Pepsi Center
True, we'd feel better about praising the Nuggets if the NBA season ended at the halfway point. That way, we could focus on the glorious addition of Chauncey Billups, the belated blossoming of Nene, the return of Kenyon Martin to his pre-Nugs form, the unexpected contributions from players such as Chris "Birdman" Andersen, and so on. After the All-Star break, though, the crew temporarily slipped back to its old ways — especially the ultra-talented Carmelo Anthony, whose game seems to be regressing. The squad remains the cream of Denver's pro-sports franchises — but they should be even creamier.
Being newspaper people, we're big supporters of the freedom-of-speech thing — unless it costs our team fifteen yards. That's why we salute Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley for his brave shushing of fellow WR Brandon Marshall, who after a November touchdown against the Cleveland Browns whipped a glove from his crotch and tried to put it on, in an apparent tribute to Barack Obama, Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos and, perhaps, Michael Jackson. The problem: The display would have cost the Broncos fifteen yards, and possibly the game. That's when Stokley stepped in, pushing the glove out of sight and explaining to Marshall why he should save his politics for the locker room. It worked, the Broncos won the game, and Stokley won our hearts.
Tucked away on the other side of the Continental Divide, on the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River about seven miles above Aspen, lies one of the state's singular treasures: the Devil's Punch Bowl. It's not just a swimming hole; it's Nirvana with a river running through it. Imagine a cool, refreshing stream (okay, it's Ice Station Zebra cold), a glorious, in-the-raw alpine setting (um, would it be too much to ask for a bathroom?) and numerous launching sites for flinging your body into the abyss of a watery embrace (as long as you're not afraid of dizzying heights). Best of all, this mountain-stream madness is but a Frisbee throw from Highway 82 — just close enough to run back, naked and screeching, when Mr. Bear comes stumbling out of the woods looking for an easy meal.
Terrain parks seem to get bigger and badder with each passing season as ski resorts try to find new ways to attract the snow-bro crowd to their lift lines. Colorado certainly has no shortage of Olympic-sized Superpipes, big air jumps and rainbow rails for the young and the reckless to choose from. But sometimes girls and guys just wanna have fun, which is why Keystone's A51 takes the cake. Voted among the top in the nation by both Transworld Snowboarding and Freeskier magazines, A51 balances the heart-pounding mega-features against an assortment of smaller offerings such as wall rides, spine-ramp boxes and culvert tubes. The layout maximizes flow, giving riders more bang (and fun) for their buck.
Trying to find a great place to ride without leaving the city can be a challenge. That's why we love this long stretch of 32nd Avenue. Meet your friends in the Highland neighborhood and then head west. You'll pass through some of Denver's oldest, most picturesque neighborhoods before crossing into Wheat Ridge and zipping by Crown Hill Regional Park. From there, 32nd takes you into Golden, where you end up on the back side of the sprawling Coors brewery and at the base of Colorado's lovely foothills. Let's ride!
Paul Derda Recreation Center
Broomfield's swanky Paul Derda Recreation Center has the answer to all those crummy winter days when the little ones are going stir-crazy — courtesy of its indoor playground. We're not talking about some lousy jungle gym. Think a McDonald's PlayPlace on steroids: a multi-story climbing structure, a labyrinth of rope ladders and fun-house tunnels, even tandem super-long slides. Best of all, you don't need to throw down for a Happy Meal, because the whole thing is free for families. And since it's all swathed in safety padding, the only tears you'll see are the ones that start when you tell them it's time to go home.

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