When I visited Denver this summer, I was excited to explore the city. My first adventure was biking through downtown Denver with Denver B-Cycle, which offers affordable bike rentals throughout town. You purchase an access pass, grab your bike and go. You can return it to any bike station.
Once you have your bike, you can set off on one of more than 850 miles of paved off-road trails that connect to many dirt trails. I stayed in town, following the scenic Cherry Creek Bike Trail through Cherry Creek Park. The weather was gorgeous, and biking was a great way to reach my next destination: Elitch Gardens.
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park is a Denver tradition, having entertained families for more than 120 years. Elitch Gardens offers a selection of thrill, water and kid-friendly rides in addition to the water park. I recommend starting at the Observation Tower, which whisks guests 250 feet up to a viewing platform. From here, we had a great view of not only the park, but also downtown Denver and the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
Next, we headed to the roller coasters. A longtime fan, I loved dangling in the air as we sped along the Mind Eraser. But my favorite was the Twister II, a wooden roller coaster that brought back childhood memories of many summer days spent on the Scream Machine at Six Flags Over Georgia.
For the next adventure, I headed to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. Approximately fifteen miles from downtown Denver, Red Rocks gets its name from the two 300-foot sandstone monoliths that form the amphitheatre. But you don’t have to wait for a concert to visit the park. While you can visit the amphitheatre, you also can hike, bike or just enjoy a stroll.
A short drive from Red Rocks–about 35 minutes from downtown Denver, I stopped in at Colorado Adventure Center in Idaho Springs to try the zip line. The entire tour contains five zip lines, each a different length and at a different height and angle from the others. The longest zip runs almost a quarter of a mile, with guests zipping more than 3,000 feet in the entire tour. It was a lot of fun, and the rushing waters of Clear Creek below provided beautiful scenery. Visitors also can opt to include a whitewater rafting trip into their excursion.
My last stop for the day was at Loveland Pass on the Continental Divide. At an elevation of 11,990 feet, it easily provides some of the most beautiful views of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains west of Denver. While there are hiking trails to the area, you also can drive to the overlook. It was quite windy at the top, so I didn’t linger long. However, taking a few minutes to enjoy the view was definitely worth the drive up.
Of course, this is just a small sample of all Denver has to offer. For more information on visiting Denver, go to http://www.denver.org.
by Karon Warren