Olympic Training Center (Colorado Springs)

What: U. S. Olympic Training Center tourUS Olympic Training complex (Colorado Springs CO) - free tour
Where: Colorado Springs
When: Guided Tours – hourly Monday-Saturday
Visitor Center open 7 days a week

Experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as you view a short film showing scenes from past Olympic games that is guaranteed to stir your emotions. The movie is followed by a 45 minute walking tour of selected Olympic complex areas. Life-size figures with narrative panels adorn the Irwin Belk Olympic Pathway and provide information about Olympic and Pan American Sports.

During the tour, you will have the opportunity to view athlete training facilities including the Sport Center Gymnasiums where athletes train for gymnastics, volleyball and basketball, as well as boxing. The tour also visits the recently refurbished weightlifting facility where you’re likely to see athletes who look like they are right out of some of those ads for exercise equipment you see on TV.

The USA Shooting Center is particularly interesting. Here athletes are training to control their bodies to allow them to shoot between heartbeats!

US Olympic Training center pool (Colorado Springs CO) - free tourThe Aquatics Center contains a pool with a capacity of 1 million gallons of water! The pool is equipped with a multitude of cameras which allow the coaches to view each individual swimmer or groups of swimmers. Along one side of the pool is a tow rope which is used to pull swimmers along in the water at the rate they would need to be swimming to be in gold medal form. For most of us that would be like lying flat on the water while being pulled along by a speedboat.

Allow some time after you complete your tour to visit the Olympic Hall of Fame Rotunda, enjoy the memorabilia, and patronize the U.S. Olympic Shop all of which are located in the main Visitor Center.

After completing this tour you’ll be promising yourself to start working out and lose a few pounds so you can get yourself back into Olympic shape!

Most of the tour is conducted out-of-doors so dress accordingly.

Be sure to call the Center or check on the web for tour hours, which vary depending on the time of year. Tours are not conducted on Sunday although the Visitor Center is open for your enjoyment.

For more information, contact:
United States Olympic Training Center
One Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, CO 80909-5760

(888) 659-8687 or (719) 866-4618


Additional directions:
Drive to Colorado Springs on I-25

Take Exit 143 (Uintah Street), and drive east 2.0 miles to the “T” intersection at Union Blvd

Turn right on Union Blvd, and continue 0.7 miles south to Boulder Street, passing the Olympic Complex on your right.

Turn right on Boulder Street, then turn right again into the visitor parking lot.

Great Fruitcake Toss (Manitou Springs)

What: Great Fruitcake TossGreat Fruitcake Toss (Manitou Springs)
Where: Manitou Springs
When: First Saturday in January

At last, the answer to that age-old question: How do I get rid of this *$&*@#! fruitcake?

People in Manitou Springs have found the answer. Throw it as far as you can, by any means that you can, and hope it’s never found again. You can come watch this amazing event for free (however, contestants pay a small fee or donate a can of non-perishable food to enter the events).

To be fair, separate prizes are given to numerous special tossing divisions. That is, athletes choosing to toss their fruitcakes by hand are not competing directly with those who use a catapult, giant slingshot, or spud gun (or is that a fruitcake gun?). The audience needs to be ever-vigilant for those fruitcakes that end up being tossed straight up in the air by contestants whose timing on the catapult isn’t quite perfect. You know you’re having a bad day when you get hit in the head with a frozen fruitcake falling from hundreds of feet above you.

Great Fruitcake Toss (Manitou Springs)Several local Inns offer Fruitcake Toss specials, including a heavy-duty cake to use in the event, and advance coaching on the art of fruitcake tossing.

The day also includes Catch The Fruitcake where teams compete to see how many they can catch from their devices that launch them into the sky (Hand Tossing not allowed with the Catch Competition), and an Accuracy Competition in which teams compete to try to hit targets out in the field.

Heads up!


For more information, contact:
Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce
354 Manitou Avenue
Manitou Springs, CO 80829

800-642-2567 or (719) 685-5089

Additional directions:
Exit US 24 and turn west into Manitou Springs on Manitou Avenue.

The event is held in Manitou Springs Memorial Park, located in the 500 block of Manitou Avenue (on your right as you drive west).

Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs)

What: Garden of the Gods Park, Visitor Center, Trading Post Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs CO) - free admission
Where: Colorado Springs
Park hours:
Summer 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM; Winter 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM
    Visitor Center hours: Summer 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Winter 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM;
closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Days
    Trading Post hours: Summer 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Winter 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM; open all year

Drive, hike, mountain bike, or horseback ride among spectacular red rock formations and all-around, jaw-dropping natural beauty. Technical rock climbers, who must first register at the Visitor Center to obtain a permit to climb, scale the towering cliffs of sandstone. Garden of the Gods Park is home to rock formations with intriguing names such as Giant Footprints, Kissing Camels, Siamese Twins, Three Graces, and Tower of Babel.

Legend has it that two surveyors came upon this natural wonder. One commented that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden.” His partner, Rufus Cable, having a greater appreciation for the uniqueness of the landscape, was taken aback. “Beer garden? Why, it is a place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods!”

Rock climbing at Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs CO)The Visitor & Nature Center is worth a stop, with interesting exhibits, complimentary park maps, and even a free sample of fudge. The cafeteria offers a wonderful view of the region, with majestic Pikes Peak as a backdrop. Ask for a schedule of the free Nature Talks held on the terrace of the building, and free guided Nature Walks.

If all this free stuff has you itching to buy something, or if you just like to browse, be sure to head over to Garden of the Gods Trading Post toward the southwest end of the park. This adobe-style building has been expanded numerous times, and now houses the largest Trading Post in Colorado.

The range of merchandise boggles the mind. You’ll find the odd little five-and-dime sort of trinkets that the kids always seem to crave, as well as t-shirts galore. However, you’ll also discover a wonderful collection of Navajo rugs, sand painting, Pueblo pottery, gorgeous southwestern-style jewelry, and other beautiful items in the Art Gallery.

On the other hand, perhaps you’d be interested in a mounted jackalope trophy? Ask for another free taste of fudge at the Trading Post’s café before you head off into the park again for a picnic.

Check out both websites for coupons offering discounts on food and merchandise, as well as discounts for a 12-minute movie offered at the Visitor Center.

For more information, contact:
Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center
30th Street & Gateway Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
(719) 634-6666


Garden of the Gods Trading Post
324 Beckers Lane
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
(800) 874-4515 or (719) 685-9045


Additional directions:
Drive to Colorado Springs on I-25

If you are heading south, take Exit 146 (Garden of the Gods Road)
Drive West 2.3 miles on to 30th Street
Turn left onto 30th Street, and follow it 1.3 miles to the Visitor Center, which will be on your left.

If you are heading north on I-25, take Exit 141 (US 24 / Cimarron) toward Manitou Springs and Pikes Peak

Drive West 2.5 miles on US 24 to 31st Street
Turn right at 31st Street, and follow it 0.6 miles to Fontanero, where you will turn right
Follow Fontanero 1 block to 30th Street, and turn left on 30th Street
Continue north on 30th Street 1.2 miles to the Visitor Center, which will be on your right.

Sports Hall of Fame Museum (Denver)

What:  Colorado Sports Hall of Fame MuseumSportsHallOfFame
Where: Denver
When: Thursday through Saturday, 10 AM – 3 PM
(note: Museum may have special hours on Bronco home games and during other special events)

Here in Colorado, we love our sports. And we’ve certainly had our share of great athletes and great people associated with sports here in our home state.

Whether your interest lies with great moments in Colorado sport history, women in sports, or all things “Bronco”, you’ll find plenty to enjoy at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum. There’s even a display called “MIND – BODY – SPIRIT / THE IMPORTANCE OF SPORTS CONDITIONING” where John Elway and Amy Van Dyken demonstrate (through photos — sorry, they’re not here in person!) how muscle groups work together and provide injury prevention concepts.

There are 6 key characteristics which may qualify someone to be inducted into the Hall of Fame:

Sportsmanship – Leadership – Courage – Sacrifice – Endurance – Power

SportsA few of the inductees you’ll find honored here:

Bobby Anderson, Terrell Davis, Mildred “Babe” Didrickson, Jack Dempsey, Peggy Fleming, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Randy Gradishar, Scott Hamilton, Bill Hanzlik, Hale Irwin, Dan Issel, Billy Kidd, Floyd Little, Karl Mecklenburg, Robert “Red” Miller, Doug Moe, Haven Moses, Dan Reeves, Patrick Roy, Shannon Sharpe, Bill Toomey, Amy Van Dyken, Byron “Whizzer” White (yes, the same Byron White who served as a Supreme Court Justice), and, of course, John Elway.

