Longform

SPORTS & RECREATION

part 3 of 3

Best Lowdown on Lowriders
Royalty Car Club
James Quintana, president of Arvada's Royalty Car Club, wants to elevate lowriders to a higher calling: keeping kids out of trouble. "Nowadays kids are just trying to find something to do," he says. "We've got something that interests them. We are trying to be a role model for kids." And the club is on a roll, hosting fundraisers for charitable causes and recruiting kids interested in remodeling their bicycles before they move up to the real thing. Quintana's vehicle of choice? A '76 Chevy Caprice, of course.

Best Bargain Pool Game
Washington Park Grill
1096 S. Gaylord St.

Denver has its share of pool-playing places, but there is a place for the deadbeat. The Washington Park Grill (formerly Falcone's) sports three tables on which patrons can shoot for free. Best of all, they're of the nine-foot variety. That's not your standard billiards size, but it's also not the mutantly stubby, phone-book-size felts that pass for pool tables in some bars. Actually, the Wash Park Grill does charge for the tables: a two-drink minimum, something no Fats wannabe would be caught dead without, anyway.

Best Place to Get Shot
Rampart Range Paintball Field
Rampart Range Rd., ten miles west of Sedalia

When you need to get your aggressions out, there's nothing like blasting some loser with a gel cap full of latex. And the best place to let 'er rip is the Rampart Range Paintball Field. The field is huge (about 400 acres, part of which is rented from the National Park Service), and it boasts superb ground coverage, allowing for realistic stalking.

Best Place to Get a Fast Outdoors Fix
Lair o' the Bear Open Space Park
Hwy. 74, just west of Idledale

Had it with the urban jungle? Pining for an evergreen pick-me-up? Here's a solution that will take you only twenty minutes from Denver. Zip out to Morrison via either U.S. 285 or C-470, and drive about six miles west toward Evergreen. Just after you hit the little burg of Idledale, you'll run into Lair o' the Bear Open Space Park. A lovely little creek. A bluffside trail that's idyllic--and empty--during the winter, especially with fresh snow. Ah, wilderness!

Best Mountain Park
Elk Meadow
Hwy. 74, between Bergen Park and Evergreen

This 1,140-acre haven of natural beauty--a favorite for wildflower enthusiasts and wildlife watchers--offers twelve miles of trails for hikers, joggers, skiers and bikers. The literal high point is 9,708-foot Bergen Peak, a favorite destination of hikers and rock climbers.

Best Wildlife Course
Waterton Watershed Series
Front Range Natural Science School, Littleton

The Waterton Watershed Series also qualifies as the best use of a controversial old Denver water treatment plant just downstream from Martin Marietta. The Boulder-based Thorne Ecological Institute, which has been promoting natural sciences for thirty years, was far from all wet when it began working with the Denver Water Department to convert the mothballed facility at the Waterton Canyon Trailhead into a natural-sciences school. The result is this summer's educational series focusing on Colorado's riparian and wetland communities, offering lectures in the classroom and in the field to kids and adults alike.

Best City Park
Confluence Park
2300 block of 15th St.

Confluence Park, the true symbol of all the change that's been taking place in LoDo and the Platte Valley, is a fine bike destination for Cherry Creek and Platte cyclists, with babbling brooks and shallow pools where dogs can swim. There's the nearby Forney Museum and a trolley ride for kids (this includes some pretty big kids), and just across the water, they've broken ground for the new Elitch Gardens. How much more in the center of things can you get?

Best Sunday Drive
Bergen Park to Echo Lake to Idaho Springs
Take Highway 103 out of Bergen Park, and just about everything beautiful about Colorado's mountains awaits you. The view is breathtaking at all points of the compass, and there are several designated picnic areas along the way. About eighteen miles down the road is Echo Lake, where excellent hiking or cross-country skiing abounds. From there the road winds downhill with more gorgeous scenery. Cross-country skiers and hikers will find a number of well-defined pulloffs near access roads and trails for side trips. About twenty miles from Echo Lake, the highway runs into Idaho Springs and I-70.

Best Place to See a Mountain Man in Action
Mountain Man Rendezvous
The Fort Restaurant
U.S. 285 at Hwy. 8, Morrison

The mountain man is alive and well at the Fort Restaurant, where he's graciously allowed to partake in knife-throwing contests and black-powder shooting matches. Participants dress in buckskins and mountain-man attire, traders barter Indian goods and everyone eats buffalo stew. That means you, varmint.

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