Colorado Weekend Dozen To Do

June 3 – 5, 2011

Fly Fisherman

             June 4 & 5 – Statewide

             The Colorado Division of Wildlife allows fishing

             without a license the first full weekend of June. Bag

             and possession limits and special regulations apply,

             check website for full details.

             June 4 – Majestic View Nature Center

                             & Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge

                     Free family event focusing on Arvada’s 125 miles of trails and

             wildlife featuring a 5K walk, 20-mile bike ride, nature exhibits, live

             raptors, Eco-Fair and self-guided nature walk.

            June 4 & 5 – Larimer Square

                Free street painting festival with over 200 artists

             including six madonnari – professionals in this

             medium. Youth challenge, kids corner and musical

             entertainment.

            June 4 & 5 – Civic Center Park

             Free admission to multiple stages of local talent,

             arts, children activities, crafts, food, wine pavilion.

             In 40 years this event has grown from 2,000

             attendees to 250,000.

                June 3 – 5 – Casey Jones Park

             Rodeo events sanctioned by Professional Bull Riders and

             the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association. Saturday

             morning parade, evening dance and mutton bustin’ for

             the younger set.

             June 4 – Historic Downtown Louisville

             The 21st annual Taste of Louisville promises tempting flavors from

             local restaurants. The day includes a 5K race, half marathon, arts

             and crafts fair, and Louis-Palooza band concert.

             June 4 – Manitou Springs Soda Springs Park

             Sample wines from 25 Colorado wineries, tasting

             tickets $30, non-tasters admitted free. Food and wine

             related booths, wines for purchase by bottle or case,

             entertainment.

             June 3 – 5 – Reservoir Hill

             The hills are alive with the sounds of folk and bluegrass from

             morning to late night. On-site camping, workshops and kids tent.

             June 3 – 5 – Nature & Raptor Center

             Dozens of bluegrass groups perform on two stages.

             Nature activities, arts & crafts, storytellers, camping,

             Saturday night dance.

             June 3 & 4 – Village Mall/Fanny Hill

             A smokin’ weekend of chili, beers and music.

             Competition sanctioned by the International Chili

             Society, summer ale competition, European and exotic

             beer tasting with over 50 participating breweries.

             June 4 & 5 – Telluride Town Park

             Morning balloon risings plus Saturday evening GLO on

             Main Street.

            June 2 – 5 – Vail Valley

            Celebration of outdoor adventure sports – pro

            athletes and amateurs complete in 8 sports and 24 disciplines

            including kayaking, trail running, standup paddling,

            amateur climbing, World Cup Bouldering. Adventure

            Film School, photo competition, free concerts, art,

            expo areas and interactive family zone.

Summer Chair Lift

Click on each event name to open website.

Check back each week during the summer for a potpourri of Colorado events and festivals for the upcoming weekend.

Exploring Connecticut’s Farmington Valley

With friends flying to Hartford, Connecticut I can’t resist the urge to recommend a number of attractions, activities and historic sites we’ve experienced and enjoyed in the nearby Farmington Valley.

 Hill-Stead Exterior

  • Hill-Stead Museum – history, art and gardens. The home of the Alfred Pope family during the first half of the 20th century is a National Historic Landmark complete with the family’s furnishings, sculpture, photographs, ceramics and art.  I Hill-Stead Interior loved seeing the extensive  French Impressionist collection –Monet, Degas, Cassatt – hanging in a home environment instead of a sterile gallery. The Sunken Garden blooms from mid-April into October with flowers and plants historically based on the original garden plan. Guided tours of the house give insight into the Pope family, art, collectables and architectural details.  A Poetry & Music Festival highlights five Wednesday evenings during the summer.

 

Christ Church

  • The town of Farmington has a fascinating history from early Colonial settlement dating to 1640, the Revolutionary War, Underground Railroad and the Amistad. Learn about many of the interesting citizens of the past during a historic walk through the Riverside Cemetery. The hospitality of local inns and restaurants make Farmington an ideal hub for a visit to the region.

 

  • House Guards The 1st Company Governor’s Horse Guard, in Avon, is the oldest continuously mounted Calvary unit in the US. The public is welcome to watch them drill on Thursday evenings at 7pm.

  Phelps%20Tavern[1]

  •  Phelps Tavern Museum in Simsbury provides a look into the home of Capt. Elisha Phelps where three generations of innkeepers (1786 – 1849) welcomed travelers arriving by stage, canal boat or horseback to the tavern and inn. One can imagine historical figures from America’s early years seeking respite from their journey between Boston and Philadelphia.

Stanley - Whitman

 

  • Stanley-Whitman House Built circa 1720 the Colonial home relates aspects of everyday life during that period in Connecticut. The living history center and museum encourages an interactive experience for visitors.

  • Canton Historic District Canton Historical Museum This place is chuck full of  "stuff" and every item has a story that one of the volunteers is eager to share. Collinsville was just what I expected from a New England village. The nearby LaSalle Market makes a good sandwich and salad for lunch.

 

  • Pettibone TavernAbigails Grille and Wine Bar,  – because of the building’s history. It was built in 1780 as a stage stop between Hartford and Boston. Abigail is the guest who won’t go away – tales of Abigail give lots of haunting history. This was known as Pettibone Tavern when we were there and has since experienced a fire, come under new management and been renamed so I don’t know about the food, service, etc. today. I loved the building, haunted tales and sense of stepping back in time to walk in the footsteps of earlier guests such as John Adams.

 Auction Barn Sign

  • A real piece of New England is the Canton Auction Barn. When one goes the first thing you want to do is reserve a piece of pie from the night’s selections. They’re homemade, very good and sell out. I’m not really an auction aficionado and didn’t buy a thing (my house is already filled to the brim) but this was still a fun experience. Housed in a circa 1820 barn the Saturday night weekly auction attracts Canton Barn Auctionserious collectors and casual observers. No reserves or buyer’s premiums; all items are owned outright by the Richard Wacht and Susan Wacht. Doors open at 5pm for inspection of items up for sale that evening – the Wachts encourage questions before the auction begins at 7:30. Reserve a seat by placing a cushion on a chair. Don’t forget to indulge in a slice of pie. 

  • Salmon Brook Salmon Brook Historic Society – Buildings include the Abijah Rowe House (circa 1732), Weed Enders House (circa 1790), Cooley School (circa 1870), and the Colton/Hayes Tobacco Barn (circa 19114). Located in Granby, the National Register of Historic Places site  is open Sunday afternoons from June through September.

 

Avon Old Farms

 

  • Old Avon Farms School – The buildings and grounds of this private boy’s boarding school makes one think they will meet Harry just around the next corner.

 

  • Flaming Lamb Flamig Farm – Young and old learn about farm life at Flamig Farm. Who can resist the Farm Animal Zoo populated with bunnies, piglets. llamas, peacocks, emus, ducks, draft horses and sheep? Plus, happy egg laying chickens. Open April through November, pony rides on weekends, old fashioned hay rides by reservation. Fresh eggs for sale in the store.

  • Kayaking Kayak the Farmington River with a guide from Collinsville Canoe & Kayak. See the Farmington Valley from a new perspective – meadows, farmland and Hublein Tower atop Avon Mountain during a gentle 8.5-mile flat water paddle. Numerous other guided trips available as well as equipment rental and sales.

  • Air Museum New England Air Museum  – Aviation buffs will love the collections including over 125 aircraft, 200 aircraft engines and outstanding array of aviation artifacts. The museum is located at the Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.

Each of these recommendations brings back treasured memories of an area rich in natural beauty, historic preservation and cultural enrichments. I’m ready to plan a return visit to Connecticut’s Farmington River Valley.

