By Susan Froyd
By Byron Graham
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davies
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Bree Davies
By Susan Froyd
By Kate Gibbons
4) Soak Your Feet in a Mountain Lake
The trailhead to Cathedral Lake is just fifteen minutes from Aspen, and the route itself, which crosses ancient glacier moraines at the foot of the Maroon Bells, is only about three miles each way. But by the time you climb the eight killer switchbacks, your feet will be aching for the shock of the ice-cold, blue-green lake at 11,866 feet. Take the plunge at www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=HGR250-013.
5) Gaze at a Moose
There aren't many moose in Colorado, but two of the best places to find them are at the state-run Moose Center on Colorado Highway 14 west of Fort Collins, and in Grand Lake, the western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, where the massive ungulates roam the forests — and the campgrounds — looking for delicious leaves. Learn more at http://wildlife.state.co.us/Education/TeacherResources/ColoradoWildlifeCompany/HauntsCWCF00.htm.
6) Haunt a Ghost Town
Colorado's past as a freewheeling cluster of high-country mining towns is still visible in places — if you know where to look. And summer is the best time to visit these old ghost towns, since many of the roads leading to them close in the winter. Some of the best include the well-preserved St. Elmo, in Chaffee County; creepy but starkly beautiful Independence, east of Aspen; and Gunnison County's Tin Cup, which can only be reached with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Raise the dead at www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/co.html.
7) Pay Your Respects to Buffalo Bill
William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody made his mark on America with his storied Wild West Show, and now he rests forever in one of the wildest of those states. Lookout Mountain, just minutes from Denver, is home not only to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, but also one of the coolest gift shops this side of the Mississippi. Hunt it down at www.buffalobill.org or call 303-526-0747.
8) Boat to Your Campsite
What's the biggest body of water in Colorado? The answer, at twenty miles long and with 96 miles of shoreline, is the Blue Mesa Reservoir in the Curecanti National Recreation Area near Gunnison. While the reservoir serves as a base for just about any Colorado activity you can imagine, it also has cool, boat-in-only campgrounds. Dock your canoe at the entrance to West Elk Creek and walk past diving, violet-green swallows to the campground near an old sawmill and homesteading operations. You'll be glad you did. Go to www.nps.gov/cure/planyourvisit/boatincamping.htm.
9) Blossom at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival
Colorado's mountain winters are notoriously brutal, but when the snow finally melts, the crushing cold gives way to a spectacular array of brightly colored, delicate wildflowers. And while these gems can come and go in a flash, the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival lasts for a week, offering up a bouquet of hikes, tours and classes. For info, visit www.crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com.
10) Catch Sunset at Garden of the Gods
Not all sunsets are equal. There are the ones you miss while you're still at work, the ones you catch a glimpse of between buildings, the ones you forget to look for because you're too busy. And then there are the ones you watch in the late-evening peace of Garden of the Gods, a Colorado Springs spot filled with towering red sandstone rocks. One of the state's most beautiful, more spiritual landmarks, Garden of the Gods offers summertime sunsets that make up for all the ones you've missed. See for yourself at www.gardenofgods.com/home/index.cfm.
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