For a state obsessed with fourteeners, it's odd that many overlook Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado at 14,433 feet. Part of the disdain may be because Elbert's neighbor, Mt. Massive, is thought to be more impressive; a few fanatics reportedly even piled rocks on top of Massive to make it more, well, massive. But Elbert's still the king. The approximately five-hour hike up, which experts call "relatively moderate," hasn't gotten any harder since the hill was first summited in 1873. But if you camp nearby -- Mt. E. is located about 140 miles west of Denver -- and get up early, you can bag the best by noon.

The Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort is open year-round, tapping the geothermal springs in Chalk Creek. When the 135-degree water mixes with the icy river flow, it causes a double-barreled blast of relaxation. There are two man-made pools on the sometimes funky site that offer more tepid waters, at 85 and 105 degrees. Those who've climbed one of the Collegiate Peaks or Mt. Elbert -- or nothing at all -- will find the hot springs a welcome respite for an afternoon. Just pray that the summertime thunderstorms don't roll through: The operators close the place in case of lightning.

The Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort is open year-round, tapping the geothermal springs in Chalk Creek. When the 135-degree water mixes with the icy river flow, it causes a double-barreled blast of relaxation. There are two man-made pools on the sometimes funky site that offer more tepid waters, at 85 and 105 degrees. Those who've climbed one of the Collegiate Peaks or Mt. Elbert -- or nothing at all -- will find the hot springs a welcome respite for an afternoon. Just pray that the summertime thunderstorms don't roll through: The operators close the place in case of lightning.

Herman's Gulch, just off I-70 at Exit 218, can sometimes have a clutter of cars at the trailhead, but don't worry: These are similar sorts seeking a quickie escape. And what an escape it is. Once you get beyond the cars -- and out of earshot of the Ski Way, which is only about a mile from the gulch -- all hikers will hear is the sound of a running stream and the birds. Bring a lunch to fend off a grumbling stomach while taking in the views of a pristine lake. The round-trip trek takes only a few hours, but it can seem like a getaway. If it's still not far enough, more determined hikers can take a fork at Jones Pass toward the Continental Divide.

Herman's Gulch, just off I-70 at Exit 218, can sometimes have a clutter of cars at the trailhead, but don't worry: These are similar sorts seeking a quickie escape. And what an escape it is. Once you get beyond the cars -- and out of earshot of the Ski Way, which is only about a mile from the gulch -- all hikers will hear is the sound of a running stream and the birds. Bring a lunch to fend off a grumbling stomach while taking in the views of a pristine lake. The round-trip trek takes only a few hours, but it can seem like a getaway. If it's still not far enough, more determined hikers can take a fork at Jones Pass toward the Continental Divide.

This ten-year-old nonprofit helps preserve environmental giants by enlisting volunteer crews to rebuild trails, pick up garbage and generally buff up Colorado's biggest, and often most used, peaks. Last year, Mount Massive (14,421 feet), south of Leadville, and Wetterhorn Peak (a puny 14,015 feet), near Lake City, got makeovers. Volunteers don't get paid, but they do get equipment, food and a lofty sense of satisfaction.


This ten-year-old nonprofit helps preserve environmental giants by enlisting volunteer crews to rebuild trails, pick up garbage and generally buff up Colorado's biggest, and often most used, peaks. Last year, Mount Massive (14,421 feet), south of Leadville, and Wetterhorn Peak (a puny 14,015 feet), near Lake City, got makeovers. Volunteers don't get paid, but they do get equipment, food and a lofty sense of satisfaction.

Best Online Source for Mountaineering Activities

Colorado Mountain Club

The Colorado Mountain Club has plenty going on. Active since 1912 (though without a website back then), the group has helped foster a love of wilderness here and elsewhere. With activities ranging from hikes to investigations into science, art and literature, this is a portal that can open minds to the possibilities of getting outside. The CMC reminds us why we live here.

Best Online Source for Mountaineering Activities

Colorado Mountain Club

The Colorado Mountain Club has plenty going on. Active since 1912 (though without a website back then), the group has helped foster a love of wilderness here and elsewhere. With activities ranging from hikes to investigations into science, art and literature, this is a portal that can open minds to the possibilities of getting outside. The CMC reminds us why we live here.

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