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Photo courtesy of TR Judd/City on the Side

3 Unconventional Ways You Could Be Exploring Colorado

Replace your tried-and-true hikes and mountain bike excursions with jaunts by motorcycle, balloon, and rope.

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We’d wager that you’ve hiked, biked, and skied to your nature-loving heart’s content in the Centennial State. If so, consider a more unconventional approach to adventure tourism this season via one of these quirky Colorado excursions. Bonus: If you’re new to the area (and your flatlander lungs are still adjusting to the elevation), these trips let you immerse yourself in stunning landscapes without too much exertion.

By Land

Two-year-old City on the Side shuttles guests around in an unexpected vehicle: vintage-inspired bikes with sidecars. Your four- or eight-hour trip ($349 to $699) through natural havens such as Clear Creek and Golden Gate canyons includes water, snacks, and a Bluetooth-enabled helmet that lets you chat with your driver and/or fellow passenger about all the gorgeous vistas you pass. For an extra $15, you can add a picnic lunch from Tony’s Market, complete with a wicker basket and a checkered blanket for a fully charming experience.

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By Air

Photo courtesy of Colorado Hot Air Balloon Rides

If you’ve ever wondered how a red-tailed hawk feels riding the thermals of the Rockies, Colorado Hot Air Balloon Rides’ sunrise flights ($275 per person) will give you the chance to find out. Lift off from the South Park area at sunrise for a faintly lit panorama of 36 fourteeners, then try flying the balloon under the guidance of your professional pilot. After you’re back on terra firma, listen to the captain recite the Balloonists’ Prayer in appreciation of your safe return.

By Sea (sort of)

Photo Courtesy of Gus Schiavon/Canyoning Colorado

We may live in a landlocked state, but water lovers can still get their fixes in Ouray’s wet canyons. The licensed guides at Canyoning Colorado (half-day beginner tours start at $89) help novices learn to set up their own gear and master rappelling techniques before descending through a series of plunging waterfalls. Complete these challenges—and an oral test covering basic knowledge—and you’ll receive a beginner canyoning certification.

What We’re Exploring This Month: Sentinel Point

Photo courtesy of Kaelyn Lynch

Drive from Denver: About 2 hours

Why We Love It: For a hike that’s off the well-trodden path and comes with a quirky surprise at the top, head to the six-ish-mile Sentinel Point Trail near Florissant. This challenging loop passes beaver ponds, a wildflower-speckled valley, and a long stream before delivering you to a talus field for the final approach. Make it to the 12,527-foot summit and you’ll be rewarded with majestic views of two different ranges and Pikes Peak and near-total silence—apart from the brays of Sentinel Point’s unofficial guardian, a wild donkey that greets weary hikers.

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