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Get Your Golf On … at Fossil Trace

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Miller Barber, the late PGA Tour player with 11 championships, said it best about travel and golf. “I’m happiest when I have a hotel room key in my pocket.”

Denver’s golf lineup has it all – beauty, challenge, history and perfect summer weather that extends well into late fall. But many visitors don’t know that golf can be played year round in the Denver area as long as the snow stays away.

17th at Inverness, sunrise

Get me talking about golf in the Denver metro area and I always return to the glory days of the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club, which brought together three modern golf legends: Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. If you know a member of Cherry Hills, try to snag an invitation.

After the crash and burn of The International, a long-running PGA Tour event held at the Golf Club at Castle Pines, welcome news came following the return of the PGA Tour to Cherry Hills with the BMW Championship in 2014. And one can’t forget that Parker hosted the 2013 Solheim Cup at the private Colorado Golf Club.

So what’s the good news? A couple of years ago it was announced that the state’s first new golf course in years will be built in Windsor, north of Denver. RainDance National Golf Club, designed by Fred Funk, will be located less than three miles from its sister course – the 27-hole Pelican Lakes Golf and Country Club.

Here in Denver, where the plains meet the Rocky Mountains, a travel golfer can stage his or her own bit of Colorado golf glory at a multitude of daily-fee and municipal golf courses. Here are some of my favorites.

Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton

You could wander the planet for 100 years and might not find a setting so incredible for a golf course. Located in Roxborough State Park just south of Denver, geologists say it took 300 million years for the slanted, jagged cerise rocks to form.

420 yd par 4

It took Robert Trent Jones Jr. a fraction of that time to design Arrowhead Golf Club, one of the most-photographed golf courses in the world. Jones said the cathedral-like conglomerate rocks and the rolling terrain make it a must-play.

“When I first saw the site of the golf course at Roxborough Park, I was overwhelmed by the magnificent gifts that nature has bestowed on the property. The cathedral-like rocks that jut up from the rolling terrain at the foothills of the Rockies is a majestic setting in which to establish a unique golf course,” Jones said.

Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield

Built in 1999 by David Graham and Gary Panks, the Omni Interlocken Resort has inspiring vistas of the Rockies between Denver and Boulder and is a year-round resort with only the best hotel amenities.

Eighteen-hole combinations measure more than 7,000 yards with the nines named Eldorado, Vista and Sunshine. The terrain is rolling hills and more than 300 acres, but was almost treeless until nearly 3,000 were planted.

CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora

CommonGround Golf Course is a prime example of what happens when you take an old Air Force base golf course that has already been renamed once and put it in the hands of Tom Doak, one of America’s best classical, minimalist course architects.

What you get is a parkland/links mixture that is walkable and affordable – just what the Colorado Golf Association, owners of the course, ordered.

This plot of land was once the Lowry AFB Golf Course, but when the base closed in the mid-1990s, the course morphed into Mira Vista Golf Course. The CGA’s and CWGA’s dream, however, was a completely new golf course. That’s when Doak and his Michigan-based Renaissance Golf Design team were hired to transform the 350-acre site.

Today CommonGround is dedicated to growing the game with a learning center for kids and adults, plus a caddie program for girls and boys who have finished the eighth grade.

Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course in Castle Rock

Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course is a dream course that gathers sweeping views of the front range from Long’s Peak to Pike’s Peak. High points, rocky buttes, thick native grasses and scrub oak feature lots of wildlife. Fairways are wide with big landing areas framed by large, grassy moguls, bunkers, greenside lakes bumped against sand and stacked rock, and massive, contoured, bentgrass greens with tough, thick collars.

The City of Castle Rock wanted a fun course, and that’s what golf course architect Jim Engh delivered. Engh took city administrators to a high ridgeline that defined the back nine and pointed to placement of holes. The vision transferred from Engh to the administrators. Light bulbs went off in their heads – fun.

Fossil Trace Golf Course Club in Golden

Busy and fun, Fossil Trace Golf Club is in the shadows of Table Moutain, within sight of the Coors Brewery, and it only takes one stroke to notice the history of this land. The chimney of a brick kiln remains in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 first hole – right in the sightline of your second stroke.

Examine the 20-foot pillars of sandstone positioned in the fairway of the par-5 12th, and then determine how to hit over them on your journey to the green. This hole serves as a reminder of the property’s quarry history. Clay-mining equipment remains in place where, 64 million years ago, bird tracks, palm fronds and triceratops footprints were frozen in time. A split-rail fence near the green leads to a viewing area for the fossils.

Golf course architect Jim Engh, a native of North Dakota, built an impressive portfolio, beginning with offices in Colorado and now known throughout the world. His award-winners in Colorado besides Fossil Trace include the ultra-exclusive private Sanctuary in Sedalia; Red Hawk Ridge in Castle Rock; Four Mile Ranch in Canon City; Lakota Canyon in Newcastle; Redlands Mesa in Grand Junction; Harmony Club in Tinmath; and Pradera in Parker.

The Ridge at Castle Pines North in Castle Rock

Some dime novelists say Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill Cody once described the area where The Ridge at Castle Pines North sits as one of their favorite stomping grounds.

The Ridge at Castle Pines North is considered by many as the premier upscale, public-access golf course in Colorado. Since opening in July 1997, the Tom Weiskopf design has won awards from just about every golf population – national and statewide – and was once ranked No. 49 on Golf Magazine’s list of top 100 public-access golf courses.

Look west and the panorama includes Pikes Peak, Devil’s Head and Mt. Evans. Look closer and you find front-range foothill scenes that feature sandstone rock formations, gambel oaks, Ponderosa pines and many varieties of wildlife. In fact, The Ridge left room to roam for migrating elk. Its double-loop layout preserves wildlife corridors.

