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Staunton Ranch trail at Pine's Staunton State Park. Photograph by Aaron Colussi

Top of the Town 2018: Sports, Fitness & Outdoors

Here are some of our favorite ways to recreate in 2018.

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Winter Outdoor Gear

Editors’ Choice
Confluence Kayaks

Despite its name’s summery connotation, Confluence Kayaks transforms into a go-to hub for backcountry skiers come winter. The Denver gear shop, which moved to its current address across from the Downtown Aquarium this past summer, sells telemark and alpine touring skis and rents backcountry equipment ($49 for an overnight avalanche kit rental with a shovel, probe, and BCA beacon). Confluence also hosts information sessions about courses backcountry fanatics can take regarding avalanche awareness and other topics. For on-piste powder hounds, the store, established in 1995 by river rat/ski bum Jonathan Kahn, also carries ski season staples from Colorado brands like Zeal (goggles) and Voormi (jackets)—all of which, for the record, stay on the shelves come summer. 2301 Seventh St., 303-433-3676

Readers’ Choice
REI

multiple locations

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Yoga Studio

Editors’ Choice
Bulldog Yoga

Ah, Boulder—the land of “let’s meditate about the light that resides within us all.” Just the city you wouldn’t expect to get the second U.S. location of Bulldog, a Philadelphia-born yoga brand whose classes are high energy, fitness forward, and set to modern playlists—Lil Jon’s “Snap Yo Fingers,” Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love”—
instead of the Indian flute music that makes you wish every pose were savasana. For our money (drop-in classes are $24), we’d pick the Invigorate class. Its quick pace, amped-up tunes, and sweat-inducing 92-degree ambient temp might even convince Boulderites to eschew the flutes thanks to exploding endorphins that have them feeling a new kind of high. 900 Pearl St., Boulder, 720-638-2739

Readers’ Choice
Kindness Yoga

multiple locations

Fitness Studio/Gym

Carla Madison Recreation Center. Photo courtesy of Denver Parks and Recreation

Editors’ Choice
Carla Madison Recreation Center

It took more than a decade for Denver’s city government to fulfill its promise to create a recreation center for the East Colfax neighborhood, but when the city finally did, wow, did it deliver. The four-story, $44 million structure features two swimming pools (one for lap swimming, one for the water-winged crowd); a basketball/volleyball court; ample aerobic equipment and weights; and a small climbing wall. The group exercise room’s view of the Front Range is so darn pretty you might just forget about the nausea creeping up your belly during your Saturday morning HIIT class (one of 16 group exercise classes taught at Carla Madison; there are also three classes designated specifically for seniors). Even better, all of this can be had for $369 a year, or $6 per drop-in visit—less than you paid for the venti mocha latte and muffin that landed you in that HIIT class to begin with. 2401 E. Colfax Ave., 720-865-5580

Readers’ Choice
Core Progression Elite Personal Training

multiple locations

Pilates Studio

Highlands Pilates. Photo courtesy of Highlands Pilates

Editors’ Choice
Highlands Pilates

There’s no sneaking a saggy core past your instructor at five-year-old Highlands Pilates. The tiny by-appointment-only studio in Highlands Square solely offers individual and duet sessions. In other words: Expect the eagle-eyed teacher—there are three, including owner Lindsey Nelson—to continually prod you into making slight adjustments that will have a huge impact. Sure, it’s a bit more expensive than a typical studio; classes range from $40 to $80. And it may sometimes feel a bit like torture. But that’s part of the appeal (we promise). 3630 W. 32nd Ave., Unit 2, 720-439-7018

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Readers’ Choice
Fierce45

multiple locations

Ski Resort

Editors’ Choice
Copper Mountain

This past winter was not a good one for skiing. Resorts across the state didn’t hit normal snow totals—most mountains weren’t close—and visits were down. Copper, though, has 996 high-tech snow guns over 364 acres, ensuring it could weather the (lack of) storm. And because Copper was one of the few places with a world-class run (called the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center), open by November, Olympic hopefuls from myriad nations descended on the mountain to prepare for the games in Pyeongchang. Plus, the resort spent $20 million to install a slew of improvements, including the new Kokomo Express lift to the beginner trails. Now even skiers who aren’t racing for gold can enjoy a quicker path to powder. 209 Ten Mile Circle, Copper Mountain, 866-841-2481

Readers’ Choice
Vail Ski Resort

Vail, 970-754-0015

Camping

Editors’ Choice
Lost Park Campground

As the Centennial State’s population soars, locating an isolated car-camping spot, especially near the Front Range, is becoming as futile as trying to find a Denver block without a dispensary. To avoid the largest crowds, take U.S. 285 south to Jefferson and follow County Road 56 southeast for 20 miles until you hit Lost Park Campground, a nearly three-hour drive from Denver. Sitting at 10,000 feet, the 12 sites ($14 per day; first come, first served) are on the edge of the unspoiled, lightly trafficked Lost Creek Wilderness. From there, you can fish Lost Creek, a premiere Colorado fly-fishing stream loaded with brook trout, or dayhike the 11.3-mile Wigwam Trail—all in relative solitude.

