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Outdoors/Adventure/Travel

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It Takes Two

Somewhere between Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, just off the coast of a tiny volcanic island called Raikoke, a small vessel bobbed in the chop of the Sea of Okhotsk. An assorted group of photographers, scientists, and filmmakers lined the boat’s railing and stared in disbelief as the landscape came into focus. The island, usually lush and green, smoldered in an ashy gray state of complete desolation. The air was heavy with sulfuric smoke tendrils, and flocks of birds circled in infinite loops overhead with nowhere to land. The sea-lapped shores, once home to a thriving sea lion rookery, had been reduced to smoking rubble.

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Ready, Set, Race!

Pick a weekend in Colorado—literally any weekend—and odds are that somewhere within our state’s boundaries, you’ll find a bunch of sweaty people sporting race bibs, timing chips, and an array of moisture-wicking, speed-enhancing, heart-rate-tracking gear. They might be on bikes or wearing skis or in kayaks. Maybe they’re just hoofing it in sneakers. It could be a snowy January day in the city or a scorcher in July on a high mountain pass. The exact details of each competition—be it a 5K, a century ride, or a backcountry ultra-grind—are mostly irrelevant. What is important to note? Friendly (albeit high-caliber) athletic competition is a way of life here in the Centennial State.

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Conserving the Cline: A community effort to protect a historic ranch

On the horizon, barely visible through the falling snow, you can see them: elk, by the hundreds, silhouetted against the shadowy mountains beyond. Rolling meadows stretch in every direction, and Tarryall Creek, framed by the muted deep-gold of late-fall willows and shrubs, snakes its way through the land. Just off a rutted dirt road, an adobe-style pueblo-revival ranch house, built in 1928, stands hollowly, yet proudly over the landscape it anchors—a reminder of a bygone era, and a beacon of potential.

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Towering Above The Rest

EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD fall foliage drive through Rocky Mountain National Park. But let’s be honest: If the elk are out and the tourists are congregating, you might spend more time sitting in the car wedged between bumpers than actually leaf peeping. The park’s visitation numbers have increased more than 40 percent over the past five years, and nearly half of the 10 busiest days in 2016 were in September. That’s why we roughed out a Plan B: an outdoor escape with killer access to fall colors—sans the line of cars as far as the eye can see. Welcome to your weekend getaway at the Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout.

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The 13 best things to do in Boulder

Hugging the line between mountains and plains, Denver’s neighbor to the north is one part outdoor haven, one part college town, and one part posh dining and entertainment mecca. With unrivaled access to trails, canyons and foothills, there’s a hike or bike ride out the back door for every type of adventurer, and a cold microbrew or farm-to-table restaurant at the end of every trail. Though the town has ballooned in recent years with an influx of retail and tech (ahem, shiny new Google campus), the quirky “old Boulder” vibe is still alive and well if you know where to look.

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The 10 best things to do in Estes Park

Surrounded by some of Colorado’s most majestic peaks, Estes Park is a hamlet that stands apart from the typical mountain town. Perhaps it’s because there’s no mega ski resort here; just unfettered access to one of the most treasured national parks in the country and an outdoor culture that boasts a charm all its own. Just 1.5 hours northwest of Denver, the town is a hub for all things Rocky Mountain, from wilderness adventures to wildlife watching to artisan booze made with the alpine waters from the neighboring peaks. If you can, plan your trip for late September, when the aspens are in full golden bloom and the elk are out in droves during rutting season, filling the air with their haunting bugling. Whether you’re an adrenaline junky in search of your next thrill or more of a sit-back-and-take-it-all-in kind of traveler, Estes Park has plenty to keep you entertained.

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The 10 best hotels in Colorado Springs

Outdoor access, striking mountain views, and historic character dominate the hotel scene in Colorado Springs. The Pikes Peak region in particular, anchored by Colorado Springs, is renowned for its majestic mountain views, western mining lore, and endless recreation opportunities. So it’s no surprise that the city and its neighboring hamlets offer a plethora of lodging options for the streams of outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs that flock to this picturesque gateway city on Colorado’s Front Range. And sure, you could stay in any hotel and find yourself a trail to hike or a historic building to ogle. But why not book a place where you’re immersed in the very essence of the rugged former mining region and its resident grande dame, Pikes Peak?

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Getting Out There

These Colorado outdoor recreation programs help people of all abilities focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t. LEIGH SHAFER HAS ALWAYS been on the quiet side. She tends to be reserved and uncomfortable speaking in front of groups—which isn’t uncommon, but Leigh also has an intellectual disability, and a hard time with certain cognitive skills and social interactions. Her mom, Laura, worried about dropping her off at camps during the summer. That is, until she went to horseback riding camp with the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NCSD) at YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby.

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The 20 best things to do in Colorado Springs

At the foot of the Rockies along the storied Front Range of Colorado, Colorado Springs is a treasure trove of outdoor pursuits suitable for everyone from Olympic athletes to the littlest explorers. The splendor of the scenery, from majestic red rock formations and mesmerizing waterfalls to picturesque alpine lakes, inspires an active way of life that draws visitors from around the globe. But that’s not to say the museums, restaurants, and hotels aren’t world-class in and of themselves. Rich with the history of a pioneering people, the region has no shortage of ways to get acquainted with the Wild West and the frontier spirit that shapes the city’s character and heritage. So rustle up your inner cowboy and start exploring.

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Spring Fling In Fruita

SPRING HERE FINDS IT SPITTING SNOW one day, sun shining the next, and a serious case of bike jones starting to brew. The problem? Mud, unpredictable trails. The cure? Fruita. Ten miles past Grand Junction off I-70 West, the high-desert town of just under 13,000 is a hotbed of world-class mountain bike terrain, suitable for the mellowest cruisers and the most high-throttle dirt-chasers alike. We got the scoop from a few locals on making the most of your visit.

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Chasing Waterfalls

SPRINGTIME IS ABOUT RENEWAL. It’s about stretching your legs, seeing what’s around the bend, gathering momentum and ushering in change. Perhaps that’s why we’re so drawn to waterfalls. As the days get longer and Colorado’s snowcaps thaw, trickles become torrents and streams become raging rapids that spill over ledges, cascade between jagged cliffs, and glisten over rock faces en route to some unknown destination further down the trail or mountain. That rushing water is the driving force that propels the earth to do all the things it does during the spring; it represents a sense of order and an awesome power that’s reassuring, in a way—like nature is doing its part to keep the lifeblood of our mountains flowing.

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