Pretty impressive, eh?

For more information, contact:
INVESCO Field at Mile High
1701 Bryant St. #500
Denver, CO 80204



Additional directions:
The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame is located at Gate #1 on the west side of INVESCO Field at Mile High. For those of you not familiar with the Denver area, the football stadium is located just west of I-25 and north of Colfax Avenue.

Folk Dancing (Boulder)

What: Folk Dancing for EveryoneFolk Dancing in Boulder CO
Where: Boulder
When: Tuesday evenings during the warmer months – Free Lessons from 7:00 to 8:00 PM; dancing goes on until 10:00 PM

Do warm evenings just make you want to get up and dance? Well, you’re not the only one! Even if you haven’t the slightest idea how to folk dance, here’s your opportunity to kick up your heels, enjoy the wonderful Boulder outdoors, meet fun people, get some exercise, and have a lot of fun.

Tom Masterson, choreographer and teacher for Postoley Dance Ensemble, is coordinator (or should that be “coordinated”? — probably both descriptions of Tom are accurate) of this weekly get-together. He specializes in Russian and Ukrainian dances, while other guest artists, including Boulder International Folk Dancers, will feature Israeli, Scandinavian, and other regional folk dancing.

Folk DancingWith magical, sometimes-unpronounceable names like Schuhplattler, Mazurka, Tirge, Kleistos, and Nevestinskoto, an exotic experience is sure to follow. Then again, you may learn some dances with more familiar names like Irish Dance, Hora (Israel), Jig, Reel, Hula, Square Dance, Polka, etc. No matter what themes the evening takes on, a good time will be had by all.

For more information, contact:
Postoley Dance Ensemble
250 31st St.
Boulder, CO 80305


Additional directions:
The dancing takes place at Boulder Municipal Plaza just off 13th Street between Canyon & Arapahoe beside Dushanbe Teahouse & Farmer’s market.

Spring Splash (Winter Park)

What: Spring Splash at Winter ParkSpring Splash - closing day at Winter Park Ski area
Where: Winter Park Ski Area
When: Closing day – usually a Sunday in mid-April

Ah, the last day of the ski season! What better way to celebrate than by skiing through an obstacle course and attempting to end the run by water-skiing (on snow skis or a snowboard) across an icy-cold pond!

Unfortunately, it’ll cost you an entry fee to actually participate in this insanity directly. So, why not stay warm and dry and laugh as you watch other people struggle to keep their skis or snowboards on top of the water? Contestants often wear unusual attire to add to the festive atmosphere of this traditional event. You may see skiers in swimsuits, hockey uniforms, Batman costumes, or even a giant, cuddly elk (or was that a moose?).

Spring Splash - closing day at Winter Park Ski areaIn another contest, people in decorated cardboard boats demonstrate how poorly cardboard floats once it starts to get soaked.

When you tire of watching the skiers do their thing, enjoy some free live music on the decks of restaurants at the base of the mountain.

Winter Park Ski Area, which opened in 1940, is one of the oldest ski areas in Colorado still operating. The historic Ski Train still brings skiers from Denver most weekends of the winter, traveling through the Moffat Tunnel and depositing passengers at the base of the main lifts.

For more information, contact:
Winter Park Resort
P.O. Box 36
Winter Park, CO 80482

800-979-0332 or 970-726-1564

www.skiwinterpark.com or www.winterparkresort.com
email: wpinfo@winterparkresort.com

Sled Dog Races

What: Colorado Blue Ididarace – Sled Dog RacesDogs1
Where: see footnote *
When: *

The first thing you’ll notice as you step out of your car is the excited barking of the dogs; many, many dogs! This 2-day event features teams of 8, 6, or 4 dogs pulling sleds (hopefully with human musher still aboard) along a track up to 8 miles long.

Skijoring events are also part of the excitement. You don’t know what Skijoring is? Have you ever strapped on a pair of cross-country skis and tried skiing with a dog or two on a leash? Sometimes they pull you; sometimes (on the downhill), you end up ahead of the dogs. And sometimes everyone ends up sprawled in the snow. Well, Skijoring works something like that, but these dogs and drivers manage the whole affair with much more grace and speed (and more appropriate equipment than a leash and collar).

