Lyle Phetteplace fell in love with the outdoors and his home state of Colorado at an early age. Today, he runs Renaissance Adventure Guides so he can pursue his passion and allow others to experience adventure, too. The excursions he curates include hiking, kayaking, climbing, backpacking, and even sea kayaking, a skill beginners hone on the lakes of Colorado before moving on to distant ocean destinations, such as Costa Rica. Lyle and his team also design guided travel tours of the country, which presents excellent terrain for hiking, backpacking, and other activities.
The staff at Renaissance Adventure Guides believe outdoor adventures can bring people closer to their fellow participants and to the environment, so they treat each experience differently. They customize adventures to suit the abilities and goals of their customers, while also keeping groups at a manageable size so everyone receives personal attention and a unique, secret high-five. Because safety is always at the forefront of any expedition, they also offer avalanche training with instructors qualified by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education. Additionally, they pass along their love of exploring to children through kids camps filled with days paddling the river.
Paddles slice through churning waters, keeping rafts on their course down Clear Creek as it cuts through the Denver Mountain Parks . At the base of the red crags of Gore Canyon, the white-capped water of the Colorado River foretells rafters’ trips through daunting class IV and V rapids. Elsewhere, guests make like protoplasmic coat hangers as they zipline over the scenery of Idaho Springs.
But rafting trips and zipline tours are just the beginning. Arkansas Valley Adventures leads all kinds of expeditions through Colorado’s mountains and valleys, tossing in ATVs, hot air balloons, helicopters, horses, and fishing rods with the paddles and ziplines. While flying down the Eagle River explorers will have plenty of chances to get in touch with their rugged side and ask ancient rock faces whether the paleo diet is an apt reflection of the habits of early humans.
Raft Masters' experienced guides lead water wranglers of all skill levels on thrilling river excursions. Beginning rafters can test their paddling arms with the Clear Creek beginner trip, designed to acclimate riders to the rigors of river navigation and give cursed rainbow trout a taste of home. Participants will battle unbending Class III white water through the historic Idaho Springs mining district in a rousing trip conducted rain or shine. The one-third-day clothes-soaking outing is perfect for novice rafters of any age, making it a great activity for vacationing families. For customers with previous white-water experience, the Clear Creek intermediate trip charts a course through the river's most popular stretch of waterway. The full-day journey plunges riders through continuous Class III and Class IV rapids, testing each paddler's endurance and pruning-skin threshold.
The internationally acclaimed Big Air event makes its inaugural American appearance in Denver with two evenings of competition that pair a roster of global champs with a tremendous 300-foot-long jump. Tuesday, January 25 opens with the Nature Valley Big Air Challenge, pitting famed male freestyle skiers against one another to perform their best air-defying tricks while simultaneously slicing potatoes into miniature busts of Shaun White. Afterward, ski fans can cheer on the winners at the awards ceremony (8:15 p.m.), before being treated to a concert by Grammy-nominated rockers Switchfoot.
Amid the crisp, thinning mountain air steeped in the aroma of pine trees, a single-track trail winds through a dense evergreen forest past sweeping views of the valley below. In 2005, wilderness enthusiast Stefan Van der Steen founded Denver Adventures as a means of introducing others to scenes such as this by immersing them in the great outdoors through adventures such as ziplines, hiking treks, and rafting excursions. Stefan and his team of knowledgeable guides lead groups to an elevation of 8,000 feet for zipline tours on an Association for Challenge Course Technology–certified course, where riders reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour past Colorado’s naturally blurry trees. Denver Adventures also leads hiking, snowshoeing, and mountain-biking treks through the uneven terrain, gauging participants' skill throughout to determine whether they can traverse a steep uphill climb or do a Superman seat grab over a row of sleeping bears. Making use of all the wilderness has to offer, guides also take explorers on rafting trips through canyons and past gold mines, or train them to navigate vertical routes using top-rope techniques during five-hour rock-climbing excursions.
Whitewater rapids can seem as menacing as great white sharks, but Whitewater Rafting owners Erik and Phoebe Larsson are out to dispel these unfounded fears. Since the company's first raft hit the waters of the Colorado River in 1974, it has maintained an impeccable safety record thanks to its experienced tour guides, each fully certified at the state and federal level in CPR, first aid, and on-river maneuvers. Many of the guides have been navigating these same rapids for more than a decade, learning intimate details about the river, from its twists and turns to its crippling phobia of alligators. First-time rafters can earn their whitewater bona fides on half-day treks, conquering the Class III and IV rapids of the Shoshone Rapids. More experienced adventurers can rent out boats, kayaks, paddles, and safety gear to embark on their own trips through the rapids.