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Sports & Recreation

  • Best Mascot

    Rocky the Mountain Lion Denver Nuggets

    It's no easy task to buoy up the spirits of fans whose on-floor heroes are always getting their butts handed to them. But Rocky the Mountain Lion does it every night -- with astonishing acrobatics, the occasional no-look swish from half court (including one recently with a ball he boldly had Michael Jordan autograph) and a mischievous playfulness that captivates… More >>
  • Best New Mascot

    The Fighting Whites

    Who says white men can't jump? Not those wags on a University of Northern Colorado intramural basketball team who saw white folks jump all over their idea when the UNC hoopsters named themselves "The Fighting Whites" in protest of the mascot -- a big-beaked caricature of an Indian -- used by nearby Eaton High School's "Fightin' Reds." The Whites' copyright… More >>
  • Best Minor-League Mascot

    Sox the Fox
    Colorado Springs Sky Sox

    He's got a squirt gun, a knack for doing handstands, and an attitude, and that makes the Colorado Springs Sky Sox mascot, Sox the Fox, now entering his third year, the best minor-league mascot around. In fact, aside from Rocky (whose creator trained one of the two men who don the foxy costume), Sox is the most entertaining mascot in… More >>
  • Best Old Mascot

    Jackass Mascot
    Colorado School of Mines

    For a school whose students make most Ivy Leaguers look like dopes, the Colorado School of Mines takes a decidedly low-brow approach to its home football games. And even though the Mines eleven once thrashed the University of Colorado (a century ago) and went undefeated as recently as the late 1930s, nobody seems too ambitious on fall Saturdays in Golden.… More >>
  • Best Appearances by Santa

    Scuba-Diving Santa
    Colorado's Ocean Journey

    As if to prove that Santa is everywhere in December, Ocean Journey treated folks to daily underwater Santa shows featuring the jolly one, with beard and hair flowing wildly, flip-flapping his way around in the deep. But we were wondering: Now that the aquarium is treading water, will Santa sleep with the fishes?… More >>
  • Best Second Coming of Santa

    Downtown Aurora

    Not to be outdone by anyone, the Northern Aurora Business Association ships its Father Christmas in by helicopter, in wind-whipping style, stirring up a racket that no number of flying reindeer could ever hope to make. Each December, Aurora's Santa Claus arrives from the heavens by chopper, with Mrs. Santa in tow, before heading over to Fletcher Plaza to confer… More >>
  • Best Second Coming of a Sports God

    Michael Jordan

    Most fans -- and ticket scalpers -- had given up on the idea of a bonanza for the head Washington Wizard's sole visit to the Pepsi Center this season. While the hapless Nugs limped into oblivion, MJ was hobbled following mid-season arthroscopic surgery on his 39-year-old right knee. Still, he suited up on March 20, and while he publicly said… More >>
  • Best Way to Feel the Breeze

    Ski-A-Thong
    Telluride Ski Resort

    Bikini skiing has been around for awhile, but on March 30, Telluride unwrapped its male version in tandem with its Bikini Slalom. Men dressed in thongs competed for awards while letting just about all of it hang out.… More >>
  • Best Place to Become a Peak Cross-Country Skier

    Frisco Nordic Center

    Americans cheered not just Olympic medalists, but those overachievers who ventured where no American ski or blade has gone before. In the latter category: the American men's Nordic relay team, including Coloradan Matt Dayton, whose fourth-place finish brought the team closer to a medal than ever before. For years, Dayton's family has run the Frisco Nordic Center, which offers 43… More >>
  • Best Colorado Peak Performance at the Olympics

    Mt. Wilson

    John Williams's American Journey, a CD on the Sony Classical label, was released in conjunction with the Salt Lake City Olympics; it's kicked off by "Call of the Champions," the official theme of the Winter Games, and the disc features the Olympic insignia on a cover distinguished by a snow-covered mountain. However, the lovely scenery pictured is Mt. Wilson, a… More >>
  • Best Way to Bag Two Fourteeners in a Day

    Grays Peak/Torreys Peak

    Summiting Colorado's fourteeners -- the 55 peaks that rise above 14,000 feet -- has become so trendy that the Saturday crush up a Front Range trail can sweep a hiker along, boots barely touching the ground. So even if you aren't Sir Edmund Hillary's nephew, you can bag two peaks in one day by heading to Grays Peak and Torreys… More >>
  • Best Trail Named for a Blind Mountaineer

    Erik Weihenmayer Trail for Health
    Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve

    Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind climber to conquer Everest, has teamed with the American Hiking Society to promote outdoor hiking, even for folks with allergies and disabilities. His namesake trail on Lookout Mountain is an easy walk for almost everyone, making Weihenmayer the perfect poster boy in the campaign to get folks off their butts and into the great outdoors.… More >>
  • Best Mountain Park

    Genesee Park
    Jefferson County

    For sheer accessibility and versatility, it's hard to beat Genesee Park, Denver's first -- and largest -- mountain park, just off of I-70 at Exit 254. Created between 1912 and 1937, this park has all the outdoor amenities, from grills to softball fields, as well as the most-gawked-at section: an elk and bison enclosure. Also noteworthy is the Braille Trail,… More >>
  • Best City Park

    Washington Park

    Folks are passionate about their parks. City Park-lovers rave about the zoo, the museum and strolling in the fall. Pro-Cheesmanites cite the glories of their turf; others tout locations along Cherry Creek. Some whisper of undiscovered gems. Well, nobody's going to claim that Washington Park is undiscovered; after all, according to the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation, Wash Park… More >>
  • Best Riverfront

    Central Platte Valley

    We didn't need to read Sunset magazine to recognize that Denver has the country's best riverfront. But a visit to the South Platte River wasn't always a day at the beach. Over a century ago, it was "a miserable yellow melancholy stream," according to Mark Twain. "I wouldn't leave it out at night. Some dog might come along and lap… More >>
  • Best Colorado Beach

