Praising some favorite outdoor getaways around Colorado




The Gazette, Colorado Springs


A storied, river-cut region on the state’s southeastern plains. A ridge spanning the alpine for miles and miles. A campground near the headwaters of the Colorado River, perfect for the family. The rocky, desert uplift dominating the Western Slope. The parks and open spaces right out our back doors. These were some of the places we heard outdoorsy Coloradans talk about when we asked them the question: What place are you most thankful for? We ask the question this time every year. It is a time of thanks, after all — an ideal time to reflect on this vast, wild state that we call home. What place are you most thankful for? We ask to instill in all of us a sense of gratitude: India Wood, long-distance hiker and writer, Boulder The Purgatoire River region, way southeast of Pueblo, inspires me with a more complicated beauty and history than one finds in the mountains. The pronghorn antelope, jackrabbits, coral-colored racer snakes and turkey vultures complement the beauty of sandstone canyons and awkward cholla cactus. History begins here with a Jurassic dinosaur trackway and walks you through thousands of years of Indian rock art and the stone ruins of early Spanish settlements. I love the ambrosia scent of buffalo gourd flowers here in June. Chris Fisher, mountain athlete, Breckenridge The Mosquito-tenmile Range ridgeline is one of my favorite places in Colorado to adventure and push limits. The ridgeline is very unique; from Weston Pass it stays above 13,000 feet for roughly 31 miles, until you get to Peak 10 in the Tenmile range. This terrain serves as a test to one’s endurance at high altitude for a long trek as well as the reward taking in the incredible views as you tag 29 different summits. Jolie Nesmith, executive director of Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Colorado Springs My go-to is Red Rock Canyon Open Space because it is close to home. While I avoid it a lot during the summer, I absolutely love it during the shoulder seasons and especially on snow days. The rock formations always make for interesting lighting, and in certain parts of the park it is absolutely silent. There are several views of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods that always fill my soul with gratitude for the opportunity to live here. Luis Benitez, outdoor industry leader, Denver My hands-down favorite place in the summer in Colorado is a small, little enclave along the headwaters of the Colorado river called Rancho Del Rio. While it may seem more like a boat ramp/car camping scene, with a 7-year-old who loves rafting and fishing and standup paddleboarding, it’s an easy place to basecamp out of with little ones. Drive up and paddle and fish and swim all day, then come back to camp to a fire next to the river to watch the other paddlers come in for the evening. Alex Derr, The Next Summit blog, Aurora I’m particularly thankful for Mount Bierstadt, the closest fourteener to Denver. While a lot of people avoid the peak because of how busy it is in the summer months, having a fourteener just an hour’s drive from home is an amazing privilege. I’m especially grateful to be able to visit in autumn, when there is some solitude, snow and spectacular fall colors. Renata Raziano, mountain bike advocate, Montrose I am grateful to have the Uncompahgre Plateau accessible out my back door. Rising up to 10,000 feet, it stretches across a large part of western Colorado. I have lived in Montrose for over 10 years, and every year I discover new areas of this vast plateau to explore. On my mountain bike, gravel bike or camping with my family, it is a great place to experience canyons and forests without the crowds that other mountainous areas of Colorado draw. Conor Hall, director of Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, Denver Having grown up in the San Luis Valley, I’m partial to the way in which the Sangre de Cristo range rises dramatically from the vast flatness of the valley floor to form some of the highest and most beautiful mountains in the state. Whether you’re climbing the technical and challenging Crestone Needle, sandboarding in Great Sand Dunes National Park, soaking in one of the valley’s natural hot springs or floating and fishing on the mighty Rio Grande, the valley’s got something for everyone. A favorite of mine is the stunning 11.6-mile out-and-back hike to Willow Lake above Crestone. Martha Schoppe, “smoke jumper” and outdoor athlete, Durango After (another) season of traveling the country as a wildland firefighter, I am extremely grateful to be back home for another winter in Durango. I am thankful for the snow that already coats our dear San Juan Mountains. There will be unlimited days of snowshoeing, skiing and ice climbing ahead. If that gets old, there is singletrack galore for mountain biking or running, in town or the surrounding desert. Micah Rice, Pikes Peak APEX director, Colorado Springs I am most thankful for my local in-town escape: Palmer Park. This is an outdoor escape just a couple of minutes out my front door where I can ride my mountain bike, hike with my family and even run around with my chocolate Lab. I never grow tired of the view to the west as I can see the expanse of the Front Range all the way from the Air Force Academy down to the Spanish Peaks. Being able to feel like I am away from it all in my own backyard is why I live in Colorado Springs.