Best Swimming Hole 2021 | Confluence Park | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Yes, there are smarter places to go swimming in metro Denver than Confluence Park. But is there anywhere that's more fun? People will warn you that the water's not safe and that syringes and broken glass cover the ground — and they're probably right. Still, on a blistering summer day, cooling off where the South Platte River and Cherry Creek collide is just what the doctor ordered. Keep your shoes on, don't drink the water, and plan on showering after your dip. But when you do take the plunge, know that swimming at that spot is a tradition that long pre-dates Denver's founding, and it's one that won't go away any time soon.

With 21 percent of its trails marked as beginner, Copper Mountain makes itself known as a ski resort that wants to get you started. West Ten Mile is one of its most forgiving and widest green runs, and it's usually so much less crowded than other easy runs that it's a veritable boulevard of unbroken (read: ungroomed) dreams on a powder day. Take the Kokomo lift to the Lumberjack lift, then get ready to practice carving those turns. Go ahead and face-plant, because everyone else is a beginner, too, and they're at least a football field away. And if you get tired of being a gaper (that's you, newbie, and the "gaper gap" is a telltale sign: Your helmet should be snug against those goggles), you can head to the tubing hill for guaranteed top-to-bottom thrills with no spills.

A longtime favorite of both locals and out-of-towners, the Pallavicini (aka Pali) lift has held a special place in their cold, wind-shredded hearts, even more so now that the circa 1978 lift has been retired. But fear not: The new chair is a double with a capacity of 1,200 peeps per hour, which means even more expert-level skiers and shredders can take advantage of Gauthier, a 46-degree monster pitch that's known locally as 5th Alley. Adding to the fun is its crazy-narrow lane; you'll often see skiers double-checking their bindings as they wait to drop in. Find this rocky, raucous gully by cutting across the snow fence off the lift, then start down the 4th Alley (another fun chute), and keep your goggles peeled for signs to Gauthier. Godspeed.

During a season when many skiers were looking for solitude — and trying to avoid making new friends in lift lines — uphill skiing became increasingly popular. And while almost any slope could look inviting to those willing to tackle the climb, Aspen definitely made uphill skiers feel welcome, with all four of the area's mountains — Aspen, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk — allowing uphill skiing during operational hours (with some variation on the rules because of COVID), along with two-day uphilling clinics and America's Uphill Race in March. It's all downhill from here!

It may not be part of one of the famous hut systems that traverse the state, but Weston Pass Hut, situated between Leadville and Fairplay, is every bit as comfortable and cool a backcountry experience (it's got all the hut basics and sleeps twenty) as those better-known mountain shelters. In true hut fashion, it requires a bit of a haul — via skis, snowshoes, snowmobiles or snowcat — to access in winter, with views of Mount Holy Cross and endless open sky en route. In summer, though, the hike or bike to this cozy, rustic lodging at 11,950 feet offers high-alpine wildflower-blanketed meadows and random wildlife sightings. Even better is that the owners — mostly longtime Leadville locals — constructed the solar-powered structure using earth for three of the walls and the roof.

While everyone else heads to Janet's and Francie's cabins in the Summit system, hardcore hikers and cross-country skiers make a six-mile beeline to well above treeline at Section House, a renovated 1882 building that sleeps twelve and overlooks South Park and Breckenridge on Boreas Pass at 11,481 feet. The road is closed to this winter-only lodging — which sits well past the also-intimate Ken's Cabin — adding to the isolation and stone-cold quiet, and if the altitude doesn't get you, the views of the Continental Divide from the no-frills historic cabin will take your breath away. Pretend you're one of the railroaders who lived in this old mining town by firing up the wood oven and reliving the days of the pit-toilet outhouse.

Although the Barstool Sportsbook mobile app has not yet landed in Colorado, the Barstool Sportsbook retail space at the Ameristar Black Hawk is definitely a welcome addition to the scene. In this well-designed area, bettors can grab a beer from the sportsbook bar, place a bet at the in-person counter and take in games from one of the many large, flat-screen TVs. Stoolies can geek out over the Barstool-themed nature of the space, and those feeling adventurous can even play card games, as the Ameristar has tables with dealers set up inside the sportsbook.

Conor McCormick-Cavanagh

While sports bettors around Colorado can place bets on mobile apps, placing wagers in person is limited to sportsbooks at casinos. But if you want to stay in Denver, the Celtic on Market — an official off-track-betting facility as well as a great Irish bar — offers the next best thing through its FanDuel Cash at Counter partnership, which lets you bet on the games, then watch them in the big first-floor bar.

Some of us don't want to do CrossFit or bike 25 miles on a Thursday night. Some of us just want to throw a little sack and drink some beers. Or go bowling and drink some beers. Or play mini golf and drink some beers. (Now, that's true coordination and performance.) The Rocky Mountain Bar League has these very athletic activities covered for you, hosting regular bouts of bowling and cornhole at bars like Moe's BBQ, the Dive Inn and Stoney's Bar and Grill, as well as booze-friendly putt-putt at Aqua Golf. League and tournament options are opening up in May, so get the crew together and start training for fun this summer.Best Sports Bar for WatchingGames
Dylan Burkhardt
Give us a beer and a comfortable seat, put that seat in front of a TV, and put that TV on the game we need to watch, no matter how obscure. That's what we want from a sports bar, and that's what the original Stoney's — with 31 HD TVs and two projection screens — is all too happy to provide. We're still not sure what team Stoney's represents the most — show up on a football Sunday and try to figure it out yourself — but that please-everyone mentality ensures that there's a spot for you at this big bar. (We like the location at 1035 East 17th Avenue, too, but the Lincoln Street spot is our go-to). And since Stoney's has a subscription to DirecTV (the only major cable carrier of Altitude Sports in Denver), you can go to the bar without worrying whether you'll be able to see the Nuggets or Avalanche. Watching the game in the world today takes everything you've got on some weekends, but at Stoney's, everyone knows your team. Maybe even your name.

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