Denver Bouldering Club supports and enhances the climbing community via instructional opportunities, top-notch facilities, and community support. Learn to scale mountains and properly high-five colored stones in an Introduction to Climbing workshop ($30) that teaches different styles of climbing. In two hours, rock mounters will learn the history and basics of climbing as they ascend to a new plateau of understanding and embrace the yeti of knowledge. Like the seating capacity of most clown cars, workshops are capped at 15 people. Students can use their guest passes during open-house hours Tuesday nights or at other prearranged times to practice what they learn on the club's more than 1,500 square feet of climbing space, featuring 15-foot bouldering and easy-, medium-, and hard-route settings designed with more than 100 problems.
In 1912, a group of 25 mountain enthusiasts founded Colorado Mountain Club (CMC). The group included several prominent naturalists, such as Enos Mills, who helped found Rocky Mountain National Park; Roger Toll, who was superintendent of Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, and Mount Rainier National Parks; and Carl Blaurock, who climbed all of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. The club's first members volunteered at schools and advocated for environmental issues, aiming to raise awareness about the Colorado mountains through art, science, literature, and recreation, and seeking to preserve the alpine region.
Today, CMC continues to challenge its members and the community with a variety of events ranging from adventure travel and service projects to concerts and educational lectures. School groups participate in mountain-climbing field trips, and members network at annual dinners and outdoor excursions. The club's adventure trips explore the greatest natural sites of the world, taking participants up the slopes of Kilimanjaro, down the rapids of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and through the historical cities of Russia.
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 55 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.
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.
A seemingly insurmountable fin of sandstone protrudes 300 feet in the air, challenging all humans to dare conquer its peak. As groups look on in awe of this natural wonder, a Denver Mountain Guiding guide suits up and begins the ascent, leading students of all levels on a thrilling and challenging climb.
Denver Mountain Guiding’s coterie of guides is a motley mix, encompassing passionate climbers with decades of experience, expert weekend warriors, wilderness first responders, and first-aid- and CPR-certified guides. They lead beginners through elite-level climbers on recreational trips around local rock-climbing hot spots such as Clear Creek Canyon. Outings include full-day and half-day climbs of varying levels of difficulty, as well as lessons and camps that teach basics such as rope safety, knots, belaying, rappelling, and anchors.
When the staffers at Colorado Carriage and Wagon says that their business is family owned and operated, they extend that description all the way down to the horses who make each journey possible. Their beloved Draft breeds travel throughout Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, bringing charmingly old-fashioned transportation to weddings, family reunions, and romantic traipses through town. When snow blankets the ground, guests can schedule sleigh rides, taking the classic conveyance on a caroling trip or just prowling the woods for drag races against one-horse hotrods. In addition to horses, the family's petting zoo of chicks, sheep, pigs, and other barnyard animals often makes appearances at parties and festivals, delighting young and old alike with their cute, fuzzy faces.
The Ice Castles’ creator, Brent Christensen, and a team of ice artists are currently transforming more than 15,000 tons of ice into full-fledged castles in three locations. Once completed, the towering structures of ice and shimmering light are open for exploration. Guests are free to view the organically grown ice towers, tunnels, caves and caverns at their own pace. In daytime, the castles glimmer in the sun; come nightfall, thousands of LED lights create an ethereal glow from within.
Today, the castles delights visitors of all ages, but the idea came from Brent Christensen’s winter playtimes with his kids. They had already made ice rinks, ice caves, and other chilly creations when Brent decided to build a fort entirely out of ice, using icicles as the base structure. The kids dubbed the structure an “ice castle”—and it started to look more and more like one as Brent added a cave, tunnels, and a slide that spilled onto an ice-skating rink. Eventually, cars started detouring to their block to drive past the creation, and local snowmen inquired about home prices. But the idea truly took off when a local resort asked him to build a larger ice castle for them. He’s built ice castles every winter since, including one in the winter of 2010–2011 that was featured in the Denver Post and called “a frosty, fairy-tale-like landscape” by the Los Angeles Times.