Parks and Recreation Areas

Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests. Much of the northern Front Range region is within the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests. The Indian Peaks Wilderness Area is northwest of Denver and encompasses a rugged area of permanent snowfields, alpine lakes, and peaks reaching 13,000 feet 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. Fort Collins, Colorado. 303/541–2500; www.fs.usda.gov/arp.

Clear Creek. For Class II to IV rafting and kayaking, try Clear Creek Rafting Company, which offers rafting on Clear Creek near Idaho Springs and on the Arkansas River during the early spring snowmelt season and throughout the summer. 350 Whitewater Rd., Idaho Springs, Colorado, 80452. 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. Golden, Colorado, 80403. 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. Colorado. 303/271–5925; www.co.jefferson.co.us/openspace/index.htm.

Meyer Ranch Park. A homestead in the early 1870s, Meyer Ranch is now one of the most popular hiking areas in Jefferson County Open Space, as well as a sledding mecca in the winter and a leaf-peeping spot in fall. The park offers more than 4 miles of trails winding through meadows of wildflowers and small, hilly stands of lodgepole pine and aspens; biking and horseback riding also are allowed. There is a scenic picnic area along Owl's Perch Trail. The park is open from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Address is for parking lot. 10508 S. Turkey Creek Rd., Colorado, 80433. 303/271--5925; www.jeffco.us.

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