Ski season has come and gone, but that’s okay — because the mountains have even more to offer in the summer. While you can find a festival going on nearly every weekend in any number of mountain towns, you can also make your own fun, whether you’re looking for a mountain adventure, some good old R&R, or just an escape from the city. From epic hiking to biking galore, here are ten of our favorite weekend trips.
Bear Creek Lake Park
15600 West Morrison Road, Morrison
$7 per vehicle
You’ve probably driven past Bear Creek Lake Park, off of C-470, many, many times without realizing what you were missing. Here you can test your archery skills, ride horses, admire miniature horses (careful — they bite), try a stand-up paddleboard, kayak, go boating, hang out on the “beach,” camp (in tents, yurts or cabins), hike and bike — all within twenty minutes of the city. There’s nothing like spending a few days in your city’s own back yard, without the hours-long drive home.
Yampah Vapor Caves
709 East 6th Street, Glenwood Springs
$15 cave day pass (other packages available)
If you’re going to Glenwood Springs, there’s a good chance you’re looking for some rest and relaxation: after all, the town is famous for its hot springs and recreational fun (try hiking the popular Hanging Lake trail; few places in Colorado can beat its turquoise travertine colors and suspended flora and fauna set against the dramatic cliffs of Glenwood Canyon). But if you want to bypass the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, which is crawling with children and tourists, then head up the road to the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves. Here’s you’ll find three natural “rooms” inside steam-filled caverns that were first used by Native Americans for their healing powers. Breathe in the 34 minerals and elements and let the stress slip away.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs
44200 County Road 36, Steamboat Springs
$12 adult weekday admission, $15 weekends and holidays
Located just outside of Steamboat Springs, Strawberry Hot Springs Park is the site of one of the most spectacular mineral springs in the world. Here, naturally fed pools offer 104-degree waters to soothe your soul. For a truly unique weekend getaway, stay in one of the old train cabooses or covered wagons on site, or go for a more traditional cabin or tent. And if you’re looking for a more adult experience, the hot springs are completely clothing-optional after dark.
Manitou Springs and the Penny Arcade
900 Manitou Avenue, Manitou Springs
Lots of people seek out Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods over the summer months, but not as many head for neighboring Manitou Springs, an under-appreciated and quirky little town full of art galleries, amazing restaurants, hippies, candy shops, cute boutiques and an antique penny arcade. Take a trip back in time at the last spot, where you’ll find pinball, Skee-Ball and a host of other old-school games.
The Stanley Hotel
333 East Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park
The Stanley Hotel inspired Stephen King to write The Shining and is the annual host of the spooky Stanley Film Festival, but there are plenty of other ghost stories to be told here. Both overnight guests and looky-loos can sign up for a ghost tour through the hotel’s haunted spaces or a paranormal investigation on site. And if you need something soothing afterward, Rocky Mountain National Park — right next door — is celebrating its centennial all year long with a mountain’s worth of music and special events.
4200 West County Road 38 East, Fort Collins
$7 per vehicle
One of the largest bodies of water in Colorado and a playground for outdoor adventurers, Horsetooth Reservoir is located just west of Fort Collins, adjacent to Roosevelt National Forest. Not only is it a great spot for bouldering, but the 1,900-acre park is also a prime destination for hiking, boating, rock climbing, camping or even scuba diving. And when you’re sufficiently parched, swing by one of Fort Collins’s many breweries for a pint — New Belgium offers a popular tour — before heading home.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
4218 County Road 3A, Cañon City
Arguably the most dramatic whitewater rafting and ziplining spot in the state, Royal Gorge follows the Arkansas River through thunderous granite walls that stand more than 1,000 feet high. Getting deeper every year, the area is considered a natural wonder thanks to its rare red-granite formations and has even been referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas; you can see it from the top or make reservations for the train along the river. In 2013, a fire destroyed 90 percent of the park and threatened the bridge. But in May of this year, the park held a grand reopening of its facilities.
Clear Creek Whitewater Park
911 10th Street, Golden
It’s not a Colorado summer if you haven’t grabbed an inner tube and floated down one of our state’s cold, rushing waterways. One of the best is Clear Creek in Golden. Pack your tubes, sunscreen, beach chairs and a cooler and head to Clear Creek Whitewater Park; a bike path runs parallel to the creek, allowing you to easily put in or pull out at any point along the route. Afterward, if you’re still looking for some of that Rocky Mountain spring water, try the Coors brewery tour or one of four craft breweries in town.
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Rio Grande Skatepark
North Mill Street and Rio Grande Place, Aspen
$265 for half-day private lessons (up to four people)/$480 full day (up to four people)
Having powder-day withdrawals? Itching to try a new extreme sport? Behold mountainboarding, a cross between skateboarding and snowboarding that just may become your new favorite adrenaline activity (or at least get you through the summer). Unique to Aspen Snowmass, where you can take half- or full-day lessons, you’ll learn to ride the bowls like a champ. Mountainboarding is also available as part of Camp Aspen Snowmass (July 29-31), where kids can learn from coaches and talented pros Jereme Leafe and Kody Stewart.
Palisade Fruit & Wine Trail
Palisade, Grand County
Craft beer gets most of the attention these days, but Colorado’s Western Slope has a thriving wine country, and it’s centered in Palisade. You’ll find small-batch wines (and even spirits and beer) here, made on site alongside the peach and other pit-fruit orchards that sweeten our state. Follow the trail from place to place and learn about how the area’s unusual micro-climate makes it perfect for growing. Take in the breathtaking scenery and stay at a cute hotel or bed-and-breakfast to learn how it’s also perfect for drinking.