    Rock Canyon Swim Lake Beach
    Pueblo State Park

    Rock Canyon may seem a bit far afield, but any beach bum worth his grain of sand is no stranger to committing a full day to a cool dip. And hey, it's closer than the coasts. On this beach, at the base of the 200-foot-tall, 10,500-foot-wide Lake Pueblo Dam, swimmers can enjoy their own private lake and swim beach. Huge… More >>
  • Best Colorado Beach Club

    Desert Reef Beach Club

    Desert Reef also happens to be Colorado's only beach club, an exotic little outpost at the end of Fremont County Road 110 that's a fresh air -- and bare-ass -- haven. The private club has over 200 members, but non-members can make a reservation to visit the ninety-acre resort. There they can enjoy the geothermal greenhouse, frolic in the clubhouse,… More >>
  • Best Day in Aspen History

    April 1, 2001

    No joke: After 54 years as a skier-only mountain, and as one of the last five resorts in the world to ban snowboarding, Aspen finally surrendered to the inevitable last spring. On April 1, Aspen Mountain was opened up to snowboarders, welcoming the next generation of sports enthusiasts. What's next -- affordable housing?… More >>
  • Best New Ski School Rule

    Aspen's mandate requiring helmets

    With a record-setting year of fatalities on Colorado's ski slopes as a backdrop, Aspen's operators took the logical -- and probably overdue -- step of requiring kids twelve and younger to wear helmets in ski school. Other resorts said they planned to follow, and given the deadly year, it seems only a matter of time before helmets are on every… More >>
  • Best Youth Mountain Outreach

    Snowboard Outreach Society

    Back in 1994, Ray Sforzo, Director of Snowboarding for Vail Resorts, and Arn Menconi, a self-proclaimed "Humble Snowboard Revolutionary," started SOS, or Snowboard Outreach Society. Their mission, at first, was to serve and inspire at-risk youth. Now, as Menconi says, "More and more we find that the people who are truly at risk are those who do not serve others."… More >>
  • Best Dog Paradise

    Dog training area
    Cherry Creek State Park

    Fido's still a puppy, but you've got shin splints to spare, and the idea of giving him a good run every day tires you out just thinking about it. Certain "leash free" zones in and around the metro area are the answer, where you can let your dog scamper about unencumbered while you bask in the warm sunshine on the… More >>
  • Best Cheap Sunset to Share With Dogs

    City of Kunming Park

    Situated on a hillside at the edge of a tangle of park lands that also includes Rosedale and Harvard Gulch parks, this block-square parcel doesn't really qualify as wide-open space, though lots of people do bring their dogs here to chase Frisbees and each other in the late afternoons of summer. But all you have to do once you arrive… More >>
  • Best Cheap Skate

    Denver Skatepark
    Commons Park

    Dude! There is nothing cheaper than free, and free is one concept that truly befits the sport of skateboarding, which, at its best, has no rules. That's exactly how things work at this city-built facility, whose smooth expanses of concrete bowls and ramps were opened to the public last summer. The fruits of a project spearheaded by city councilwoman Joyce… More >>
  • Best Cheap Racquet Repair

    Centennial Tennis Club/Holly Tennis Center

    South Suburban Parks and Recreation caters to its target clientele of racquet-swinging suburbanites by offering fine outdoor and indoor ball-whacking havens. But these public facilities -- for sun-lovers, the Holly Tennis Center, and for year-round fun, the Centennial Tennis Club, a winterized tennis bubble -- also ensure one-stop sport experiences by operating on-premises pro shops with reasonably priced racquet-repair services,… More >>
  • Best Place to Rent a Bocce Set

    Butler Rents

    Your relatives are coming in from the Old Country, and you want to show them that you carry on some of the old traditions -- except you haven't seen your bocce set in years. Don't panic: Butler Rents stocks one set of the famous lawn game and will rent it out for a weekend. Instructions are included, too, just in… More >>
  • Best Suburban Recreation Center

    Apex Center

    An incredible site, the Apex Center features a huge swimming area complete with water slides, hot tubs and a clubhouse-like "pump station" that sprays water from every conceivable angle. There's also an excellent ice rink, workout areas, weight rooms and an enormous climbing wall, plus a place to get food so people who've just worked off lots of calories can… More >>
  • Best Gifts for Suburban Jocks

    South Suburban Parks and Recreation District gift certificates

    Think of recreation as a commodity: Leisure time is one of life's luxuries that everyone wants and needs in our modern buzz-saw world. South Suburban makes it easy to give the gift of game by offering gift certificates in any denomination, redeemable (and available) at any district recreation facility for whatever activity the recipient chooses, be it dance lessons, pottery… More >>
  • Best Display of Hot Air

    Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival
    Chatfield State Park

    Although it's not on the scale of Albuquerque's justly famous balloon extravaganza, the Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival, which took place last year in late August, is turning into an annual blast. The balloons at the 2001 event ranged from corporate tie-ins (Tony the Tiger, the Energizer Bunny) to generic but still vibrant models that early risers could see up close… More >>
  • Best Place for Children of the Corn

    Chatfield Corn Maze
    Chatfield Nature Preserve

    The giant corn maze at Chatfield Nature Preserve, which is open from Labor Day until October 31, is a great way to get temporarily lost. Thanks to clues located at strategic spots on the five-acre site, most people will be able to find their way out in about twenty minutes. But as soon as they reach the exit, kids will… More >>
  • Best Hayrides and Slay-Rides

    Stockton's Plum Creek Stables

    Stockton's is close enough to the city to be accessible, but far enough out to seem like it's in the country. Visitors can ride horses or go on hayrides through some beautiful scenery. Also, part of the property is an indoor arena perfect for staging large-scale events with a Western theme -- and each Halloween, the place features Haunted Hayrides… More >>
  • Best Art at Invesco Field at Mile High

    "Equipment Field"

    Born in turmoil and baptized in controversy -- does it really look like a diaphragm or a half-finished prop from E.T.? -- Invesco has failed to win the hearts and minds of fans, despite a cost of nearly half-a-billion dollars. Yet the new stadium has some great attributes, chief among them the larger-than-life sculptures -- of a kicking tee, cleats,… More >>
  • Best Grass

