The Best of Colorado Recreation 2020
From biking to skiing and golfing to sightseeing, here are the best places to recreate in the state
Best Place to Mountain Bike
Best known as a world-class ski resort, Breckenridge’s Peak 8 also boasts some of the best mountain biking trails in the state. Mountain bikers can choose from a selection of blue, green and black mountain-biking specific trails, which open based on weather conditions. The resort offers single rides, daily rates and bike haul season passes rides up the Colorado SuperChair to the top of Peak 8. The resort also offers mountain biking lessons and rentals.
“Whether you’re new to the sport of mountain biking or regularly rip up the single track around Colorado, Breckenridge summer activities offer experiences perfect for anyone,” the resort says.
Best Place to Play Hooky
Tired of the daily grind? Head to the Denver Zoo, where 3,600 animals are sure to help you shed the stress of work. The zoo works with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to promote awareness about threats to biodiversity through onsite education. If you really want to feel like a kid again, climb aboard the Denver Zoo Railroad for a quick trip around the zoo’s carousel meadow filled with lush foliage, or hop on the Conservation Carousel, which features had-carved wooden replicas of some of the zoo’s most popular residents, including giraffes, okapi and baby gorillas. There’s also an immersive 4D theater that uses built-in motion and special effects to make you feel the action on the screen..
Best Place to Ski
Located just 75 miles west of Denver, Copper Mountain’s naturally divided terrain offers world-class skiing for all ages and abilities. Three vibrant pedestrian-friendly village areas offer lodging, shops, restaurants, bars and family activities. Copper is undergoing $20 million in capital improvements, including the new Rocky Mountain Coaster, a high-speed quad chairlift, three new restaurants and an improved retail location. Copper offers free mountain tours and free snowshoe tours. There’s also a free Ski with a Ranger program.
Best Attraction, Eastern Plains (Tie)
Many of the world’s most magnificent animals are locked in tiny cages their entire life – or what would be their entire life if not for the Wild Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit founded in 1980 that rescues lions, tigers, wolves, bears, jaguars and other animals, nurses them back to health and gives them a new home, a place to be wild again, surrounded by freedom and hope. That’s the message of the Wild Animal Sanctuary, an organization with two facilities: the 789-acre Sanctuary in Keenesburg, 30 miles from Denver, and the 9,684-acre Refuge in Springfield in the southeast corner of the state (not open to the public).
All told, the Wild Animal Sanctuary boats 10,473 acres of natural habitats for more than 520 rescued and rehabilitated animals. The combined facilities represent the largest carnivore sanctuary in the world.
Located in Burlington near the Kansas border, the Kit Carson County Carousel is the only antique carousel in America with its original paint on both the scenery panels and on the animals. Of the nearly 2,500 wooden carousels carved in America between 1885 and the 1930s, fewer than 150 are still in existence. One of the finest survivors – the sixth of 74 carousels made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. between 1904 and 1933 — can be found on the county fairgrounds in Burlington. It’s open to the public Memorial Day through Labor Day, and the carousel is fully operational!
Nearby, about a football field away, is the Kit Carson County Carousel Museum, which opened in 2007. The museum’s exhibits were designed to educate, entertain and take the visitor back in time to the turn of the 20th century, when Carousels were king. Admission to the museum is $1; free for children under 10 accompanied by an adult.
Best Attraction, Western Slope (Tie)
Since 1888, Glenwood Hot Springs Resort has drawn visitors for the day, or for an overnight (or longer) stay. The soothing mineral waters of the world’s largest hot springs pool are a great attraction, but this historic destination includes a spa for stress reduction, a premier athletic club for working out, a resort boutique for retail therapy and on-location dining for convenience. The 107-room lodge is within walking distance to downtown.
Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. Towering monoliths provide a spectacular contrast to a vast plateau and canyonlands. Along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, bighorn sheep and soaring eagles can often be spotted.
As with other national parks, entrance fees into Colorado National Monument are waived on five designated days in 2020. Learn more about site-specific digital pass options at Colorado National Monument at www.recreation.gov.
Best Attraction for Impressing Visitors to the Front Range
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is not just Denver’s premier concert venue. It’s also a great place for an altitude workout or an Instagram-worthy stroll. On non-event days, the site is open an hour before sunrise until an hour after sunset, and even visitors who are not ready for serious cardio can still see some beautiful views by hiking the six-mile Red Rocks Trail, in the meadows just east of the red monoliths. There’s also Yoga on the Rocks, Film on the Rocks, the Red Rocks Trading Store for souvenirs, and for food, the Ship Rock Grille.
Best Golf Course, Private (Three-Way Tie)
Ptarmigan Country Club is a Jack Nicklaus-designed private country club in Fort Collins. Open since the late 1980s, the club underwent a series of improvements in the 2000s, including a remodel of the upstairs lounge and dining room, renovation of the Pro Shop and Grill, and the addition of a practice green adjacent to the range. In addition to golf, there are brunches, winetasting dinners and theme nights.
The Country Club at Castle Pines is located inside The Village at Castle Pines community, and is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course. The club is set to undergo a membership-approved $17.1 million addition of a full complement of country club amenities, including a fitness center, infinity pool, tennis courts and platform tennis courts.
The clubhouse at Sanctuary Golf Course is available for weddings and events. The Boardroom has seating for up to 18 people. The Great Room accommodates up to 200 guests and has wraparound windows. The Pavilion has Pikes Peak as the backdrop. The golf course is played exclusively by invitation or through one of the 25 charity events hosted annually.
Best Golf Course, Public
The Ridge at Castle Pines North, a premier Troon Golf managed facility, opened in 1997. The Ridge at Castle Pines North has four sets of tees that measure from 5,000 yards to more than 7,000 yards in length. There’s a 9 Hole Ladies Group, a fun and social night of golf with friends, and lessons ranging from beginner to performance coaching. The restaurant, Park Place At The Ridge, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We left it to voters to interpret this category as they saw fit – hence the wide range of nominees here. The winner: Unser Karting and Events. The company offers championship-style timed races in which the first driver to cross the finish line after a certain number of laps wins. In the team building version, 20 to 29 racers drive laps in a 30 or 45 minute race, or 30 to 49 racers do a 60-minute race. Strategy and communication are essential, and participants enjoy challenge, exhilaration and competition, all while maintaining the highest levels of safety and accessibility for all participants. For people who would rather watch than compete, there are also event spaces with catering