It's no secret that Denver is a dog town — our canine friends are everywhere — and Berkeley Lake Dog Park gives our four-legged kings and queens plenty of room to roam off-leash. Its rolling terrain is mostly gravel, which is great for letting pups blow off steam without getting their paws all muddy. There's a separate area for lower-energy dogs to have fun, too, so older pooches and smaller hounds have as much of a chance to go wild as the bigger, giddier fellows. Lovely views of historic Lakeside Amusement Park to the west and Berkeley Lake to the east make the dog park equally inviting for the mutts' people friends, the ones who drive them there.

Readers' choice: Chatfield State Park

Arvada Skate Park

Three years after it opened, the 40,000-square-foot Arvada Skatepark remains the biggest and baddest — and most photogenic — in the state. This one was designed by Team Pain with a "build it big and watch them rise to the occasion" mentality that has clearly come to pass. Go there on any given day to see skaters of all ages tearing around the deep end of the massive snake-run section, carving over a full-sized doorway arch, boosting airs out of the big bowl, and getting creative on some of the most innovative street-course features ever built.

Readers' choice: Denver Skate Park

Leadville and Lake County raised nearly a million dollars over the past five years to overhaul Huck Finn Park, adding tennis courts, an ice-skating rink and one hell of a skate park. The 21,000-square-foot concrete arena was built by Native Skateparks with help from a $350,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (your lottery dollars at work) and sources as diverse as the Tony Hawk Foundation, Leadville Elks Lodge #236 and the Climax Molybdenum mining company's charity golf tournament. The park features a huge left-hand kidney bowl that goes from six feet in the shallow end to nine feet in the deep end; an 8,000-square-foot flow-bowl section; and a straightforward but well-designed street section. Pro tip: Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, because you'll be feeling the 10,200-foot elevation as soon as you start skating.

Climbers in Colorado often have to hike for miles to find frozen waterfalls to scale. At the Ouray Ice Park, all they have to do is walk down the street. Located in the southwestern Colorado hamlet of the same name, the manmade Ouray Ice Park features more than 200 ice and mixed routes up the walls of the Uncompahgre Gorge, a steep canyon that cuts right through town. Every January, the park holds the world's best-known ice-climbing festival, a four-day affair whose competition draws some of winter climbing's top athletes. The park is free to the public, though gear rental will still cost you; San Juan Mountain Guides (ourayclimbing.com) teaches lessons for beginners.

Breckenridge gets its park and pipe up early — in time to host the Dew Tour each December — and keeps the pro-class setup running all season long. Most of the action is accessible from the Peak 8 base area: start in the more moderate Trygve's terrain park, then take Chair 5 up to scope out the bigger features in Park Lane, and watch for thrills and spills on two different triple jump lines and a wide selection of boxes, rails, wall rides and other features. Warmed up? Go big on the four make-it-or-break-it booters and other features in the Freeway terrain park and its 22-foot superpipe, where you'll be joined by more Dew Tour athletes and Olympians than you can shake your GoPro extension pole at.

Readers' choice: A51 Terrain Park, Keystone

Only a handful of resorts in the world have the equipment needed to build 22-foot superpipes to the specifications required by premier events on the World Snowboard Tour, Association of Freeskiing Professionals World Tour and FIS World Cup. Nobody builds them as well as Snow Park Technologies, the team responsible for the X Games pipe at Buttermilk and the Burton U.S. Open pipe at Vail. Buttermilk's U-ditch is at its best just before and just after the X Games in January, then gets sliced and diced and doubled up into a spine ramp for the Red Bull Double Pipe contest in March. It's a truly humbling experience worth dropping in on, if only to better appreciate precisely how nuts a full-on pro ski or snowboarding competition really is.

To follow in the tracks of your 2015 FIS World Ski Championships heroes, head to Beaver Creek and make your way to the 11,440-foot summit, the starting point for the Birds of Prey men's downhill course and, a bit farther down, the Raptor women's downhill course. Stay left on the double-diamond Golden Eagle run to ski the same terrain as the men, or point down Peregrine and Kestrel to get your Lindsey Vonn on. For the full experience, have your friends and family ring cowbells for you as you cruise into Red Tail Stadium before making your way to the new Talons Restaurant for celebratory drinks.

Readers' choice: East Wall, Arapahoe Basin

The best things in life are free, and at Copper Mountain, rides on the Tucker Mountain Snowcat are free with any lift ticket or season pass. The cat picks up at the base of the Mountain Chief chairlift, Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., then dumps you into in-bounds terrain that feels like pure backcountry, including steep chutes and wide-open treeless runs above timberline. Tucker Mountain has been a focus of The 12s, a two-phase high-alpine development plan to expand the resort's offerings on its three peaks above 12,000 feet. The project has also seen the installation of a new T-bar lift on Storm King and the Celebrity Ridge lift, serving Union Peak, Union Meadows, West Ridge and Copper Bowl.

Lift tickets at many Colorado resorts have blown past the $100 mark and are now well on the way to $200, which makes bailing out before the Eisenhower Tunnel more appealing than ever. Loveland's lift tickets start at $51 in the early season — before most other ski areas in North America are even open — and jump to just $63 during the peak season. Once you've got your lift ticket, it gets even better: Sign a waiver at the lift-ticket office to pick up a free pass for Loveland's Ridge Cat, then catch a ride from near the top of Chair 9 that will take you along the North Ridge and save you from some hiking to get to the goods. The wind blows around quite a bit up there, so you're likely to make fresh tracks even if it hasn't snowed in a while. Drop in on double-diamond runs Tickler, Marmot or Rock Chutes for the best thrills money can't buy.

Silverton Mountain
Flickr/Bureau of Lane Management

Ready to step up your game? A mere $999 will get you an all-day heli-skiing or snowboarding experience at Silverton Mountain. You'll ride in the same helicopter that's used to blast avalanche chutes in the area, and be shuttled to six runs on the steepest, deepest and highest-elevation terrain of any ski area in the state. If the 2014-2015 season is any indication, you'll want to book your trip — well in advance — for early March, when you just might get a 100-inch storm to help cushion the blow. Just need a taste? Single heli-drops are also available, for $179. And no worries if your gear is better suited to more conventional ski areas: Silverton can rent you K2 Powder Skis or a locally made Venture Snowboard, as well as a full avalanche equipment package.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of