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If you’re just realizing August is here and you fear you’ve squandered your chance to take a quintessential summer vacation, don’t panic. These four close-to-home destinations make it easy to squeeze in a last-minute trip that takes advantage of the long days and warm weather Colorado has left. Just pack your hiking boots, bathing suit, and an appetite, and ask yourself one question: What do the words “summer vacation” mean to you?
Head to: Grand Mesa
Boutique adventure hotel group Gravity Haus reimagines summer camp for adults with a pop-up retreat at Electric Mountain Lodge, a backcountry hotel in Grand Mesa National Forest. You’ll stay in four-person dome tents, eat farm-to-table meals, and be able to book guided geology hikes, whitewater rafting trips, fly-fishing excursions, and more through the on-site host. Recap your day around the communal fire pit or make the short walk to the lodge for a soak in the hot tub. Through September 27; from $125 per night; gravityhaus.com
A National Park Road Trip
Head to: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Got kids? Skip the grueling 10-plus-hour drive to Grand Canyon National Park and make your way to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park instead. The five-hour trip rewards you with scenery that rivals the Big Ditch, minus the crowds. Pick up provisions at Firebrand Delicatessen in Gunnison before stretching your legs on the 0.6-mile Cedar Point Nature Trail. The family-friendly trek features guideposts with descriptions of the local flora and two overlooks for ogling the 2,772-foot-deep chasm and 2,250-foot Painted Wall, the tallest cliff in Colorado. Reserve one of 88 sites in the park’s South Rim Campground (from $16 per night, recreation.gov) or book one of six cabins at Gunnison River Farms. About an hour from Black Canyon, the 1,400-acre property has a pond for swimming, orchards for fruit-picking, and ancient petroglyphs for sneaking in a history lesson. Cabins from $100 per person, per night; gunnisonriverfarms.com
Good Food And Better Wine
Head to: Palisade
The long sunny days and cool nights responsible for Palisade’s famously sweet peaches are also ideal for wine grapes. So, it’s a good thing you can safely sip your way around the region by bike: More than a dozen of the area’s 30-plus wineries, including the award-winning, family-owned Carlson and Mesa Park vineyards, are located along the 25-mile East Orchard Mesa Loop. Keep the two-wheeled theme going at Spoke and Vine Motel. Just a short walk from hyperlocal fine-dining restaurant Pêche, the renovated, cycle-centric motor lodge has secure bike storage, a hip new lobby bar, and contactless check-in. From $139 per night; spokeandvinemotel.com
A day at The Water Park
Head to: Fruita
For those who’ve outgrown waterslides but still crave a water-based rush, it’s just a four-hour drive to Fruita’s Imondi Wake Zone. At Colorado’s only watersports cable park, wakeboarders are towed across a 30-acre lake by two automated cable systems for lap after lap of boatless adrenaline. Gear rentals, lessons, and a beginner cable make it easy to pick up the basics, and experienced riders can hit the full-size cable’s optional kickers, rails, and jumps. Make a weekend of it by booking a room at Hotel Maverick. Grand Junction’s first boutique accommodation has a rooftop restaurant that serves comfort food and craft beer with views of Colorado National Monument. From $189 per night; thehotelmaverick.com