Colorado is much more than just great slopes— it’s an adventure lover’s dream all year round.
Colorado is undoubtedly a world-class winter sports destination, but it also attracts adrenaline junkies 12 months a year, whether they’re into exploring the state’s extensive parkland or conquering heart-pumping whitewater rapids.
Conveniently located near both Denver and Colorado Springs, the Arkansas River offers some of the best white-water rafting opportunities in the country, with sections ranging from Class I rapids to Class V, the kind that requires advanced rafting skills.
Outfits such as Echo Canyon River Expeditions or Arkansas River Tours offer a range of packages, from half-day outings to multiday adventures complete with catered meals and riverside camping under the stars. Take a trip through the Royal Gorge, where you can tackle Class IV rapids with thousand-foot sheer cliffs peering down on you from both sides. The best part is the value: Half-day trips cost as little as $79 per person.
Meanwhile, outfits such as The Adventure Company in Buena Vista, Colorado, offer not only whitewater rafting but other warm-weather experiences as well, from zip-lining and hot-air ballooning to mountain biking, ATV, and horseback riding. These companies provide guides, gear, and, most important, access to the very best that Mother Nature offers. Try combining the rush of tackling Class IV rapids in the morning with a horseback ride through the canyons surrounding the Arkansas River in the afternoon. Or schedule a full-moon rafting trip on the rapids at night.
The state is also a world-class destination for mountain bikers, featuring some of the best single-track paths in the world. Just like ski trails, these pathways are rated by the community of riders from beginner (green) through expert (double black diamond) on websites like single tracks.com, based on both the level of difficulty and the risk involved in the ride. The best option is the Colorado Trail, which stretches 535 miles from Denver to Durango, and features 28 distinct sections that bring riders near six wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges. Pick a segment for a day, or set aside a week or two to attempt the full trail.