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.
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.
Visitors to Colorado Adventure Center explore much of its terrain suspended above the pine trees?specifically, hanging from eight ziplines that span almost a mile and reach heights of up to 65 feet and speeds up to 40 miles per hour. Harnessed into a secure single-pulley system, riders glide over Clear Creek as it glimmers in the sunlight or, at nighttime, in the bright beams of their headlamps?which can also be used to spot teenage woodpeckers vandalizing trees with lovers' initials.
Colorado's waters are also the setting for rafting and kayaking expeditions, during which guides lead paddlers down the rapids of the Arkansas and Colorado Rivers during outings and spring break trips. On solid ground, adventurers hit the trails of the Vail Pass and Glenwood Canyon on scenic biking trips, pedaling along paths lined with trees and rivers with options for bipeds of all skill levels. During spring months, zipliners can soar through newly blooming trees and flowers for a scenic treetop adventure.
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.
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.