Whether issuing orders over the sound of roaring rapids or getting soaked by jets of errant river spray, the guides at River Runners all share a common thought: this sure beats sitting in an office. For more than 40 years, they’ve ferried passengers down the Arkansas River on jaunts into Bighorn Sheep Canyon’s class III and IV rapids or the challenging class IV and V rapids churning throughout The Numbers. They also explore the waterways running through the 2,000-foot-deep canyons in Dinosaur National Monument, breezing down the Utah River on one-day jaunts or arguing about whether or not T. rexes could feel love during a five-day exploration of the Yampa River.
Nestled in the frosted pines of the San Isabel National Forest, Monarch Mountain Lodge wraps its slope-savvy guests in warm accommodations amid the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Despite its modest title, Monarch's Standard rooms cozily furnishes one or two beds and offers guests access to a wide range of amenities, including Direct TV and WiFi, as well as a fitness center to help keep unwanted pounds and unwanted Tony Little visits from ruining their vacations. Beyond the lodge's open-air hot tubs, indoor pool, and sauna, lie ski-able slopes, traversable bike trails, frothy river waters, and more. Due to the nearby South Fork Arkansas River's history of making lucrative deals with Mother Nature, the Monarch area enjoys a unique climate in which snow-packed mornings melt into hike-able paths in the afternoon, making it the perfect getaway for all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts.
Set within a century-old Tudor-style edifice that once played host to Bing Crosby and Cary Grant, Craftwood Inn graces modern-day diners with gourmet interpretations of wild game meats and stunning views of nearby Pikes Peak. Executive chef Brother Luck relies on a staff of woodsy huntsman to track down the choicest cuts of Colorado elk, venison, and buffalo, which he then daubs with French-inspired sauces that vary in accordance with a rotating seasonal menu. Wines culled from the inn’s expansive cellar fill clinking glasses with reds and whites that shimmer in the glow of chandeliers, fireplaces, and lingering rays of sunlight that filter in through stained-glass windows. Craftwood Inn's large and small dining rooms welcome special-occasion banquets, weddings, and hacky-sack cotillions for up to 150 guests.
Meat is the primary item on the menu at Flatiron's American Bar & Grill. Blank-angus steak comes in three cuts—the signature Flatiron, the rib eye, and the New York strip—and shares a plate with a choice of veggies and potato. Orders of chicken wings, whether coated in spicy buffalo sauce or honey-chipotle glaze, weigh in at one pound, making for a hefty appetizer or a delicious paperweight. Although it's technically meat-free, the three-cheese mac-n-cheese comes with a “robust bread-crumb crown” and benefits from the addition of shredded spiced chicken, according to food critic Nathaniel Glen of The Gazette. On a daily basis, the restaurant’s chefs inspect each meat shipment to ensure top-notch quality and freshness.
Borriello Brothers Pizza didn't just copy New York-style pizza?they imported it. Owned by New York natives, the pizza joint pays tribute to the city's staple, craftting their pizzas with attention to detail. Their sauce comes from California tomatoes, they only use 100% real whole milk mozzarella cheese, and they layer their pizzas with sausage made from prime cuts of pork. The result is a pie that grew out of original New York recipes, just as the city's skyscrapers sprout from cracks in the sidewalks. In addition to traditional NY-style pizzas, they serve Sicilian crust pizzas, and feature signature pies with toppings such as Genoa salami, sliced steak, and baked ziti. The menu also incorporates calzones, pastas, and other Italian specialties.
The super-premium ice cream at Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato—which represented Colorado on Serious Eats’ list of America’s Best Ice Cream—is proof that less is more. Their chief concern is “overrun,” a term that refers to how much air is mixed into each batch of ice cream. Some less delicious ice creams can contain up to 50% air; however, Glacier’s flavors contain only 5%–7% air, yielding richer flavors and a creamier texture.
Also lauded by outlets such as the Denver Post and Colorado Daily, Glacier has a catalogue of more than 800 flavors, up to 60 of which are on hand and ready to scoop at all times. Their ice cream wizards create a new flavor every two weeks, resulting custom tastes such as chocolate raspberry truffle, caramel Oreo, and espresso chocolate buzz with a double-strength coffee base. They also craft premium Italian gelatos with skim milk, producing rich frozen treats with half the fat of ice cream in flavors such as chocolate hazelnut, peanut butter fudge, and pistachio.
No matter the flavor, Glacier uses fresh ingredients such as hand-squeezed limes, ripe strawberries, and homemade chocolate. They’ve also committed to staying Colorado-local whenever possible, receiving produce from local food producers in Penrose, Rocky Ford, Palisade, and even stocking local Umpire State Coffee, local Jerry's Nut House, imported Italian candy and using local produce like apples, melons, and peaches.