Visitors can stroke sea stars and horseshoe crabs in the sea life touch zone, hold Rosie the tarantula, stroll on the outdoor nature trail, and watch bees while learning how vital they are to the future of the planet. The Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center have educational programs for all ages, from young children to seniors, and a gift shop filled with interesting items.
Opera Colorado is Denver's premiere world-class opera company, presenting fine opera performances each season since 1981 at the city's Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The company mounts two full-scale opera performances each season in November and May, focusing on classics such as Verdi's La Traviata and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. An annual winter chamber performance is also presented, highlighting a new or contemporary opera work in a more intimate theater setting. Other performances throughout the year include recitals, panel discussions, and artist meet-and-greet events. Educational programming at the company reaches more than 45,000 participants each year, including in-school outreach programming. Opera guests can enjoy on-site dining at Kevin Taylor's at the Opera House, with bar drinks and snacks offered within the theater's lobby spaces before shows and during intermissions.
While its Denver counterpart might be more popular, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs is the most interesting Colorado zoo experience you’ll find. It sits about 6,800ft (2,073m) above sea level and features exhibits built into the mountainside. You can also feed the giraffes, ride an open chairlift over the zoo, walk through an aviary of free-flying birds and expect plenty of animal encounters.
The Rocky Mountains are the birthplace of the Arkansas River, the most popular river in the United States. It is also perfect for white water rafting, whether you want to go for a half day, or turn it into a multi-day trip extravaganza. There are many different rafting routes depending on your level of expertise, from family-friendly to expert Class IV.
Cross the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and see the many lakes, creeks and mountain ranges – there are 8 ranges in total. Climb Coney Summit, it’s 13,334 feet above sea level. Take a load off your feet and take a horseback ride, or grab a mountain bike. Explore the old mining towns and ancient Indian trails, and you can even treat yourself to a night or two at a ski resort while you’re there.
A registered National Natural Landmark just outside Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods Park is open year-round and offers stunning views of its 300ft (91m) sandstone rock formations, along with hiking, horseback riding and camping. The Visitor and Nature Center has all kinds of interactive exhibits. If you’re looking for souvenirs, the Trading Post, which lies on the edge of the park, features artwork by local artists. Admission to the park is free.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is dedicated to conservation, captive breeding of endangered species, and comprehensive animal care. It aims to give every visitor an experience that will last them a lifetime. Founded in 1926, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is, as the name implies, on the slope of a mountain, affording both visitors and animals fabulous views, though it requires stout walking shoes and a degree of physical fitness.
There are plenty of activities for outdoors lovers here. Explore the trails, you’ll find that they lead you through forests and wetlands that surround the dunes. You should also be sure to visit Medano Lake, one of several alpine lakes and filled with trout if you’re a fisherman. Trek out to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains – the Medano Pass Primitive Road guides you through a canyon until you reach the mountains.
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