Colorado Top Picks

An insider's guide to the Rocky Mountain State
Rocky Mountain highs: Colorado's Sopris Summit (Abrahm Lustgarten)

For most adventure travelers, outdoor obsessions aren't chosen, they are forced upon you. The impulse to ski or cycle or trek or snowshoe or horseback ride or whatever rises out from some unspecific, inner urge. That need to go out and do whatever makes your adrenaline flow just swells to the point where action isn't an option—it's required. In keeping with that understanding, our list of the very best in Colorado does not play favorites. What follows is organized by season—starting in spring and ending in the winter—because weather is the only thing that dictates whether you can hike or kayak or climb a waterfall. Still, Colorado's climate necessitates a blissful caveat: if it's too cold to hike, chances are you can strap on the skinny skis, which is music to the ears of multisport enthusiasts, one and all.

But enough of the preamble. We'll let our highly opinionated take on what's great in Colorado speak for itself. It's up to you to go out and do it.

Paddle Gore Canyon
From the Blue and Colorado Rivers' confluence, Gore Canyon churns foamy-white down a six-mile chasm of unrelenting Class V rapids. A challenge to any water-worn paddlers, the upper Gore Canyon mellows in its lower half; from the Pumphouse, novices can hop aboard for a family-friendly 14-mile run of Class I and II rapids.'s guide to the Rivers of Upper Colorado

Storming Longs Peak: High-alpine Day-hiking
With 54 fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet) lining Colorado like a high-alpine crown, sure-footed day trippers know they're in the land of plenty. At 14,443 feet, Mount Elbert is the state's highest peak, and the ascent from the trailhead at Independence Pass makes for a grueling, rewarding ascent. Pikes Peak and Mount Evans rest closer to the urban centers and carry an added advantage: several ways up, each with varying skill levels. But to conquer the granddaddy of them all, head to Rocky Mountain National Park and try to bag 14,255-foot Longs Peak.'s guide to Pikes Peak and Mount Evans

Mountain Bike in Crested Butte
Heralded as the fountainhead of mountain biking, Crested Butte provides all the inspiration one on two wheels could need. A lattice of trails unfurls over the sunlit, sprawling valleys and towering 12,000-foot peaks of Gunnison National Forest. The classic Crested Butte mountain biking route, however, is the high-alpine trek from the downtown streets, over 12,705-foot Pearl Pass, and into Aspen. Add on Schofield Pass and the famed singletrack of Route 401 and you've got two of the best hardcore fat-tire days in the Rockies.

Published: 22 Aug 2003 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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