Best Of Sports & Recreation
Best Place to See a Bald Eagle
Barr Lake State Park
Brighton's Barr Lake State Park is like Boca Raton for bald eagles: While our nation's big birds can summer anywhere, they are increasingly spending their winters here — and one pair stays to nest every year. In fact, the proud mamas and papas of Barr Lake have produced a total...
Best Place to Train Like Rocky
20th Street Gym
Far from the corporate-chain experience, the 20th Street Gym is the workout facility of hard knocks. The city's oldest rec center, located in the heart of downtown, 20th Street is a no-frills training facility, complete with a fully stocked weight room, shiny cardio machines, an indoor pool and basketball court,...
Best Place to See the Colorado State Mineral
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is home to what's widely considered the best, if not the biggest, rhodochrosite specimen in the world. Discovered in 1992 in the Sweet Home Mine, a former silver mine near the town of Alma, the impressive block of nearly transparent, cherry-red crystal is...
Best Denver Mountain Park
Red Rocks Park
Thank magazine publisher John Brisben Walker, who saw the natural sandstone amphitheater outside of Morrison in 1906 and envisioned the grand stage it would become. Or thank the Civilian Conservation Corps, whose workers helped turn it into a reality. Whoever you credit, no other venue in the country can match...
Best Outdoor Pool Makeover
La Alma Recreation Center
Urban pools are usually rectangular holes in the ground made of concrete and filled with chlorinated water (and sometimes leaves, lost toys and empty Cheetos bags). But when Denver Parks and Recreation decided to remake the outdoor pool next to the La Alma Recreation Center, which sits in a neighborhood...
Best Way to Swim With Sharks
You might think swimming with sharks would be a tall order in a landlocked state like Colorado. But the Downtown Aquarium — housing more than a million gallons of water in the heart of the city — has you covered. For $185, certified scuba divers can sign up to plunge...
Best Dog Park
Westminster Hills Dog Park
Are you tired of the packed-in feel of small dog parks, and the same forced questions from well-meaning fellow dog lovers: Is it a boy or a girl? What's his name? How old is she? If so, then escape to the Westminster Dog Park, 420 acres of off-leash open space...
Best New Boulder Gym for Everyone
Every Monday, Greg Plavidal, owner of the Boulder Anytime Fitness franchise, runs a special session for a group of women between the ages of fifty and eighty who used to belong to a now-shuttered Curves. Some of these women were nervous about training at a regular gym, but Plavidal's sessions...
Best Radio Sports Show
The Locker Room 102.3 ESPN Denver
After we named CJ & Kreckman, co-starring Charles Johnson and Nate Kreckman, the best local radio sports show of 2013, the powers-that-be at ESPN Denver showed their appreciation by promptly breaking up the team. But this time around, fixing something that wasn't broken turned out okay. Johnson is a good...
Best Place to Catch Air(bag)
Ready to step up your big-air game but not to accept the looming consequences of landing on your head? Work on your aerial awareness (and your cojones) at Progresh before taking new tricks out into the real world. The indoor ski, snowboard, BMX and skateboarding facility opened in Thornton in...
Best Place to See the Colorado State Flower
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival
Crested Butte isn't called the Wildflower Capital of Colorado for nothing. When it's not digging gold out of skiers' wallets, the old mining town banks on other colors. In the summer, the valley and mountainsides are a riot of wildflowers, a sight so spectacular that it inspired the Crested Butte...
Best Sports Bar for Watching Games
Keep your eyes on the TV, no matter how fetching those lasses look in their short kilts and tight shirts. The Tilted Kilt on the 16th Street Mall took over where the ESPN Zone left off. This link in the national chain is a fine place to dig into a...
Best Terrain Park
It's no accident that two of the five Olympic ski and snowboard qualifiers were held at Breckenridge in the lead-up to Sochi, or that many of the top competitors — American and otherwise — have made Breck their home mountain. And it's not just the pro courses and the experts-only...
Best TV Sportscaster
When Lionel Bienvenu came to Denver way back in 2001 after a high-profile stint with Fox Sports, he initially seemed to be trying a little too hard to import cable-TV snark to a traditional local-news broadcast. But as the years have gone on, either Bienvenu has mellowed or we have...
Best Sports Announcer
Usually, this honor goes to the folks who call games on TV or radio — like, for instance, last year's winner, Voice of the Colorado Avalanche Mike Haynes. Kyle Speller, in contrast, is the Nuggets' public-address announcer — but for those who see the team live at the Pepsi Center,...
Best Backyard Games
Remember when you and your friends used to hang in the back yard, running through the sprinkler, playing flag football or Wiffle ball, or just kicking a rock around? Even though you're a big kid now, those good times are still within reach: When summer heats up, the ViewHouse opens...
Best Urban Carp Fishing
South Platte River
Fishing might not be the first thing that comes to mind when Denverites think of the South Platte River. Pollution, maybe. Or used condoms. But the river that winds through the Mile High City is more than most people give it credit for, especially when it comes to stalking big-ass...
