The mundanity of life can be such a drag. Thankfully, Colorado is the best state to allow yourself the freedom to live in the moment. Adrenaline junkies have long recognized Colorado as the one-stop shop for outdoor thrills. Adrenaline is a close relative to dopamine and is a key factor in experiencing life. Endorphins rushing through every cell of your body help shock your body away from a passive life. Whether experienced or a budding novice, this list contains seven summer activities in Colorado to get you started on your journey.
Cliff Diving at Paradise Cove (Guffey Cove)
Location: Near Guffey, Colorado
Price: $6 per vehicle day-use fee
The Lowdown: Few things can give you the same rush as jumping from a cliff into the refreshing cold Rocky Mountain waters below. Embark on a hike through the forest and beautiful fields of wildflowers until you arrive at the aptly named Paradise Cove. This spot is iconic for its breathtaking waterfall leading to a swimming hole below. The cliffs range from just over 10 feet, up to a staggering, nearly 100-foot free fall. Whether you just want to go for a dip or step it up and climb the rocky cliffs for a dive, unique thrills await at every level of risk tolerance.
Warning: Be careful when cliff jumping. This is a swim at your own risk site.
Visit a Wildlife Sanctuary
Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center: 4729 Twin Rocks Rd, Divide
Wild Animal Sanctuary: 2999 Co Rd 53, Keenesburg
Price: Varies by tour and sanctuary
The Lowdown: For a more passive and educational adventure, Colorado offers intimate experiences with some of nature’s most fearsome predators. People have the choice between the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center as well as the Wild Animal Sanctuary.
The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center is dedicated to the conservation, education and preservation of wolves and other wildlife. Visitors have a variety of different tours that take them around the sanctuary. Some tours allow guests to get into an enclosure for an up-close and personal meet and greet with one of the wolves.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary offers a different kind of wildlife experience. Big cats from all over the world, bears, foxes and even camels call this sanctuary home. The Sanctuary boasts 794-acres of natural habitats and one and a half miles of elevated walkways to cross — all with a birds-eye view of the wildlife. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is as close to the animal’s natural environment as possible.
Estes Park Via Ferrata
Location: 520 Steamer Pkwy, Estes Park
Price: $330 for one person with discounts for larger groups
The Lowdown: For the courageous and daring, strap in and get ready to try the Estes Park Via Ferrata (Italian for “iron path”). Clinging to the Rocky Mountain cliffside, ascend 600 feet above the tallest trees and carefully make your way across and up the face of a mountain on the steepest Via Ferrata in the United States. The trek takes six hours — use rocks, iron bars and suspended bridges as the only footholds while attached to a steel cable. Conquer your fear of one of Colorado’s most awe-inspiring challenges. What separates the Estes Park Via Ferrata course from the others in Colorado is the breathtaking view of Rocky Mountain National Park and the Estes Valley below. The Kent Mountain Adventure Center leads guided trips with variable difficulty based on climber experience.
Mountain Bike at Winter Park’s Trestle Bike Park
Location: 85 Parsenn Rd, Winter Park
Price: Pre-booked day passes: $49 child, $64 adult. Season pass: $219 child (12 and under), $309 young adult (13-22), $389 adult (22 & up)
The Lowdown: Mountain biking is a staple of Colorado culture — hundreds of bike-friendly trails sprawl the entirety of the Centennial State. Winter Park saw this trend and decided to make it its own. 600 miles of trails in the Winter Park and Frasier area make up Trestle Bike Park. The park opens on June 18 and will remain so until October 2. Access to chairlifts allows for maximum adrenaline-fueled rides down the mountains without much of the grueling uphill ride.
The Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Location: 51000 Two Rivers Plaza Rd, Glenwood Springs
Price: Summer Funday Child (12 & under) $62, Adult: $67
The Lowdown: Named one of America’s most extreme rides by USA Today, this pendulum swing sits atop a cliff and shoots out at 50 miles per hour over a 1,300-foot drop overlooking the Colorado River. Thrill-seekers reach nearly a 90-degree angle facing the depths below with each full arc the ride takes. Make sure to stick around for the full Glenwood Caverns experience. The park offers myriad other family-friendly attractions: Defiance Roller Coaster, Alpine Coaster, Soaring Eagle Zipline, Cliffhanger Roller Coaster, Glenwood Canyon Flyer and even explore the caverns on a tour.
White Water Rafting
The Lowdown: No list of adrenaline-fueled adventures through Colorado is complete without a whitewater rafting trip. Your wit vs. mother nature’s roaring waters’ — the predicament that whitewater rafters encounter while tackling Colorado’s most intimidating rivers. Hundreds of different companies and tours are waiting to take guests on half-day, full-day and even multi-day trips to navigate the many rivers that run through Colorado. Head over to the rafting section of the Colorado Tourism website to plan your whitewater vacation.
Visit The Great Sand Dunes
Location: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Price: 1-Day Pass – non-commercial automobile – $25 (Fee will increase to $30 beginning May 27, 2022). 7-Day vehicle entry fee – $35
The Lowdown: The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve provides endless opportunities to get an adrenaline fix. Start by hopping in a four-wheel-drive car and venture forward on an off-road trail through the changing landscapes of the Medano Pass Primitive Road. The pass is a 6-mile-long Jeep lover’s dream. As you travel along the road, the terrain changes from rocky overpasses to the sandy base of the dunes themselves. The park itself is also accessible via traditional roads and highways.
Once at the sand dunes, a number of hikes are available to explore. Bring camping equipment and gaze in awe at the stunning illustrations by the night sky. Don’t forget a sled, and sandboard down one of the massive dunes that can be up to 700-feet tall. Remember to pack proper shoes and equipment as the sand has extreme temperature changes depending on the time of day and year.
Do you have a story to share about one of these adventures? Did we miss something? What are your favorite adrenaline-filled thrills in Colorado? Let us know in the comments below.