, not to mention the devotion of professional freeskiers such as Hayden Price and Rebecca Selig. It’ll be hard to choose between this year’s 16 new ski designs (starting around $550), but the all-mountain Nomads get our vote since they so easily adapt to any skiing situation, from ripping bumps to sliding on spring slush. Tip: Wait for the company’s annual sample sale (typically held in the spring) to purchase.

Readers’ Choice 
Never Summer


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—Images courtesy of Jack Affleck and Vadim Elkind