Hilton Denver Inverness in Englewood

One of the only semi-private golf courses in the Denver area, this J. Press Maxwell championship course is beautiful, playable and challenging. It requires strategy and a thoughtful approach, thanks to gentle but unforgiving slopes, rolling hills and deep bunkers. Water comes into play on 11 of the 18 holes, and the golf course’s par-3 holes test the precision of even the best golfers.

As for the hotel, there’s a view of the Rocky Mountains in its front yard and an 18-hole championship golf course in its backyard. President Bill Clinton slept here and took on the tight, sloping fairways, rolling hills and fast, undulating greens.

Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Tom Babb opened the course in 1973 and did plenty for Colorado golf during his 27 years of working here. Babb served as director of golf at Inverness from 1973 to 2000. He was there from the very beginning, helping prepare the course for its opening, even to the point of operating some heavy earth-moving equipment as the holes were constructed.

Shortly after John Elway arrived to play quarterback for the Denver Broncos, his first contact to improve his game was Babb. The friendship evolved into the John Elway Celebrity Classic.

Today you can enjoy all the work and landscaping beauty of Babb and his associates with this classic golf course south of downtown Denver.

Did you know there are two excellent daily-fee golf courses near Denver International Airport? Here’s a synopsis of the two awesome layouts.

Murphy Creek Golf Course in Aurora

Bring your “A” game when you play Murphy Creek, a high-plains gem just minutes from the airport. It was opened in 2000 and was designed by Ken Kavanaugh of Arizona.

Murphy Creek is a high-plains test. It will also reward you with one of the most enjoyable, affordable rounds of golf you will find in a new golf course today. Watch out for its arroyos, wiry and thick fescue rough, and bunkers surrounded by more rough.

Be sure to spend some time in the clubhouse, dine in Murphy’s Tavern, and see the sites. The 1920s farmhouse decor includes white siding with steep-pitched green roofs, and the cart barn replicates a real barn. The range ball machine is housed in a silo, and former alfalfa fields are littered with old, rusting farm equipment, a horse-drawn wagon and an original barn.

Murphy Creek was ranked in Golf Digest’s “America’s Top 10 Best New Courses for 2002” and was the site of the 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.

Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver

Welcome to Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, Denver’s premiere golf facility. Just minutes from DIA, this beauty is home to an award-winning 18-hole Championship course, the popular 9-hole par-3 course, and a great practice facility.

It has also hosted the Colorado Open numerous times and was designed by Denver’s Perry Dye, son of legendary designer Pete Dye. This is big, bold prairie golf that was 12 years in the making.

The drive to the course is all prairie, then suddenly here’s a wall of old cottonwoods and wetlands. Six holes are sculpted around the protected native areas and offer strategic shots. No. 10, a 417-yard par4, is encircled by dense growth. Other holes present open prairie tests running along a ridge.

“Golf courses near DIA are just a natural for businessmen and their clients flying to Denver,” Dye said. “And at Green Valley Ranch you can’t even hear an airline. You are going to see more businessmen playing morning golf, then leaving for the airport and arriving at their gate in 30-40 minutes.”

Longing For Some Competition?

The Colorado Open heads a list of many tournaments scheduled each year in the Denver Metro area. The Colorado Open is a yearly championship staged for seniors, women and adults. 2017 marks the 14th men’s running of this championship at the beautiful Green Valley Ranch Golf Club.

City Park Golf Course also hosts the Denver City Amateur Championships each summer with men’s and senior’s divisions. Call for information.

There are also countless charity events, so if you want to play Sanctuary, a bucket list golf course, just give them a call and ask about scheduled charity events.

Sky Ridge Medical Center is also hosting a tournament series this summer that includes four separate events staged at Inverness, The Ridge at Castle Pines North, Blackstone Country Club and Colorado National Golf Club. Another worthy tournament is the 15th Annual Ortho Colorado Triple Play Golf Tournament benefiting The First Tee of Denver, set for June at City Park Golf Courses.


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It’s no secret that Colorado’s real estate market is booming, spurred by an influx of out-of-staters making the Centennial state their home. While many consider Denver or Boulder favorable places to settle down, they often overlook one of Colorado’s most beautiful and understated municipalities: the city of Golden.

Golden rests in a basin against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, below the North and South Table Mountains. On one side the city is marked by the prominent “M” for the School of Mines; on the other with the infamous “G” of Golden. Golden’s prime location serves as a focal point between Denver, Boulder and Evergreen, and offers a direct route to Black Hawk and canyon access – bypassing traffic to the slopes.

The city’s history is traced to its establishment in 1859. Proudly proclaimed across its welcome banner in the heart of downtown, Golden’s slogan is simply, “Where the West Lives,” and this declaration couldn’t be truer. This city is rich in history and continues to embody that spirit with barn wood trimmings, stucco-styled homes and architecture reminiscent of the Old West.

Yet for all its storied past, Golden is becoming increasingly modern, with red cobbled brick lining pedestrian walkways and immaculate landscaping  – lending the town the uniquely dichotic feeling of being in two periods at the same time.

While technically a college town, home to the School of Mines, Golden does not resonate with that trait. A top-notch university, The School of Mines was recently rated the top engineering school in the nation by College Factual. Clearly, the college is not home to lackadaisical students. In fact, these students are ambitious and disciplined learners, attending the university not for a good time, but for the most advantageous career achievable. While they may go out on the weekends to the Swig Tavern, students are more likely to spend their free time studying or experiencing the great outdoors.

Golden’s myriad outdoor activities attract athletic enthusiasts by the droves. Colin Endsley, an outdoor adventurer who has lived in Golden for a little over a year says, “Golden is great in that you can walk in any direction from town and find some trail to fall into,” and truly there aren’t enough trails to behold. Golden’s trails are perfect for hikers and cyclists – Lookout Mountain serving as a popular route for the avid cyclist – and the views from each trail are spectacular, ranging from downtown Denver to DIA and back to the formidable Rockies.