    Mile High turf sale

    The stadium turf sale was cleverly advertised with the slogan "Own a piece of Mile High History!" Last October, football fanatics who participated were able to purchase a slab of turf six feet long and eighteen inches wide for a mere $10, providing them with the least-expensive stadium souvenir conceivable. Betcha they never forget to water that part of their… More >>
  • Best Toast of Mile High Stadium

    Flaming seats

    In what some Mile High Stadium diehards saw as an offering to appease the football gods, dozens of seats caught fire during demolition of the old horseshoe. It seemed like there was still some fight left in the former home of Morton, Elway, et al., and even as crews doused the blaze, warm memories of the past were rekindled.… More >>
  • Best Seat in the Horse

    Section 522, row 17, seat 4

    John Carmona, a Colorado Springs letter carrier, isn't one of the new stadium's neigh-sayers. A season-ticket holder for ten years, Carmona wound up with the best seat in the horse: smack-dab in the eye of the Bronco symbol.… More >>
  • Best Homer Run at Invesco Field

    Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

    After 37 years in limbo, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame finally found a permanent home by Gate 1 at Invesco Field. This hometown-hero museum doesn't honor just the big names -- although John Elway was somehow chosen in 1999 -- and high school coaches and college athletic directors stand cheek-to-jock with ex-Broncos, including 1977 "Orange Crush" mastermind Joe Collier,… More >>
  • Best Sporty School Project

    Sunday Best: The Making of a Stadium, Invesco Field at Mile High

    Jefferson County high school students worked for two years to document the construction of the new stadium. The result: The Making of a Stadium, Invesco Field at Mile High, a classic coffee-table tome that documents the entire process; Coach Shanny wrote the intro. The book, which sells for $50 (with profits going to defray the costs of the students' work),… More >>
  • Best Bronco

    Rod Smith

    While the Denver Broncos' offense sputtered and spit in 2001 -- injuries to wide receiver Ed McCaffrey and running back Terrell Davis didn't help -- swift wideout Rod Smith was the model of consistency. He led the league in catches and served admirably as Brian Griese's go-to guy whenever the young quarterback lost his bearings...or his head. After signing a… More >>
  • Best Bye

    Broncos' Day Off November 3, 2002

    The NFL schedulers, in their wisdom, decided to make up for the fact that they offered the Broncos as the sacrificial lambs against the mighty St. Louis Rams in their opener. So as a sort of make-good, the NFL gave the Donks their only bye on the week before they play a Monday-night game against the Barf Vadar-led Raiders. Here's… More >>
  • Best Good-Bye

    The departure of Nick Van Exel

    Nick the Pr -- er, Slick, had worn out his welcome with the Nuggets by mid-season. However, in all fairness, the Nuggets had pretty much exhausted the patience of everyone who bothered to watch them in 2001-2002. Still, when the pouty point guard demanded a trade, it was all the Nuggies could to shop him and his multimillion-dollar contract. Finally,… More >>
  • Best Rockie

    Todd Helton

    Any ballplayer who will earn more than $150 million in the next nine years had better be worth it, and first baseman Todd Helton fits the bill. Last season -- a misery for the Colorado Rockies -- Helton added a National League batting title and 49 home runs to his resumé, and he is, by a long shot, the most… More >>
  • Best Stretch by a Rockie

    Todd Zeile at third base

    There are some -- well, many, actually -- grumbling that the Rox' tenth year will be spent chasing their tails before settling comfortably into the cellar again. However, things could turn around, and with a core of players such as Helton, Neagle, Hampton and Walker, a little fielding, some relief pitching and timely hitting could work miracles for the ex-Blake… More >>
  • Best Av

    Joe Sakic

    Is there something -- anything -- the Avalanche captain hasn't done for his club? With over fourteen years and more than 1,000 games as a Quebec Nordique and then a Colorado Av, center Joe Sakic has won a dozen individual NHL awards and two Stanley Cups (both here in Denver) while providing crucial leadership for young teammates. Hard-nosed yet graceful,… More >>
  • Best Way to Avoid an Avalanche

    Online Colorado Avalanche Information Center

    Back-country skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoers may be aware of the general dangers of avalanches, but every year, people underestimate the lethal slides. Wise explorers try to check out conditions before they head out; this Web site provides useful information, links and weather updates.… More >>
  • Best Rebound

    Peter Forsberg's first post-injury skate

    With everybody except Dick Cheney poised and watching, the Avs' great playmaker stepped onto the ice March 28 at the Family Sports Center and gingerly skated for the first time since undergoing surgery on his left foot in January. Peter the Great spent sixteen minutes scooting around, and afterward pronounced the experiment a success. But will he have enough magic… More >>
  • Best Nugget

    Juwan Howard

    Baffled Denverites who can name four current Denver Nuggets deserve some kind of prize -- a Dan Issel bobble-head doll, perhaps? -- but Juwan Howard has emerged as the star acquisition in the big midseason trade that sent whiny guard Nick Van Exel and slow white guy Raef LeFrentz to Dallas. With injured Antonio McDyess limited in terms of minutes,… More >>
  • Best Rapid

    John Spencer

    In his first season with the Colorado Rapids, Scottish forward John Spencer set new franchise records for goals (14) and points (35) while infusing a mediocre (5-13-8) club with a never-say-die attitude and a workhorse ethic. The 31-year-old played previously for Chelsea and Everton in the English Premiere League and gave up big money on the far side of the… More >>
  • Best Sports Coach -- Professional

    Bob Hartley
    Colorado Avalanche

    Anyone who has the legendary Patrick Roy in the nets, Rob Blake on defense, Joe Sakic at center and three or four of the best young players in the NHL scrapping just to get in the game might look like a pretty fair hockey coach. But Bob Hartley doesn't mail it in. His Colorado Avalanche fought their way to a… More >>
  • Best Sports Coach -- College

