Up Your Fitness Ante — and Adrenaline — on an Epic Outdoor Adventure in BoulderBy Jennifer Virskus
Boulder, Colo. regularly tops lists of the fittest cities in America, and considering the nearly year-round sunshine, clean alpine air and #optoutside culture, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise.
There are plenty of non-sporty activities in this university town, but if you want to spend a few days living like a local, get ready to lace up and head outside.
Go on an Epic Bike Ride
If Boulder were to declare a signature sport, it would undoubtedly be cycling. Boulderites have quivers of bikes like mountain residents have quivers of skis, and no matter your mood, there’s a route for it.
Want a thigh-burning, lung-bursting climb on a road bike? Head up Flagstaff Road for 2,200 vertical feet of elevation in just under five miles. In need of speed? The Carter Lake loop offers 60-plus miles of open, rolling country roads. Looking for an epic mountain bike ride? You want The Boulder Monster — 66 miles and 6,600 feet of elevation gain along some of the area’s most iconic single track.
For a more mellow two-wheel experience, grab your fixie and join the Happy Thursday Cruiser Ride.
Run a Signature Race
The BolderBOULDER is one of the world’s most famous 10Ks, annually drawing crowds upwards of 30,000 people. But there’s a running event virtually every week of the year, from the Pearl Street Mile to the Dine & Dash 5K to the Boulder Backroads Marathon and Half Marathon.
Jump in the Creek
Don’t let its name fool you. Come May, Boulder Creek is a raging river of whitewater. The most accessible activity is tubing, and it’s not uncommon to see wetsuit-clad tubers walking up the creek trail, excited for another go.
Rent a tube from Whitewater Tubing and head to Eben G. Fine Park. Depending on water levels, the Creek is runnable up to 55th Street — almost five miles of river. You won’t want to miss Tube to Work Day, held annually in July. Even if you’re just visiting, it’s a sight to see.
Because it’s so shallow and rocky, most of Boulder Creek isn’t suitable for kayaking, but the 20-gate slalom course with purpose-built obstacles, drops and slides will keep you plenty busy.
SUP the Boulder Reservoir
Known simply as “the Res,” the Boulder Reservoir offers year-round flat-water paddling. Rent a stand-up paddleboard and enjoy expansive views of the Rockies from the water, or for a little extra challenge, join a SUP yoga class.
Take a Walk with the Wild Things in Chautauqua Park
Chautauqua Park is the starting point for the majority of hiking in Boulder. Mesa Trail is popular with runners because it features some of the least elevation gain in the park, while the steep Royal Arch trail rewards with stunning views of the Denver skyline. Gregory Canyon to Saddle Rock is a less-oft-traveled route that passes through a variety of microclimates and offers equally stunning views.
Expect to see wildlife including deer, elk, wild turkeys and coyotes, and be sure you know what to do when you encounter them. You may also come across bobcats, mountain lions and black bears.
Climb a Flatiron
There’s no better place to scramble up a rock than the gateway to the Rocky Mountains. Route options abound in the Boulder area, but there’s no more classic climb than the Flatirons, where you’ll find routes ranging from easy to eye-popping. Use the Mountain Project’s Climbing Route Finder to find a route appropriate for your skill level.
Skiing – Downhill and Uphill
Boulder isn’t really a ski town, but it’s definitely home to plenty of skiers. Eldora Mountain Resort, just 20 miles up Boulder Canyon, is one of Colorado’s smaller ski areas, though with nearly 1,500 feet of vertical and a top elevation of 10,600 feet, it’s no slouch, either.
The east side of the resort, known as Little Hawk Mountain, is a fantastic area for beginners. Expert skiers will enjoy the blacks and double blacks off of Bryan Mountain. The Nordic Center boasts 25 miles of maintained cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails, and Eldora offers convenient access for ski mountaineering in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. The resort even sells an “Uphill” pass for skiers who want to earn their turns.