New Visitor Experiences

Mesa Verde National Park – Summer 2010

 

18 - Long House

 

Mesa Verde National Park visitors find three new experiences available during the 2010 summer season. In partnership with the nonprofit Mesa Verde Institute the park expands their visitor programs to include guided hikes to Spring House, Mug House and a Wetherill Mesa Experience. The hikes, which begun Memorial Day weekend, will continue through Labor Day. The Spring House trip will be offered until September 30th.

“We want visitors to know that there’s more to Mesa Verde than Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Spruce Tree House,” says Acting Superintendent Bill Nelligan. “This is a great opportunity to learn more about Mesa Verde National Park.”

  • Spring House – This very strenuous hike is an 8-hour, 8-mile trek for the physically-fit adventurist. The unpaved, uneven trail includes steep drop-offs and switchbacks with a 3,000-ft. elevation change. In addition to visiting Spring House hikers will view Buzzard House, Teakettle House, Daniel’s House and archeological sites in Navajo and Wickiup Canyons. Lunch is included.

  • Wetherill Mesa Experience – Introduces the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived here from early pithouse to cliff dwelling occupancy (A.D. 600 – A.D. 1300). Hikers will learn about The Wetherill Mesa Archeological Project during the 6-mile, 6-hour easy to moderate hike. The joint effort between the National Park Service and The National Geographic Society was one of the largest archeological projects ever conducted in the United States.
  • Mug House – Is a 2-hour, 3-mile round trip on an unpaved, uneven trail with a 100’ descent. The strenuous hike involves a ladder, knotted rope, steep drop-offs, switchbacks and scrambling over boulders. When Mug House was excavated three mugs tied together were found hanging on a peg inside one of the rooms.

06 - Tour Group The three new adventures are limited to 14 people per tour. Tickets for the Spring House and the Wetherill Mesa Experience may be purchased online. Mug House tickets are only available at the Far View Visitor Center up to 48 hours in advance.

The Mesa Verde Institute continues to hosts Cliff Palace Twilight Tours between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Led by historic characters from Mesa Verde’s past, the 90-minute evening tours begin at 7pm. Tickets, purchased at the Far View Visitor Center, are limited to 20 participants each evening.

 

Previous Related Posts

Mesa Verde Mystique

Lodging in Mesa Verde National Park

National Get Outdoors Day

June 12, 2010

Utah Kayakers

Get outdoors! A great idea for a June Saturday. More than 90 events in 33 states and the District of Columbia encourage Americans to spend the day in a healthy outdoor activity. Organizers hope to introduce first time visitors to public lands and connect today’s youth with the great out-of-doors.

Rock Climbing - Along Taylor River The US Forest Service, city and state parks, mountain clubs, recreation equipment companies, sport associations – dozens of organizations sponsor activities, workshops and guided hikes/rides/paddles. Log onto the Get Outdoors Day website to locate an event near you; or, create your own outdoor discovery.

Colorado Events

   National Get Outdoors Day events for 2010.

 

  • Colorado Springs – Hike for Habitat at American the Beautiful Park
  • Denver – Dozens of activities at Denver’s City Park – geocaching, Junior Ranger camp, rock climbing walls, low-ropes obstacle course and more.
  • Ft. Collins – Mountain biking, hiking with a naturalist, rock climbing, kayaking and more located at the open space south of Hughes Stadium
  • Morrison – Expert guides along the Dinosaur Ridge trail and hands on activities at the visitor center

17th Annual National Trails Day

Dick on Trail[1]

Take a hike! Build or maintain a trail, learn about the latest in outdoor recreation equipment, attend a workshop, learn about a new trail. The first Saturday of June is designated National Trails Day across the country. Organized by the American Hiking Society hundreds of local events encourage Americans to get physical in the great out-of-doors.

It’s also a day to recognize and thank volunteers, organizations, businesses and agencies for their efforts and support in developing and maintaining the thousands of miles of trails available to the public.

Check the website for an event near you; it’s the day to hit the trail.

A Found Day – New Experiences

Prepared for a full day of jury selection and possible service the day seemed a gift after my name wasn’t called for the selection process. January temperatures in the 50s and cloudless blue skies promised a perfect day to go adventuring. We decided to make our first visit to Eldorado Canyon State Park south of Boulder followed by an informative hour at the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum in Golden.Rock Climber

The rocky walls and cliffs of Eldorado Canyon holds a worldwide reputation with rock climbers. The park also offers miles of hiking and biking trails, fishing and picnicking. Thirteen miles south of Eldorado Canyon the museum offers a look into many aspects of mountaineering in Colorado and around the world.

 

Mountaineering Museum While we weren’t tempted to become a human spider on the lichen walls of Eldorado Canyon nor stand atop Mount Everest our impromptu activities were a perfect match for a January Day.

Too often we feel the need to venture far from home in our travels when there are many overlooked opportunities worthy of our attention nearby.

Planning a Summer to Remember

in

Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Beat the January blues by planning a summer to remember. “When children see their first bear or geyser eruption, it typically makes an impression that lasts a lifetime, and those kinds of experiences are exactly what families can expect from a trip to Yellowstone,” says Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Xanterra Parks & Resorts, operator of the lodges, restaurants and other concessions in the park. “To ensure Yellowstone memories are the best possible for everyone in the family, we recommend a little bit of advance planning coupled with realistic expectations.”

Hoeninghausen offers the following suggestions for ensuring a great family trip.

Before you go:

  • Carefully choose the time you travel. If you have very young children Bison or a flexible travel schedule, consider traveling during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. These seasons offer a greater choice of accommodations and campground sites. Plus there is the added bonus of the best wildlife-viewing opportunities. Spring is the time to view bison and elk calves and fall is the mating season for bison and elk.
  • Study the park before you go. Xanterra offers a Yellowstone Adventure Planner through its online gift store. Priced at Adventure Planner$39.95, the planner comes  with a DVD highlighting the park, park map, copy of the Yellowstone National Park Magazine, guide to activities and picnic spots, safety and photography tips and coupons for more than $40 that can be used for gifts and activities. Another source is the National Park Service (NPS) site, Mud Pot which also offers a variety of online vacation planning tools. Learning about the park together also gives  family members a chance to discuss their expectations. After learning a bit about the park, ask each member what they’d like to do and see? Older teens may want to take a challenging hike while younger kids may want to see a mudpot.
  • Decide where to stay in the park. Yellowstone is highlighted by a huge diversity of geological features, including hot springs, geysersLake Yellowstone Hotel, Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Lamar Valley, considered the best wildlife-watching region in the lower 48 states. Yellowstone’s nine lodges are located throughout the park. Xanterra recommends studying a map to help decide which location – or locations – makes the most sense. Some people prefer to change hotels every night as they move around the park; others prefer to establish one lodge as a home base and then return to the same lodge each night. Lodging reservations can be made at online  or by calling (1) 307-344-7311 or toll-free (1) 866-GEYSERLAND (1-866-439-7375) Ask reservations sales agents for their suggestions and guidance when booking lodges and activities.
  • Let every family member pick at least one activity. There are numerous activity choices that are perfect for every age group. For example, little ones might enjoy the Hikerscovered wagon ride to the Roosevelt Cookout. Another family member might want to participate in a ranger-led hike. Concessioner Xanterra offers an online adventure planning tool that allows travelers to choose activities based on the duration of the adventure, intensity level and region of the park.
  • Book your lodge(s) now. Yellowstone National Park features nine lodges in a variety of locations throughout the park. Some of the historic or most popular lodges – the Old Faithful Inn and Old FaithfulOld Faithful Inn Snow Lodge – are beginning to fill for prime summer dates. Still, with some 2,000 guest rooms in the entire park, there are plenty of rooms available for the summer. Lodging reservations can be cancelled with full refunds on deposits if made 48 hours or more before the arrival date. Hat
  • Pack smart. Yellowstone is one of the wildest spots in the country, and the weather is no exception. Pack for rain and widely fluctuating temperatures. Typical summer temperatures range from the high 70s to the low 40s. Sturdy shoes, sunscreen, hats and refillable water bottles should be included on every packing list.

During your trip:

  • Get to know the National Park Service rangers. Free ranger-led programs are offered daily in every area of the park. The pYellowstone Family Programrograms are fun, creative and available for families with children of all ages. For example, the Yellowstone Wildlife Olympics, a four-hour program offered six times during the summer, gives budding wildlife scientists a chance to show off their knowledge of the park’s non-human residents. The Junior Ranger program is a perfect way to engage children. Plus, there are ranger adventure hikes, evening astronomy programs and evening talks.

Yellowstone Falls

 

  • Don’t be too ambitious. An early-morning wildlife-watching tour in Lamar Valley followed by a ranger-led geyser hike followed by a lake cruise followed by the Roosevelt Cookout may sound like a good plan, but it’s not. And it probably would not even be doable. Driving from one part of the park to the other, especially in the middle of summer, takes time. And travelers lucky enough to encounter wildlife or other special park experiences during the drive should savor those experiences instead of worrying about making it to the next activity on time.

  • Lunch at Lake Yellowstone Lodge Think beyond the burger. Xanterra offers 17 restaurant choices in the park, ranging from the quick-serve Geyser Grill at Old Faithful Snow Lodge to the elegant Lake Hotel Dining Room. Every restaurant offers value-priced options to suit every budget, as well as vegetarian and children’s options.

  • Designate a spontaneous day. Over-planned vacations can sometimes  seem like a forced march, with everyone proceeding in lock-step to the next planned activity. Sometimes, planners just can’t help themselves. Hoeninghausen recommends “planning” a  Poolsnothing day. “The park is full of surprises – like an unexpected eruption of a backcountry geyser or a clear safe-distance sighting of a bear and cubs,” said Hoeninghausen. “Many families miss these special and truly memorable experiences because they’re driving to the next place on their agenda. Get up one morning and just let the day happen. Allow time to stop for that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ wildlife sighting that seems to always occur when you Horseback Ridersare in a  rush.” 

 Moose

  •                          

  • White Pelican
  • Be safe. Follow all posted National Park Service signs and directions. Every year, tourists stray from a boardwalk in a hot springs area or get too close to wildlife. The National Park Service medical clinics see plenty of injuries each summer that could have been prevented if travelers had simply followed NPS rules.

  • Start your in-park visit with a trip to a National PCanyon Visitor's Centerark Service Visitor Center. NPS rangers have the latest information on wildlife sightings, trail conditions, ranger-led programs and more. This is also where kids can obtain information on becoming a Junior Ranger.

Wildlife Viewing

 

  • Do the dawn. Wildlife are early risers, and the best time to see them in action is just after dawn. Make the effort to get up early to improve your chances of seeing wildlife. Save the geysers for mid-day when animals are less active. The other great time to see wildlife is at dusk.

 

  • Visit Old Old FaithfulFaithful in the late afternoon and evening. When day-  trippers head back to their hotels in gateway communities, the popular spots such as Old Faithful Geyser have fewer visitors. See it in the late afternoon and you are more likely to find a place to sit and watch from the boardwalk benches.

Climbing AboardPools 2

Jewel Geyser

       

 

 

 

 

 

          Start planning your family’s Yellowstone

          memories today.

Pronghorn

 

Looking for Osprey

Taking a Spin

evergreen-lake21

For generations Evergreen Lake has been a favorite winter destination for Denver area families. The lake is frozen and open for 2010 winter recreation. There’s plenty of room for hockey practice and pick-up games, beginner and serious skaters as well as those who do more ice standing than skating.

