Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
The town of Winter Park throws the weirdest, most wonderful birthday party each January for Mary Jane, the gnarlier half of the resort. And while there is a nudge-nudge, wink-wink element to MJ, the Mary Jane Birthday Bash doesn't come off half-baked. In fact, it's remarkable in its ability to appeal to freaks and families more or less equally. Packed into three days are a parade, free music and food aplenty, ski lessons, snow golf, a snow-sculpture contest, a Mary Jane look-alike contest — last year's winner snagged a season lift ticket and $250 — and, of course, birthday cake.
While many people would associate water or Gatorade with exercise, those people would be wrong, and the Irish Snug knows it. Every Thursday at 6:15 and 6:30 p.m., waves of runners head out from the pub, following a 5K route around Capitol Hill before returning at a sprint, walk or crawl. Why are they running? Because there is a free spaghetti dinner waiting for them. Oh, and lots of carbohydrate-rich $3 pints of beer.
Golf is big in Colorado, but it's hard to play in the winter. And sometimes, well, an air-conditioned bar full of beer and burgers beats the checkered pants off the green. In that case, Swingers' sports lounge makes for a good compromise. The upscale joint has state-of-the-art golf simulators that allow virtual duffers to play eighteen holes in under an hour — on one of more than fifty championship golf courses. Thirty bucks gets you an hour of play ($7.50 each if you've got a foursome). Call ahead to reserve a tee time.
Chatfield's off-leash area was originally intended for people who wanted to train hunting dogs in an outdoor environment. In fact, last year there was some question as to whether the dog-training space would remain open at all: Hunters and horseback riders had complained that the number of off-leash dogs was interfering with their use of the park. But right now there are no plans to close the dog-training area to any of its users, which means that you and your pooch can still enjoy acres and acres of open space, wooded coves, two lakes more than big enough to swim in and a creek running through the entire park. There are paved pathways as well as dirt trails weaving in and around the area, restrooms, bag stations for cleanup (you might want to bring some extras) and all the space that Rover needs for roaming.
Just fifty miles west and south of Denver, the Lost Creek Wilderness Area is the perfect place to get away from it all, including running water, but close enough that you don't have to go 48 hours without a shower. You can find any number of suitable campsites on the roadside, and even more just a short hike from your car. After pitching tents, hikers can take to the Colorado Trail, the Ben Tyler Trail and others; anglers can throw a line in the myriad beaver ponds dotting the creek; and loafers can drink cold beer in the sun, if they managed to pack a sixer — preferably in somebody else's pack.
Monday through Friday is the best time to head to the hills, for two reasons: Nobody's on the mountain and nobody's on I-70. The folks at Loveland Ski Area know this, which is why they offer a mid-week pass for $249 (or less, if you buy early or are a returning customer). Consider, too, that five-sevenths of the snow falls during the work week and that Loveland sometimes stays open until June. Of course, work can't be your priority if you're a mid-week skier or boarder. But maybe it shouldn't be.