These animals are selected because they love racing, and it really shows. You’ll see the “traditional” breeds such as Siberian Husky and Malamute, and Samoyed, but also many mixed breeds. Some teams will bring along a puppy or two just to expose them to the fun and excitement of the racing environment, so they’ll start to get an idea of what to expect when they mature.

Dog sled racingLike human athletes, sled dogs must train to build up their aerobic stamina, muscle strength, and to learn to work as a team (including the other dogs and their human driver). Good sled dogs love to run, and love to win. There will be no doubt in your mind that these animals are really into their sport when you see them being strapped into a harness, and when the musher has to hold them back at the starting line of a race. They can’t wait to run!

Humans and dogs have been working together with this mode of transportation for thousands of years. Sled dogs played a significant role in arctic and Antarctic exploration, and sometimes also made the ultimate sacrifice by becoming food for their starving human companions. In 1925, sled dog teams made it possible to save countless human lives when they helped deliver an emergency supply of diphtheria antitoxin to Nome, Alaska after an outbreak there. The teams had to travel over 600 miles of difficult and extremely treacherous terrain to deliver their precious cargo.

Please leave your own pet at home when you attend the races. You’ll be able to walk among the dog teams leashed by their kennels, but ask permission of the owners before approaching the animals. Remember, they’re here to race, and having strangers come over to pet them can be distracting.

You can learn more about this fun sport on the web at the site for the International Sled Dog Racing Association or at one of the resources listed below.

Resources for more information:
Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club, Inc.
Upcoming Sled Dog Races

Colorado Mountain Mushers (non-sanctioned races)

Lone Cone Conquest races

*  We originally wrote this article after attending the Colorado Blue Ididarace in Kremmling.  The bad news: that particular event doesn’t seem to be scheduled any more.  The good news:  many other dog sled and skijoring races are scheduled each winter in the high country.  One is the Lone Cone Conquest (see link above).  Check the other links for current race schedules.

Colorado Ski Museum (Vail)

What: Colorado Ski Museum / Ski Hall of FameColorado Ski Museum (Vail CO) Free
Where: Vail Village Transportation Center
When: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM
Closed May & October, and on major holidays

Are you interested in skiing? Well, of course you are — you’re in Colorado, aren’t you?

This fascinating museum offers a trip through time as you view exhibits of skiers and ski equipment dating back to the gold fever days of the late 1890s. That’s right: our state’s earliest ski experts were miners.

Did you realize that, starting in the 1860s, people signed on as mail carriers where they had to teach themselves to ski on huge, heavy runners to deliver mail to places in our high country? No lifts, no avalanche reports, no GPS units, no Ski Patrol to help with a rescue…and they often traveled 50 miles over mountain passes to reach the mining towns they served.

Colorado Ski Museum (Vail CO) - free admissionSkipping ahead quite a few years, Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division are well-documented as we revisit their training during the WWII era. When some of the skiers returned from duty to Colorado after the war, their expertise helped develop Aspen, Arapahoe Basin, Vail, and of course, the 10th Mountain Division Trail and Hut system.

The museum also highlights skiing achievements in the Olympic Games and the World Cup. For more on the history of skiing in Colorado, visit the Ski Museum’s History page.

In addition, learn about the accomplishments of inductees to the Ski Hall of Fame. Members include famous names such as ski pioneer “Father” Dyer, early skiing greats Frank Ashley and Dick Durrance, and even filmmaker Warren Miller and President Gerald Ford. A complete list of inductees can be found here.

For more information, contact:
Colorado Ski Museum
231 S. Frontage Rd. E.
Vail, CO 81657


email: info@skimuseum.net

SnowDown (Durango)

What: SnowDownBed race - SnowDown (Durango CO)
Where: Durango and vicinity
When: Late January

Enjoy 5 days of fun, frivolity, and general craziness at this annual celebration of winter. Each annual event has a special theme, and locals really get into wearing appropriate (or sometimes inappropriate) costumes as they watch or participate in a multitude of events. There were over 75 special activities in 2004, when the theme was YabaDabaDoo-rango! (remember “The Flintstones”?), and cave-people were everywhere. In 2005: Superman & Batman capes prevailed at the Superhero SnowDown. Suggest the winning theme for a future SnowDown event, and you may win dinner for two or some other great prize.