Yet the ample trails are just a sampling of what Golden offers. There are also water sports such as tubing and kayaking (when the water flow is safe) from the Clear Creek River, and fishing for Rainbow and Brown trout for the avid angler.

Of special note is Golden’s popularity for the extreme sport of hang gliding. Windy Saddle Park offers a great launch point for hang gliders, and these colorful contraptions can be seen sashaying down the mountain most Saturdays and Sundays during the summer months.

Outdoors aside, one of Golden’s leading attractions is its quaint downtown, a charming and unassuming destination for tourists and locals alike. Downtown Golden is privileged to have so many locally owned restaurants and shops that could keep the body feasting and the mind entertained for days. Home to the infamous Coors Brewery and seasonal farmer’s market, the area embodies everything regionally Colorado.

Notable boutiques include Spinster Sisters Co., which now offers three locations in the Denver metro area (Golden serving as its home base). Opened in 2011, its founder Kelly Perkins calls her products “an alternative to the witches’ brew of 

chemicals that many mod

ern skin care products represent.” From body scrubs to men’s shaving cream, Perkins and her team will keep your skin singing and fantastically fresh, no matter how dry Colorado’s air may be.

Sharing a storefront with Spinster Sisters is Baby Doe’s, a retailer showcasing relaxed and bohemian styles for the laid-back mountainista, as well as the craftsmanship of more than 40 regional artisans. Now under new ownership, Baby Doe’s offers a fresh look and feel that is sure to keep visitors stopping in to shop at one of the downtown area’s well-known establishments.

While the shopping is great

, the dining options are varied and delicious. If you’re looking for a good beer and a good time, there’s the Golden Moon Speakeasy and Buffalo Rose with live music weekly. If you’re following your taste buds and looking for superb dishes, you can venture over to Woody’s Pizza or Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar; Indulge has perhaps the best iced tea in Colorado, which they’ll bring to you by the pitcher.

When you’re ready for dessert, a must-visit is the family-owned and operated Gold Mine Cupcakes. Recently  named by as one of the top 16 best bakeries in the U.S., the bakery offers delicious, made-from-scratch creations served fresh by an even sweeter staff. Gold Mine Cupcakes will surely satisfy your sweet tooth with its assortment of 35 flavors and specials daily.

With all these successful businesses and the city’s incredible geography, it’s no wonder people are choosing to explore and settle down in Golden. The once outdated homes are constantly under renovation and are becoming prime real estate for those looking to live the mountain lifestyle, while not sacrificing proximity to the Denver area.

In the future, more local businesses will continue to take root and make their home in Golden. Thoughtful development and growth will only add to the area’s allure as a destination spot for visitors looking for something unique and special, and locals wanting to stake their claim in this unsung gem of Colorado’s landscape.


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Picture yourself surrounded by the peaks of the Rocky Mountains; a pristine mountain breeze whispers across your skin, and rays from Colorado’s warm summer sunshine engulf you. You stand in the open air, perhaps holding a locally crafted beer or a crisp glass of wine. The music reverberates; sounds authored by the likes of Grammy award-winning country sensation Keith Urban, or the bluesy funk of Colorado’s own Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats.

Summer is the epicenter of Colorado’s festival season! It’s a place where your senses are stimulated by the sights, sounds, tastes and experiences embedded in our beautiful, sundrenched days and warm, star-filled nights. There are plenty of offerings from the city limits to the mountain valleys. And the collective 2017 lineup promises something for everyone: from music and bike enthusiasts to brewers, balloonists and wine connoisseurs … we even tracked down festivals for yogis!
If you’re ready for the freedom that the vibe of summer and outdoor experience brings, you don’t have to miss a beat researching and planning because we’ve done the work for you. We have compiled a list that highlights some of Colorado’s unique festivals scheduled for 2017, and captured exclusive insight from some of the state’s leading festival founders and producers.
So whether you find yourself surrounded by the peaks of Telluride or the lofty cityscape of Denver, you are bound to have a memorable experience.


Jazz Aspen Snowmass
June Experience – Aspen
“The festival that we do at the end of June is how Jazz Aspen started back in 1991,” according to Jim Horowitz, founder and curator of the elite Jazz Aspen Snowmass June and Labor Day Experiences.
The experience features four nights of headline concerts at the Benedict Music Tent in Aspen. In addition, there are multiple shows at the JAS Cafe upstairs at the Aspen Art Museum and downstairs at The Little Nell. They also host nightly complimentary Lawn Parties on the music tent grounds before the main shows, featuring live bands and an upscale array of food and beverage.
June 23 – July 1, 2017

July 1 – August 4, 2017
BRAVO! VAIL Music Festival – Vail
The festival’s 30th season features four of the world’s greatest orchestras, internationally renowned musicians and acclaimed soloists. In the breathtaking setting of the Rocky Mountains, revel in classical masterworks, soulful jazz and electrifying pops programs. Featuring residencies by four returning ensembles: The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Soloists include violinists Joshua Bell, Simone Lamsma, James Ehnes, Gil Shaham and Leonida Kavakos; cellist Steven Isserlis; trumpeter and vocalist Byron Stripling; and pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Yefim Bronfman and Inon Barnatan.

