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Oil painter Sarah Woods. Photo courtesy of the Broadmoor Galleries

The Best Things to Do This July in Colorado

Your short list of the Centennial State's coolest July events.

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Renaissance Revival | July 4–August 13

During Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition ($10 to $16), the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace will display life-size photo reproductions of the Italian painter’s seminal work. However, instead of standing several stories below the masterpieces, like in Vatican City, visitors will be mere feet from the artistic creations—close enough to see God’s wrinkles.

Living Art | July 5–28

Patrons of museums and galleries rarely have the opportunity to see the painstaking work that goes into the beautiful creations on display. But at the Broadmoor Art Experience, visitors will get a free look into the process behind the masterpieces when more than 50 world-renowned painters, sculptors, and other artists turn the grounds of the famed Colorado Springs hotel and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo into their personal studios. Each weekend in July, watch makers—including Native American sculptor Doug Hyde, whose work has appeared in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and revered Colorado Springs painter Thomas Blackshear—as they craft works inspired in part by the soaring peaks, lush gardens, and animals around them. Guests can also chat with them about their backgrounds and methods, so when you buy one of their conversation-starting works, you’ll have plenty to talk about.

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Bucking Tradition | July 5–6

Photo courtesy of Deer Trail Jockey Club and Jockeyettes

Deer Trail, a small town on Colorado’s Eastern Plains, professes to be the home of the world’s first rodeo. The contentious title—which has been claimed by at least two other U.S. locales—dates back to July 4, 1869, when the area’s roughest riders competed to see who could hang on to a bucking stallion the longest. This year’s Deer Trail Rodeo (tickets start at $5) will commemorate the 150th anniversary of that original contest with standard cowboy fare, including bronc riding, as well as odes to the area’s history, such as archival footage of previous years’ competitions playing on a big screen and a 118-page cookbook ($20) with recipes from the town’s founding families. Regardless of the veracity of Deer Trail’s assertion, the rollicking event offers one absolute truth: authentic Old West culture an hour’s drive from the city.

Out of This World | July 13–20

For the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon, Apollopalooza will provide an in-depth look into space’s past and future frontiers. Hosted by the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, the event (tickets start at $23) will feature interstellar celebrities, such as Apollo 17 veteran and retired U.S. Senator Harrison Schmitt, and exhibits about topics like the commercialization of space travel. The experience may inspire future leaders to create their own interplanetary footprints.

It’s All Downhill | July 23–28

Photo courtesy of Weldon Weaver

For the first time in nearly a decade, Colorado will host the country’s premier two-wheeled gravity-fueled competition when the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championship comes to various locations throughout Winter Park. Fat-tire fanatics can watch 1,300 top pros and amateurs compete for coveted titles in events such as downhill racing and dual slalom, a short head-to-head sprint through an obstacle-filled course. Among the decorated singletrack slayers, be sure to keep an eye out for homegrown heroes, including Olympian and Colorado native Chloe Woodruff.

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