Local teams of waiters and waitresses jockey for position in an obstacle race. Kayakers try to negotiate ski slalom gates at the nearby ski slope – yes, while seated in their kayaks. There are bed races (another obstacle course), outhouse stuffing events (akin to the VW Beetle-stuffing contests back in the 1970’s), Spam carving (it may not taste any better, but at least it looks good), a feline fashion show (with paramedics standing by with bandages for the cats’ owners), bobbing for prizes in a vat of ice cold beer (no hands allowed), children’s coloring/poster contests (with youth savings account prizes!), balloon rallies (ooh, aah), and a Ullr Ski Obstacle Race where you “ski” on 10 foot long 2 by 4’s (not a particularly graceful event).

SnowDown parade (Durango CO)Not to be missed: the Light Parade down Main Avenue. The parade begins with a Firework display. That’s right – one firework. Bundle up and enjoy the lighted floats and warm up briefly as hot air balloonists move by, firing off their propane burners (they don’t bring the balloons to the parade).

The numerous events are held at various restaurants and other venues throughout the town, as well as at the neighboring ski area, Durango Mountain Resort. Many events are free (especially for spectators), but check the website or call for details about the activities that interest you. We also suggest you pick up a city map and a detailed map of the area before trying to locate all of the events – or ask someone at the local businesses or hotels to help you with directions.

Hurray for winter in the Rockies!

For more information, contact:
SNOWDOWN Durango, Inc
PO Box 1144
Durango, CO 81302

(970) 375-3000


Ouray Ice Climbing (Ouray)

What: Ouray Ice Festival and Ice Climbing in OurayOuray Ice Park - free to ice climb (Ouray CO)
Where: Ouray
When: Ice Festival: 2nd or 3rd weekend in January, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Free Ice Climbing/viewing: All Winter (conditions permitting)

Waterfall ice climbing has been described by some as “a sport for lunatics”, something for a few misguided souls considered by their friends to be possibly “brain dead.” Perhaps both definitions might adequately describe what is fast becoming one of the most thrilling mainstream winter sports being enjoyed by both participants and spectators. Ice climbers can be seen ascending Ouray’s frozen waterfalls with such bizarre names as “Bird Brain Boulevard”, “Horsetail Falls” and “Grandma’s Glass Pony Shop”.

Ouray has been called the “Switzerland of America,” and rightfully so. Bring your camera and enjoy the breathtaking majestic beauty of the surrounding San Juan mountain scenery while being dazzled by the seemingly death-defying feats of climbers participating in the annual Ouray Ice Festival.

Ice climbing in Ouray’s Ice Park officially got its start in the early 1990’s thanks to the efforts of a few imaginative local climbers and water provided by the owner of the local hydroelectric plant located – where else – but atop the classic ice climb known as “Bridalveil Falls”. A marriage truly made in heaven (or more factually made in Box Canyon), the 150 foot deep gorge is the site of the Ice Festival. The festival takes place during Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend in January; however, you’ll find plenty of ice climbers here all winter long.

Ouray Ice Park - free to ice climb or to watch (Ouray CO)The Festival has a myriad of outdoor companies displaying and providing various articles of equipment and clothing for you to try out. The climbing competitions are simply spectacular and free for viewing. There are several special viewing platforms as well as a couple of bridges which are located just above where the action takes place.

Bring the kids along as those manufacturers always have some really cool things to give away. You’re sure to bring home a bunch of stickers that will remind you of the good time you had — long after your efforts to remove them from the windows of the family car!

Dress warmly. Hat, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen and a warm coat are all advisable attire. Oh, and don’t forget to throw in your crampons and ice tools, just in case . . .

For more information, contact:
Ouray Chamber of Commerce
1222 N. Main St.
P.O. Box 145
Ouray, CO 81427

(970) 325-4746


Additional directions:
The most easily accessible (and viewed) ice climbing is found just south of town, a 5-minute drive (or a slightly longer walk) from most lodging. Head up US 550, and turn right onto Camp Bird Road after the first tight switchback curve.