Summer Bucket List: Colorado
It’s no surprise that Colorado set a national record for most-visited state in 2014, with 71.3 million tourists. It’s got 14,000-foot peaks, world-class rivers, and hundreds of miles of singletrack. Here, we outline the 21 best ways to play in the Centennial State this summer.
You won’t see a geological phenomenon like this anywhere else. With dunes as high as 750 feet, a mountain creek running past the base, and high peaks all around…well, just go. Camp at Piñon Flats and hike early or late to avoid scalding midsummer sand temperatures.
The trail runner’s answer to the Tetons’ Grand Traverse, this 16.4-mile route along the crest of the Tenmile Range climbs 8,100 feet and links Frisco and Breckenridge via 10 peaks 12,500 feet or taller, topping out with Peak 10 at 13,633 feet. A few points require airy class 3 scrambling. A good time is eight hours.
The trails and trailhead camping are unmatched in Fruita. Joe’s Ridge and Zippety qualify as roller coaster-esque, and the Edge Loop is deserving of its classic status. Just beware: Campsites fill up fast on weekends.
This 28-mile loop within the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is one of the crown jewels of the Elk Range, itself one of the crown-jewel ranges in the state. You’ll cross four high-alpine passes—West Maroon (12,500 feet), Frigid Air (12,415), Trail Rider (12,420), and Buckskin (12,500)—and numerous creeks.
Not only do you get to pedal the highest paved road in the U.S., you finish atop 14,130-foot Mt. Evans. From Idaho Springs, the pavement snakes up 6,724 feet and covers 30 miles, much of it above treeline. Each July, 1,200 people race the Bob Cook Memorial Hill Climb in honor of the five-time winner who died of cancer at age 23.
Arguably the world’s coolest concert venue, Red Rocks Amphitheater hosts a nonstop lineup of A-list acts from May to October. This year’s list ranges from the Lumineers to Bob Dylan.
No urban region in America offers a better backyard workout than the Manitou Springs Incline, an old cable-car route that climbs 2,000 feet in a single mile on the flank of Pikes Peak, just outside Colorado Springs. Get there early this summer: it closes from August 22 to December 2 for repairs.
It’s too late to sign up for the Leadville Trail 100 running or mountain-biking races this year (the field is picked mostly via lottery). But it can be almost as moving, figuratively speaking, to head out on course and take in the Cloud City’s most iconic events.
No Colorado adventure is more frontier-y than boarding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train with four days’ worth of supplies and riding into the San Juan range for a peak-bagging adventure. The Chicago Basin holds endless objectives, including fourteeners Sunlight, Eolus, and Windom.