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Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. Much of the northern Front Range region is within Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. The Indian Peaks Wilderness Area is northwest of Denver and encompasses a rugged area of permanent snowfields, alpine lakes, and peaks reaching 13,000-foot and higher. It's a popular wilderness area for Denver and Front Range residents because it's easily reachable for overnight trips. Some of the trailheads on the eastern side are about one hour from Boulder and almost two hours from Denver. Because 90% of the people enter from the east side of the forests, visitors entering from the west side will find more solitude. 303/541–2500. www.fs.fed.us.
Clear Creek. For Class II to IV rafting and kayaking, try Clear Creek, which offers rafting on Clear Creek near Idaho Springs and on the Arkansas River during the early spring snowmelt season and throughout the summer. 800/353–9901. www.clearcreekrafting.com.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Just west of Golden, Golden Gate Canyon State Park has great hiking and wildlife-viewing, and offers some of the best car camping in the metro area. 303/582–3707. www.parks.state.co.us.
Jefferson County Open Space Parks. Most recreational lands in the foothills west of Denver are protected by Jefferson County Open Space Parks. These relatively small county parks are heavily used and have excellent hiking, mountain-biking, and horse-riding trails. 303/271–5925. www.co.jefferson.co.us/openspace/index.htm.