The snow is so deep in the high country that The Gazette had a picture of a snowboarder on the front page this morning. With more bad weather on the way, anyone thinking of climbing a mountain this weekend might want to take a parka and snowshoes. Not ready for winter? There are plenty of often overlooked outdoor destinations that are well below the snow line.
Here are some favorites.
Picketwire Canyon on the Comanche National Grasslands near La Junta is a beautiful sandstone canyon with dinosaur tracks, an old Spanish frontier graveyard, and historic ranches. Right now, the wildflowers should be spectacular. It's a great hike, but since it's on an old ranch road, it's best by mountain bike (don't worry, except for one short part, it's a breeze). For directions, click here.
Another great Front Range destination is Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge just east of Denver. As the name suggests, the place used to be a weapons factory. Then it was left alone for decades. Now it's a major stopover for birds. It will be especially active right now, with the migration season in full swing. For directions, click here. I highly suggest combining a trip here with a meal at one of my favorite Denver eateries, such as My Brother's Bar, Domo, Pho 79, or Saigon Cafe.
Finally, don't forget a few favorite places close to home. How long has it been since you've been to Fountain Creek Nature Center, or taken the bike path around Garden of the Gods. How 'bout some of the classic trails low in Cheyenne Canyon? The tourists are gone, the leaves are changing. Now is the time.