Rocky Mountain Audio Guides, which produced a CD titled Walking Tour of Denver's Historic Lower Downtown in 2003, expanded its reach last year with a cell-phone hookup. Founder Barb Rigel's idea was to have folks who might want to tune into the cityscape dial a number, enter a credit-card number (for $15), and then listen for up to eighty minutes as a recorded expert tells them where to go in LoDo. While the CDs are still available at places such as the Tattered Cover, Rigel hopes this will allow folks to get even fresher insights on places such as Skyline Park. Good call!

Just an hour and a half from Denver -- and a short, soul-restoring drive out of Colorado Springs -- Manitou Springs has got to be one of the most wonderfully weird places in Colorado, if not the world. Laden with kitschy mementos of the auto-mad '50s, when travelers motored west to mountains and drive-up motels, Manitou is a combination tourist trap and liberal enclave, an artists' community with a disproportionately large number of cigar-store Indians and ice-cream parlors. Victorian houses lie in colorful clusters across a mountain valley, and nutritious, mineral-laden spring water runs freely from taps all along the charming main street. There's an old-fashioned arcade, complete with nickel pinball machines and shooting games, and kiosks that sell lollipops and rock candy. Santa Claus sets up shop here in the off-season. And who can blame him? Manitou's a quick, easy escape from city life -- and reality.


Just an hour and a half from Denver -- and a short, soul-restoring drive out of Colorado Springs -- Manitou Springs has got to be one of the most wonderfully weird places in Colorado, if not the world. Laden with kitschy mementos of the auto-mad '50s, when travelers motored west to mountains and drive-up motels, Manitou is a combination tourist trap and liberal enclave, an artists' community with a disproportionately large number of cigar-store Indians and ice-cream parlors. Victorian houses lie in colorful clusters across a mountain valley, and nutritious, mineral-laden spring water runs freely from taps all along the charming main street. There's an old-fashioned arcade, complete with nickel pinball machines and shooting games, and kiosks that sell lollipops and rock candy. Santa Claus sets up shop here in the off-season. And who can blame him? Manitou's a quick, easy escape from city life -- and reality.

The DOW conducts workshops around the state that amount to a four-hour crash course in how to sharpen your senses, pick the right binoculars, read the habitat and turn yourself into the Crocodile Hunter. Each course ends with a nature walk to put your new skills into action -- for example, studying a coyote family making the rounds of Aurora's Plains Conservation Center. With enthusiastic instructors and a cost of $15 per family, getting wild proves contagious.


The DOW conducts workshops around the state that amount to a four-hour crash course in how to sharpen your senses, pick the right binoculars, read the habitat and turn yourself into the Crocodile Hunter. Each course ends with a nature walk to put your new skills into action -- for example, studying a coyote family making the rounds of Aurora's Plains Conservation Center. With enthusiastic instructors and a cost of $15 per family, getting wild proves contagious.

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.


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.

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