Denver, CO (June 28, 2019) – Top of the Town 2019: Sports, Outdoors & Fitness. Some adventure in the wild, others in the gym. Here are the premier destinations and gear for whatever path you take.
Golden Gate Dirty 30
There’s no easy entrée into ultrarunning. There is, however, a pretty place to start: Each June, Golden Gate Canyon State Park hosts a 50K route through aspen and pine forests and wildflower-filled meadows—a landscape so stunning it’ll help distract you from the 7,250 feet of elevation you’ll gain. The 1,000-foot climb up Windy Peak, for instance, ends with a view of the foothills as they stretch to the Continental Divide. And you won’t be alone in your misery. You’ll be supported by some of Colorado’s top runners, many of whom, like Madeline McKeever and Jackson Brill, compete or volunteer. Their encouragement will keep you from failing, though a slow pace isn’t the worst thing. Along with the top three runners, the “Peggy Plugger” last-place finisher also gets an award.
5500 Central Ave., Suite 110, Boulder, 303-444-7223
High Ride Cycle
A peloton of spinning brands, such as celebrity-favorite SoulCycle, has rolled into the Mile High City over the past year. The newcomers have glossy studios, star clients, and buzz. They don’t have Megan and Scott Hanson, who founded High Ride next to Sloan’s Lake two years ago. Along with a team of trainers, the couple puts riders through grueling treks that—like those at nationwide chains—involve full-body workouts set to energetic beats. However, the Hansons hold special classes at least twice a month to raise money for nonprofits like Epic Experience, which sets up free outdoor excursions for cancer patients. To further strengthen its civic ties, High Ride hosts pop-ups from clothing stores, such as Stitch Boutique, and food and drinks from Sunshine Bowls and Bear Creek Distillery. The idea is to build not only strong bodies, but also a strong community. 1711 Sheridan Blvd., Unit A, Edgewater, 303-477-0793
441 Wadsworth Blvd., Unit 215, Lakewood, 720-328-4372
Winter Outdoor Gear
Crescent Moon Eva Foam Snowshoes
Made of aluminum or hard plastic, snowshoes are often clunky and uncomfortable. Boulder’s Crescent Moon, a snowshoe specialist since 1997, built its newest model using Eva, the foam polymer found in running shoes. Equipped with traction ice spikes, these snowshoes ($159) are lightweight and flexible enough to run in yet durable enough to explore Colorado’s snowiest trails, as long as they are packed. Combining this new material with Crescent’s standard teardrop shape, which promotes a normal walking gait, earned the company an innovation award at this past January’s Outdoor Retailer expo—and (for once) had us wishing for a longer winter.
Apex Ski Boots
Dolores River Campground
Many families spend their summer road trips traveling to crowded parks of both the Yosemite and Disney varieties. Seven hours in the minivan, on the other hand, could lead your clan to this private campground, a perfect jumping-off point to all the outdoor euphoria the uncrowded Four Corners region provides. Thirty dollars a night rents you one of 13 shaded, simple Dolores River–adjacent tent sites, each complete with a fire ring and picnic table as well as access to a communal bathhouse (new this year) with outdoor showers. If sleeping on the floor isn’t your idea of a vacation, Dolores River also offers cabins, yurts, and just-rolled in glamping wagons. From there, it’s a roughly 25-mile trip to the ruins of Mesa Verde National Park, about 35 miles to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, and even less mileage to San Juan National Forest and its bevy of picturesque hiking trails. 18680 CO 145, Dolores, 970-882-7761
Cherry Creek State Park
4201 S. Parker Road, Aurora, 303-693-3957
Loch Lomond Trail
While Saint Mary’s Glacier gets the crowds, this neighboring hike, which offers just-as-stunning views, waits to be loved. The moderately steep (nearly 900 feet) four-mile out-and-back trail follows a four-wheel drive path along a meandering stream lined with vibrant wildflowers; it passes through pine, spruce, and aspen trees before opening to sweeping views of Mt. Evans and Mt. Bierstadt. If you’d like to keep trekking, continue toward James Peak to intersect with the Continental Divide Trail. A half-mile climb reveals gorgeous vistas of the loch as well as nearby Ohman, Reynolds, and Caroline lakes. Steuart Road, Idaho Springs
110 Wulfsohn Road, Glenwood Springs, 970-384-6309