Best Place for a Summer Date
Lakeside Amusement Park, a turn-of-the-last-century landmark that runs along the banks of Lake Rhoda, offers the ideal setting for a mid-summer date night. The park is full of excuses to get close to your darling: share a seat on the Ferris wheel or Skoota Boats, or get adventurous and take...
Best Roller Derby Skater
Blocker/jammer Toxic Taunic got her start in 2010 and came in like a wrecking ball last season as team captain for the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls' 5280 Fight Club all-star team. Although crosstown rivals the Denver Roller Dolls' Mile High Club fared better on the national scene, Taunic helped to ensure...
Matt Duchene is the most highly touted addition to the Colorado Avalanche in recent years, and while he's hardly been a disappointment, he hasn't always hit the heights predicted for him. This year, however, has been his coming-out party. He's led the team in points for the majority of the...
Best Sports Team — College
University of Colorado men's basketball
Not long ago, CU was regarded as a football school. Now that tradition lies not just broken, but shattered. So thank goodness for the men's basketball team. In the past few years, the hardwood Buffs have grown from surprising upstarts into a consistent squad whose members absolutely expect to be...
Best Skate Park
Arvada Skate Park
Skaters, bikers, rollerbladers and even those confused kids riding scooters were given a wonderful gift when Arvada brought in Team Pain to build the Arvada Skate Park. The park, located in the northeast corner of Arvada's Memorial Park, comprises features for all skill levels, from first-time pushers to seasoned thrashers,...
Best Coach — Professional
Fans can debate whether Patrick Roy was the best Avalanche player ever, but there's no denying that he was the most fiery and charismatic — and these qualities happen to be just what was needed to inspire the current generation of Avs. Prior to Roy's second coming, the talents of...
We know, we know: Praising Peyton Manning after the team's most recent Super Bowl humiliation feels wrong somehow. But remember the season that preceded that blowout. Not only did Number 18 set a whole slew of Broncos records, but he shattered marks for touchdown passes and yardage through the air...
Best Coach — College
It's only been three years since Tad Boyle became head coach of CU's men's basketball squad. But in that time, he's managed to remake the team in his image, infusing the program with the winning spirit he learned from the legendary Larry Brown while a player at Kansas. The back-to-back...
John Grant Jr.
We hand this prize to John Grant year after year, for a very good reason: Not only is he the best player on his team, but he's among the top performers in the entire sport. During the 2013 season, he led the Mammoth in goals, assists, points and shots on...
The controversy over Denver Boone is one of the most twisted to emerge in recent years. Designed by a Walt Disney artist, DB was the University of Denver's official mascot from 1968 to 1998, at which point complaints from various interest groups, including Native American organizations that saw him as...
Best Sports Team — Professional
We're still trying to forget the way the Broncos' season ended: No matter how many times we blink, we still can't un-see Seattle scoring 43 points to Denver's 8 in the most widely viewed Super Bowl ever. But the season as a whole was spectacular, with Peyton Manning and a...
Best Ski Porn
Boulder-based film company Sweetgrass Productions has defined itself as the antidote to textbook ski-film fireworks over the last decade with arty, thoughtful, cinematic and even dark and meditative films like Solitaire, Signatures and Hand Cut. How to follow all that? By pointing ski tips toward British Columbia and stripping away...
Best Place to See the Colorado State Animal
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep favor steep and mountainous terrain, which means they hang out in places that are hard for humans to access. But at the Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Viewing Area, looky-loos can pump a few quarters into the giant binoculars and take a gander at the hundreds of sheep...
Best Gear on the Cheap
Wilderness Exchange Unlimited
Located across from Denver's flagship REI store, Wilderness Exchange Unlimited feels like a smaller version of its retail neighbor, a two-story temple to skis, backpacks, boots, climbing gear and everything else you need for playing in the mountains. But unlike REI, Wilderness Exchange specializes in sniffing out cheap deals on...
Best Luxury Detox for Less
Pura Vida's Sunday Afternoon Meltdown
Pura Vida has long been a mecca for the exercise elite — a members-only gym with state-of-the-art facilities and top-of-the-line workout programming. But earlier this year, the fitness fortress opened its doors to non-members with the introduction of the Sunday Afternoon Meltdown, a combination yoga and meditation class focused on...
Best Place to Dream About Calories While Burning Them
24 Hour Fitness Highlands Garden
Like most locations in the national chain, 24 Hour Fitness in Highland is packed every day of the week with eager nine-to-fivers, gym rats and hardbodies elbowing for treadmills. What's unique to this spot is its penchant for combining cardio-machine workouts and foodie television. No matter the time of day,...
Best Dog Park for Finding a Date
Stapleton Dog Park
Looking for love? Forget OKCupid and the bars. Get your pooch (or borrow one) and head to Stapleton Dog Park. The chatty dog lovers who congregate here in droves are friendly and flirty and seem plenty willing to hand out their phone numbers. If you're lucky, you just might meet...
Best Roller Derby Team
Mile High Club
The Denver Roller Dolls' traveling all-star team, the Mile High Club, spent all of 2013 near the top of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association rankings, won the Division 1 playoffs, and finished fourth at the WFTDA Championships. Now, five skaters — Julie "Angela Death" Adams, Jes "Bea Ware" Rivas,...
