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Is there any better sight than watching your pup’s tongue loll out the side of their mouth at the top of a mountain or after a long romp at the park? Nobody soaks in the pure joy of Colorado summers like our furry friends, and sometimes, looking to them can remind us to enjoy the simple pleasures of the season. The warmer days will be winding down soon, so before summer gives way to snuggle season, embark on a few final hurrahs with your hound.
There’s no breed too big (or too small) to ride the rapids with Colorado River Runs (CRR), a rafting outfitter near Bond celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Unlike most of the whitewater companies in the Centennial State, this boutique operation organizes trips deep in the Eagle County mountains, meaning you’re far from the din of I-70 that often accompanies area rafting excursions. And every dog, from Great Danes to doxies, can experience the rush of the Colorado River right alongside their humans with the help of owner and experienced guide Joe Kelso. CRR provides each person and pup with a life jacket for the journey, so don’t fret if Fido isn’t exactly Michael Phelps with fur. Pile into an inflatable raft with your pooch and prepare for two hours of floating down gentle stretches, flying through Class II rapids, and swimming off sandy beaches. $490 for a private trip with up to four people and two dogs
Does your dog’s tail turn into a turbine as soon as you utter the words “car ride”? Rev up your Sunday drive routine by renting a 4×4 from Colorado Jeep Tours and cruising through the red spires of the Royal Gorge Region. Opt for the full-day excursion and you’ll get to see dinosaur bones at the Cleveland Quarry (sorry, not that kind of bones, buddy), Overlook Arch at Red Canyon Park, and American Indian petroglyphs along the way. If that joyride doesn’t satiate all the adrenaline junkies in the family, finish the day off by walking across the Royal Gorge Bridge (admission included with every full-day tour), America’s highest suspension bridge. Hovering 956 feet over the Arkansas River, this attraction might feel better suited for birds than boxers, but canines are welcome to cross with their human companions—they just may need a treat to coax them to the other side. $269 for adults; 249 for kids 12 and under
If your sidekick prefers the slow and scenic route, this easygoing ride in the charming mountain town of Telluride provides adventure without the adrenaline. Gliding above the lodgepole pines at a leisurely 11 mph, the gondola takes visitors from Telluride to Mountain Village in 13 vista-filled minutes. Pet-friendly cabins are indicated by a set of paws on the outside. Take in swaths of the San Juan Mountains and shimmering waterfalls as you climb to 10,500 feet; riders have claimed to see Utah’s La Sal Range on a cloudless day. If you and Spot need to stretch your legs, hop off halfway, at St. Sophia Station, to finish the journey on a two-mile trek along the Ridge Trail. This gentle gem is downhill all the way, descending 1,000 feet to Mountain Village through an aspen forest. Free
Colorado’s #lakelife days are dwindling, so pack up your family (including the furry ones) and a cooler full of Pilsners and head west to the town of Dillon for a weekend of water sports. Dillon Marina knows that dogs deserve a downright dreamy day on the reservoir just as much as we do, which is why their pontoon rentals are pooch friendly. Bag a big walleyed pike, SUP with your pup, or simply cruise the alpine lake with dog as your co-captain. Just know that no swimming is allowed in the reservoir; it’s too frigid for man or beast. Rentals start at $172 for two hours
You may not be able to let your border collie belly-flop into Lake Dillon, but at Canine Rehabilitation and Conditioning Group’s locations in Broomfield and Englewood, it’s a wet-dog wonderland. The clinic offers fun, affordable recreational activities of all sorts, including open swim seven days a week—the perfect way to let your canine cool off during this heat wave we’re having. The indoor swimming pool is the largest of its kind in Colorado and can fit up to five dogs at a time. Spend an afternoon tuckering out your terrier by tossing toys into the deep end (note: humans must stay on dry land) and don’t be surprised if he slumbers so hard he snores when he gets home. Your first visit includes an orientation, and life jackets are available in case your dachshund is still getting the hang of his doggy paddle. New dog orientation $40; $20 per dog for up to one hour of swim time
How often does your pet get to rub noses with a local politician? No need to be nervous, though; this civil servant is arguably the most down-to-earth elected official you’ll ever meet, mostly because he’s a six-year-old Bernese mountain dog. Parker has been Georgetown’s honorary mayor since February 2020, and he’s amassed a cult following of constituents for his charitable nature and work as a therapy dog for campers with disabilities at Easterseals Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Village Camp. How’s that for shaking paws and licking babies? Let your retriever rollick around with the mayor there during his seventh birthday party, fondly referred to as Parker Palooza, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on September 30. In lieu of a gift, make a donation to help send kids to the local Easterseals camp. Free; donations encouraged
Pets may not be allowed inside the ancestral sites at Mesa Verde National Park, but you can still give your hound a history lesson at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings northwest of Colorado Springs. These ancestral Puebloan ruins were relocated from McElmo Canyon, near present-day Mesa Verde, and reassembled using concrete mortar instead of adobe clay to make them sturdier. That’s why visitors and their dogs are allowed to roam freely through the rooms, envisioning what it was like to live there some 700 years ago. Who knows; the experience may even give your pup a deeper appreciation of all the modern-day comforts (we’re looking at you, memory-foam dog bed) you provide for them at home. $12 for adults; $7.50 for children ages four to 11