Ten Things to Cross Off Colorado's End-of-Summer Bucket List

The kids are back in school, the nights are getting cooler, and there are moments here and there when it just plain feels like autumn. That’s right: Summer is almost over, and aside from a lot of binge-watching various Netflix series in front of the A/C unit, you just don't have much to show for it. But it's not too late: Here are ten Colorado-only ways you can still celebrate summer.

10. Drive over Independence Pass, Mt. Evans and/or Trail Ridge Road
All three roads will shut down for the winter (and a significant portion of fall and even spring as well) because of their elevation; that makes them truly Colorado summer roads. Sure, it’s great to take a drive in October when the aspens turn, but it’s also worth taking a drive now, before the snow falls in the mountains to a sufficient degree to shut down these avenues of oxygen-deprivation fun. For that matter, now's the time to satisfy any urge you might have to drive westbound out of Denver on I-70. Because as soon as ski season starts…you might be able to do it, but you sure won’t want to.

9. Make a Splash at Waterworld
If you haven’t been to Waterworld recently, that means you’re probably not sixteen and you probably don’t have children. But no matter who you are, you'll enjoy spending a sunny day at Waterworld, full of thrills, chills and, yeah, a lot of kids screaming. C'mon in: Although Waterworld is now closed on weekdays, the water’s fine weekends through Labor Day. (If you really want to make it a Colorado memory day, head to Casa Bonita for dinner afterward.)

8. Get a Taste of Taste of Colorado
Lots of people talk about how the Taste of Colorado isn’t what it used to be — and they’re right. In a lot of ways, it’s better. No matter how rosy your memories of this longstanding downtown festival, it’s only grown since 1983, with more turkey legs per square foot than your average Renaissance Faire. This year’s Taste runs from September 2 through September 5, over Labor Day weekend, and features performances by no less than Boyz II Men, Blues Traveler and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Oh, and it's also sure to feature lots of people in your way, waving turkey legs and spilling beer.
7. Boat Around City Park
Ferril Lake in Denver’s City Park is a beautiful sight during most of the year.  But in the summer, it's also the site of a lot of fun: Wheel Fun Rentals offers rentals not just of specialty bikes, but also of pedal boats, kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. Get out on the lake: There are 24 acres of water to explore, and bunches of geese to annoy. At least until the end of October, weather permitting. 

6. Meander Through the Colorado State Fair
The state fairgrounds in Pueblo (Pueblo? Yes, Pueblo) host this extravaganza at the end of every summer, when everyone’s in the mood for one more big party. From August 26 through September 5, you can see blue ribbons awarded to various jars of foodstuffs, animals that you’ve heard exist on farms, occasionally rigged games of chance, concerts, rodeo, and rides that creak and thrill and worry and may induce both joy and nausea. And you’ll love it all, because this is America, Colorado-style, and as the song goes, our state fair is a great state fair. Have a corn dog and funnel cake: Breathe it in.

Keep reading for more things to do before summer ends.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen