A rundown wooden wagon sits alone in the rough at Grand Elk Golf Club, a historic reminder of the forebears who once forged through the basin now home to the club’s 18-hole course. Though electric golf carts have since replaced Conestoga wagons as the predominant means of transportation, the site’s natural, rustic surroundings remain, treating golfers to a 360-degree panorama that showcases the Continental Divide and Rocky Mountain State Park. As players notch divots into lush fairways and putt on the soft greens with modified pool cues, they’ll follow a 7,144-yard layout drawn up by 13-time PGA Tour champion Craig Stadler and Tripp Davis. Taking inspiration from the inland courses of the British Isles, the design duo strung fairways through meadows and natural wetlands that form the headwaters of the Colorado River, all the while incorporating unique playing scenarios that challenge each golfer’s shot-making abilities.
Course at a Glance:
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.
For more than 25 years, Lakota Guides has escorted its clientele to Edwards' and Vail's most scenic spots on river rafting, off-road, and group trips. Team Lakota, led by Karl Borski and John Mark Seelig, has hundreds of years of combined experience in outdoor activities ranging from rafting and rescue operations to tree massage and bark exfoliation. The guides demonstrate their mastery when leading visitors on Class V water-rafting trips along the Colorado and Arkansas Rivers. They also romp through the mountainous terrain aboard rugged off-road vehicles during daylong treks.
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.
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.
On the road, there are few sights and obstacles—only an endless sea of monotonous pavement. XTERRA Trail Runs elevate running to a new level, introducing rugged off-road terrain to its repertoire of challenging courses. Runners jump over streams, trudge through dirt, and achieve a newfound sense of joy for competitive running. Organized by geographic regions, XTERRA trail runs pepper the globe, sprouting up anywhere from urban environments to remote jungles, thus allowing contestants to enjoy natural scenery or catch glimpses of metropolitan jaguars strutting in their stylish fur coats.
XTERRA also tests the mettle of extreme athletes with a lineup of global triathlons, triathlon training programs, and support for an entire community of athletes brought together by their passion for endurance sports.