Doing Denver Right

Newbie? Native? Something in between? We have fun ideas for everyone in our annual love note to the Mile High City.

The Self-Identified Transplant

You’ve been here two or three years. You know the lingo (14ers, Blucifer), you’ve done a respectable number of hikes, you’ve sampled a bunch of the local beers—and you wonder why it took you so long to move here. Here’s how to immerse yourself even more.

Centennial Canoe illustration
Illustration by Matt Wood

Do an overnight canoe trip
The relaxed two- to three-day float on the Gunnison River between Delta and Whitewater begins at Confluence Park and passes through towering red rock canyons with easy campsites on the riverbanks. Rent a canoe from Centennial Canoe Outfitters.

Spend New Year’s Eve in the Stanley Hotel
Estes Park’s real life inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, which many say is haunted, hosts a lively midnight ball with music, drinks, and—possibly— ghosts.

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Attend a quirky festival
This state has some pretty obscure fests, like Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, where the town celebrates its quirkiest resident, a cryogenically frozen Norwegian man, or the Ouray Ice Festival, a gathering of the world’s best ice climbers.

Make your way up the Manitou Incline
Colorado Springs’ gnarly staircasetrail gains 2,000 feet of elevation in less than a mile. Not for the faint of heart (or lung), the trail reaches grades as steep as 68 degrees. But the view from the top is worth it.

Bike from Denver to Boulder
At 30 miles, the ride to Boulder (mostly along the U.S. 36 Bikeway) will take three to four hours—flat with some tough uphill sections and a long, final coast down into Boulder. Grab lunch in town before taking the Flatiron Flyer bus back.

Ride a historic railway
Party like it’s 1839 on the Georgetown Loop or the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, chugging through the mountains in a historic steam engine. Or take the 64-mile trip along the state border between Chama, N.M., and Antonito, Colo., on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

Great Sand Dunes
Photo by Glenn Oakley

Go sandboarding at the Great Sand Dunes
Take a break from the more common adventure sports and try snowboarding in the summer. You can rent sandboards April through mid-October at the Oasis Store, right next to the dunes.

Keep the state’s open spaces in tip-top shape
Join Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado on a weekend service trip. Do trail maintenance, invasive species management, and ecological restoration in national or state parks and local green spaces.

Work out at Red Rocks
You’ve been to a concert; now head to the amphitheater for a dawn workout. Every morning, you can find fitness nuts jogging the bleachers and running up and down the venue stairs for some high-altitude cardio.

Hikers on West Maroon Pass
Photo by Elle Logan

Hike an iconic trail
The 11-mile route over West Maroon Pass from Aspen to Crested Butte is a rite of passage for real Coloradans. Starting at the popular Maroon Lake, the hike is best during peak summer, when the trail’s breathtaking wildflower fields are in bloom.