Readers’ Choice
Rocky Mountain National Park

1000 U.S. Highway 36, Estes Park, 970-586-1206

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Hike

Editors’ Choice
Staunton Ranch Trail

Escape Denver via the side door that is U.S. 285, which after about 40 minutes deposits you in a true hiker’s paradise. For the cost of a $7 Staunton State Park day pass, you can head east from the parking lot along Mason Creek Trail (4.5 miles one way) to a series of serene spots: the Catamount, Pikes Peak, and Eagle Cliffs overlooks. However, we recommend striking out west on the Staunton Ranch Trail, a main thoroughfare that leads you to a choose-your-own-adventure web of trails with varying levels of difficulty. At 3.3 miles one way, Staunton Ranch is a wide, smooth path ideal for families—we’ve seen a stroller gliding along the hard-packed dirt—that cuts through bucolic meadows and features picturesque spots for picnics. When you come to a fork, continue straight for easy ambling along Bugling Elk Trail for 1.1 miles. To the left lies an arduous 2.5-mile path on Marmot Passage Trail. Both routes end at Elk Falls Pond, from which you can opt to undertake a steep push up the one-mile Lion’s Back Trail, a decision that would grant you a vista of 75-foot Elk Falls. 12102 S. Elk Creek Road, Pine, 303-816-0912

Readers’ Choice
Hanging Lake

900 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, 970-945-2521

Ski/Snowboard Company

Editors’ Choice
Meier Skis

This new-to-Denver ski company (it relocated from Glenwood Springs in 2016) loves snow, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t care for green stuff, too. For instance, Meier only uses beetle-kill wood and aspen that’s been harvested naturally (i.e., the trees fell on their own) in Colorado to make its high-performance skis and snowboards. Meier’s sticks are more than eco-friendly token pieces, though: The wood core is lightweight, so powder hounds float over even the deepest snow. Meier also uses clear top sheets, allowing skiers to really see what they’re carving on. But don’t take our word for it. Pop into the Lincoln Park shop, where you can watch them manufacture your new skis after ordering another product sourced locally: free beer. 970 Yuma St., 844-966-3754

Readers’ Choice
Icelantic

1300 Washington Ave., Golden, 303-670-6804

Running Event

Editors’ Choice
Fortitude Labor Day 10K Classic

The Bolder Boulder is one of the most well-known and respected races in the world, so you knew the Fortitude, put on by the same organizers, was gonna be good. And indeed it was. Founded in 2017 as a way to link Colorado State University to the town of Fort Collins and boost the profile of the school’s then brand new Sonny Lubick Field at CSU Stadium (where the race ends), the 10K makes its sophomore splash on September 3. Just like during the Bolder Boulder, skydivers will drop into the stadium to greet joggers as they complete their races; unlike the Boulder race, which attracts more than 50,000 athletes each year, the Fortitude expects just 10,000 participants this year. Our advice? Register now, because a race of this caliber won’t stay this (relatively) small for long.

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Readers’ Choice
Bolder Boulder

5500 Central Ave., Boulder, 303-444-7223

Summer Outdoor Gear

Neptune Mountaineering. Photograph by Skye Habberfield

Editors’ Choice
Neptune Mountaineering

Super-knowledgeable employees and an extensive selection of ropes and cams have been enough to bring climbers through Neptune’s doors for more than 40 years. Attracting recreational hikers and campers, who could just pick up gear at REI, takes a bit more—$1 million, to be exact. That’s how much new owners Shelley and Andrew Dunbar spent on a recent renovation of the Boulder store, raising the ceilings to make the space feel bigger; adding a cafe; and building an area that serves as the new headquarters of Colorado Mountain School, which teaches climbing, skiing, and avalanche survival courses. Neptune also expanded and rearranged its products to create a rainbow of easily accessible tents, shoes, packs, rafts, water bottles, yoga apparel, and (of course) climbing gear. Best of all, after a short hiatus, founder Gary Neptune’s museum of historic mountaineering gear is back on-site, proving you don’t need to ditch all of the old to enjoy the new. 633 S. Broadway, Boulder, 303-499-8866

Readers’ Choice
REI

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