Hot Air Balloon Rodeo – Steamboat Springs
The Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and Art in the Park events explore the beauty of artistry and color both on canvas and in the sky. This stunningly visual weekend brings the sleepy offseason to life in Steamboat Springs and is a celebration of summertime.
July 8-9, 2017

Telluride Yoga Festival
This four-day event is a paradise for yogis and features more than 100 different activities including yoga, meditation, music, hiking, dining, SUP yoga and more. Guests have access to more than 50 inspiring and motivating presenters contrasted by the intimate and historic venues throughout the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village.
July 20-23 |

Rockygrass Festival – Lyons
Rockygrass is the second of three events Planet Bluegrass produces annually and serves as a celebration of the town of Lyons’ strength and resilience. Originally held just 10 months after historic 500-year floods devastated the town, it is known today as one of the great traditional bluegrass festivals in the world.
Planet Bluegrass’ Brian Eyster gave us more insight into the history saying, “In 1992, the volunteer-run Rocky Mountain Bluegrass reached out to Planet Bluegrass to keep the festival alive. We found a property in Lyons along the St. Vrain River to host that event and two years later we purchased the property, known today as the Planet Bluegrass Ranch.”
July 28-20, 2017 |

Breckenridge Food & Wine -Breckenridge
Breckenridge’s Main Street Station Plaza transforms into a charming mountainside vineyard each year to host the Food and Wine Festival. Delivering a unique wine-tasting experience, you’ll find an array of varietals created by fine wineries. From the soft and smooth to the unabashedly bold, wine lovers will get more than their fair share of delicious sips.
July 29, 2017

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival – Lyons
Rounding out the three events produced by Planet Bluegrass, the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival is dedicated to spending a glorious summer weekend celebrating songs and stories from around the musical and geographic world.
Brian Eyster shared that community is at the heart of the event. “I love to walk through the crowd or the campgrounds and watch this unique spirit of community,” he says. “At our festivals, there is only one single stage. Guests set up their tarps and spend the entire day sharing music, making lasting friendships with their neighbors and reconnecting with friends from past festivals. People aren’t on their phones, they’re very present, connecting with their fellow Festivarians through this communal music experience in this profoundly beautiful place.”
August 18-20, 2017 |

Vail Jazz Party – Vail
The Vail Jazz Party could be considered a maestro ushering in the grand finale of the Vail Jazz Festival and the beautiful Colorado summer season. It serves its patrons a jam-packed lineup with more than 35 headliners, who join together to play in group performances, multi-artist jam sessions, and inspiring multimedia tributes to jazz legends.
Aug 31 – Sep 4, 2017 |

Jazz Aspen Snowmass – Snowmass

Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ Labor Day Experience is nestled in the ethereal setting of Snowmass Village Town Park. This luxurious open-air event is a dance-oriented extravaganza of popular, R&B, rock, funk, blues, world, and soul music. With the spectacular Elk Mountain Range as a backdrop, this three-day experience welcomes to the stage Keith Urban andMaroon Five, among others in 2017.
Event visionary and mastermind Jim Horo-witz disclosed, “The biggest challenges over the years is what it takes to put together a stellar, world-class program of artists. We’ve managed, but clearly that’s the hardest part of what we do. It all flows from there because if the program isn’t good enough, then the people don’t come, or they don’t buy as many tickets.” Summarizing, “That really is our DNA. We are a music presenter, whether it is for 150 people listening to jazz or 10,000 people listening to Stevie Wonder. People are coming to us to hear a great musical performance.”
September 1-4, 2017 |

Telluride Blues & Brews – Telluride
Known as the festival capital of Colorado, Telluride begins to wind down its festival season with Blues & Brews. This celebration of blues, funk, jam bands, indie, rock, gospel and soul performances is paired with some of the best microbreweries in the country.
September 15-17, 2017 |


Opening Night at Central City Opera. Featured in Central City Opera’s 75th anniversary book, “Theatre of Dreams, The Glorious Central City Opera- Celebrating 75 Years.”

Central City Opera 2017 Festival
This acclaimed summer festival features Bizet’s Carmen and Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, performed in repertory in the historic Central City Opera House, and three one-act operas with limited runs: Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace, Douglas Moore’s Gallantry, and Amy Beach’s Cabildo, performed in smaller venues in Central City. Founded in 1932, Central City Opera is the fifth-oldest professional opera company in the country, renowned for its exquisite world-class productions. Just 35 miles west of Denver in the charming mountain town of Central City, the company owns 28 Victorian-era properties, including the 550-seat jewel box opera house built in 1878. This is a must-see for opera aficionados!

July 8 – August 6, 2017

Greeley Stampede – Greeley
Greeley boasts one of Colorado’s largest and most historic summer festivals and rodeos. Dating back to the 1800’s, Greeley’s Fourth of July celebration keeps the “Yeehaw!” in Colorado’s Western culture.
June 23 – July 4, 2017 |

Global Dance Festival – Denver
Global Dance showcases Colorado’s passion for dance music annually and has grown to become one of the premiere summer music festivals statewide. After spending years at Red Rocks Amphitheater, the dance party expands its boundaries and finds a new home at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in 2017!
July 21-22, 2017 |

Underground Music Showcase (UMS) – Denver
The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase marks its 17th anniversary in 2017. It lays claim as the biggest independent music festival in the Rocky Mountain region and, more importantly, is the premiere showcase for Denver’s incredible local music!
July 27-30, 2017 |

ARISE Music Festival – Loveland
Arise boasts that it is more than a music festival, rather a movement. It is a music, yoga, activism and co-creative camping event located 65 miles north of Denver, at Sunrise Ranch. Now in its fifth year, it is proving its staying power, and this year’s lineup includes headliners Atmosphere and Ani DeFranco.
August 4-7, 2017 |

Velorama – RiNo Arts District, Denver
This three-day biking, food, music, shopping and crafting extravaganza will overtake 12 blocks of the RiNo Art District for a street party that celebrates biking culture in Colorado. Daily family-friendly festivities are offered, making this an all-ages event that promises something for everyone.
August 11-13, 2017 |

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest – Fort Collins
Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is a free music festival held in historic downtown Fort Collins. Prominently featuring a Colorado-based lineup, they host a variety of genres, including a one-of-a-kind, family-centered Kids’ Music Adventure.
August 11-13,2017 |

A Taste of Colorado – Denver
One of Denver’s most delicious weekends serves up some of the state’s favorite food. More than 50 Colorado restaurants and food establishments gather in downtown Denver’s streets over Labor Day weekend to give patrons A Taste of Colorado. Combined with six stages playing live music, carnival rides, shopping and much more, this is hands down one of Colorado’s biggest celebrations of the year.
September 1-4, 2017 |

Colorado Safari

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The Wild Animal Sanctuary offers a fresh start for animals.

