Recent Blog Posts

  • McNamara Hut Colorado Hut Trips: 8 Insider Tips for Planning Your First

    If you’re itching for a night in the wild, consider nabbing a bunk in one of Colorado’s many backcountry huts: cozy sanctuaries that are especially popular in the winter. The 10th Mountain Division manages a system of 35 huts, accessible by skiing or snowshoeing when the snow flies, and hiking or biking in the summer. After a day exploring the mountains, there’s nothing better than relaxing with friends by the fire as the aroma of a simmering stew fills the hut with the promise of an impending feast. Settle in, play a game or two, and tilt back a bottle of spirits to warm your insides. Craig Hoffman, a Boulder-based photographer who has been using the hut system since the early ’90s, heads out with his family several times a year and loves it: “It allows me to escape, unplug, and live simply in the mountains.” Hoffman’s advice for first timers? “Be prepared to be outdoors most of the day. Pack light and sensible.” All you need is food, clothing, and a sleeping bag. Toss your bag on a bunk (mattresses and pillows are provided), throw on some comfy clothes, and enjoy a respite from the hectic pace of everyday life,[…]

  • 00-201610 Colorado Volunteering 7 Non-Profit Groups Making Waves for Colorado Conservation and Stewardship

    With over 67 million acres of land, it’s no wonder Colorado is home to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities you’ll find anywhere in the country. Whether you’re into mountain biking, skiing, hiking, trail running, climbing, whitewater kayaking, there’s a world-class spot for you in Colorado. With such incredible natural resources, though, comes much responsibility: Our public lands need advocacy and maintenance to keep them healthy and abundant for subsequent generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Fortunately, Colorado plays host to several non-profit organizations dedicated to conservation and stewardship. From building and maintaining trails, advocating for public lands, to teaching stewardship skills to tomorrow’s leaders, these organizations are literally blazing the trail to Colorado’s future. 1. Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado If you’ve hiked on a Colorado trail sometime in the last 30 years, chances are good that Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) had a hand in building or maintaining it. Since the organization’s inception in 1984, VOC has engaged over 105,000 volunteers on hundreds of projects in some of Colorado’s most beloved and iconic locations. VOC projects offer volunteers a chance to learn useful skills and put in a hard day’s work constructing new trail, restoring lands damaged by flood and[…]

  • 20170126 mills-lake-early-spring-sunset 9 Outdoor Companies Breaking Barriers in Colorado

    There’s a reason people who love to be outdoors choose to live in Colorado. With 10,000-plus miles of trail through national parks, state parks, national forests, and other public lands, the Centennial State has no shortage of breathtaking scenery—and endless opportunities for running, mountain biking, skiing, paddling, and climbing. With all that, it’s no wonder so many outdoor brands have chosen to set up shop in Colorado. The natural landscape inspires constant innovation, much of which helps to enable conservation and stewardship of Colorado’s natural resources. Check out these nine cutting-edge brands that continue to break barriers in the state where we live, work, and play. 1. Big Agnes “When you boil outdoor adventure down to its purest essence,” the Big Agnes website explains, “you end up with the simple act of camping.” That philosophy has driven the Steamboat Springs-based company for the fifteen years it’s been manufacturing sleeping bags, pads, tents, and apparel. Big Agnes has won Gear of the Year-type awards from Outside, Backpacker, and Men’s Journal (among others) for innovations like it’s breathable and waterproof eVent fabric. The company also supports numerous nonprofits, like the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and SheJumps, and has a[…]

  • Bear Peak Hardcore Hike: How to Bag Bear and South Boulder Peaks in One Day

    The pointy 8,461-foot summit of Bear Peak grabs your eye along the skyline west of Boulder, claiming attention it deserves but hasn’t quite yet earned. Hiding just beyond it and harder to see is South Boulder Peak, which—at 8,549 feet—has Bear Peak barely beat, height-wise. But instead of picking one over the other of these two lofty summits, why not opt to top out on both of these killer Colorado peaks in one strenuous day? Yes, the tangled network of trails in the mountain parks west of town can be confusing. Here we offer step-by-step instructions for knocking off Bear and South Boulder peaks in one go, an excursion that involves a hike of 10.5 miles with more than 3,300 feet of climbing. You’ll follow Fern Canyon up Bear Peak, cross the saddle to South Boulder Peak, and then return via Bear Canyon. This hike is doable year-round but can get slippery, so bring snow cleats if there’s any chance of snow on the trail. The trailhead at Cragmoor Road is a locals’ secret. Avery Stonich To climb Bear Peak, you have three trailhead options. The first and most popular is NCAR, above Table Mesa Drive. This route requires you to do a big[…]

  • 20171121_aspen-highlands-04-21-2013 Aspen Snowmass—Colorado’s Best Big Mountain

    One of my favorite spring ski days of all time happened on a powder day at Snowmass—or, shall I say, it was a powder day at the top of Snowmass. The venerable ski area, which celebrates 50 years of operation in 2018, has an impressive 4,406 feet of vertical drop (the longest lift-served vert in the USA). If you happen to catch the weather just right, you could be smashing through the pow at the 12,510’ top and slashing through the slush at the base at 8,104’. It was crazy fun to drop down the mountain through a variety of conditions, then ride the lifts back up while the misty rain at the bottom hardened into a crystalline shell of ice on the ascent. The takeaway here is Snowmass is a big mountain—and one that is often overlooked by skiers looking for the perfect mountain getaway. Big Terrain, Long Runs, No Lift Lines All levels of skiers and riders will dig the varied terrain at Snowmass. Aspen Snowmass / Jeremy Swanso Nearby Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands ski areas may have more trendy reputations, but Snowmass is the quiet king of Aspen. Boasting 3,128 skiable acres with wide-open terrain, terrific[…]