You wouldn’t be remiss if you came to Firehaus in search of an absolutely killer workout. The staff of expert instructors, under the direction of owner JoAnna Cefaratti, always guides you through a challenging session. But if you’re injured, pregnant, postpartum, or a senior, you’ll find extra care and attention—and even dedicated weekly classes—at this seven-year-old Berkeley studio. Most instructors here obtain certification through Polestar Pilates International, whose curriculum focuses on rehabilitation. This expertise is evident whether you attend Firehaus’ reformer, postnatal, combo equipment (a variety of apparatuses, from the reformer to the chair, are used), or restorative classes. Not only will you leave feeling stronger, longer, and healthier, but you’ll also have a better understanding of your body’s mechanics. 3451 W. 38th Ave., 303-945-6951
Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St., Aurora, 303-921-7017
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
When you open nearly 500 acres of fresh terrain, including some of the Front Range’s top tree skiing, apparently you don’t need the Epic Pass anymore. (Arapahoe ended its 20-plus-year relationship with Vail Resort’s multiresort pass this past February.) But beyond the new Beavers and Steep Gullies areas—which are largely advanced and expert topography—there’s also the fact that this perennial locals’ favorite offers midweek-only season passes ($349), incredible discounts for veterans ($199 for a season pass), and three days at New Mexico’s Taos Ski Valley. If you’re not quite ready to tackle the Gullies’ extreme slopes, there are mellower ways to appreciate A-Basin’s charms. Chief among them: Il Rifugio, the quaint new Italian eatery nestled inside the Snow Plume warming hut. At 12,456 feet, Il Rifugio is only accessible by chairlift and qualifies as the highest restaurant in North America. 28194 U.S. 6, Keystone, 970-468-0718
Vail Ski Resort
Summer Outdoor Gear
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 Tent
Ultralight camping has historically meant sacrificing durability in favor of a lighter load—but no more. Backpackers can say goodbye to damp, sleepless nights thanks to this tent from Steamboat Springs–based Big Agnes. The Fly Creek ($330 to $430) packs the robustness and weatherproofing of heavier models including fully sealed seams and a waterproof nylon fly—into less than two pounds. (For comparison, we recently spotted a tent at a national retailer that clocked in close to 12.) A redesign added 25 percent more head space and steeper walls for roomier quarters as well as an extended awning over the door to keep the weather out even when the zipper is open. Although the Fly Creek comes in one-, two-, and three-person options, solo travelers might consider the couples’ size, which adds significantly more room and only four extra ounces.
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Outdoor Gear Store
Feral Mountain Co.
A one-stop shop, Feral has been the Tennyson neighborhood’s go-to for buying, renting, and selling outdoor gear since it opened in a tiny Craftsman home in 2015. Now, after a December 2018 move down the street, it simply offers more—as in, five times the space—of a good thing. The welcoming staffers hold over a century’s worth of experience in backpacking, trail running, climbing, and other adventuring, so you can trust their advice, whether you need a down sleeping bag or a pair of run-friendly sunglasses. The second floor, meanwhile, allows Feral to host community events, such as Friday film screenings and Sunday yoga classes, as well as a resale section, where lightly used gear can be had for about half of the original price. For example, we recently spied an Eno hammock, $70 online, being sold at Feral for $35—which makes the eventual experience of being suspended between campsite trees even more relaxing. 3936 Tennyson St., 303-903-8584
The Freyja Project
Nowadays, everyone and their goat knows how to vinyasa flow. But Freyja owner Patty Henry, having practiced yoga for more than a quarter of a century, continues to find new ways to push students inside her Highland studio. Henry—who, along with having completed more than 1,000 hours of training, is barre-certified and a Reiki master—offers a delightfully diverse schedule, including Yoga Foundations (for beginners and yogis who want the basics), Prenatal and Toddler Yoga, Barre, and Freyja’s own brand of strength training called Freyja Buff. And if you feel like relaxing without breaking a sweat, Freyja also has four rooms set aside for spa treatments (like massages, acupuncture, and facials) and a boutique that sells activewear, dance attire, leisurewear, and jewelry. 3456 Tejon St., 303-964-9642
Person of Note: Nikola Jokic
Two years ago, the Nuggets languished as the least popular team in the NBA, as measured by home attendance. This 24-year-old Serbian re-energized the crowd—not only because the Nuggets won more this past season (though that definitely helped), but also because of the joyous way Jokic hoops. Every miraculous pass the seven-footer whipped through some infinitesimal gap seemed to inject 20 decibels into the Pepsi Center masses.