Cody Walker muses that within the stillness of Rocky Mountain National Park, "You get a sense that it's the way it should be." His father, Rex, grew up on a steady diet of cowboy films, eventually following his dream to Colorado where he met his wife, Queeda. Queeda was born into a family of homesteaders who caught and broke wild steeds. In 1959, they channeled their passion for the old-west lifestyle into Sombrero Ranches, eschewing souvenir-shop gimmicks for horseback expeditions that, much like avalanches of super glue, bond visitors with their steeds and natural surroundings.
Today, Cody carries on his parents' legacy with a staff of ranch hands from nearby homesteads and college students participating in equine-science programs all across the country. After training in a vigorous program that's evolved during more than 50 years, his employees launch short rides or lengthy adventures. Cody distinguishes the Continental Divide ride as one of the most awe-inspiring; it begins at Bear Lake at 6 a.m., wending across the Continental Divide and to Grand Lake during a nine-hour stretch.
When not outfitting customers with camping gear, fishing equipment, or trail-savvy llamas, Kirk and Laurie Bien can often be found out in a mountain stream in search of the elusive ?Colorado Grand Slam??the catch of brown, rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout all in one day. The owners of Kirk?s Fly Shop, the Biens share their passion for the outdoors by guiding visitors to lakes and streams whether via hiking trails or on the back of a pack horse or a llama?an animal suited to traversing the high mountain terrain?s blockades of delicious grass.
Operating under the mantra that fly-fishing isn't a hobby but instead a lifestyle, St. Peter's Fly Shop prepares anglers of all experience levels for success on the stream with classes, gear, and an encyclopedic knowledge of man's gilled adversary. Two Fort Collins locations sit within close proximity of local fishing hot spots, including the waters of Rocky Mountain National Park—famous for its placid lakes made from pastels on canvas—and the Poudre River. There, the staff leads educational courses and guided trips that spend equal time with instruction and hands-on fishing practice, allowing students to perfect the often-difficult art of casting with finesse and accuracy. Back at the shop, customers reel in top-notch equipment such as Winston rods, Simms waders, and Brodin nets, which are sturdy enough to secure a bucking trout as it tries to nestle in the hammock.
Any Mountain's gear-grappling professionals match outdoorspeople with durable, top-brand athletic equipment and apparel for any foray into the great outdoors. The ski rental performance package adorns renters of any skill level in technologically advanced skis, boots, and poles for whizzing down slopes or slowly sliding to victory. The experienced staff assists renters with selecting gear, ensuring an excellent fit, compatibility with skill level, and removal of residual snow. Any Mountain keeps skiccessories expertly maintained and tuned for safety and high performance no matter the marshmallow content of the mountain.
According to United Airlines' Hemispheres magazine, three perfect days in Denver aren't complete without fly-fishing with Golden River Sports. Writer Rachel Sturtz was quite satisfied with her four-hour lesson, which isn't surprising, considering the the company's sterling reputation with sportsmen of all ability levels. The company's willingness to engage every clients comes from the experiences of instructors like Nick Adler, a self-taught fly fisherman who would have been grateful for guidance from a more experienced angler.
In that spirit, he and his fellow teachers offer four-part fly-fishing lessons, which begin with an introduction to fishing styles and equipment, and follow all the way through to advanced casting and how to read the water. Fly-tying clinics help out total beginners, guided trips take learning fishermen out to various creeks and rivers, and rentals allow schooled sportsmen to embark on their own adventures. An on-site store is loaded with all necessary equipment and accessories and gear for fly fishing and fly tying, including hooks, fly boxes, and a library of DVDs including fly-tying videos and each fish's favorite romantic comedy.
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.