    Mike Dunlap
    Metro State Basketball

    When Metropolitan State College's basketball team won its first NCAA Division II national championship two years ago, it was ranked number one in the country. The Roadrunners grabbed their second title this season from the lowly number-22 spot. That is testament to the skills of fifth-year head coach Mike Dunlap, who preaches impenetrable defense and disciplined shooting. The 'runners finished… More >>
  • Best Sports Team -- Professional

    Colorado Avalanche

    While Denver's pro football, baseball, basketball and soccer teams looked up from the bottom of their leagues, the Colorado Avalanche continued to make history. Last spring Bob Hartley's troops knocked off powerhouses like Los Angeles and St. Louis en route to a Stanley Cup finals showdown with the New Jersey Devils. Longtime Boston Bruin Ray Bourque won the nation's heart… More >>
  • Best Sports Team -- College

    DU Pioneers

    It's been quite a year at the ice rinks, what with the Avs winning the Stanley Cup and George Gwozdecky's resurgent University of Denver Pioneers hockey team reviving memories of former DU stars like Peter McNab, Keith Magnuson and Craig Patrick. After breezing to their first Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship since 1986 and a WCHA tournament win behind great… More >>
  • Best Metro State Athlete

    Luke Kendall

    The latest Australian import to beef up coach Mike Dunlap's national-championship basketball program at Metropolitan State College, 6-4 sophomore guard Luke Kendall averaged 15.2 points per game this season and stole the ball 77 times in his first thirty games while snagging 91 rebounds. Dunlap had five Aussies on the roster when the Roadrunners won their first NCAA Division II… More >>
  • Best DU Hockey Player

    Wade Dubielewicz

    No one personifies the resurgence of DU hockey like goalie Wade Dubielewicz. For much of the regular season, he and teammate Adam Berkhoel were the most effective "two-headed goalie" in the college game, but at crunch time, coach George Gwozdecky turned to "Dooby" to seal the nets. His .943 saves percentage led the nation as he won his second straight… More >>
  • Best University of Colorado Athlete

    Stephane Pelle

    In the ultra-tough Big 12 Conference, only two basketball players averaged a rare "double-double" in points and rebounds during the regular season. The first was consensus All-American Drew Gooden, star of the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks; the other was Colorado's Stephane Pelle, a 6'9" junior forward from Yaounde, Cameroon. The Buffaloes had another bad hoops year (15-14; 5-11 in the Big… More >>
  • Best Colorado State Athlete

    Angie Gorton

    The last remaining player from the great 1998-99 CSU team that went 33-3 and reached the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, senior forward Angie Gorton was the captain and undisputed leader of this year's tournament-bound club and the Mountain West Conference defensive player of the year. Her 81.3 free-throw percentage was the envy of the league, and this season… More >>
  • Best Performance at the Big Dance

    Lady Buffs

    While University of Colorado men's hoopsters turned into wallflowers, CU's women cagers went on a rampage. Their strong season allowed them to host an opening NCAA tournament game -- which they won handily -- and gave them the Big Mo' to rock and roll to an upset of Stanford. Forget the fact that they stumbled against Oklahoma, turning the ball… More >>
  • Best Latin Dance

    Latin Dance FX & Fitness

    Everyone knows salsa is muy caliente, so it makes sense to use it to burn off calories. At her studio, Barbie Novoryta offers Cardio Salsa workouts that really make you feel the burn. And for those who'd like to learn more traditional Latin dances, Novoryta offers private lessons.… More >>
  • Best Way to Put Fizz in the Pepsi Center

    State High School Basketball Tournament

    For a state that has a fairly low profile in roundball, things get springy in March, when the girls' and boys' Elite Eight move onto the court normally moped upon by the Nuggets. Look! There's the guard nailing a fifty-footer to send it into overtime! And there are the girls bravely bidding to upset the unstoppable Highlands Ranch squad! This… More >>
  • Best New Performance-Enhancing Beverage With Enhanced Tie-Ins

    Go Fast! Sports Energy Drink

    Last fall, Denver-based Go Fast! decided to put some fizz in its extreme-sports line of clothing. So they introduced Go Fast! energy drink to compete with picker-upper drinks such as Red Bull, and the new drink is more exotic sounding if you check the ingredients: Australian honey, Siberian ginseng and milk thistle are in the mixture. A company spokesman says… More >>
  • Best Jock Quote

    Dan Issel

    In his playing days, Dan Issel was the most beloved Denver Nugget of them all, and his 27,482 career points rank him seventh among all ABA/NBA scorers. But Issel's two stints as the Nuggets' head coach were stormy and stressful -- losing always hurts -- and on the night of December 11, after dropping a squeaker to the Charlotte Hornets,… More >>
  • Best Jock Bobblehead

    Dan Issel

    The same night he chose to reach out and insult somebody was the night that now-ex-Nuggets coach Dan Issel was being memorialized with a free bobblehead doll. No telling what those limited-edition souvenirs will fetch on eBay; we're not parting with ours. In fact, we're looking for a bobblehead-sized sombrero to give Dan more ethnic appeal.… More >>
  • Best Private Batting Cage

    Troy Slinkard's house

    Few took the art of learning to hit a baseball as seriously as Troy Slinkard, an Evergreen contractor who's set up a virtual batting lab at his home. Fathers eager to have their sons learn the secret of squarely striking a round ball with a round bat make the pilgrimage to Slinkard's home, and he rarely refuses an earnest request.… More >>
  • Best Batting Cage for Pitching

    Slammers

    You know you can bat at batting cages. But at Slammers, it's also possible to fine-tune the pitcher's art. A hurler can rent one of the indoor tunnels and get back in the groove -- even during snowboarding season. If you want to learn to throw the spitter, though, it's BYO slippery-elm juice.… More >>
  • Best Place to Soak Up Billiard Wisdom

    Shakespeare's

    Shakespeare's is already a known mecca for those handy with a cue, but this pool hall is really on the ball when it comes to billiards. An informal college of experts usually gathers Saturday and Sunday mornings to play, trade stories and introduce newcomers to the refined game.… More >>
  • Best Place to Make Your Point

