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The Centennial State’s short high country summers can send outdoors lovers into a decision-making tailspin: To bike or climb today, that is the question. Wait, or is it: to kayak or horseback ride? If you can’t choose, don’t. These destinations serve up multicourse menus of adventure.
Skiing + Climbing
Play: With much of its 1,428 acres above 11,000 feet, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area often stays open well into June. But after you’ve had your fill of slushy turns on runs like High Noon, don’t just party in the parking lot. Silverthorne-based Colorado Adventure Guides will tailor a half-day climbing tour (from $155) of nearby Haus Rock to your skill level, whether you’re looking for cruisy routes such as the 5.6-rated Little Squirt or forearm-busting 5.12s like Crystal Ball.
Stay: Save with a night in a shared dorm at the Pad (from $52 per night), a hotel-hostel hybrid in Silverthorne, and you’ll be only a stumble away from the 26 beer, wine, and draft cocktail taps at the in-house A-Bar.
Horseback Riding + Kayaking
Play: Saddle up at family-owned Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch and spend the morning ambling along mountain ridges and through meadows of mule ear daisies (from $95). Once the temp reaches its midday high, heed the Yampa River’s call by renting an inflatable kayak, known as a ducky ($40), from Steamboat’s Backdoor Sports. The riverside gear shop is a short paddle upstream from Charlie’s Hole, a Class II surf wave that can be rowdy at high water.
Stay: A heated outdoor pool and faux fur blankets welcome guests to the new-in-2022 Gravity Haus Steamboat (from $150 per night). Pups welcome.
Mountain Biking + Spelunking
Play: You could burn some calories ascending Discovery Trail, which climbs nearly 800 feet through columbine patches and budding aspen groves, or you could defy gravity on the lift at Snowmass Bike Park (from $57). Either way, you’ll be ripping trails that have helped the Roaring Fork Valley earn a gold-level ranking from the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Cool down by inch-worming your way through the bowels of Iron Mountain during Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s two-hour Wild Tour spelunking expedition (from $85). The cave, located above its namesake town, is a chilly 52 degrees year-round.
Stay: The luxe bike-in, bike-out condos at Top of the Village in Snowmass Village provide a convenient place to crash (from $299 per night).
Rafting + Ziplining
Play: Don’t let the Instagram-worthy Collegiate Peaks distract you from the Arkansas River’s Class III rapids during Salida River Adventures’ afternoon float through Browns Canyon National Monument (from $84). The 10-mile paddle wraps up at 5 p.m., leaving you just enough time to dry off before a sunset tour ($169) led by Captain Zipline, 15 minutes south of town. Helmet hand-out for the two-hour trip starts around, well, sunset. Check the website for exact times, and go ahead and book your outing while you’re there: This is the company’s most popular offering.
Stay: Unwind in the hot tub before retiring to your retrofitted Airstream at Amigo Motor Lodge ($115 per night).