Sand dunes in the Colorado mountains
Outdoor activities provide a wide range of exciting options
Colorado is a stunning ode to the glory of nature. It boasts some of the highest mountain ranges in the country—with 53 peaks higher than 14,000 feet, called “14ers” there—as well as deep-blue alpine lakes, surrounded by majestic forests of golden aspen. It also has rapidly flowing rivers, verdant green meadows splashed with brilliant wildflowers, as well as canyons, plateaus, deep gorges and high desert.
Lobby at St. Julien Hotel & Spa, Boulder
Coloradans live outside, both in summer and in winter. It’s very rare, in fact, to drive even a few blocks without seeing people cycling, running, rafting or paddling in summer, or carrying skis, snowboards or ice skates in winter.
Attendees can experience a natural wonderland after meetings, and the increased camaraderie and networking that occurs in such a spectacular environment during the meetings.
Planners can also offer attendees an incredible range of outdoor adventures, for team building and just-plain-fun.
“Colorado is one of the most ‘outdoorsy’ states in America,” says Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. “And Colorado meetings offer the opportunity to connect groups with nature and adventure. Our landscape offers a vast range of team-building activities for meeting groups. We are committed to making Colorado the best state in which to ride a bike, and our mountain-, road- and cruiser-bike offerings are unparalleled.
“Your attendees can take in spectacular scenery on an ATV tour. They can hike to the top of one of our 53 peaks higher than 14,000 feet, or trek along one of our gentle trails. They can go whitewater rafting or stand-up paddleboarding. They can go horseback riding just about anywhere, or even play cowboy on a working ranch.”
Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center
Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides
This outfit offers a wide range of four-season wilderness adventures and innovative team-building exercises.
One of its most interesting adventures is a mystery to most of us—snowshoeing. During winter and spring, guides will take your group deep into snowfields that often have no visible trace of human beings.
In addition to viewing trees and plants hardy enough to survive a Colorado winter, your group will likely see wildlife in places such as Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest. Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides will show you all you need to know before you shove off and will be with you every snow-shoed step of the way.
Another outstanding adventure is introductory rock climbing. Safety is always emphasized: Your attendees will learn some of the basic safety systems and have a chance to climb on some great granite or sandstone.
This 3.5-hour trip will enhance participants’ teamwork while teaching them something about themselves. At popular climbing sites such as Boulder Canyon and Eldorado Canyon, as well as the towns of Golden and Estes Park, your attendees will experience quite a sense of accomplishment.
Echo Canyon River Expeditions
Rafting on the Arkansas River, Colorado Springs
Echo Canyon Rafting Expeditions provides family and thrill trips on the scenic Arkansas River. The expeditions pass through the magnificent Royal Gorge or Bighorn Sheep Canyon, with its abundance of wildlife.
The less challenging trips offer opportunities to see spectacular scenery as your group floats through it, including the 1,000-foot-deep Royal Gorge. The Class III and IV rapids, on the other hand, will quicken your heartbeat. Echo Canyon also has six two-bedroom luxury cabins, three one-bedroom cabins and four luxury “glamping” tents.
Seven Falls Soaring Adventure
The Broadmoor, a world-class resort, has just added to its already-huge amenities list. The resort owns nearby Seven Falls, long considered one of the most beautiful sites in Colorado. Now it’s added The Broadmoor Soaring Adventure, which takes you over, around and through the falls.
This adventure offers two courses and 10 ziplines, ranging from 300 to 1,800 feet. Along the way are moderate hiking trails, rope bridges and a controlled, 180-foot rappel with stunning views of the falls and South Canyon below.
Soaring Adventure at The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
Barbara Logan, vice president of marketing and event services for the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Travel Association, brought 160 board members and their families to The Broadmoor in July 2015. They went on an adventure offered by Echo Canyon River Expeditions.
“I think Colorado is a great place for meetings,” she says, “because of the opportunities to bring your attendees together on outdoor adventures. We went rafting on the Arkansas River with Echo Canyon. And I believe it really built our teamwork and camaraderie.
“I was delighted to see our attendees talking about the trip for days afterward, and showing each other photos. Colorado’s loaded with adventure opportunities…and opportunities to bring your attendees together in an experience that’s really an experience!”
Epic Sky Trek
This is a one-of-a-kind experience on one of the best aerial-trekking courses in the United States. Offered by Castle Rock Zipline Tours, Epic Sky Trek is an aerial trekking course on three different levels. Your attendees will need teamwork to navigate its 110 challenges. The course involves hanging, climbing, stepping, jumping, balancing, handholds, and coordination on ropes, ladders and elevated plank walkways. Attendees have great opportunities to coordinate in negotiating all these elements.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver
This iconic 70-row amphitheater, surrounded by gigantic sandstone formations that change color with the sun, has hosted performances by the world’s greatest entertainers (including the Beatles, on August 26, 1964). But locals and visitors alike have turned this performance venue into a physicalfitness course in the daytime. Attendees will see scores—perhaps even hundreds—of people running up and down the stairs. Several outfitters offer interesting team-building exercises.