Imagine spending your life in a small cage that is barely big enough to turn around in. Never seeing another of your kind, surviving as part of a roadside zoo, circus, or existing malnourished and underfed. Then imagine being rescued, nursed back to health, receiving regular feed- ings, and best of all, meeting animals of your own ilk. Space to roam and a clean, warm place to sleep. Welcome to the Wild Ani- mal Sanctuary, a fabulous slice of paradise located just 40 minutes from downtown Denver, and a welcome refuge for more than 450 rescued captive-born animals, primarily large carnivores like tigers, lions, bears and wolves.

Photo Courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary

The majority of these animals come from individuals who use the animals as attractions at roadside zoos or other profit-making schemes, or they’ve been kept by people desiring a large predator as a pet. In fact, each of the 50 states in the U.S. have different laws and regulations when it comes to keeping these animals – and some states have no laws at all. It’s believed that across the country, there are some 20,000 large carnivores kept outside of zoos – including 4,000 tigers in Texas alone (where these animals are allowed with a permit). Sadly, most of these animals are kept in deplorable conditions, languishing in too-small quarters, abused, abandoned, neglected, malnourished. When they are confiscated by law enforcement or animal welfare agencies, they find a ready home at the Wild Animal Sanctuary – and are allowed to ‘retire’ from being subject to the whims of unscrupulous people.

Photo Courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary

When the animals arrive at the sanctuary, their residency begins with a full health exam and extensive rehabilitation. Many arrive underweight and mal- nourished, and immediately undertake a program to augment their diet; others need dental work or have no muscle tone. Notably, though, a huge part of the animals’ rehab process is on the social and psychological side of things. So many of the animals that make their way to the sanctuary have never seen another of their breed, learned to bellow the sounds they make in the wild (i.e. lions who have never learned to roar), or don’t know how to be part of a social group like a pack or pride.

Photo Courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary

The animals are slowly introduced to the other animals, sometimes living in smaller quarters close to the main compound until they are fully rehabilitated and eventually ready to join other animals in large-acreage habitats. In fact, there are a pack of 12 rescue dogs that help younger animals learn how to be a part of social groups – biting, playing, and hierarchy. Once the animals have adjusted to their new home, most are put into large plots of land between five and 25 acres in size. Most of the animals rescued by the Wild Animal Sanctuary arrive underweight. Relying on donations from companies such as Wal-Mart, be- tween 48,000-50,000 pounds of food per week are provided to the animals, roughly half of which is meat, and half of which is fruit and vegetables.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary fills a void since there is no humane society of any kind for large animals. That means that when, for example, 25 Bolivian lions needed a home after the country banned animals in circuses, the Wild Animal Sanctuary got the call. They stepped up to provide a landing spot for the lions.

Photo Courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary

The sanctuary got its start when a young Pat Craig, who grew up on a farm near Boulder, visited a friend who worked at a zoo and got a behind-the-scenes tour he didn’t expect. What he saw shocked him: multiple animals in small cages were deemed as “extra” animals – no longer attracting visitors, they waited to be euthanized. Craig decided then and there he wanted to dedicate his life to saving these majestic animals, working to learn all he could. In 1980 the Wild Animal Sanctuary was started on a farm near Boulder, before moving to Lyons and finally to its current home, on 720 acres near Keenesburg, Colorado.

Almost by accident, Craig discovered an ideal way to view these majestic rescued animals, and at the same time educate people about the crisis of wild animals held in captivity. He found that if the animals were seen from above, they don’t have the flight or fight reaction to having an unfamiliar person or perceived threat in their living space. To that end, the Wild Animal Sanctuary constructed a raised walkway that allows guests to walk above the animals’ habitats and observe them. The 1.5-mile walkway enables visitors to see foxes, tigers, lions, wolves, bears, and more, all from above.

Photo Courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary

All the amazing work the Wild Animal Sanctuary performs would not be possible without the support of the public – it operates as a nonprofit and relies on donations from visitors. The sanctuary asks each visitor for a donation or to become an active supporter, whereby a regular donation is made and the member gets unlimited visits. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is well worth the trip for any visitor or resident of Denver. Given its proximity, there’s simply no reason not to go. The educational value of experiencing the important work of the Wild Animal Sanctuary is priceless. It appeals both as a way to observe and get close to these majestic wild animals, and also as an organization doing important work for disenfranchised animals. By giving a voice to these creatures, the sanctuary opens the hearts of young and old alike, showing them how animals live in the wild rather than in captivity. To be among them is both a gift and an unforgettable experience. One tip: don’t forget your binoculars.

Visit for more information

Marijuana in the Mile High City

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Denver has been a tourist destination for decades. With beautiful views, a thriving culture, and a plethora of activities and events constantly occurring within the bustling metropolis, it’s no surprise that people flock to the Mile High City. But with the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2014, the typical tourist may have a new reason to travel to higher altitudes.


Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, on November 6th, 2012. The amendment went into effect in January of 2014. Since then, dispensaries have appeared in droves across Colorado and anyone over the age of twenty-one can stop in to purchase the drug. In 2014 alone, retailers sold three-hundred-and-thirteen million dollars of recreational marijuana according to Colorado tax data from the Department of Revenue.


We spoke with the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) and the recreational marijuana dispensary, Euflora, to see how the marijuana industry has affected the equally thriving tourist trade.


