Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Tight switchbacks, long, slow, steady climbing, challenging steps and water bars, technical rocky sections through the trees — all hallmarks of a great gonzo mountain-bike ride. Bergen Peak is a 9.4-mile (round-trip) Jeffco open-space gem with a little bit of everything. It makes riders work hard for the rewards, which include killer views of the surrounding mountains from the flat stretch at the top, and a very, very fast descent. In addition to the Bergen Peak Trail itself, there are about a half-dozen other trails that can be linked up for more mileage and fast fun. But keep your head up: Elk and deer are everywhere here.
Elk Park Trailhead on Stagecoach Parkway, Evergreen
Readers' Choice: Buffalo Creek Recreation Area
The folks at Coors Field prefer to use the term "holding rooms" rather than "jail cells" to describe the enclosures to which stadium security personnel takes fans who may have edged over the line of acceptable rowdiness. But they're definitely not places where anyone would like to hang out, especially during a game. The spaces are small and narrow, with the main decor being a metal bench. And while there are no locks on the doors, people placed in the rooms aren't going anywhere, as they're routinely handcuffed to a bar until Denver police can arrive and spirit them off to real jail. Anyone who spends time there will definitely think twice about returning.
Don't just take your kids out to the ball game — take them inside of it, with an eighty-minute, mile-long major-league romp around the Rockies' 76-acre facility. Kids get the most thrills exploring the dugout and getting an eye-level look at the massive field. Adults enjoy exploring the premier floors and suites, like the Wells Fargo Club Level and Coors Clubhouse, and geeking out over memorabilia that's scattered throughout the stadium. During baseball season, tours run Mondays through Saturdays, and times vary based on the game schedule. Younger kiddos (and superfans) might prefer a 45- to 60-minute private showing.
When Coors Field opened on April 26, 1995, one of the stadium's best features was the Rockpile, a section of seats to straight-away center that were available on game day and cost a single dollar. More than two decades later, that amount has gone up, but not outrageously: Tickets generally sell for between $4 and $8, depending on the date and opponent. That means that fans can still watch two Major League Baseball squads go at it in person for less than the price of going to a first-run movie. Better yet, folks in the Rockpile tend to make great company. They're not as jaded and/or bored as some season-ticket holders, nor are they more interested in partying than in the doings on the diamond, like a lot of those who hang out on the Rooftop. Rockpilers may not have much of a chance to snag a home-run ball, but they can catch the game itself in a great atmosphere.
Readers' Choice: The Rockpile
Once upon a time, Mile High Stadium was known simply as Mile High Stadium, a name embraced by every true sports fan and concert-goer in Colorado and beyond. But then came the unfortunate trend of big-bucks deals for corporate naming rights, leading to the venue's being christened Invesco Field at Mile High and, later, Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Now, following Sports Authority's bankruptcy, the Denver Metropolitan Stadium District and the Denver Broncos are looking to find a new firm willing to pay a hefty annual fee to place its logo on this beloved pile of bricks. But it will always be Mile High Stadium to us, and we'd love nothing more than for the name to stay that way permanently.
Even though John Elway and Peyton Manning have both retired and the Broncos missed the playoffs last year, demand for tickets to see the squad defend Mile High Stadium continues to be astonishing: The streak of sell-outs dates back to 1970 and is now at just shy of 370. But thanks to a clause in the operating agreement for the construction of the facility, the Broncos make 2,000 half-price tickets available for each game. Team reps confirm that this deal will be repeated again this season, probably in either June or July, giving ordinary locals who bleed blue and orange a chance to experience the spectacle live. But be ready to act fast, because the bargain tickets go very, very quickly. Last year, the entire season's allotment was gone in just twenty minutes.
Readers' Choice: Colorado Avalanche
Von Miller isn't just a Super Bowl MVP. He's also the most valuable player on social media. But while he's a master of every platform, frequently posting hilarious or weird items on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, he saves his best moves for Snapchat, where he chronicles his crazy adventures (like essentially trailing Drake on tour for weeks) with a loony enthusiasm that's positively infectious. Whether he's dancing, posing or embarrassing teammates and fellow celebrities, all of whom seem to know and love him, he provides just as much entertainment value during the off-season as he does bringing the thunder to opposing quarterbacks.
No excuses, pal. Time to ditch that Flip or Flop marathon and check out these hour-long strolls with real physicians, offered at area parks on a monthly basis (and sometimes more frequently). Rain or shine, the walks are great cardio and open to everybody, with free blood-pressure screenings, free refreshments, and wide-ranging medical advice on everything from anxiety disorders to bowel health.
If you're like most dog people, you work hard to keep your pooches in chew toys and don't always have time to lead the pack on a proper workout. No mere dog-walking service, Hike Doggie offers a range of excursions in the Jefferson County Open Space system for canines of varying activity levels, from a casual stroll-and-sniff to a serious energy burn, on an individual basis or with a team of like-minded leg-lifters. Clients are transported to the trails in a comfy "Zen Den," receive a post-hike wash and towel-dry, and are then returned to their owners — dog-tired, perhaps, but eager for their next encounter with the great outdoors.
With its 420 acres of trails, dog swimming ponds and panoramic views of the Front Range and Standley Lake, Westminster Hills Dog Park is popular with pooches and peeps alike. From the wide-open dirt entrance that's perfect for pups who want to play ball and socialize to the miles of winding, singletrack-style paths and wider, gravel-lined Jeep roads, the partially fenced park also features a dog drinking fountain and shaded benches for tuckered-out owners, who can walk, run or bicycle alongside their canines. Periodic volunteer days keep the park clean, and trash cans and bags are conveniently posted near the entrance.
Readers' Choice: Cherry Creek State Park
Landlocked Colorado may lack an ocean, but it still has a surprising number of beaches. Not only can you boat, fish, water-ski and jet-ski at Chatfield State Park, but you can also just soak up the rays on the sweet swim beach, a half-mile stretch of soft sand sloping into the reservoir. The area, which is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, also has restrooms, a concession stand and a first-aid station — amenities you won't always find on either coast. The day-pass fee is just $8 per vehicle; pack a cooler and don't forget the sunscreen.
Readers' Choice: Bear Creek Lake Park
Necessity is the mother of all invention, and nowhere is that truer than at Arapahoe County's South Platte River Run Park. When the cities of Littleton, Englewood and Sheridan needed flood mitigation and drainage-fixing, they dreamed up the $15 million park, a mile stretch of outdoor fun along the Platte in Arapahoe County that will solve their water woes — and treats residents to splash-tastic fun. Although the entire park won't be finished until 2018, one of its more unique amenities opened last year: man-made waves on the Platte for surfers. The finished park will include a playground and protected habitat for wildlife, so you can hang ten in a totally environmentally chill way, brah.