Desert Moon Vineyards, named after the founders watched a full moon rise over the Grand Mesa, inspires palates with wines grown in a 10-acre vineyard and nearby Colorado plots. In the arid Grand Valley countryside, the vino experts harvest cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah in small batches with sustainable farming methods, such as minimal spraying and hand picking.
Shannon Long's path to the American dream went in the opposite direction than that of most people. While many work in retail to support their dreams of becoming artists, Shannon molded clay over steel substructures, sculpting half-scale abstract figurative art while dreaming about starting a fly-fishing business. As a boy growing up in popular Lake Havasu, he frequented a small Western-themed shop where the owner was always chatting with customers who shared his fascination with the independent spirit of the American West. In a turn of serendipity, Shannon got married and happily followed his wife to her native Colorado. Sometime after, he opened the fly-fishing shop he had always dreamed of, and found himself becoming the shopkeeper chatting with and educating customers in their shared interests.
Today, Shannon oversees a guide service manned by a staff of veteran fly-fishing experts. On full-day and half-day fly-fishing trips, guides lead anglers for the grand slam: rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, and brook trout all caught in a single trip. The Rocky Mountain landscapes surround fishermen in dramatic scenery, including towering pine trees, giant red rocks, and bright-blue skies as the sounds of colliding bighorn sheep occasionally ring out over the water. In addition to guided trips, the staff also leads classes, including courses designed for women and families, that cater to both beginner and advanced anglers.
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.
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.
On a trip to Britain, Chelly Vitry was determined to stop at an authentic apple press. She was eager to sample Scrumpy—a British version of hard cider—and see how it was made. Despite days of searching, however, she couldn’t find a press that would allow her visit. With Denver Gourmet Tours, Chelly guides small groups on the same kind of hands-on culinary experience she sought in Britain. During her excursions—which change seasonally—Chelly and her guests spend three hours strolling Denver’s streets, meeting food specialists, and trying the food at four to six culinary hot spots such as food trucks, sweet shops, and craft breweries.
Along with her main tours, Chelly customizes culinary trips, designs gastronomic team-building activities, and hosts events such as progressive dinners and tasting parties. She also fills her guests with newfound culinary skills during hands-on cooking classes, where they learn to craft cupcakes, bake bread, or grow pizzas in their garden.