This page is so handy and neat, you'll never again mail away for another brochure in anticipation of planning your Colorado camping trip. Want to go swimming? Rock climbing? Sailboarding? With a mouse for a muse, you can easily find the park that best suits your interests and specific needs, whether it's birdwatching, interpretive programs, school programs, wildlife watching, ice fishing or whatever. All you've got to do is log on and select from activities, facilities or specific parks -- then click, click, click, you'll be out in the sticks.

Nomadic Mongolians became a horde because they knew how to survive, and you can bet the yurt played a part in their survival: A circular, portable tent that kept them warm while they hoofed it through the frigid wasteland, the yurt is now proving to be a popular alternative for winter campers in Colorado. Colorado State Parks now offers yurt accommodations -- skylighted, low-impact canvas tents wrapped around wooden frames and featuring wood-burning, gas or electric heat -- by reservation at State Forest and Ridgway state parks, for a reasonable fee (also coming soon to Pearl Lake, Mancos and Golden Gate state parks).

Nomadic Mongolians became a horde because they knew how to survive, and you can bet the yurt played a part in their survival: A circular, portable tent that kept them warm while they hoofed it through the frigid wasteland, the yurt is now proving to be a popular alternative for winter campers in Colorado. Colorado State Parks now offers yurt accommodations -- skylighted, low-impact canvas tents wrapped around wooden frames and featuring wood-burning, gas or electric heat -- by reservation at State Forest and Ridgway state parks, for a reasonable fee (also coming soon to Pearl Lake, Mancos and Golden Gate state parks).

They love their Greater Prairie Chickens up in Yuma County, where every spring the citizens like to provide ringside seats to the biggest show in town: The lucky folks who sign up are taken out to the lek (or booming ground) at four in the morning to watch the male prairie chickens do their strange and amazing song and dance for the chicks. You have to go there yourself to truly find out why it's called a booming ground, but it has something to do with the incredible bassoon-like bellowing that occurs when the randy boy chickens strut, flap and go head to head, all the while inflating and deflating bright red balloon-like air sacs on their necks in a desperate attempt to attract female attention. Sure, you could sit at home and watch Animal Planet instead, but trust us on this one: There's nothing else like it. Make your reservations early.
They love their Greater Prairie Chickens up in Yuma County, where every spring the citizens like to provide ringside seats to the biggest show in town: The lucky folks who sign up are taken out to the lek (or booming ground) at four in the morning to watch the male prairie chickens do their strange and amazing song and dance for the chicks. You have to go there yourself to truly find out why it's called a booming ground, but it has something to do with the incredible bassoon-like bellowing that occurs when the randy boy chickens strut, flap and go head to head, all the while inflating and deflating bright red balloon-like air sacs on their necks in a desperate attempt to attract female attention. Sure, you could sit at home and watch Animal Planet instead, but trust us on this one: There's nothing else like it. Make your reservations early.
Chris and Phil Switzer may be the state's foremost alpaca people -- they were the first in the region to raise the woolly creatures, and Chris -- who has a college degree in weaving -- has published a primer on how to spin llama and alpaca wool and runs workshops at the annual Estes Park Wool Market. Phil has credentials, too -- he helped form the Estes Park-based Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, is a certified fleece judge and has run the alpaca tent at the wool market. And when they're not attending to all those duties, the couple raises and sells the fleecy beasts, keeping a herd of about fifty sweet and cuddly camelids (the babies are especially cute). Visitors should call ahead, and plan to peruse the Switzer's store for weaving supplies, fiber, books, tools and finished items. It's nothing to spit at.

Chris and Phil Switzer may be the state's foremost alpaca people -- they were the first in the region to raise the woolly creatures, and Chris -- who has a college degree in weaving -- has published a primer on how to spin llama and alpaca wool and runs workshops at the annual Estes Park Wool Market. Phil has credentials, too -- he helped form the Estes Park-based Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, is a certified fleece judge and has run the alpaca tent at the wool market. And when they're not attending to all those duties, the couple raises and sells the fleecy beasts, keeping a herd of about fifty sweet and cuddly camelids (the babies are especially cute). Visitors should call ahead, and plan to peruse the Switzer's store for weaving supplies, fiber, books, tools and finished items. It's nothing to spit at.

These are programs with meat on their bones -- whether it's a daylong school field trip or a two-week summer camp, the kids involved are truly there, participating and learning as they go. One of the best and most novel is Women Afield, a series of daylong workshops designed to encourage an interest in science among girls ages twelve through eighteen -- a group that traditionally shuns such studies. But there's also a three-hour Bird Studies Extreme birdwatching trek for kids in grades four and up, as well extended camps for teens, featuring classroom instruction and hands-on field training right alongside the pros.
These are programs with meat on their bones -- whether it's a daylong school field trip or a two-week summer camp, the kids involved are truly there, participating and learning as they go. One of the best and most novel is Women Afield, a series of daylong workshops designed to encourage an interest in science among girls ages twelve through eighteen -- a group that traditionally shuns such studies. But there's also a three-hour Bird Studies Extreme birdwatching trek for kids in grades four and up, as well extended camps for teens, featuring classroom instruction and hands-on field training right alongside the pros.
Ritchie Center for Sports and Wellness
When you start with a state-of-the-art facility, the rest simply falls into place. The brand-new Ritchie Center for Sports and Wellness more than qualifies, offering just about every sport under the sun beneath its shiny copper skin: youth hockey leagues, figure skating, basketball, gymnastics, lacrosse, swimming, climbing for kids and more. There are also various summer camps, including overnight and day soccer camps, tennis and volleyball camps and all-inclusive sessions divided up by age groups. Plus, if it's a little R&R you're seeking for yourself, you can pack off the young ones at the center's Little Pioneer Place, which offers drop-off child care for up to two hours.

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