In 2015, many tourists who participated in marijuana-related activities indicated that it was a motivation in their decision to travel to Colorado. By 2016, reports of marijuana participation had risen, although the number of people citing marijuana as a primary influencer in their decision to come to Colorado had decreased. With record-setting tourist growth in Colorado both before and after marijuana legalization, according to the CTO, the drug is not a primary influencer in tourists’ travels. The cannabis industry is one of many attractions in Colorado, and tourists are drawn to the state for more than the legal drug.


While tourists are visiting Denver for more than its bustling cannabis industry, once visitors arrive many seem to be partaking in the marijuana culture. Euflora, located on 16th street mall, welcomes many tourists into their store — about 75% of their clientele. And while they have customers who stop in simply to look, most of their customers, including visitors to the state, make a purchase.


The Colorado Tourism Office reports that travellers between the ages of 25 and 34 were most likely to report that marijuana had positively influenced their decision to visit Colorado, but Euflora sees customers ages 21 to 91. The cannabis industry appeals to visitors of any (legal) age and is one of many attractions Denver can offer.


With visitors travelling to Colorado from places where marijuana oftentimes isn’t legal, it’s important for tourists to educate themselves about marijuana usage and safety before partaking of the drug. Euflora owner Jamie Perino has noticed that out-of-state visitors oftentimes need more education from Euflora employees about marijuana — the difference between strains, proper usage and dosing, and cost.


The cannabis industry has become an integral part of Colorado’s economy, and its reach extends into the bustling tourist trade. While marijuana is not the primary motivation behind tourist’s travel plans, many visitors to the city are enjoying a high other than the altitude in Denver.

Doors Open Denver

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The 13th annual Doors Open Denver, presented by the Denver Architectural Foundation, is the premier event showcasing the richness and history of Denver’s built environment and promoting quality design on Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30. Doors Open Denver encourages event participants to observe and engage with the built environment through an artistic and cultural lens.

Headquartered at the iconic Denver Union Station, the event highlights approximately 70 of Denver’s unique spaces, including high-profile, historic and artistic feats of architecture and design.

During the event, visitors are invited to explore our city in the following ways:

• Sign up for an Insider Tour. Doors Open Denver offers 120 tours led by architects, landscape architects, historians and urban enthusiasts with special knowledge of Denver’s neighborhoods and buildings.

• Visit one or several of the 70 open sites.

Open sites are buildings that have opened their doors to the public.

• With the support of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Doors Open Denver offers six arts and cultural activities, including architecturally inspired hair art, behind- the-scenes videos of area theatres, a performance by five analog synthesizer music artists and more.

Six sites were added to this year’s line- up, including Page Architects (The John Deere Building), St. Paul Lutheran and Roman Catholic Community of Faith, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Smiley Branch Library, Athmar Park Library and Pauline Robinson Library.

For more information on open sites, Insider Tours and arts and culture activities, visit Engage with DOD on Facebook, Twitter (@denverarchfound) and Instagram (denverarchitecture) using #DOD2017.

Reader’s Choice: Best Golf Courses in Colorado

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Help us find the best golf courses in Colorado! Take our survey and vote for your favorites in our three categories: Best Overall Golf Course, Prettiest Golf Course, and Most Challenging Golf Course. Our top Reader’s Choice Picks will be included in the Summer issue of Colorado Hotel Magazine.


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Fairway to Heaven

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by Brian Howell

Hitting a golf ball with absolute purity creates an unmistakable sound and delivers an unquestioned sense of satisfaction. The sight of the ball dropping into the middle of the green at the conclusion of that swing is the sweet reward.

    About the only thing that can dampen that elation is to approach the green and discover a major hazard to navigate. A 700-pound hazard with a stunning rack of antlers standing on the fringe.

    Welcome to golf in Colorado.

    The Centennial State is known for its ski slopes, breweries and the Denver Broncos. Yet the golfing experience in Colorado is truly spectacular, unique and always enjoyable.

    “The cool part about Colorado golf is the golf courses are awesome to look at it, that’s for sure,” said Adam Finch, first assistant golf pro at Fossil Trace Golf Club in Golden. “And, most of them are awesome to play, too.”

    Whether you’re a serious player with a single-digit handicap or a weekend hacker, there’s a wide variety of experiences for the golfer in Colorado.

    The more well-known courses in Colorado are private clubs, such as Cherry Hills Country Club or The Country Club at Castle Pines, which have hosted PGA Tour events over the years. But rest assured, there are a wide variety of sensational public courses as well. Here are a few of the best:

The Golf Club at Bear Dance

The Golf Club at Bear Dance
The Golf Club at Bear Dance

Nestled between Denver and Colorado Springs, in Larkspur, Bear Dance has been recognized as the top public course in Colorado and one of the best in

the country.

      Bear Dance offers a significant challenge to any golfer, with pine and oak trees surrounding each hole, as well as eight ponds scattered throughout. Accuracy off the tee is essential to find success here. At just under 7,000 feet in elevation, it also features great length that can seem a bit intimidating to those who aren’t used to playing at such an altitude.

      It’s difficult to beat the atmosphere at Bear Dance. Although located just off the interstate and less than an hour away from downtown Denver, views of the Rocky Mountains and famous Castle Rock are spectacular. With hundreds of trees dotting the course, it’s also common to encounter a variety of wildlife, including deer, during your round.

      Green fees vary, but golfers can find Bear Dance quite affordable, especially when you factor in the opportunity to play one of Colorado’s most pristine courses.

6630 Bear Dance Road, Larkspur


Fossil Trace Golf Club

#12Hole Golden Green Scape FT
Fossil Trace #12 Hole

Located on an old clay mine in Golden, Fossil Trace is a unique course on an historic piece of land. The club, which opened in 2003, is proud of its rich history that dates back millions of years.