    Mirage Sports Bar

    If you're ready to move your darts game out of the rec room and into a real arena, take aim at Mirage Sports Bar. With thirteen boards, it's hard to miss. Fridays feature a blind draw for competition, and there are also leagues for passionate dart buffs. Get the point?… More >>
  • Best Foosball Table

    Campus Lounge

    There are many reasons to visit this hallowed haunt, but fanatics head to the Campus Lounge for its foosball table. At night it's so popular, you may have to get in line for table access -- which means more brews for you as you wait your turn.… More >>
  • Best High-End Ping-Pong Tables

    Olde World Tables

    The brothers Zwisler grew up in Indiana, playing Ping-Pong in the basement of a convent. When they migrated to Colorado -- Marty to build custom houses and Ray to make custom wood furniture -- they maintained their love of the game. Several years ago, in fact, they decided to build a conference table that could also be used for Ping-Pong,… More >>
  • Best Low-End Ping-Pong Table

    Harvey Park

    There's only one Ping-Pong table at Harvey Park, and it isn't even set up all the time. Yet staffers at this friendly rec center are happy to set it up on request.… More >>
  • Best Video Arcade

    Dave & Buster's

    Gameworks, it's not. Still, the colossal arcade inside this Dave & Buster's food-and-fun franchise is where local video game junkies find their tastiest fix. Serious players know to hit D&B's on the weekdays, when the only crowds are of businessmen clustered around the Golden Tee golf machines. Beware Friday and Saturday nights, when youthful hordes descend and a $5 cover… More >>
  • Best Romper Room for Grownups

    Wynkoop Brewing Co.

    Games are not just for kids, especially at the Wynkoop, where men and women rack billiards balls, smack pinball flippers and sweep shuffleboard tables in between sips of Railyard Ale. A huge, loft-like space above the brewery's table-and-chairs main floor, the Wynkoop's game room is an arcade of activity every night of the week. With skill levels that range from… More >>
  • Best Outdoor New Year's Eve Celebration

    Evergreen Lake

    Although things got a little too popular at the end of 2000, when a reported 5,000 revelers came to the mountain town's skate-and-fireworks fest (some without paying), a more orderly celebration went off without a hitch this year on the Currier & Ives-like pond about thirty minutes west of Denver. With ticket sales limited to under 3,000, people could actually… More >>
  • Best Turkey Caller Using His Pro Sports Split V3

    Bob Cook
    Strasburg

    In the world of competitive turkey calling, Coloradans are at a bit of a disadvantage compared to experts from regions where wild turkeys are more plentiful. Still, Colorado has its share of top tweeters. And it falls to Bob Cook -- who placed third in the turkey-calling Grand Nationals in 1996 -- to keep this state's turkey tones top-notch. A… More >>
  • Best Place to Score a Birdie

    Exotic Birds of Denver/
    Carson's Outbound Golf

    How often does it happen that a man can satisfy dueling passions under one roof? Dave Carson has done it at Exotic Birds of Denver/Carson's Outbound Golf, a dual-purpose business in a Littleton strip mall. The northern half of the store deals in hand-fed, hand-raised parrots -- absolutely fascinating creatures that happen to be smarter, better-looking and more eloquent than… More >>
  • Best Place to Spot a Chick

    Greater Prairie Chicken viewing trips

    Birders who want to see the annual mating rituals of the prairie chicken can book a special weekend tour through the Wray Chamber of Commerce to visit the birds' leks (mating grounds) in East Yuma County. Voyeurs sit in a special viewing blind so as not to distract the amorous fowl from their strutting, booming and bopping.… More >>
  • Best Snowshoeing for a Variety of Shoe Sizes

    Brainard Lake

    Post 9/11, we're told, people have been seeking solace in the wilderness. Couple that with the fact that snowshoeing was already booming, and this winter sport may become so popular that Big Foot flees to warmer climes. Ironically, the beauty of snowshoeing is escaping the crowds -- you're not trapped at mid-Vail with several thousand ski snobs -- while enjoying… More >>
  • Best New Guide to Snowshoeing

    Snowshoe Routes: Colorado's Front Range
    Alan Apt

    Alan Apt, who lives in Fort Collins, has assembled detailed guides to 75 trails -- most of them along the Front Range, with an emphasis on Rocky Mountain National Park. With admirable detail and many good hints, Apt gives snowshoers plenty of room to ramble, including the popular areas around Mt. Evans and Indian Peaks as well as lesser-known places.… More >>
  • Best Poma Lift

    Storm King
    Copper Mountain

    In these days of supersonic quad lifts, there are still hints of skiing as it used to be. For example, old and new mesh at the midsection of the Storm King "conveyer" that takes you to Copper's back bowls. That's because, for this newfangled Poma lift, you have to grab the tow and slide it between your legs as you're… More >>
  • Best Way to Jump-Start the Bolder Boulder

    Bolder Boulder Store

    Fans of the annual runathon who wanted to boost their starting positions were encouraged to go to the Bolder Boulder's "seasonal" store in the Crossroads Mall and hop on a treadmill. Those able to run two miles at 18:10 or less are guaranteed a spot in one of the top seventeen qualifying waves. Those waves -- with more than 42,000… More >>
  • Best Place to Draw a Bead With a 1,247-Pound Vintage Cannon

    State Capitol

    On the west side of the State Capitol, two Civil War-era military pieces -- one cast in 1862, the other a year later -- point toward the not-too-distant Civic Center. But the placement shouldn't be taken as a symbolic assault by the state on the City and County of Denver. Instead, visitors can conjure up imaginary foes -- say, an… More >>
  • Best Place to Destroy Targets With 50mm Guns

    Annual .50 Cal BMG Rifle & Machine Gun Fun Shoot

    For the third year, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the Rocky Mountain Fifty Caliber Shooting Association plan to host their Fun Shoot on private land about seventy miles east of Denver. The groups, which delight in loud noises and the right to bear arms, have scheduled this year's event for May 3-5. If firing conditions permit, incendiary tracer bullets… More >>
  • Best Target Practice

