One of my primary motivations for relocating from California to Colorado was to experience a winter season in the Rockies. I’ve been a snowboarder for as long as I can remember, and I finally felt in a place where I could relinquish my love for the Sierras to a range further east.. at least for the time being. All that being said, I was so fixated on the glory of the snow that I had completely neglected to explore what opportunities lie in a Colorado summer. Since completing my first year at GSSW, I have spent the last couple of months traipsing around this glorious city/state and it has been completely rejuvenating. Here is are some of the highlights so far
1. Steamboat Springs, CO
My first weekend of the summer, I headed west for what ended up becoming my favorite mountain town to date. Steamboat Springs is internationally renowned for its impressive ski resort, natural hot springs, and lively history of winter sports milestones. However, only in the early summer months does the entire town and surrounding peaks become engulfed with lush greenery and vibrant flowers, setting a gorgeous backdrop for various activities. While biking, kayaking, and river rafting are advertised as “absolute musts,” it’s truly a town for all interests-be it outdoorsy activities, art galleries, museums, theater, fine dining, etc. I actually participated in the Steamboat Springs Marathon (which by the way, up until a few years ago was deemed “one of the top ten most beautiful marathons in the nation by Runner’s Magazaine) which was pretty amazing. It was my first time pulling out 26.2 miles on foot, and while it may not have been my finest athletic performance, there was little to disrupt the serenity and beauty experienced in every direction of the race.
2. Manitou Springs, CO
A sleepy little town just south of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs is home to the epic Garden of the Gods Landmark and the brutally steep, “Incline Hike.” Garden of the Gods is an accessible park comprised of incredibly beautiful red rock formations. While much isn’t to be said that can’t be better stated with pictures, I found this experience to be one of a kind in its opportunities not only to hike, drive, or horseback ride through the area, but also to climb atop and rummage around upon these gorgeous natural creations.
The Incline on the other hand, was mostly pretty painful. The hike, just shy of a mile, rises over 2,000 ft in elevation from bottom to top. Thank God the views are so breathtaking when it’s all over!
3. All things RED ROCKS
Year after year, Red Rocks Amphitheater continues to be deemed the absolute BEST concert venue in the nation, as well as a great exercise locale, meditation site, and outdoor movie theater. That’s right… each week beginning in June this stellar venue provides showings of the some the finest flicks ever made, including but not limited to The Big Lebowski, Caddyshack, and my personal favorite, The Labyrinth. Whenever considering what a summer in Denver has to offer, this front range hot spot provides a plethora of too-good-to-pass-up happenings.
4. Denver PRIDE
While PRIDE Parades are not uncommon in most larger cities and/or state capitols, the Denver PRIDE celebration ranks among the top ten in the nation. It was a remarkable weekend full of celebratory parties, concerts, and delicious drag. The parade was also pretty spectacular, beginning at the heart of the city in Cheesman Park, winding through capital hill, marching down Colfax, and ending at Civic Center Park. The gorgeous weather and colorful people made for a truly memorable PRIDE weekend.
Rockies games are an absolute blast. PERIOD! And it was a heck of a way to spend my first 4th of July in the mile-high.
6. Hiking/Camping/Anything Outside
It’s no surprise that one the fittest cities in the country is clearly one of the most active. What I have been loving (and will continue to appreciate) about Colorado, specifically Denver, is the genuine enjoyment and NORMALCY of people being outside and loving all things active. Not to over-generalize too much, but it’s pretty incredible to see so many folks out and about on the weekends, experiencing the Rocky Mountains by foot, boat, bike, etc., and loving every minute of it. I fear that the summer will be over before I’m able to get all the camping/hiking/exploring in that will hold me over when school begins again. Some of my favorite trips have been up to Nederlands, Idaho Springs, and Mt. Bierstadt. Here’s hoping for another slew of gorgeous trips before the season’s end.