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A-Z Guide to Summer in Colorado

Absorb some Rocky Mountain rays. Colorado's Front Range averages 300 days of sunshine per year. Don't forget the sunscreen, though. Colorado is the highest state in the nation with an average elevation of 6,800 feet. Suntans come quickly in Colorado!

Bring your bike! Colorado has an extensive bike trail system and annual mountain biking competitions like the Iron Horse Bike Classic in Durango and Crested Butte's Fat Tire Week, complete with a bicycle rodeo. Crested Butte, which offers more than 300 miles of bike trails, also is home to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum.

Catch a concert at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre west of Denver. The walls, stage and backdrop of this outdoor concert facility are made of 70 million-year- old red sandstone that treats concert-goers to an aesthetic and acoustic experience unmatched by any venue in the world. Originally an open-air stage for symphonies, orchestras and ballets in the 1940s, Red Rocks today welcomes hundreds of national and international musical stars to its surreal setting.

Dig for dinosaur bones along Colorado's western edge, an area long considered a gold mine by the world's paleontologists. The Dinosaur Discovery Museum, Dinosaur Hill, the Prehistoric Highway and Dinosaur National Monument all offer a scientific glimpse of the world when dinosaurs roamed.

Eat the world's best sweet corn at the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival or bite into some Rocky Ford cantaloupe ... so good Rocky Ford has been dubbed the "melon capital of the world." Grand Valley peaches, apples, apricots and pears and Pueblo chiles also have a delicious reputation.

Flyfish in the gold medal waters of several Colorado rivers. The Yampa River below the northwest town of Craig holds northern pike in the 20-pound range, while the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers are prime spots for trout fishing.

Golf at one of Colorado's many 18-hole courses. Copper Creek Golf Course near Copper Mountain bills itself as the highest golf course in the nation while Breckenridge features a municipal course designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

Hike a "fourteener" - Colorado has 54 peaks over 14,000 feet. Hiking trails are abundant throughout Colorado's three national parks, 40 state parks and 15 national forests or grasslands. Many trails offer the option of hiking afoot or saddling up and going horseback.

Indulge in the amenities of one of Colorado's world- class resorts. Famous ski destinations such as Aspen, Vail, Telluride, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Winter Park and Keystone are great summer getaways, too. Take a gondola ride to the top of a peak, hike through wildflowers, dine at a five-star restaurant or treat yourself to a massage at one of the many resort spas.

Jump in a Jeep and tour the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in south central Colorado. This bizarre 46,000-acre landscape of 700-foot sand peaks was the creation of ocean waters and wind more than one million years ago. Jeep tours of the Great Sand Dunes run twice daily during the summer months.

Kick off your boots at one of Colorado's guest ranches after a day of horseback riding through Aspen-lined trails, or get Western at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs. Colorado is home to more than 30 annual professional rodeos including the National Western Rodeo in Denver and the Greeley Independence Stampede - two of the 10 largest professional rodeos in North America.

Let a llama do the work. Llama pack trips, available at llama ranches across the state, are a unique alternative to traditional backpacking.

Make time for a tour of Mesa Verde National Park, voted by National Geographic as one of the world's 50 greatest destinations. Mesa Verde features an elaborate four-story city carved in the cliffs by the Ancestral Pueblo people between 600 and 1300 A.D. The mystery surrounding this ancient cultural landmark is the sudden disappearance of the thousands of inhabitants who created the more than 4,000 identified structures that make up Mesa Verde. Negotiate a bargain at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site outside La Junta. Trade flourished inside the adobe walls of Bent's Fort in the mid 1800s when Native Americans, Spaniards and Anglos flocked to barter goods and services. Today the Fort offers daily tours and special demonstrations reminiscent of the old trading days.

Note the thousands of species of flora and fauna you'll encounter on a hike in the Tarryall Mountains of the Lost Creek Wilderness - less than two hours from Colorado Springs and Denver. Motor vehicles are not allowed in the Lost Creek Wilderness so break in your hiking boots - or better yet, strap on a horse and check out some of the most beautiful wilderness in all of the Rockies.

Overlook the Royal Gorge via the 1,200-foot-high Royal Gorge Bridge - the highest suspension bridge in the world. Visitors also can ride the 35-passenger aerial tram that glides over the Arkansas River or take a steep railway trip to the canyon floor.

Press your luck at a Colorado mountain casino. Historic mining towns like Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Central City today feature more than 55 casinos with slot machines and table games. Stay at one of the area's historic hotels and take in a summer festival like Cripple Creek's Donkey Derby Days featuring fast and furious donkey races.

Quench your thirst at a Colorado brew pub. Colorado has more microbreweries per capita than any other state.

Ride the Kit Carson County Carousel in Burlington. This National Historic Landmark dates back to 1905, making it the oldest wooden merry-go-round in the United States. It is the only wooden carousel in America still with its original paint.

See U.S. Olympic hopefuls train at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Daily tours of the 37-acre complex offer a glimpse into the lives of past and future gold medalists.

Take a train ride through the scenic San Juan Mountains on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad - voted by National Geographic as one of America's top 10 train adventures. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has been in continuous operation since 1881 and has appeared in more than a dozen movies including How the West Was Won (1963) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).

Unwind at the world's largest natural hot springs pool located in Glenwood Springs. The two-block long pool is across the street from the historic Hotel Colorado, a favorite stop of former president Teddy Roosevelt.

Visit four states at once. Colorado's southwest corner borders Arizona, New Mexico and Utah - the only place in America where the corners of four states meet. Put one limb in each state and you can literally be in four places at one time - a great snapshot for the family album!

Whitewater raft down a Colorado river. There are nearly 20 rivers whose headwaters begin in Colorado, with the Continental Divide directing each river's course. River waters are given a Class I through Class V rating, allowing for all levels of whitewater enthusiasts to experience the thrill of Colorado river rafting.

X-plore a Colorado ghost town.

Yell at the umpire at a Colorado Rockies game. The Rockies play at the 50,000- seat Coors Field, located in lower downtown Denver. The newly renovated "LoDo" area is lined with restaurants, brew pubs, night clubs and boutiques. Just east of Coors Field is Six Flags Elitch Gardens, Ocean Journey and the brand new Pepsi Center, home of the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets.

Z-z-z-z-z-z-z . . . . Catch up on your rest at one of more than 85 historic bed and breakfasts scattered throughout Colorado. Enjoy eclectic B & B cuisine such as the pumpkin granola pancakes at the Black Dog Inn in Estes Park or seasoned egg and potato crepes at the Tudor Rose in Salida.

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