You can be forgiven for thinking that Deshorn Brown is a longtimer for the Rapids, because he certainly plays like a veteran. But he didn't come aboard until January 2013, when Colorado selected him in the first round of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft. Since then, all he's done is...
Best Place to Add "Spoice" to Your Olympic Training Regimen
Woodward at Copper
Olympic gold-medalist Sage Kotsenburg set out to prove that it would take more than triple-cork spins to win big when snowboard slopestyle made its Olympic debut in Sochi, tossing unconventional layback slides and a 1620 spin with a Japan grab into the mix, just because. Kotsenburg called his secret sauce...
Best Boards for Locavores — Ski
The 2013-2014 season was good for powder hounds, and Aspen-based High Society Freeride had the perfect planks for the job. The aptly named Powchickawowwow is available in both rocker and early-rise models, depending on your preference, but the rocker version is more playful in deep snow; both were Freeskier magazine's...
Best New Athletic Supporters
Colorado Avalanche Ice Girls
Okay, so their outfits might be a little weird — especially the long-sleeved spandex "jerseys" that end right below the bust, making them about an eighth as long as normal shirts. But the women who make up the Colorado Avalanche's first Ice Girls squad are skilled skaters who serve a...
Best Boards for Locavores — Snowboard
Watching the Olympic debut of women's snowboard slopestyle in Sochi seems to have inspired a lot of ladies to step it up in Colorado's terrain parks. Never Summer's new Onyx park board — handmade in Denver just for women — emerged as a favorite stick for the trick, winning a...
Best Place to See the Colorado State Insect
Castlewood Canyon State Park
The best way to find our state insect — the Colorado Hairstreak butterfly — is to first find a Gambel oak tree, where said butterfly prefers to spend its time flitting around and dining on tree sap, honeydew and raindrops (adorable!). Castlewood Canyon State Park, near Franktown, happens to be...
Best Place to See a Moose
Colorado State Forest State Park
Don't let the confusing name fool you: This 71,000-acre swath of forest, lakes and trails is an uncrowded gem. Colorado State Forest State Park, near Walden, is also home to more than 600 moose, which can be viewed year-round. Start at the Moose Visitor Center, where moose-seekers can take a...
Best Sports Bar for Playing Games
The 1up LoDo
The downtown location of the 1up arcade bar is a cross between Jeff Bridges's Tron arcade and a neighborhood dive. Flashy 8-bit colors and music loops pour out of its 45 vintage arcade games, while geeky bartenders pour craft beers and shots to sate the relentless audience of quarter jockeys...
Best Adventure Race for Kids
Keen Kids Adventure Games
Taking its cue from some of the more extreme obstacle-course races for adults, the Keen Kids Adventure Games at Vail sends pairs of kids, ages six to fourteen, careening across mountain-bike trails, ziplining across a creek before tubing down it, and getting all manner of dirty in challenges that include...
A good way to measure a player's importance is to track how his team performs without him. And by that measure, Ty Lawson is far and away the Nugs' main man. The Denver ballers have had a dispiriting season, but when Lawson is on the court doing what he does...
Best Place to Leaf-Peep
They may not be the tallest or the most-hiked of the state's fourteeners, but Aspen's Maroon Bells are some of Colorado's most photographed peaks, especially during the fall. Groves of aspen around the craggy sandstone mountains turn yellow as they prepare to shed their leaves, staining the nearby slopes and...
Michael Cuddyer is hardly the most charismatic member of the Rockies; he seems more like he should be selling insurance than playing Major League Baseball at the highest level. But quietly and without fanfare, he led the squad in a slew of key offensive statistics during 2013, including batting average...
Best Place to See the Colorado State Bird
Pawnee National Grassland
Lark buntings, the Colorado state bird, are rare, but they're a little easier to see in the spring, when the so-called "troubadours of the plains" arrive in Colorado before flying south again at the beginning of fall. During the summer, they can be spotted feeding in large flocks along roadsides...
Best Scooter Tours
Whether you're a native or just passing through, you haven't really seen Denver until you've seen it from the seat of a scooter, hair flying, on one of those sunny Colorado days. But you don't have to commit to a Vespa of your own in order to try it: At...
No need to remind Chris Bocklet that he's a little brother. One of his older siblings, Matt Bocklet, is a member of the Outlaws, too. But Chris didn't just best big bro in points scored; he led the entire team in that category. Thanks to his performances, he's gone from...
The sloppy, slushy ditch that helped dethrone Shaun White at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi had nearly all of the top competitors clamoring for better conditions, and the name that kept coming up was Snow Park Technologies. The Nevada-based company was responsible for the courses at the Dew Tour,...
Best Sports Bar for Food and Drink
Blake Street Tavern
The winner and still the chomp! Blake Street Tavern blew us away last year with its menu, which includes not only sports-bar staples such as burgers, wings and sandwiches, but some of the best green chile in town. And with the addition of the Underground Social, which converted the vast...