From the highest point of Adventures Out West's Colorado Springs hiking trips, hikers have a view of not just one mountain range, but three. The guides of Adventures Out West?currently celebrating its 40th year of tours?have created many such scenic jaunts through Colorado and Arizona that deposit participants directly into the most beautiful parts of the local geography. Whether soaring over snowcapped mountains from the basket of a hot-air balloon or ziplining over lush forested cliffs, patrons get a chance to interact firsthand with all of nature's local sights, sounds, and whoopee-cushion gags.
Today, Challenge Unlimited captains biking and hiking tours all over the globe, from the vineyards of Tuscany to the Incan towns of Peru. More than two decades ago, however, the business was simply known in Colorado for its signature Pikes Peak by Bike tour. During this 20-mile excursion, guides and up to 35 followers descend 20 miles from a summit of 14,110 feet, infiltrating five zones with distinct climates, plant life, animals, and altitude-based baking methods. Riders often encounter eagles, deer, elk, and even the occasional mountain lion or black bear along the way. Guides can also escort Colorado's athletes across the Gold Camp Road—a 17-mile railroad bed once rattling with railcars filled with gold—and through breathtaking Aspen groves. Pit stops are made over the course of three nights and four days at the Victorian Hotel and a nearby dude ranch. Beyond domestic borders, international trips explore Nepal's Annapurna Foothill on foot and the bustling pubs and haunts of Ireland by bike or skateboards strapped to sprinting leprechauns.
Owner, author, and paranormal history buff Stephanie Waters helms Colorado Ghost Tours, leading visitors and locals through the haunted town of Manitou Springs. The area—which is known as a spiritual sanctuary for Native Americans and the former site of a tuberculosis sanitarium—is believed to be both cursed by angered Native Americans and haunted by tuberculosis victims. Waters tells these tales, among others, on a variety of tours and events, which include walking tours, carriage rides, hearse tours, ghost hunts, cemetery crawls, and the annual Spirits of Colorado Convention.
The ominous buzz of a bloody chainsaw. The dead stare of an evil clown. The shocking sight of a feasting cannibal. They'll all feel eerily real at Hell Scream Haunts, and that's because the creators are professionals who work the same magic for film and TV. Of the three spaces—the Screamatorium, VonHellton’s House of Horrors, and The Dungeon of Despair—the Screamatorium carries the spookiest story, as it's the rumored former site of a sinister hospital. But no matter which cutting-edge attraction you brave, each are bound to terrify.
Thanks to its impressive selection of varietals from more than 95 local wineries, The Wines of Colorado has been lauded as "one of the most unique wine shops in the country" by Wine Trail Traveler and featured in the Wall Street Journal. Inside, a mural of larger-than-life bottles lines one wall, and an adjacent room houses an expansive tasting counter that stocks a lineup of bottles filled with Colorado reds and whites, which are often compared to Californian vinos. Their food has received it’s fair share of recognition as well, earning numerous awards, including Best Creekside Dining from the Gazette in 2010 and 2011. The chefs sizzle up signature buffalo wine burgers and creamy dill mahi-mahi, which guests can enjoy on the pine-tree-lined outdoor patio as they sip wine mere steps away from the burbling Fountain Creek.
A third-generation railroad man, Dr. John M. Birmingham wanted to honor his family’s vocation with a monument to trains' role in American expansion. So in 1965, he purchased two early locomotives and refurbished the former Anaconda train station, originally built in 1894, to serve as his ticket office. Offering tours that showcase the area's rich history as a gold-mining hub, the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad opened for business in June 1967.
Ever since, Birmingham's iron horses have chugged through the countryside from mid-May to mid-October every year. Four trains, each a 15-ton coal-fired locomotive, now complete a 4-mile, roughly 45-minute loop from Cripple Creek, past the Midland Terminal Wye, and back to the station, passing many historical mines on the way. Passengers find themselves transported back to the early mining days as a knowledgeable guide narrates the picturesque trip and serves up tidbits of local lore. The train stops briefly for photo opportunities at several points, including Echo Valley and wherever there's a sasquatch willing to give people bunny ears.