A few days ago, Denverites were digging out their winter coats, gloves and hats and then shoveling the sidewalks, scraping the car windows and covering up the garden beds, praying that whatever they'd planted after Mother's Day hadn't shriveled up and died.
Now Memorial Day weekend is here — a holiday for hiking (good luck slogging through the muck the snows left behind), biking and, for those who prefer the urban outdoors, hitting amusement parks. Forecasts predict warmer weather than we've seen most of this week — not season lows, at least. Most of the snow has melted, and the sun will be out.
So in true Colorado fashion, many bold souls will break out their bathing suits and flip-flops and head to Elitch Gardens Island King Water Park to celebrate its first weekend of the season — if the weather gods permit. Others will trek to Water World, which turns forty this year and opened earlier in May. (The rest of Elitch Gardens opened in April.)
Both parks are decadent. There's nothing quite so glorious — or optimistic (perhaps even foolhardy) — as splashing around in the high plains desert where the city, growing at a terrifying pace, faces a looming water crisis. But drought's a couple of decades away; we might as well splash while we can.
There's plenty of fun to be had at both Water World and Elitch's, the latter just recognized by Thrillist as one of the eight best water parks in the United States that are fun for adults, too. Neither water park is offering much new this year. Elitch's pride is in its amusement park, where it revamped Ghost Blasters 2, renaming it Kaleidoscape, a psychedelic dark-ride art installation co-produced with Meow Wolf.
With low-cost season passes (currently $69.95) that pay for themselves in just two visits to the park and include all of the rides, Elitch's has become a meeting ground for thrill seekers and families alike. Elitch's is also facing possible demolition and relocation in the next few years, as the city eyes developing the River Mile into another kind of playground. So take a dip and a zip down the slides while you still can.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.