Family Weekender: Denver

Mile High Fun for Families
By Bill Scanlon
  |  Gorp.com
Go Guide: Ruby Hill

Activities: Mountainboarding 

Who can go: 9 and up 

Hours from Denver: In Denver 

Getting There: Take I-25 south from downtown Denver to Santa Fe Drive south. Exit right at Platte River Drive. Take the drive that parallels the river on the west. Turn west on Jewell Avenue and follow signs to the park. 

Contact: www.mountainboard.com
 

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The mountains of Colorado are always beckoning intrepid families. When the kids ache for more adventure than they can find at the local mall, parents can turn to a wonderland of hiking, bicycling, whitewater paddling and backpacking.

Just an hour or two from Denver are day or weekend excursions that can exhilarate or exhaust families of all ages. From riding the rapids down the Arkansas to taking the last step up Grays Peak, Colorado's outdoor magic will enchant the entire family. Hikers, be sure to hit: The Royal Arch Trail near Boulder, the Bierstadt Lake Trail, Grays Peak, James Peak and the Onahu Creek Trail. There's great biking to be had at both Rampart Reservoir and Winter Park, or enroll at kayak school at Salida. Anyone for mountain boarding? Read on!

Mountain Boarding on Ruby Hill

It feels like a trip down a mountain on a snowboard, except you keep asking,"What's going on here? Where's the snow?''

Gear up with pads protecting your wrists, knees and elbows, and make sure you wear a good helmet. Start small, on a gentle slope of six to eight degrees. And for goodness sakes, remember to slalom!

If your kids get frustrated trying to stand on snowboards, they'll be happy to know that the learning curve is much faster on mountain boards. Their eight-inch wheels and suspension system makes it much easier to gain control without grinding on toes or heels.

The challenge is to find a shop that will rent mountain boards. Most just sell them now, and the boards start at $179.

Jason and Joel Lee of Colorado Springs run the largest mountain-board manufacturing plant in the nation, as well as a retail store where they sell boards and can set up lessons. Check out their web site at www.mountainboard.com, which has loads of instructional and safety tips.

After the family has mastered the slopes in the neighborhood, try Ruby Hill in southwest Denver, just west of the South Platte River, south of Evans Avenue. There you'll find the occasional mountain-boarder, from first-timers to pros, going down slopes from bunny to gnarly.


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