In the 1700s, a hot air balloon was a strange and potentially worrisome sight, especially because pilots often landed in unsuspecting civilians’ backyards. To build goodwill with anyone they scared, balloon pilots carried a bottle of champagne on every flight. This tradition of the convivial champagne toast still lives on at Adventure Balloon Sports, where, after each landing, the company’s FAA-certified pilots pour a celebratory glass of bubbly for each passenger.
But before the toast, the adventure begins as flights soar skyward, showcasing Colorado’s rugged terrain and the majestic sprawl of the Rocky Mountains. No two flights are the same—after departing, pilots can only fully control the balloon’s vertical motion, meaning balloons often safely land in neighboring towns, rather than in the local hot air balloon parking lot.
Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award–winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.
Trainers at The Workout Studio are highly qualified: they've won national martial arts championships and have earned black belts, nutrition certifications, and personal-training certifications. Together, they lead fitness classes that range from intense boot camps and CrossFit sessions to upbeat cardio dance and soothing yoga. Members can also make use of the gym's cardio and weight areas, hitting treadmills and elliptical trainers or hoisting free weights and lifting up machines that other people are trying to use. Gym facilities include full locker rooms with showers and complimentary towels as well as a snack bar that serves up protein shakes and energy bars. The Workout Studio was named best Gym/Athletic Club by Boulder County's Daily Camera in 2002 and 2003.
A plethora of mock-rock climbing challenges populates The Spot Bouldering Gym with 10,000 square feet of vertical obstacles. Rock climbers can spend all day scaling man-made mountains up to 18 feet high, gripping massive boulders made in the image of Hueco, Fontainebleau, and Abraham Lincoln's nose. Other trials include the gravity-fighting 25-foot roped wall, an assortment of muscle-mightying training equipment, and cushy flooring for seamless dismounts. No experience is necessary to tackle the upright obstacles at The Spot; the congenial crew eagerly shares climbing tips and creates encouraging victory pyramids.
Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Gateway Park Fun Center combines the splendor of its natural backdrop with a variety of manmade attractions. Fresh mountain air courses through the 18-hole mini-golf course and whips the hair of go-kart racers on a track more than 2,100 feet long. Guests with unstable hairdos can retreat inside, where an arcade loaded with games such as skee-ball and NFL Throw—along with an inline hockey rink—make the park a year-round destination.
Teammates skirt the abandoned RV, dart through the open door of a downed helicopter, and duck for cover behind a concrete bunker. After a pause, a player stands to check for enemies on the landscape of dusty huts and fences—only to have paint splatter across his chest. On Blitz Paintball's five recreational paintball fields, players immerse themselves in the thrill of paint-based combat through a range of scenarios. The staff designs regularly changing games for each field, including the traditional Capture the Flag or UN treaty signing, and also allows players to create their own styles of play.
Players rent standard semi-automatic, Tippmann A5, or high-end markers, pressurized tanks, and masks, and they prep for combat in a 5,000-square-foot shaded staging area. They're then turned loose to compete on the football-field-size Hyperball field, the Spool field, or themed Urban Combat, The Castle and Military Base fields, upon which elevated fortresses allow players to duck for cover from the aggressive native pigeon population. Projectiles whisper through the air in a two-story, 7,000-square-foot castle, where warriors work their way into an interior courtyard and massive throne room. Two regulation PSP tournament fields host more competitive play with astroturf and padded barriers.