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.
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.
An original 1865 newspaper bearing the headline of President Lincoln’s assassination hangs on the walls at The Buffalo Restaurant & Bar in the historic mining town of Idaho Springs. It’s just one of the many historic elements at the eatery, which is comprised of four different buildings—all more than a century old. Like an adaptable vampire, each structure has lived many different lives since the late 1800s, serving as everything from feed stores and hotels to billiard halls and recording studios. The antique bar, built in Chicago in the early 1860s, first journeyed to Colorado by wagon train, and a collection of antique signs also hang throughout the restaurant. The historical Western decor and atmosphere pairs fittingly with the menu, which showcases buffalo as a choice ingredient, from buffalo black-bean chili to barbecue-buffalo-brisket pizza pies.
Sojourning south from his native Minnesota, Jeff Chayer traveled to Texas, where he received his degree in viticulture and oenology. Not far behind was his brother Danny, who followed Jeff to Texas, where he began work at a local winery. Somewhere along the way, as their passion for wine grew, the two decided to travel to Colorado and open Silver Vines Winery. Since then, their tasting room has been named one of the 11 best tasting rooms in Colorado by the Denver Post. Amid massive swaths of exposed brick and gleaming hardwood, the brothers serve a collection of wines forged from Washington and Oregon grapes. The elixirs include a chardonnay, whose citric bouquet meshes with notes of oak, as well as a dessert-style chocolate wine and a range of merlots, syrahs, and cabernet sauvignons. Shelves cradle stacks of bottles, and glasses clink along the long wooden bar, punctuating the rhythms of the live bands who appear on weekend evenings and when they are locked out of the ZZ Top mansion.
Diving for more than 30 years, Ron Busch—PADI master instructor and owner of Coral Key Scuba & Travel Center—first decided to share his passion for underwater exploration in 1995 by building a facility that catered to all facets of scuba and snorkeling. Since its construction, the center has been recognized as a PADI five-star training center that offers scuba and snorkeling classes, professional gear, and diving trips to far-off locales such as Isla Mujeres. An avid traveler, Busch entrusts day-to-day duties to the center's manager, a PADI master scuba diver and trainer, Randy Partch, who teaches 22 different diving specialties and boasts certification to repair and service many different brands of scuba equipment and one kind of Xerox machine. Factory-trained technicians populate the center's repair shop, mending, maintaining, and returning equipment back to owners with an average one-week turnaround.
D-Tours' on-foot expeditions cater to tourists, as well as longtime residents who want to learn the secrets of Denver's past. Haunted tours make stops at time-worn cemeteries and historic buildings that are allegedly occupied by ghosts, including Hotel Teatro, where voices have been heard coming from vacant rooms. Some of D-Tours' jaunts are self-guided, allowing participants to travel at their own pace and on their own horses.