The log Lake House offers lots of benches for lacing up skates, rental skates, hockey supplies, and a snack bar. It’s a great place to warm up or crisp winter days.

beginner1   hockey   spinnerevergreen-lake-skating

When You Go: Skate fees are $5 or less per session depending on age. Season passes and ten punch cards are available. The lake and lake house are part of the Evergreen Park and Recreation District. Their website gives little information;call the skating hotline, 720-880-1391 before heading to the lake.

Map picture

Happy Skating!

Plains to Peaks

After mountain road closures due to snow and ice, rain, chill and morning frost  along Colorado’s Front Range the day dawned with crisp blue skies. A halo of clouds hugged the shoulders of Pikes Peak. A day too perfect to stay home and attend to chores.

Castwood Canyon SP - Lucas Homestead We headed southeast of Denver to Castlewood Canyon State Park outside of Franktown. The park straddles five different life zones from short grass prairie and caprock to coniferous forest and riparian. The mixed shrubland has begun its autumnal color transformation. We drove the unpaved road along the west side of the park from CO86 to Lake Gulch Road. The route passes the Lucas Homestead Historic Site, the popular Westside Trailhead and the ruins of Castlewood Dam which burst in 1933 flooding downstream Denver with a 15-foot wall of water.

 

Yak's On our way out to CO87 we passed a yak farm. As Bob snapped a few pictures of the long-haired Asian bovines I noted the farm’s website  – www.greeneggsandyak.com. We didn’t stop to purchase either yak or eggs but I did come home and visit their web pages. Now we’re intrigued and Bob’s ready to try yak.

Avoiding Interstate travel we skirted Colorado Springs on the east and were amazed at the growth and development.

Our next destination was one of Colorado’s newest state parks, Cheyenne Mountain, south of the city west of US115. A stop at the “crown jewel” Visitor Center gave us a bit of history and information on the facilities and trails. Twenty miles of joint use (hiking/biking) trails span terrain from grasslands to mountain slope pine forests. Campgrounds and picnic sites are nicely situated among scrub oak and mountain mahogany.

Hungry tummies directed us to Conway’s Red Top, a Colorado Springs classic famous for their burgers filling a 6-inch bun. Never fear, you can order a half burger. We split a half cheeseburger and a half Senor Red Top with jalapeno and pepper jack cheese. Bob indulged with a cherry milk shake so thick the spoon was much more useful than the straw.

We chose the pastoral, foothill horse country between Palmer Lake and Sedalia for our homebound journey. Peaceful and unhurried we happily left behind the aggression of I-25 traffic, soaking in mountain views bathed in autumn sunshine and color.

Scenery, History and Recreation Galore

Along Colorado’s San Juan Scenic Skyway

 

Any season of the year, but especially in the fall, the San Juan Scenic Byway circling much of southwestern Colorado amazes visitors with natural beauty, remains of ancient civilizations, Western history and outdoor recreation. In four parts I’ll share an overview of the route first published in a suburban Denver lifestyle magazine, Buzz in the ‘burb.

View San Juan Scenic Skyway

Introduction

Like curly ribbon around a festively wrapped gift the San Juan Skyway circles spectacular southwestern Colorado. Plunging waterfalls, rumbling rivers, jagged mountain peaks, hot springs, deserted mining camps, rich western heritage, trendy resorts, and ancient cliff dwellings dot the map along the 236-mile loop designated an All American Road and Scenic Byway.

07-Waterfalls Weaving over five mountain passes, the paved two-lane route links two National Forests, a National Park, major communities and remote ghost towns. In theory one can drive the Skyway in six hours. While the windshield-framed vistas would still be stunning I can’t imagine making the drive non-stop, missing the many opportunities for exploration, recreation and a deep breathe of fresh alpine air.

Two or three days provides a more realistic time frame while the leisure traveler with a week to spare can easily fill the days and still leave with a to-do list for the next visit. Whether we complete the entire loop or drive just a segment we always vow to return – with more time.

A September visit promises the added attraction of golden aspen groves. The view of Mt. Sneffels from Dallas Divide is a classic Colorado autumn photograph.28-Aspen near Telluride

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