Front Range Ride Guides
You can’t go to Colorado without trying mountain biking. Front Range Ride Guides will give your attendees an up-close-and-personal riding experience through the Front Range. The company specializes in bike outings through some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States—around snow-capped mountains, along rushing streams and through wildflower-dotted meadows, with some offering rare sightings of Bighorn Sheep and other wildlife.
Bring your camera: You won’t want to miss the jaw-dropping photo opportunities.
Windtracker Balloon Adventures
Windtracker Balloon Adventures can bring your people up into a world of soft breezes, silence and out-of-this-world colors. The rides take off at sunrise as rays bathe the Front Range in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors. Attendees watch as the sun slowly illuminates the natural features and wildlife below, and creates a panorama of what seems like half of Colorado. They’ll emerge from the balloon invigorated and excited, having formed bonds that will carry over when they’re back at the office.
Skier at Grand County Powder Addiction
Grand County, located about an hour west of Denver, is a hotbed of adventures. Powder Addiction takes skiers away from the madding crowds and into isolated deep-powder slopes at altitudes of up to 12,500 feet. Groups access this silent world in a snowcat, a sort of combination tractor/bus that goes where other vehicles fear to tread.
Up there, the snow is thick, soft and fresh, and the dominant sound is silence. You don’t see other skiers’ tracks in the snow, because no one’s skied on it before. You’ll go into areas unknown to most folks…and enjoy an experience unknown to most folks. Rusty Spurr Ranch
At Rusty Spurr Ranch, your attendees can participate in a real cattle drive! Wranglers will teach them how to gather and drive a herd on 10,000 acres of pristine open land. Then they will have a home-on-the-range experience in an area featuring varied landscapes, including sagebrush plains as well as pine- and aspen-covered hills.
Attendees will drive the cattle across lands offering extraordinary views of three mountain ranges. Cattle drives are great team-builders, and your attendees will enjoy a homemade meal to celebrate the “drive” back at the ranch. The activity is available June 1–Sept. 30.
Moose Meeting Room at Grand Lake Lodge
DoubleTree Hilton Hotel Grand Junction lobby
In far-western Colorado, your group will find Powderhorn Mountain Resort, where it will run out of time long before it runs out of winter activities. There, they can fly toward the sky in the Flat Top Flyer, which takes ski-lift speeds to new levels. In addition to regular runs, there are three networks of cross-country trails. Your group can learn to snowshoe, take a run in a snowmobile, feel like a kid on skates at Glacier Ice Arena and try icefishing. Attendees can go sledding nearby, enjoy a tubing hill and try fat biking on an all-terrain bike.
Guest room at Clarion Inn–Grand Junction
Pikes Peak Cog Railway
The atmospheric old town of Manitou Springs is filled with colorful shops and galleries, an old Russianstyle church and 100-year-old, multicolored wooden artists’ studios clinging precariously to the sides of forested cliffs. Groups start the Pikes Peak Cog Railway trip up the 14,115-foot mountain in deep-green forest and pass through a variety of ecosystems, in which they’re likely to see wildlife.
The Cliff House at Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs
At one point, the train tilts dramatically to the side, and attendees look into a mammoth valley that appears to be on the side of them, rather than below. At the top, there’s a tiny restaurant (with hot doughnuts), a shop and a view into seven states.
Your attendees can actually climb a waterfall of ice with Telluride Adventures. This company specializes in unique winter sports such as ice climbing, backcountry skiing (where yours are likely to be the only ski marks in sight), snowshoe tours and winter hut trips.
For the ice-climbing adventure, groups use ice axes, crampons and harnesses to climb natural wonders such as 300-foot Bridal Veil Falls and Ames Falls. They receive comprehensive instruction, and are accompanied by guides. Not many people can say they’ve gone up a waterfall!
Sage Outdoor Adventures
Sage Outdoor Adventures takes attendees into the backcountry on a snowmobiling foray they’ll long remember. The company’s vehicles traverse a private mountain with more than 100 miles of trails, and its courses offer deep powder, stunning views encompassing seven different ranges and genuine bonding experiences—all in a trail system that’s actually larger than the Vail ski area.
Your attendees will whiz past forests, meadows and high ridges, among other things—and they’ll all be talking about the amazing experience long after the meeting ends.
Located on Vail Mountain, Adventure Ridge enables your group to try the little-known sport of ski biking. It’s part sledding, part skiing and part biking—and it’s easy to learn. Participants strap mini skis onto their boots, enabling them to make turns, and ride a bike with two blades, instead of two wheels. In addition, Adventure Ridge also offers nighttime ski biking into a silent wonderland filled with stars
Virtues of Team Building
“Outdoor adventures in Colorado can do great things for team building and group cohesion,” says Doug Price, president and CEO of Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Hiking to the summit of one of our 14ers and biking down one with a paved highway are great for promoting teamwork and camaraderie.
