Lake Steam Baths, gnomes on the range, and more drops in the 2014 bucket list

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Bucket lists, by their very nature, are a celebration of the ephemeral -- a wish list of fleeting activities to experience before the mortal coil goes into a death spiral. The following experiences, however, are united by a sense of enduring history, of continuing traditions that will persist past the expiration dates of our own lives. See also:Cruising Colfax, Casa Bonita and more drops in the 2014 bucket list

1. Stay at the totally haunted Croke Patterson Mansion Bed & Breakfast

The Croke Patterson Mansion, a chateauesque marvel built of red sandstone in 1890, is a designated historic landmark. After sitting empty for years, the historic home reopened as the Patterson Inn, a bed and breakfast with spacious room and glowing reviews from its guests, most of whom seem either unaware or completely at ease with the fact that they are sleeping and brunching in one of Denver's most notoriously haunted residences. Occultists --who rarely havethe opportunity to contact the spirits of the dead in such comfort are welcome, but anyone who's read some of the spookier stories about the house might want to leave their dogs at home.

2. Hike at Mesa Verde

The Anasazi cave dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park have captivated visitors for centuries. Carved out of the sandstone and situated precariously on overhanging cliffs, the pueblosare architectural marvels and the most enduring record of a mysterious tribe, not to mention one of the nation's first archaeological sites. No visit to Colorado is complete without seeing Mesa Verde, just as no American life is complete without a visit to Colorado.

3. Locate all the gnomes at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is always worth visiting, no matter how many class field trips you've taken there. With rotating feature exhibitions and IMAX screenings, there's something new each time you go,but there's another, hidden reason to keep coming back. Scattered throughout the exhibits and peeking around branches in the matte paintings are gnomes. Finding all of them without the assistance of guide is a rite of passage for museum goers and a chance to play a real­-life game of Where's Waldo?

4. Eat a Cheeba Chew and go to the Lake Steam Baths

Family­owned for three generations, the Lake Steam Baths have been soothing Denver's aching hordes since 1927. The health spa, which provides hydrotherapy, exfoliating scrubs and heated massages at affordable prices, is a beloved Denver institution. To maximize the indulgence of a visit here, you might want to scarf down a cannabidiol­-rich Cheeba Chew before stopping by. Being stoned will not only relax your muscles, but also your sense of propriety around nude strangers.

5. See Denver's nighttime skyline from a helicopter

Why wait until your soul ascends to the heavens to look upon our fair city from above?  Despite dramatically increasing your chances of being yelled at by a man in a  flight suit, renting a helicopter from one of several competing aviation services is a fun  way to get a view of Denver's cityscape that typically only birds get to enjoy.

6. Taste­ test at Stranahan's

While Colorado's craft ­beer industry enjoys its well deserved national reputation,  our local spirits distilleries are too often overlooked. Not only does Stranahan's Colorado  Whiskey have a great origin story, but the award­winning small-batch spirit is definitely worth shuffling through a chilly distillery tour to taste. Despite its recent corporate buyout, Stranahan's remains a Colorado institution and a true liquid asset.

7. Swim in the rooftop pool at the Warwick Hotel

Denver so loves showing off its growing skyline that rooftop real estate has become an increasingly precious commodity in the downtown area. For one of the finest views of the city, surrounded by four­star elegance, check out the heated rooftop pool  of the Warwick Hotel.

8. See a show at Red Rocks

One of the more easily attained selections on this bucket list, a live show at Red Rocks is nevertheless an indispensable Colorado tradition. With its majestic natural setting,  storied history and unbeatable live sound, Red Rocks Amphitheater is a Colorado  landmark we're happy to share with our many visitors.

9. Performing at Denver's Tuesday­night comedy threepeat without descending into melancholy

 Tuesday nights in Denver offer a perfect encapsulation of a comedian's emotional  journey. Kicking off with the warm laughter bath of the Comedy Works New Talent Night,  continuing with the usually welcoming Park House and concluding with the almost  certain defeat of the Squire Lounge, the Tuesday­night threepeat demonstrates how  the same five-minute set of jokes can elicit a wildly different response depending upon  who hears it --and where. For a comic, having strong sets at all three is an affirmation rarer and more precious than a unicorn  sighting.

10. Ride the terrifying DIA devil horse into the afterlife

Imagine meeting your maker astride Denver's most potent sigil of death as lightning blazes in  the sky. Denver International Airport's iconic "Mustang" is a fitting last stand for any Denverite. Climbing this fearsome sculpture  one that killed its own creator, mind you ­­and screaming at the angry skies is a triumphant way to go out.

Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.

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