Getting off campus, whether it is for a couple of hours or a couple of days, can provide a much needed reset from the daily grind of Mines. Here are some ideas for experiencing Colorado and beyond on your, admittedly minimal, time off.
If you have an hour or two early in the morning, try out the steps at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison. It is not easy by any means, but the pride of reaching the top and the view of the city in the morning (when it is not covered by smoke) is worth it.
If your hour off is sometime in the afternoon, rent a tube from the ORC and hit Clear Creek. Mines students have been doing it for years, so it is a tried and true guarantee for a good time. Plus, it is good practice for the E-Days cardboard boat race.
If you have half a day off, try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) at Bear Creek Reservoir. SUPing is low pace and easy to learn as you go.
If hiking is more your speed, head north to Boulder to hike the Flatirons. Because the Flatirons are distinctive, this is especially great if you like to brag to people from out of state about the things you have climbed since you started college. Plus, if people visit, you can casually drive by the Flatirons or point them out from the top of North Table.
If you have a full day, drive south to Colorado Springs to visit Garden of the Gods, a public park perfect for geology nerds. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is also worth checking out if you like feeding giraffes and watching otters do anything.
Another option is to drive north to Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins for mountain biking, swimming, or casual hiking.
If you are up for more of a challenge, try climbing a fourteener (Mount Shavano), or two (Grays Peak and Torreys Peak), or four (Mounts Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross).
If you have a weekend, check out Sand Dunes National Park outside of Alamosa, CO. The dunes are great for hiking and sledding (or rolling) down. While you are there, check out the Colorado Gators Reptile Farm, where you can wrestle an alligator, and the UFO Watchtower.
While the weather is warm, backpacking or camping in Crested Butte is a great way to see the western side of the state.
When it starts getting colder, mountain biking or camping outside Grand Junction on the Colorado National Monument or the Uncompahgre Plateau remains viable due to the area’s desert conditions.
If you have an even longer break, consider road-tripping in Southwestern Colorado; visit the hot springs in Pagosa Springs, check out Durango’s historic downtown, and learn about ancient Puebloan life at Mesa Verde National Park outside of Cortez.
If the weather is good, you could instead head north to Teton National Park. This natural beauty, just south of Yellowstone, is less famous but stunning all the same.
Another classic option is Moab, loved, like much of southwestern Utah is, by Mines students young and old.
Wherever you wind up, make sure to plan ahead and be prepared. Taking the extra steps to stay safe will always be worth it. If you need outdoor equipment or advice, the Outdoor Recreation Center, located in the Student Rec Center, is an awesome resource.