“Whitewater rafting is the ultimate team sport, with each person pulling their weight and contributing to the success of the journey. Rock-climbing and ice-climbing develop trust and problem-solving skills, critical success factors in business. And skiing and ziplining experiences help create lasting bonds.”
The Man Who Made Vail
Pete Seibert passed away in 2002, but the town and ski resort he created is one of the most popular skiing areas on Earth.
Seibert was a native of Massachusetts who discovered the magnificence of Colorado while training there with the famed 10th Mountain Division during World War II, before shipping out to Italy. After the war, he returned to Colorado, where he became a competitive skier. In 1957, Seibert and rancher Earl Eaton climbed Vail Mountain, and soon after they decided to build the most beautiful ski resort in the world.
They succeeded in building what could arguably be given that title. The resort they built at the base of the mountain opened in December 1962, with lift tickets priced at $5. It didn’t take long for Vail Resort to become world-famous, both for its ski runs and its beautiful European village. Now, people come from all over the world— including notable skiing spots in France and Switzerland—to ski there and to bask in the village ambience and the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.
Now, Vail is one of the largest ski resorts in the world, with more than 5,200 acres of groomed trails, seven back bowls (wide, often-empty bowl-shaped slopes) spanning 7 miles, and ski runs for every level of skill. It’s the third-largest mountain ski resort in the United States, and the 11,570-foot peak offers views that will take your attendees’ breath away.
Major Meeting Venues
Opened in 1909; fancy Western furnishings, incredible lobby; one restaurant; two bars; pool; 160 guest rooms; 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
St. Julien Hotel & Spa
Stunningly designed hotel, with artistic modern decor; two restaurants offer authentic English-style afternoon tea; 201 guest rooms; 16,518 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space.
Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs
311 guest rooms; passes to onsite 50,000-squarefoot water park included with stay; several dining options; shops; 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
One of America’s great hotels, an Italianate palace in the Rockies; world-class spa; outdoor adventures; three championship golf courses; 779 guest rooms; 185,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Colorado Convention Center
Modern center; striking artworks throughout the center; award-winning sustainability programs; 2.2 million sq. ft. of meeting space.
Boutique hotel in the LoDo (Lower Downtown) section; two restaurants; 24-hour fitness center; 110 guest rooms; 5,500 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center
Spectacular views of city and mountains; close to convention center; 1,100 guest rooms; 60,600 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel
Close to attractions, museums, shopping and convention center; 1,231 guest rooms; 133,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Ritz-Carlton Denver
Luxury property with sweeping mountain views; 202 recently renovated guest rooms; 6,000-square-foot spa; more than 13,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Westin Denver Downtown
Located in LoDo; AAA Four Diamond property; 430 guest rooms; Palm Restaurant; fitness center; 32,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Westin Denver International Airport
519 guest rooms; three dining options; 519 guest rooms; 37,000 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space; 60,000-square-foot outdoor plaza.
Fort Collins Marriott
Convenient to downtown Fort Collins and outdoor adventures; outdoor and indoor pools; 229 guest rooms; 18,038 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Hilton Fort Collins
In the Rocky Mountain foothills, near Front Range; indoor pool with hot tub; fitness center; 225 guest rooms; 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa
In Tabernash: environmentally friendly property; 128 guest rooms; fine dining; 18,000-square-foot spa, 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Winter Park Resort
3 lodging properties, each with a pool and hot tub; 550 guest rooms; 23,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Clarion Inn–Grand Junction
Convenient to airport, historic downtown; 236 guest rooms; 15,412 sq. ft. of meeting space.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Grand Junction
Close to national monuments, national forests and wine country; fitness center; 273 guest rooms; 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
El Colorado Lodge
Beautiful adobe structure built in 1926; heated outdoor pool; hot tub; 27 guest rooms; patio and pavilion hold 124, meeting rooms hold 35.
The Cliff House at Pikes Peak
Luxurious Four Diamond hotel dating back nearly 150 years; 54 guest rooms; 6,157 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Mountain Lodge Telluride
Scenic San Juan Mountain vistas; Western design; modern amenities; outdoor pool; fitness center; ski lessons; ski-in, ski-out; restaurant and bar; 132 guest rooms; 4,600 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Peaks Resort and Spa
Great views of the Rockies; The Peaks Spa is a 42,000-square-foot sanctuary; 164 guest rooms; 27,191 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Vail and Beaver Creek
The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch
World-class accommodations in a world-class ski resort; scenic views from every guest room; fitness center; full-service spa; Wyld Restaurant offers local alpine cuisine; team-building activities; 180 guest rooms; 26,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain
Located in the heart of Vail Valley; recently completed $3 million renovation, including all 230 guest rooms; three restaurants; 27,000-squarefoot spa; outdoor, heated lap pool; athletic club; 7,500 sq. ft. of meeting space.