Best Dog Park 2017 | Westminster Hills Dog Park | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
City of Westminster

With its 420 acres of trails, dog swimming ponds and panoramic views of the Front Range and Standley Lake, Westminster Hills Dog Park is popular with pooches and peeps alike. From the wide-open dirt entrance that's perfect for pups who want to play ball and socialize to the miles of winding, singletrack-style paths and wider, gravel-lined Jeep roads, the partially fenced park also features a dog drinking fountain and shaded benches for tuckered-out owners, who can walk, run or bicycle alongside their canines. Periodic volunteer days keep the park clean, and trash cans and bags are conveniently posted near the entrance.

Readers' Choice: Cherry Creek State Park

Landlocked Colorado may lack an ocean, but it still has a surprising number of beaches. Not only can you boat, fish, water-ski and jet-ski at Chatfield State Park, but you can also just soak up the rays on the sweet swim beach, a half-mile stretch of soft sand sloping into the reservoir. The area, which is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, also has restrooms, a concession stand and a first-aid station — amenities you won't always find on either coast. The day-pass fee is just $8 per vehicle; pack a cooler and don't forget the sunscreen.

Readers' Choice: Bear Creek Lake Park

Necessity is the mother of all invention, and nowhere is that truer than at Arapahoe County's South Platte River Run Park. When the cities of Littleton, Englewood and Sheridan needed flood mitigation and drainage-fixing, they dreamed up the $15 million park, a mile stretch of outdoor fun along the Platte in Arapahoe County that will solve their water woes — and treats residents to splash-tastic fun. Although the entire park won't be finished until 2018, one of its more unique amenities opened last year: man-made waves on the Platte for surfers. The finished park will include a playground and protected habitat for wildlife, so you can hang ten in a totally environmentally chill way, brah.

Thanks to its location in the center of the city and its huge variety of recreational options, Washington Park is one of Denver's favorite places to gather — and people-watching can be even better from the water. Wheel Fun Rentals, the park's nautical concessionaire, provides plenty of ways to float, including kayaks, double kayaks, canoes and even stand-up paddle boards. But our favorites are the pedal boats, available at reasonable hourly rates in both two- and four-seat models. They're easy to maneuver even for landlubbers, and give peddlers a great angle on Denver at play. Explore the possibilities at

Weir Gulch takes the urban wanderer on a trek encompassing many gorgeous west Denver working-class 'hoods, including Westwood, Barnum, Barnum West, Villa Park and Sun Valley. Sections of the trail are secluded thanks to mature trees and tall grass, while other parts of the hike include crossing busy streets aboveground as water travels below street level in concrete pipes. Catch views of the mountains to the west as the pathway ambles through tracts of low-slung homes, or take in the cityscape as seen at the crest of Barnum Park, where Federal Boulevard and Sixth Avenue cut up the green space. The route is dotted with playgrounds and basketball courts, shaded areas for resting and a handful of public restrooms. This unique combination of wooded expanses, lush greenbelts and metropolitan elements makes Weir Gulch the perfect trail for understanding and enjoying Denver's mountains-meets-rural-meets-urban geographical personality.

West Center Drive and South Sheridan Boulevard to the Platte River

It's hikers-only on the Mount Galbraith Loop near Golden, a moderately strenuous, 4.9-mile lollipop trek that gains about 1,100 feet in elevation and features fab views of Denver, Golden, the Front Range, Golden Gate Canyon and Clear Creek Canyon. Start out on the Cedar Gulch trail, and on hot days head for shade right away by turning right onto the Mount Galbraith Loop; the trail is lined with ponderosa pines and spruce. Climbs in and out of several ravines and rocky sections make it a little more challenging. Dogs on a leash are allowed, and they can be helpful in alerting you to the bighorn sheep clambering around the canyons.

Readers' Choice: Red Rocks Trail

Everyone knows about the Maroon Bells — most photographed, most famous, most iconic, etc. — but not everyone has successfully climbed them. Many try, but because of the peaks' location next to Aspen, in the heart of Colorado tourist country, most of the attempts are by beginners who have never been on a Fourteener in their lives. That's what makes this an ideal trek for that hotshot know-it-all relative who succeeds at everything. Maybe he'll make it, maybe he won't, but if he does, he'll talk about it for a year, and if he doesn't, it's likely to be a very public humiliation. Of the two summits, Maroon Peak (Class 3; 14,156 feet) is a little easier than its sister less than half a mile away, North Maroon Peak (Class 4; 14,014 feet), so the chances for making it are better. The views from both are spectacular.

Readers' Choice: Longs Peak

In 2008, Vail closed Minnie's Lift, which had been getting skiers and snowboarders to the Back Bowls since 1972, including the advanced terrain in Sun Up Bowl, as well as the China Bowl complex and Blue Sky Basin. Now that lift is back and better than ever: Renamed the Sun Up Express (#9), this Leitner-Poma lift is a high-speed quad, replacing Minnie's triple chair, and has reopened access to 1,285 acres of skiable terrain. Vail estimates that the ride to the top of Sun Up Bowl now takes less than four minutes, which is plenty of time to scout your lines.

Readers' Choice: Keystone gondola

Not only will Granny find Mount Sherman to be a walk-up, but truth be told, you can get so close to the trailhead in the car that she could probably throw an orthopedic hiking boot at the summit. The hike is really a mere five-mile stroll that gains 2,100 feet in elevation, but there's so much more to enjoy: The mountain is named after General William Tecumseh Sherman, and so there's history to chat about on the way, along with old mining buildings and abandoned mine shafts near the trail to explore. Add in sprawling wildflower meadows and the fact that Mount Sherman is only about seven miles from Leadville, one of Colorado's famous mining towns, and this could turn sweet old Meemaw into a hard-core peak-bagger.

Mosquito Range, near Leadville

Readers' Choice: Mount Bierstadt

Skiers and snowboarders can't just drop into Winter Park's Dark Territory; you have to be "pre-certified," which puts enough people off that the place is often empty. But that's just silly, because pre-certification is easy: Watch a twenty-minute video, sign a liability waiver, pay $20, and then you're good to go for the rest of the season, ready to take on the extremely advanced and technical terrain. The section, located in lower Rail Yard, hosts all the biggest features, with better rail lines and big drops on the jumps, including a stair rail, multiple replicates, and 55- and 60-foot set-downs. And it's only experts like you, cheering on each other's comps and trying out some tricks minus the input of looky-loos. Don't want to take the time to get certified? There are six other terrain parks in Winter Park for all skill levels and interests.

Readers' Choice: Ruby Hill

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