  • An Ode to Boulder Creek

    With all the mountainous goodness surrounding Boulder, it’s easy to overlook one of the city’s best natural features: Boulder Creek. It is a geological curiosity to consider that the humble stream flowing through the heart of the city is the same agent that carved out the deep walls of Boulder Canyon. (Though Boulder did get a taste of the creek’s true destructive potential during the floods of 2013). But despite the occasional outburst, Boulder Creek is traditionally mild-mannered. The section that runs through downtown is a welcome summer playground, complete with a kayak course (near Settler’s Park) and of course, the legendary tubing. Ancient cottonwood trees tower 100 feet on its banks, and there are plenty of nooks along the way to recreate with your activity of choice (me, I like reading a good book by the creek). West of town, Boulder Creek cascades through the canyon with more power. Many rock climbing areas are accessed by clipping into tyrolian traverses (ropes strung across the river) and hauling oneself across the raging waters. Boulder Falls enters into the creek in spectacular fashion, while simultaneously guarding the gateway to Dream Canyon. A drive to the top of the canyon and the[…]

  • Colorado aspens fall Fall Foliage in Colorado: 5 Colorful Adventures Near Boulder and Denver

    It’s a magical time of year in Colorado’s high country: Cool, crisp air gives an invigorating kick to the day, bluebird skies prevail, and whole hillsides transform to bright, cheery hues. The aspen leaves are starting to hint at the full show to come. Soon Colorado’s hills will be blazing with fall color, the best kind of mountain fire. Now is prime time to get out and experience the great outdoors for one last hurrah before winter. Here are some great leaf-peeping options within an easy drive of Denver or Boulder. Decide whether you want to hike, run, bike, or simply drive, but be sure to get out and savor the spectacular fall foliage in Colorado. 1. Mountain Bike at Kenosha Pass The Colorado Trail from the top of Kenosha Pass is a prime place to roll through aspen glades on two wheels. Jason Bertolacci Kenosha Pass delivers the mother lode of aspen gold. From the top of the pass, the Colorado Trail winds through amazing glades, crosses an aspen-covered hillside, then climbs to the summit of Georgia Pass, a 24-mile, out-and-back ride that will leave you smiling from ear to ear. Where the trail descends the backside of Kenosha Pass,[…]

  • Wyoming Big Sandy Pass Trail Lonesome Lake below the Cirque of the Towers 10 Must-Do Hikes in the Mountain West

    From Montana’s Livingston Range to the Lechuguilla Desert of southern Arizona, the U.S. region known as the Mountain West is brimming with top-caliber hiking destinations. Narrowing down a list of 10 standouts is no small feat, but we took a stab at it anyway, choosing from the eight states that make up the U.S. Census Bureau’s Mountain West zone. Take note: These aren’t the 10 best hidden hikes in the Mountain West; none of these routes are particularly obscure. In fact, several rank among the most celebrated trails in the country—and for good reason. A journey into the maw of one of the world’s most sublime canyons, backcountry skylines gloriously rock-torn, adventures in wide-open heights and close-hemmed halls of stone: These destinations highlight the scenic punch and variety characteristic of this outdoor playground and its seemingly infinite opportunities for adventure. 1. The Chinese Wall, Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, Montana As you might expect from a mighty watershed frontier, the Continental Divide in North America comes mantled in some pretty heady scenery along most of its length. And one of its most dramatic expressions comes in the heart of one of the largest roadless areas in the Lower 48, the Bob[…]

  • 00-20160419 BoulderCO ChautauguaFlatironsHiking 12 Telltale Signs You’re From Boulder

    Boulder is one of those places that people tend to either love or hate. If you hate it, chances are you don’t live here. If you love it, you probably can’t bring yourself to leave. No doubt Boulderites are a special breed—a blend of hippie, healthy, hard-core outdoorsy, über fit, and environmentally and socially friendly. The demographic has shifted slightly over the years, broadening from crunchy granola-munchers to include all sorts of outdoor fitness freaks, but the heart of Boulder still pulses with a progressive, liberal beat. And even the critics are hard-pressed to dispute the fact that Boulder earns plenty of accolades. Healthiest city, fittest, friendliest, most active, best place for entrepreneurs, best city for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, top college town, best farmers market—rattle off the whole list and people might roll their eyes. Our personal favorite: the worst dressed city that looks best naked, as GQ proclaimed a few years back. We’ll take it. There’s no question that Boulderites tend to favor outdoor function over fashion. Here are 12 other quirks that will clue you in that someone lives in Boulder. Depending on which camp you fall in, you might squirm or snicker. And if it’s the latter,[…]

  • The inner canyon of Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Insider’s Guide to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

    From the surface high above the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the gash that cuts across the land appears to be little more than a shallow indentation, no different than any other river that that flows through Colorado’s mountain valleys. Only when peering over the rim does the dramatic depth of the sheer cliffs—in places more than 2,000 vertical feet—disrupt the seamless narrative of typical river topography. Mother Nature patiently put her all into splitting open the earth in the Black Canyon, carving out a deep rend in the hide of the planet through some of the oldest known rock in the world. The “black” in the name Black Canyon comes from its near-perpetual state of shadow and darkness—the canyon only receives a maximum of 33 minutes per day of direct sunlight. The world illuminated at the floor of the canyon has a filter of shade that gives a spooky ambiance to the grey and pale green walls. As these rock walls rise into the light, the striated gray and white faces reveal the intrusion of the lighter colored pegmatite, creating a marbled canvas on ancient stone. Known for centuries by the local Ute tribe, the first documented exploration of[…]