The Best of Colorado Recreation 2019
From our readers to you, it's the best recreation that the state has to offer
Image courtesy of Dave Kozlowski/CBMR.
BEST PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE
The Crested Butte Mountain Bike Park was established at Crested Butte Mountain Resort in 2009. Today the park features more than 30 miles of lift-served downhill and cross country mountain bike trails that cater to all abilities. There are also demo bikes, bike guides and lessons, as well as bike wash, a tune station and a skills zone. Besides offering great downhill trails, the park also offers the ability to connect directly from the Bike Park into the much larger network of 750-plus miles of single-track throughout Gunnison County. In 2018 Vail Resorts purchased Crested Butte.
BEST PLACE TO PLAY HOOKY
There are many reasons to visit the easily accessible Rocky Mountain National Park, the nation’s third most visited national park. “People come to see scenic grandeur, watch wildlife and enjoy the diversity of recreational opportunities,” says Kyle Patterson, management specialist/public affairs officer for Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park is a small mountain town that is surrounded on all four sides by nationally protected land, including Rocky Mountain National Park and the Roosevelt National Forest. The population in 2016 was approximately 6,362 people and 3,000 elk. Roughly 90 miles northwest of Denver, Estes Park is a four-season destination, perfect for hiking, snowshoeing, rock climbing, bicycling and shopping.
BEST PLACE TO SKI
Founded in 1972, Copper Mountain is located 75 miles from Denver. It has 2,400 acres of naturally divided terrain and activities spread across three villages. “Copper Mountain represents the best of Colorado,” says Taylor Prather, public relations manager. “Now, more than ever, is a great time to be a part of the Copper family as the resort invests $100 million worth of elevated dining options, upgraded lifts, and new thrills over a four year period. These enhancements are designed with our guests in mind for an authentic Colorado mountain vacation.”
Image courtesy of Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
BEST ATTRACTION FOR IMPRESSING VISITORS IN DENVER
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is best known as a world-class concert venue, but even if it’s not concert season, taking visitors to the park is still worth the trip. Red Rocks is a Denver Mountain Park with two trails that are completely within the park. And at an elevation of 6,400 feet, the amphitheater itself is a popular place for runners and those looking for a challenging workout on the risers. Also worth touring is the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, a nonprofit that honors people who have made outstanding contributions to preserve and protect historical artifacts and to educate the public regarding everything that’s great about Colorado music.
BEST EASTERN PLAINS ATTRACTION
The 10,473-acre Wild Animal Sanctuary is the largest carnivore sanctuary in the world, providing a home for more than 500 rescued animals. The sanctuary was designed and built with specialized areas that help rehabilitate newly rescued animals before they are released into the large-acreage natural habitats. Because not all animals can be rehabilitated in the same way, each area and its related facilities are designed for specific species. Visitors of the original 789-acre Keensburg location can stroll on the sanctuary’s Mile Into The Wild Walkway that spans 1.5 miles and offers views of more than 500 lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other large carnivores roaming freely.
BEST WESTERN SLOPE ATTRACTION
Colorado National Monument’s sheer-walled canyons are cut deep into sandstone and granite-gneiss-schist rock formations. The main attraction at The Monument, as it’s referred to by locals, is Monument Canyon, which runs the width of the park and includes rock formations such as Independence Monument, the Kissing Couple and Coke Ovens. Located outside of Grand Junction, the park is home to a range of wildlife, including red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, ravens, desert bighorn sheep and coyotes. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, road cycling and scenic drives. The visitor center on the west side of the 20,500-acre park contains a natural history museum and gift shop.
Image courtesy of Ptarmigan Country Club.
BEST GOLF COURSE – PRIVATE
Ptarmigan Country Club is a Jack Nicklaus-designed club with about 400 members located in Fort Collins. In addition to the championship golf course with five sets of tees, other amenities include tennis courts, a swimming pool and bathhouse, practice tee and chipping area. The club got its start in the late 1970s when a small group of businessmen and investors purchased the land that is now the Ptarmigan subdivision and engaged Nicklaus to design the golf course. The project stalled because of the economy but the front nine opened for play in June 1987 and the back nine opened a year later. Ron Flack purchased Ptarmigan in 2004 and has since directed many improvements, including a remodel of the lounge and dining room, a renovation of the pro shop and grill and the addition of a practice green adjacent to the driving range.
Image courtesy of Patty Jewett Golf Course.
BEST GOLF COURSE – PUBLIC
Patty Jewett Golf Course in Colorado Springs is the third oldest public golf course west of the Mississippi. Built in 1898, the golf course has been city-owned since 1919. With its wrought-iron gate and a drive down a narrow road lined with a canopy of 100-year-old trees, the entrance sets the mood for the golf experience. Patty Jewett has an 18-hole, par-72 course, as well as a nine-hole course. There is a full-service golf shop, lesson program and the Patty Jewett Bar & Grill.
This article is part of Best of Colorado 2019. Explore all the winners & finalists: