Known for its majestic Rocky Mountains, Colorado offers many exciting and fun summer activities for young people looking to take advantage of this beautiful state. Youth programs that come to Bridge Denver don’t have to worry about having nothing to do when class is out. Denver and the surrounding areas have so many fun things to do that it is hard to choose which ones to take advantage of during the students’ stay in our beautiful state. The following is a list of the top five activities that Bridge’s younger students can enjoy during their free time outside of English class.
- Rocky Mountain National Park. If you are in the mood to see some of the most spectacular views in Colorado and maybe even in the world, then Rocky Mountain National Park is the place to go. Only an hour outside Denver, RMNP is host to at least 60 mountains exceeding 12,000 feet, topping off at 14,259 feet on the football field-sized summit of Longs Peak. Although the grandiose peaks make up the essence of the park, the delicate flowers, rushing streams, crystal clear lakes and wildlife offer every visitor a taste of what it is like to live amongst such beauty. There are many hiking trails that range from an easy jaunt around one of the lakes to downright strenuous, almost vertical hikes for the more ambitious. Be on the lookout for some of the native wildlife, which includes elk, deer, big horn sheep and if you are lucky black bears. You might even get really lucky as some of Bridge’s students have in the past and see a mother bear with her cub! Just be careful and keep your distance. You don’t want to disturb them in their home! If you are a student who has never seen snow, not to worry. Even in the summer months, the higher parts of the mountains keep their snow so you can still have a snowball fight and make a snowman, all while wearing shorts and a t-shirt! Now if that isn’t fun, I don’t know what is!
2. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs. How did those rocks get there anyway? You will probably ask yourself that question once you enter this amazing park and see some of the biggest and most interesting rock formations in the United States. Garden of the Gods is situated in Colorado Springs, just an hour south of Denver and offers the visitor sights of gigantic sandstone spires, 320 foot sheer rock faces and million year old fossils. Some of the rock formations seem to defy gravity such as the “balancing rock” which is a tremendous boulder resting on smaller rocks and upon looking at it you may fear that with a large gust of wind, the boulder might just come tumbling down. But don’t worry, the boulder isn’t actually balancing on the other rock. It is firmly connected. There are guided tours available as well as numerous trails for hiking, walking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The Visitor and Nature Center is located near the park entrance and offers free nature presentations daily. Natural history exhibits include minerals, geology, plants and local wildlife, as well as Native American culture. You can even see a dinosaur fossil that was only discovered in 2009!
3. River Rafting, Idaho Springs. If you crave an adventure and adrenaline, then river rafting is not to be missed. Rushing down the rapids of one of Colorado’s premier rivers, paddling through white waves and getting wet all the while being surrounded by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains are what you will experience on a river rafting trip and it is only 30 minutes from Denver! There are several companies to choose from and all trips come with an experienced guide who will give you exact instructions on how to conquer the river! During the hot, dry days of a Colorado summer, getting soaked while navigating an exciting, rushing river is a great way to spend the day. Smile for the cameraman on the side of the river, waiting to capture the look of pure excitement on your face. You can purchase the photos at the end of the trip as a memento to take back to your country and show everyone that you were like Indiana Jones, at least for a day!
4. Elitch Gardens Theme Park. If rushing down a river isn’t your style then maybe rushing up and down and upside down a roller coaster is! Elitch Gardens is a staple in Denver for people who crave excitement and fun. Located in downtown Denver, Elitch’s is the place to spend a day of fun. If roller coasters are what you seek then go on the famous Mind Eraser coaster which suspends riders legs and feet and blasts through rollovers, dives and double corkscrew spins at speeds greater than 50 mph. Or perhaps you would enjoy the Tower of Doom which takes you up and then plunges you over 200 feet of free fall! There are many more thrilling rides but not to worry, there are also plenty of other rides to enjoy if coasters aren’t your thing. And if you get too hot then head on over to the water park and take a plunge in the wave pool or shoot down some of the water slides. Of course you can always just relax in the sun and drink some cool lemonade too! Elitch’s is very easy to get to. Just hop on the lightrail and it will drop you off right in front of the entrance. Fun was never so easy to get to!
5. Castle Rock Outlet Mall, Castle Rock. Bridge has so many students from all over the world and one of their favorite attractions in Denver is going to the famous Castle Rock Outlet Mall for a day of shopping. The prices are cheaper and the stores are bigger. What more could you ask for? With over 90 stores, there is something for everyone and something for everyone’s family too! For the ladies find the latest fashions at Aeropostale, Anne Taylor and Calvin Klein. For the guys head on over to Adidas, Izod and Nike. Buy perfume for your friends or family at Perfumania, which carries all the latest fragrances for a fraction of the cost at regular stores. If you get tired then pop into the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for some well deserved chocolate treats. You may need to buy an extra suitcase to carry all of your new items in so you better head into the Samsonite store or the Coach store. And of course, Castle Rock Outlet Mall is located in the beautiful town of Castle Rock with a beautiful vista of those famous Rocky Mountains.
There are hundreds of other great things to do in Colorado and there is something for everyone. There are museums, a zoo, a historic downtown area, hot springs and great restaurants and theaters. But these five should get you started, at least for the first weekend! Welcome to Colorado!