    The Paint Pellet Game

    If your trigger finger's itchy, but you don't have your paintball posse handy, head for the Paint Pellet Game, a local supplier of all that colorful weaponry. It has a shooting range that can be booked for fifteen-minute blocks of time. When it's time to slime, this place is sublime.… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Paintball

    Tactical Pursuit

    It could be argued that most of Wyoming and much of eastern Colorado is ideal for paintball shoot-outs. Better yet, though, is Tactical Pursuit's forty-acre site on a private ranch about four miles north of Boulder. Rain or shine, a company operator will pick up Tactical Pursuit's paintball clients at a nearby restaurant, then set them loose at the top-secret… More >>
  • Best Indoor Paintball

    Denver Paintball

    Set in a former grocery store, Denver Paintball covers about 14,000 square feet and is open daily to walk-ins. Players can bring their own guns or try the rental package, which includes protective gear as well as ammo. Splatterers have to be over ten years of age, and those under eighteen need a signed parents' waiver, which can be gotten… More >>
  • Best Kids' Sports Foundation

    Gold Crown Foundation

    While youth basketball once seemed like a forgotten sport in Colorado -- the runty sibling of brawny football or flashy skiing -- it has grown up in a hurry. A big chunk of the credit belongs to the Gold Crown Foundation, whose CEO and original booster is ex-Nugget guard Bill Hanzlik. While Gold Crown deals with other games, too, it's… More >>
  • Best Sports

    REI

    Sure, REI's flagship store has that slammin' climbing wall, its own Starbucks and, right outside, the Platte River, where you can test-drive/ride/kayak the equipment. But the best sports in the building are the people who man the Outdoor Recreation Information Center, a joint venture between the sporting-goods company's store and nonprofit groups, including the Colorado Mountain Club, the U.S. Forest… More >>
  • BestIce Rink -- Urban

    Fillmore Plaza

    It's sweet and petite, just the most delightful addition to a holiday shopping outing with the kids. From mid-November to mid-January, the Cherry Creek North Business District opens its outdoor rink at Fillmore Plaza daily, and it stays open late on Friday and Saturday nights. Skate rentals are available, but no tushie pillows.… More >>
  • Best Ice Rink -- Suburban

    South Suburban Ice Arena

    Open year-round, the indoor South Suburban Ice Arena complex offers twin ice sheets, a concession stand, lessons for all ages and ability levels, competitive programs for hockey and figure skating, and cool admission prices for public skating: $2.50-$3.50 in district and $4-$5 for non-district residents. Tell 'em Sakic sent you.… More >>
  • Best Ice Rink -- Mountain

    Evergreen Lake

    From mid-December to mid-March, 55-acre Evergreen Lake becomes a high-altitude Hans Brinker's dream. This is outdoor skating at its finest, with a cleared hockey rink on one shore, the Lakehouse serving hot chocolate on the other and plenty of public skating in between. The rest of the year, the lake's great for fishing and boating. Try that at the Pepsi… More >>
  • Best Way to Recycle an Ice Arena

    The Breakaway Center

    After the old Hyland Hills Ice Arena closed in 1997, the facility could have stayed in cold storage. But hockey is hot, and so is in-line skating. So the building was spiffed up with a smooth surface and brought back as the Breakaway Center by In-line Endeavors, LLC, in cooperation with Westminster and the Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District.… More >>
  • Best Way to Own Your Own Arena

    Wagner's Casual Dining

    Say you're allergic to bar smoke but still have a jones for tabletop hockey. Save your pennies and buy your own sturdy Carrom Bubble-Hockey table for about $900 through Wagner's Casual Dining. Want to take it for a test spin? The company is happy to order you a trial table so you can see just how cool it would be… More >>
  • Best Place for Summer Tubing

    Yampa River
    Steamboat Springs

    Okay, maybe it's not technically seaweed, but the chilly algae attached to the rocks in the Yampa can prove an irresistible plaything during a hot summer's float through Steamboat. Several operators line the banks of the Yampa renting tubes for floaters, and during lulls, some have been known to scoop handfuls of the stuff and bomb tubers with the Steamboat… More >>
  • Best Winter Tubing

    Fraser Tubing Hill

    Just as Winter Park strives to offer skiing as it used to be (and maybe ought to be), the neigh- boring tubing hill in Fraser has an authentic feel. Looking out over the railroad tracks from the top of the hill is inspiring; so is the headlong rush down the hill. During spring break, operators have been known to keep the… More >>
  • Best Auto Art

    ZaBeast
    Forney Transportation Museum

    An estimated 5,000 stickers shellac the entire body of a 1975 Pontiac Grandview, the baby of Broomfield Middle School P.E. teacher Al Pallone. After starting with stickers from his son Vinny's sports teams a decade ago, Pallone gradually enveloped his everyday ride in stickers trumpeting everything from Megadeth to the National Hot Rod Association. The road life of Colorado's first… More >>
  • Best Auto Art Exhibit

    Customized and Converted: The Art of the Automobile

    This summer collection of related shows was so worth the drive -- no, cruise -- south to Pueblo. In fact, the very act of driving was the ultimate way to prepare for the riches awaiting your bone-weary bottom and road-fried mind at the end of that ninety-mile trek. There, high-end automotive art by the likes of Robert Williams, Von Dutch… More >>
  • Best Public Golf Course With Shifting Holes

    Fox Hollow

    A public course manicured to country-club standards, the intriguing 27-hole layout at Fox Hollow Golf Course in Lakewood offers a variety of challenges, according to when you play. Depending on maintenance and tournament schedules, eighteen-hole players tackle shifting combinations of two of the facility's three courses: the hilly, demanding Canyon 9; the lovely Meadows 9, which puts water hazards into… More >>
  • Best Place to Tune Up Your Golf 24/7