     Dinosaur fossils and footprints of Triceratops were discovered on this land, and the club has preserved much of that history. In addition to golf, patrons of Fossil Trace can view prehistoric relics and learn about tracks and fossils that were uncovered. Old clay mining equipment still sits throughout the course, offering guests a fun glimpse into the area’s fascinating history.

      “What makes this golf course unique, it’s multiple things,” Finch says. “We’ve got a really neat layout, something you don’t often see this close to an urban area like Denver. That’s part of the allure, that you can get a mountain-like golf experience only 20 minutes from downtown Denver. That’s really the big part of the allure.

     The history of the property and the story of the property, in terms of how it was once a clay mine where dinosaur trace fossils were found when excavating, that’s all part of it, as well.”

      From a golfing standpoint, Fossil Trace is a challenging and picturesque course. The first hole has often been recognized as one of the top starting holes in Colorado, and serves as a warmup for a truly spectacular experience around the whole course.

      Green fees are reasonable, with non-residents able to play 18 holes for as low as $80 during the week. For the golfer on a budget who wants just a taste of the Fossil Trace experience, sunset rates are available at $30 for nine holes.

Colorado Golf Club

     The Championship Course at Colorado Golf Club in Parker opened in 2007 to international acclaim. The course has challenged some of the world’s top golfers, hosting tournaments such as the 71st Senior PGA Championship won by Tom Lehman and the 2013 Solheim Cup, which was won by Team Europe. This unique course,

Colorado Golf Club
Colorado Golf Club

designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, provides a strategic and natural layout featuring multiple lines of play and approach. T&L Golf named it one of the world’s top 10 new courses, and GOLF Magazine named it the top new private course of the year and one of “10 to Watch” worldwide. Relish the thought of living where you play? Betts Lake at Colorado Golf Club combines serene lakefront living with dramatic mountain views, just steps away from the award-winning links! Four beautiful floorplans are offered, along with a few custom homesites offering more than two acres each of stunning topography.

8000 Preservation Trail, Parker


The Broadmoor

The Five-Star Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs attracts visitors from around the globe. The rooms are spectacular, the food delicious and the amenities unparalleled. And then there’s the golf.

Style: "D2X.2.0"
Mountain Course at The Broadmoor

     Majestically nestled in the Cheyenne Mountain foothills, three championship courses challenge golfers of all abilities. The East Course – home of the 2008 US Senior Open and the 2011 US Women’s Open, and the West Course were a collaborative design by Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones Sr. The Mountain Course, by Nicklaus Design, offers an additional 18 holes and exquisite panoramic views. The courses are consistently ranked among the world’s best by respected analysts and publications.

1 Lake Avenue, Colorado Springs


Estes Park Golf Course

This course does not come with the reputation and accolades that others carry, but it’s a fun and unique experience in one of Colorado’s most popular destinations.

      Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the top tourist attractions in the state, with Estes Park being one of its great mountain towns.

      Estes Park Golf Course offers an added way to have fun in the area. This is where elk – those 700-pound behemoths with antlers – might join your foursome. During the heart of the summer, it’s more likely you’ll be able to play through without company, but the spring and fall might feature quite a few moving hazards.

      Considering the gorgeous views and location of this course, you’ll hardly mind skipping a shot or two to get out of the way of these impressive animals. For right around $50, it’s tough to beat the price for the experience.

River Valley Ranch Golf Club

The Western Slope features some of the state’s prettiest courses, and River Valley Ranch, located in Carbondale, is definitely among them. Colorado Golfer Magazine once rated it the best mountain course in the state.

River Valley Ranch Golf Club
River Valley Ranch Golf Club

      River Valley Ranch offers a variety of views. Several holes sit along the Crystal River, and beautiful Mt. Sopris can be seen throughout the course. The award-winning Jay Morrish design features striking bunkers, large greens, exciting elevation changes and unique water features. It is also situated in a great location for tourists, less than a half hour from Glenwood Springs and just 45 minutes from Aspen. 

  “RVR is truly a jewel in the Rockies. Come play a great round of golf and then enjoy fabulous dining on the deck overlooking Mt. Sopris,” says director of golf Alden Richards.

      The course at River Valley Ranch is known for being kept in great shape. The layout is challenging enough for the elite golfer, but not overbearing for the inexperienced player. Morning rates can climb to $90, but green fees are cheaper in the afternoon.

303 River Valley Ranch Drive, Carbondale


Wellshire Golf Course

For the bargain hunter or the golfer who wants to stay within the metro area, Wellshire is a fantastic option and one of the true gems of the metro area.

     Located just minutes from downtown Denver, Wellshire opened in 1926 and was designed by Donald Ross, a well-known course designer from Scotland.

      Surrounded by large trees, Wellshire boasts a “country club atmosphere at a municipal course price.” A course that can play short, Wellshire offers just the right amount of challenges for the novice, and a good amount of fun for golfers of any level. At just under $30 (and only $20 for seniors), the price is just right, too.

Family Ties

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An insider’s guide to Denver’s best family-friendly things to do this spring

By Rebecca Treon

The Mile High City has been ranked the Number One place in the country to call home by U.S. News & World Report, which is no secret to the folks who have long called it home. Denver Hotel Magazine has collected the best family activities in the metro area from locals in the botanic gardensknow—just think of this as your little black book when doing Denver with the kids.


We love the downtown Botanic Gardens (their Seedlings class, designed for tots, and the Mordecai Children’s Garden are a don’t miss), but the Southwest Metro outpost of the Gardens is worth a visit, too. Near Chatfield Reservoir (where there are miles of walking and biking trails, picnic spots, and even a ‘beach’), the Botanic Gardens at Chatfield is home to the historic Hildebrand Ranch, where you and the kids can experience what it was like to live on an 1860’s farmstead. There’s plenty of space to run around, picnic, and play amid the working farm.


