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The lodge has a restaurant, bar, and gift shop and is known for their pan-fried trout. In just three miles, the road breaks above timberline.

An excellent stop here is at the Walter Pesman Alpine Garden, where you can view 1,year-old Bristlecone pines. These are the oldest living things on earth; in California and Nevada they achieve ages of 4, years. They don't fare as well in Colorado because, ironically, the conditions are too good for them. The tree thrives on adversity in severe, windy locations.

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They also offer guided hikes throughout the summer. At 13, feet, this is also a Denver Mountain Park and a good place to spot bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats, both of which have herds on the mountain.

— Goulding's Resort & Tours —

At the mountain's top, there is a short quarter-mile trail to the 14,foot summit. At this altitude, there is much less oxygen and breathing is difficult. Although the trail climbs only feet in elevation, it will seem like you climbed the whole mountain.

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Wear sunscreen, because at 14, feet, there is 50 percent less protection from the sun's rays. It's also advisable to visit and be off the mountain before noon to avoid common afternoon thunderstorms. The view from the top is simply incredible. This is one of the grandest panoramas in Colorado and much of the state is visible, from the Never Summer Range in the north to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the south. No matter when you go, there will be some paddling to do. While the currents in this mostly flat stretch will take you south, gusty winds, shallow spots, mid-river islands, and small rapids will require human power to negotiate.

Choosing a patch of sand is best done by 2 p. A substantial amount of both will fit into a inch ice chest, which sits in the center of the canoe.

Equally wonderful is the chance to dangle your feet in refreshing river water; see stars you never knew existed in an impossibly dark sky; hunt for long-abandoned cliff dwellings; catch a catfish with leftover bratwurst it works! The river is mostly docile, winding through fruit orchards and canyon bottoms. Take care to notice the small boulder dam in the orchards section; there is a visible chute on river left.

The pretty hamlet of Saratoga, Wyoming, known mostly for its hot springs, straddles the North Platte River, an ideal-for-canoeing stream located 3.

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Along the way, revel in views of large bluffs and swaying cottonwoods and keep an eye out for blue herons, deer, antelope, and bald eagles. Denverite Bill McDonald has been enthralled with wood boats since he was a kid.

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So much so, in fact, that New Belgium is using a Colorado Canoe Company boat on the new label for its bohemian-style Pilsner. Most people learning to stand-up paddleboard are chiefly concerned with getting vertical.

But the drive to stabilize often means missing out on one of the greatest pleasures of the sport: paddling to the middle of a lake, lying faceup on the board, and losing track of time while staring into a big blue sky. You could try this horizontal maneuver at any number of spots in the metro area we like Boulder Reservoir, Chatfield Reservoir, and Cherry Creek Reservoir , but for a weekend full of fun in the water, head three hours west to the Flat Tops Wilderness. Volcanic flat-topped cliffs melt into lush subalpine forests that—to the delight of SUPers—are dotted with more than lakes and ponds, many of them accessible by your average SUV.

Even those unfamiliar with the Flat Tops have likely heard of Trappers Lake, the second-largest naturally occurring body of water in the state. As you glide along, peer into the clear water to see cutthroat trout; gaze over the burn areas of the Big Fish and Lost Lakes fires; and consider a hike up to Little Trappers Lake. The signage in the area is decent, but having an atlas will come in handy. For a two- or three-day adventure, seek out Crosho Lake, Chapman Reservoir, and Vaughan Lake, all of which you can drive right up to.

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