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.
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.
Echo Canyon River Expeditions' whitecap wunderkinds have rafted swashbucklers through Colorado's thrilling and picturesque valley rapids for more than 30 years. The half-day Bighorn Sheep Canyon/Parkdale Run trip through the Arkansas River's Bighorn Sheep Canyon remains a popular choice for families, first-time floaters, and fish-people. After the friendly staff outfits guests with equipment, each voyager will board their buoyant apparatus and take to 10 miles of the river's surging swells for a healthy mix of exciting paddle action and serene sightseeing. During the approximately three hours of the trip, one of Echo Canyon River Expeditions' knowledgeable guides will dish on the natural and historical wonders of the environs, including the local bighorn sheep and their fascinating hopscotch tournaments, while helping rafters dodge the rapids effortlessly and safely.
The whitewater rafting wizards and zip-line zealots at Royal Gorge safely chaperone brave outdoorsmen and women along rushing rapids and adrenaline-fueled zip-line courses. With at least four years of experience buckled behind their life preservers, expert guides provide knowledge and know-how to novice and seasoned rafters. Half-day rafting trips depart daily at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. for 10-mile adventures down liquid-filled crevices lined with 1,200-feet-tall cliff faces and underneath one of the world's highest suspension bridges. Paddlers discipline class-three, -four, and -five currents for tormenting their self-bailing vessels and gossiping about them to babbling brooks. Royal Gorge provides wetsuits, helmets, life jackets, splash-jackets, and river boots for safe trips downstream, as well as a safety kayaker to help rafts through intense stretches and keep an eye out for creekside tollbooths.
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.