Springtime at the Denver Zoo means babies—the nursery just welcomed a new (endangered) lowland mountain gorilla baby named Whimsy Adepa to its family, who can be visited in the Great Apes building. Wander the plant-lined paths of the zoo, where peacocks roam free, or check out exciting feeding times. Interactive exhibits will both educate and entertain, and kids can get in on the action with the chance to feed a giraffe or pet a rhino.


The next-door neighbor of the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a classic destination. From the saber-tooth tiger that roars when fed coins to the mummy exhibit, the museum is stuffed full to bursting with things for families to do and experience. The new discovery zone features a water park, there are wildlife exhibits that span the globe, a planetarium, an IMAX theatre, dinosaur bones (including one of an ancient wooly mammoth recently excavated near Aspen) as part of its permanent collections. The museum also features exciting and interactive temporary exhibits, like Chocolate, which explores the history of everyone’s favorite treat from the ancient Aztecs to today.


Denver Museum of Nature & Science in Denver, Colo., on Thursday, October 22, 2009. (Chris Schneider/Chris Schneider Photography)
Denver Museum of Nature & Science in Denver, Colo., Chris Schneider Photography

Everyone has to eat, and at Punch Bowl Social you can nosh on updated versions of American diner classics while you play at the same time. On the playtime menu: bowling, billiards, vintage arcade games, darts, ping pong, shuffleboard, and marbles.


This funky theater, located in a Victorian mansion in Denver’s historic Highlands neighborhood, has been the city’s best interactive theater for more than 20 years. If one of your clan is a budding gumshoe, they’ll love Adams Mystery Playhouse’s mysteries for kids—all G-rated and great for kids over five—a fun and entertaining cooperative performance where your kid gets to solve the mystery.


Just because we’re landlocked doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy creatures from the sea, thanks to our world-class aquarium. With exhibits that feature ecosystems from around the globe, there are plenty of, ahem, fish in the sea to observe. Favorites include the shark tank and the underwater tunnel filled with stingrays fluttering overhead, but an insider tip is the Aquarium’s mermaids. These lovely ladies (who really do hold their breath the whole time they’re underwater) swim at select times and days in a choreographed underwater dance with an educational message. Bonus: The aquarium also houses exotic animals, including a sloth named Aspen and a pair of trained Sumatran tigers.


Denver’s Children’s Museum just underwent a multimillion dollar revamp, with a host of new exhibits both indoors and out. Kids can explore role-play with exhibits like the fire-engine, the supermarket and kitchen, the giant tree with animal costumes, and the veterinary clinic. Science-minded kids will love the bubble exhibit, the kinetic ball exhibit, and the water exhibit. There’s a new park outdoors, too, that replicates Colorado’s landscape and lets kids climb, dig, zipline, and splash.


One of Denver’s favorite cooking schools, Stir teaches recreational cooking classes that make a popular date night, help you brush up on your knife skills, or teach you about an exotic cuisine. But they also offer a list of family-friendly classes where kids and their grown-ups can get cooking together. Classes like ‘Mastering Mac and Cheese’ and ‘Stuffed STUFF: International Filled Bites’ are a fun and interactive way to create something delicious as a family (plus, your kids will go home knowing how to make a meal … an added bonus!).


The Denver Mint is one of only a handful in the United States and tours allow for a unique experience to learn how our country’s currency is produced. Here, you can learn about the craftsmanship involved in each step in the process, then take a tour of the facility, where you’ll see coins being pressed. At the gift shop, you’ll be able to buy collectible coins made onsite. Note: tours are free, but by reservation only, and they fill up fast.


Denver’s original Station House 1, which dates back to 1909, houses select exhibits exploring the rich history of area firefighters.  An array of antique fire trucks, displays that delve into the lives of minority firefighters and firefighter artists, hands-on activities that engage kids to dress as firefighters and practice fire safety—they’ll even get to slide down the fire pole!

20150804_childrens-museum_042DENVER ART MUSEUM

The multi-level, dual building DAM is anything but stuffy. With one of the largest collections of Western art and Native American art and artifacts, the Denver Art Museum also features compelling temporary exhibitions, like this spring’s Samurai exhibit. The permanent collections range from Pre-Columbian artifacts to contemporary painting and sculpture. To engage kids, get a Family Backpack, geared to match up with a collection full of art-making, games, and puzzles. Galleries also feature boards with I-Spy, Bingo, and Memory-like games designed to engage kids with the artworks, and there are a number of art-making stations throughout the museum. Some galleries include dress-up clothes and building materials that relate to the art. A number of community events happen year-round, from a Native-American Pow-Wow to Día del Niño, celebrating children, in April. Pro tip: Don’t miss the intricate sand mandala in the Asian collection.


Visit the onetime home of Titanic survivor, philanthropist, and Denver society dame Molly Brown. Tour the restored Victorian home and learn about her rags-to-riches story, starting with her marriage to a mine baron. The tour showcases the home’s unique features and trends of the Victorian era, and finishes with Molly’s social activism after the Titanic tragedy. In April, they host special Titanic tours and year round there are several special events, from high tea to a Victorian Halloween party.


Get a little slice of Broadway without heading to the Big Apple—Denver gets a plethora of shows that also are seen on other big-city stages. And many of them are family-friendly. (This year, for example, they’ll have Finding Neverland, while Frozen hits the stage in 2017.) Stage productions have included productions like the Secret Garden. Your kids will gain an appreciation for live theater, and you’ll be entertained, too.


Denver’s downtown landscape becomes a giant game board with Urban Adventure Quest, a family-based scavenger hunt that is like the hit TV show The Amazing Race combined with a tour of the city. Guided by a smart phone, groups explore both well-known and hidden gems around town while solving clues and learning local history at the same time. Starting at the Colorado State Capitol, you’ll wind through Denver’s centers of arts and culture and through the gardens and courtyards of buildings rich with history. Stop for a bite, some ice cream, and some window shopping along the 16th St. mall on this self-paced adventure.

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