Couple admiring the view from mountaintop at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Couple admiring the view from mountaintop at Rocky Mountain National Park. (Photo: Margaret Wiktor/Shutterstock).

What can you cross off your bucket list this year?

Hoedown Hill’s colored lights at night.

Hoedown Hill’s colored lights
at night. (Photo courtesy: Hoedown Hill).

You don’t have to travel far for a great adventure: Longmont and its environs have fantastic backyard playgrounds. Whether you want to get your adrenaline pumping, have some fun with your family, learn a new skill or hobby or simply find solitude in nature, the outdoors are calling. 

Being outdoors is good for the soul and gives you a chance to disconnect. You have a chance to be present right where you’re at, says Joshua Baruch, owner of Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides, which offers a bevy of outdoor guided trips from hiking to whitewater rafting and rock climbing.

“Getting outside is an opportunity to re-set, even if it’s just for an hour of your day,” says Baruch. “You can look out and think “Oh, that’s beautiful.” 

From classes to guided journeys to quick escapes, here are five adventures to cross off your Colorado bucket list in 2024. 

Go Skiing (or Sledding) Close to Home
Skip the I-70 traffic and play in the snow close to home at Hoedown Hill in Windsor. The new ski area has 10 skiing and snowboarding runs that include green, blue and black terrain. Bring your own gear or rent some on-site. Those new to skiing or snowboarding can take formal lessons or gain some confidence through their own “terrain-based learning.” Hoedown Hill also has two tubing hills, including The Bushwhacker, which is billed as the longest tubing hill in North America.

Learn to Fly Fish
Fly fishing is a fast-growing sport and anglers will tell you there’s always something new to learn, from fly tying to the science of bugs in addition to knowing where fish hide out. You can learn to fly fish with the Laughing Grizzly Fly Shop in Rocky Mountain National Park or at private water venues. “Our guides will teach you all the basics that will start you on a lifetime of outdoor adventure in beautiful Colorado,” says Dick Shinton, shop manager and guide with Laughing Grizzly. You can book guided trips now for the upcoming season. 

If you’re already a fly fisher, guides can teach you how to tie flies and show you some special places where you can have a chance to catch the state fish (the greenback cutthroat trout). “There’s nothing like catching a trout on a fly you tied yourself,” Shinton says.

Go Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is another sport that’s quickly gained popularity, especially in landlocked states where placid reservoir waters make for easy learning. During the warmer months, you can rent paddleboards from Rocky Mountain Paddleboard at Union Reservoir. The outfitter offers lessons and also leads some cool events like SUP yoga and full-moon paddles. Already a strong paddleboarder? Compete with other paddlers in the summertime Paddle the Rockies races or learn how to paddleboard on rivers with guided clinics.

Angles Ski, Board & Fly Shop in Longmont is another outfitter that offers rentals, including paddleboards, kayaks and tubes if you want to float in a river. The shop also has snow sports rentals and guides fly fishing trips. 

Indoor rock climbing.

Indoor rock climbing.
(Photo: Shutterstock).

Try Out Rock Climbing
Want to pick up a new hobby in the New Year? Climbing Collective – which has gyms in Longmont and Loveland and is expanding to Greeley – offers adult programs from one-day courses to weeks-long learning sequences. Classes include belaying basics, learning to climb and learning to boulder. Longmont Climbing Collective offers 25,000 square feet of space with 19,000 square feet of rope walls and more than 5,000 square feet for bouldering. There are also dedicated spaces for yoga and other fitness classes.

Go White Water Rafting
Another way to get out on the water this summer? Take a guided white water rafting trip, which can range from wild rapids to a more leisurely “lazy river” type of float. You can tailor your rafting experience with Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides, which offers half-day, full-day, and multi-day trips, with beginner trips on Clear Creek and longer float trips on the Colorado River outside of Grand Junction. 

By Brittany Anas, Longmont Magazine