    D'Lance Golf

    It's 'round midnight, and you just can't believe that hook of yours won't go away. You're tired of the club scene but not your clubs. If you're a member at D'Lance Golf, you can work on ways to fix your game at all hours. With five hitting bays, four simulators and other high-tech gear available 24 hours a day, D'Lance… More >>
  • Best Way to Test Your Tuned-Up Car

    Lariat Loop Heritage Alliance Road Rally

    Back when life was a bit rustic along the Front Range, savvy tourists tested their roadsters on the challenging-but-not-impossible byways. One favorite was the forty-mile Lariat Loop, linking Golden, Morrison, Bear Creek Canyon and Red Rocks. Last year, a group revived this tradition, giving it a twist: Participants must compete on a mystery course and defeat obstacles. The event returns… More >>
  • Best Bike-Ride Maps

    Latitude 40 Degrees

    If you see mountain bikers around Colorado clutching colorful, waterproof plastic-coated contour maps, chances are they're counting on Boulder's Latitude 40 to steer them. The Boulder County Mountain Bike Map is now in its seventh edition, and the Front Range map -- with 101 rides on one side -- stretches from Fort Collins to Chatfield.… More >>
  • Best Mountain-Bike Ride for a Secret Squirrel

    Hall Ranch

    The 3,206 acres of backcountry purchased by Boulder County Parks and Open Space in 1993 are required to balance wildlife and recreation. That means there's plenty to see along Hall Ranch's dozen miles of multi-use trails, about half of which are open to bikers, hikers and horseback riders. But you'll need to study the open-space rules at www.co.boulder.co.us/openspace before you… More >>
  • Best Bicycle-Built-for-Two Club

    Tandem Club of Colorado

    For sixteen years, the Tandem Club of Colorado has been promoting togetherness on bicycles built for two with rallies, rides and fun events. Last month's annual meeting, held at REI's flagship store in Denver, has attracted about fifty people of all ages. This season's events include the Tour de Denver on June 9 -- a 55-mile ride from Aurora to… More >>
  • Best Wildflower Ride

    Hewlett Gulch
    Poudre Park, Larimer County

    The ten-mile, single-track Hewlett Gulch trail, which starts at the Poudre Park picnic area on the Cache la Poudre River, is full of gnarly challenges like twists and turns and rocky stream crossings. But the initial 3.1-mile climb up the appropriately named Flower Road is flanked by beautiful wildflowers, a soothing sight for sore thighs.… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Bike Fitting by a Tour de France Racer and Olympian

    Wheat Ridge Cyclery

    Ron Kiefel finished six out of seven of his Tour de France tries, won a bronze medal in the 1984 Olympics for a team time trial and has probably ridden more than 300,000 miles during his cycling career -- which makes him especially suited to understand all the nuances of riding bicycles. Kiefel believes getting a custom bicycle fitting is… More >>
  • Best Lowrider Bicycle Store

    Dragon Lowriders

    Say hi to lowriders: After you've seen a decked-out lowrider bicycle, regular bikes just look like plain, boring, single scoops of vanilla ice cream. Kids go crazy over lowriders' smooth lines, colorfully airbrushed frames, whitewall tires and other accessories, such as headlights and steering wheels. When we stopped by recently to survey the goods at Dragon Lowriders, there were at… More >>
  • Best Tornado Tours

    Storm Chasing Adventure Tours

    You've seen them on TV, and you know they gather important information about severe weather that can save lives. You think they might be a little bit nuts, and you wish you could be one of them: Storm Chasers, the guys and gals who go out of their way to find and photograph tornadoes up close and personal. Now you… More >>
  • Best National Western Stock Show Event

    Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza

    Those who think they've seen everything the Stock Show has to offer should check out the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza, which gives a colorful makeover to bull riding and fighting, trick roping and the like. And that's not to mention the Paso de la Muerte, also known as the "death jump." Look before you leap.… More >>
  • Best Rodeo Star

    Ashlin "Flip" Spence

    Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowgirls: They might turn into bull riders instead. At least, that's what happened to Ashlin Spence, aka Flip, of Fort Collins. The sixteen-year-old Poudre High School student was the only girl to compete in the bull-riding event in the Salt Lake ProAm Olympics Rodeo -- out of about 1,000 competitors. Flip… More >>
  • Best Bull-Riding School

    Larry Lancaster's Rodeo School

    If you want to learn to ride like Flip -- or, more likely, just flip head-first off some livestock -- here's your chance. Each year, Lancaster's Rock-N-Roll Rodeo Gear sponsors two three-day championship bullriding and bullfighting schools at the indoor Bar W Slash Rodeo Arena in Aurora. Classes are offered for all ages and levels of experience, although 15 through… More >>
  • Best Place to Catch Thin Air

    Thin Air Trapeze Bladium Sports Club

    Your mama was always worried that you'd go off and join the circus, but you went to college and made her proud instead. It's not too late for you, though, because the trapeze isn't just for super-athletic, death-defying circus performers anymore. In 2000, a group of people left the Imperial Flyers, a Denver-based amateur-flying-trapeze club, and decided to construct an… More >>
  • Best Aerial-Fabric Class

    Aircat Aerial Arts

    A sister sport to our buddy the trapeze, aerial fabric is a graceful, artistic and physically challenging discipline. You've maybe seen aerial dancers at the circus or on TV, but you probably never pictured yourself doing such a thing. Cathy Gauch, founder of Aircat Aerial Arts, can teach you. She's well-versed in high-flying acrobatics and has an extensive aerial repertoire,… More >>
  • Best Plant Help

    Plant Select

    Just because you can't get that hydrangea to flourish on the north side of your garage doesn't mean there aren't hundreds of plants that thrive in the bright sun and crisp air of the Rocky Mountain Region. Since 1997, it has been the purpose of the Plant Select program -- a cooperative effort of the Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado… More >>
  • Best Help Building a Wildlife Refuge

    Backyard Habitat Program

    If you want to do more with your garden than plant showy annuals, this could be the year you give back to the ecosystem. By taking a few positive steps, you can turn your open space into a certified wildlife sanctuary that's recognized by the National Wildlife Federation. Planting native flora that provide food and shelter for birds and other… More >>
  • Best Wildlife Web Site

    Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Sanctuary

    Now that you've turned your back yard into a wildly popular wildlife retreat, what do you do when your furry visitors decide they'd rather nest in your chimney? Log on to www.greenwoodwildlife.org for tips on handling displaced baby raccoons, squirrels and birds. The site also features a sound gallery of bird calls and amusing Flash-animated paw prints that follow your… More >>
  • Best Advice on Pesky Wildlife

    Wildlife Master Volunteers
    CSU Cooperative Extension Service

    If wild visitors have decided not only to take over your living space but to dismantle it while they're there, it could be time to call in the experts on peaceful inter-species co-existence. Since 1987, Wildlife Masters have been available to provide advice on discouraging incursions by a wide variety of small varmints, from rodents and snakes to skunks and… More >>
  • Best New Animals at the Denver Zoo

    Endangered Species Carousel

    The latest baby polar bear and baby giraffe are, of course, welcome additions, and who can resist a wee pair of warthogs? But the ever-expanding Denver Zoo added a particularly genteel touch to its grounds last spring with the debut of a gorgeous endangered-species carousel. Kids love to pick their favorite mounts from its hand-carved menagerie, which includes shiny, lacquered… More >>
  • Best Hiking Companions

    Canine Backpackers Association

    Now that your yard is overrun with creatures from the wild, your dog could probably use a day trip. Take him backpacking, and he could earn a Champion title from the Canine Backpackers Association. All he has to do is complete three ten-mile hikes while carrying a pack, water bowl and water weighing 25 percent of his body weight. If… More >>
  • Best Hike Into History

    Mineral Belt Trail

    The town of Leadville is mining history from its mining history with the Mineral Belt Trail. The twelve-mile black-topped trail circles the town and its mining district and is perfect for hiking or biking -- or using any form of wheeled, non-motorized transportation -- past such historic sites as Horace Tabor's Matchless Mine, where Baby Doe spent her last eccentric… More >>
  • Best Wildflower Walk

    Pawnee National Grassland

    Don't forget to stop and smell the primroses as you hike along the 1.5-mile Pawnee Buttes Trail, the only maintained hiking trail on the grassland -- and one where wildflowers bloom in the shadows of the 300-foot-high sandstone cliffs. In mid-June, when the prickly pear cactus, purple locoweed and white prairie phlox are blooming on the shortgrass steppe, the show… More >>
  • Best Hiking Help

    Free GPS Classes
    U.S. Geological Survey

    You can rely too heavily on technology, especially in the back country. Just because you have a cell phone or a Global Positioning System receiver doesn't mean you won't get lost. In February, the U.S. Geological Survey office in Lakewood offered free two-hour courses on maps and compass reading and how to relate both skills to the proper use of… More >>
  • Best Place to Find Fossils

    Florissant Fossil Quarry

    Petrified plants are waiting to be found at the Florissant Fossil Quarry; they're in between layers of "paper" shale. For $20, you can pick up a crate -- approximately forty pounds -- of the fossiliferous shale that must be split and examined on site. Visitors can also search piles of shale at an hourly rate of $7.50 for adults and… More >>
  • Best Place to Dig Your Own Dinosaur

    Dinosaur Excavations

    Play paleontologist for a day, and take home a little piece of prehistory from a virgin site on the Morrison Formation. Owner Dana Forbes is sure visitors to his seventy acres eighteen miles east of the town of Dinosaur will be rewarded for participating in scientific digs, because many bone fragments are clearly visible on the surface. Anyone interested in… More >>
  • Best Mining Tour -- Gold

    Old Hundred Gold Mine
    Silverton

    Follow the vein of gold ore one-third of a mile into Galena Mountain, and you can see and experience the operation of mining equipment in a real mine setting. The Old Hundred bores into Cunningham Gulch, just minutes from historic Silverton, in a scenic area that's easily accessible by car or RV. The 45-minute guided tour takes place in an… More >>
  • Best Mining Tour -- Silver

    Lebanon Silver Mine
    Georgetown

    Hard-rock silver mining made Colorado what it was in the first half of the nineteenth century, but can you imagine what life was like for the miners? Find out when Colorado Historical Society guides lead you through the Lebanon Silver Mine and show you the mine manager's office, the change room (also called a "dry"), and the blacksmith's shop and… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn About Mining's (Ugly) Legacy

    Idaho Springs Heritage Museum and Visitor's Center

    Next time you drive through the mountains and see an old mine that evokes romantic images of Colorado's gold-rush days, stop by the Idaho Springs Heritage Museum and Visitor's Center. The Clear Creek Watershed Exhibit that takes up an entire back room is a reminder of the mess mining left behind. More than a decade ago, the U. S. Environmental… More >>
  • Best Cave Tours -- Family

    Glenwood Caverns & Historic Fairy Caves
    Glenwood Springs

    This large cave in Iron Mountain above Glenwood Springs contains about three miles of known passageways and was first opened as a tourist attraction at the beginning of the twentieth century; it was abandoned in the 1920s, then reopened in 1999. A family tour along electrically lit gravel pathways is available through some fantastic interior decorations that Martha never even… More >>
  • Best Cave Tours -- Wild

    Manitou Cave
    Manitou Springs

    Another tourist cave that had been abandoned for years, Manitou offers a physically challenging wild tour that includes sections discovered as recently as five years ago. Still missing is a large section that was open to tourists, complete with electric lights and hand-rails, until it flooded in the 1920s. Check out the Web site, www.caveofthewinds.com, for an in-depth probe.… More >>
  • Best Cave Tours -- Wet and Wild

    Spring Cave
    White River National Forest

    At 7,000 feet, Spring Cave, which opens May 1, is one of the longest caves in Colorado, located less than a mile from the South Fork Trailhead, east of Meeker. In springtime, the stream that flows through the cave widens to form "Emerald Lake," which makes a full wetsuit a requirement for anyone heading into the back sections.… More >>
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