Caitlin Rowcrow@gjfreepress.com

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June 28, 2012
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Cool down with some Colorado fun

With Grand Valley temperatures already sky-rocketing, now may be the perfect time to plan a summer trip. Luckily, living in Colorado has its perks - with so many world-class attractions, why leave the state? Just hop in your car, pack a snack, and fill up your gas tank. Adventure is on the horizon.

Three hours in your car may seem excessive, but it's totally worth it to visit Frisco. Why? Marina access to Dillon Reservoir and hyper-local recreation opportunities create a unique family experience. You can play there without visiting nearby resort towns, like busier Breckenridge (unless you want to).Alpine views are an attractive feature of Frisco Bay Marina's offerings. And, for those without boats, the marina provides lots of rentals. According to the Town of Frisco, you may canoe, kayak, power and sail boat, pending availability. The marina's Island Grill, a popular location with locals and visitors for sunset cocktails, also features a limited menu. A little history: Summit County's Dillon Reservoir (or Lake Dillon) is managed by Denver Water, and the reservoir is also a main Front Range water source. The old Town of Dillon was partially moved and then flooded with the construction of the Dillon Dam in the 1960s. Old town remnants are now deep beneath the water.Frisco's Peninsula Recreation Area has a number of fun attractions, too - a disc golf course, a skate park, hiking trails, and a campground to name a few. The newly constructed Frisco Adventure Park, featuring mostly winter activities, is also located on this stretch of land off Highway 9.Places to eat are also plentiful. The Boatyard Grill features American-style family dining, and it's easy on your wallet. If you love sushi, do eat at Kemosabe on Main Street. Frisco also has Prost, its own tiny German beer hall right on the main drag.With so many specialty shops and a laid-back atmosphere, there's great window-shopping options on Main Street. And, with Frisco only minutes from Breckenridge, Dillon, Silverthorne, Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain and Keystone, you'll have numerous overnight options. You may want to make reservations ahead of time.For more information about visiting Frisco, visit www.townoffrisco.com.

A leisurely 2.5-hour drive from Grand Junction, Telluride - a remote and magical mountain town - is a great escape for couples and friends. The stark contradiction between Telluride's small-town appeal and the jagged, toothy peaks surrounding it brings people back again and again. This old mining settlement is nestled deeply in a narrow box canyon, and the views are reason enough to make the trip.The town and surrounding areas feature drastic weather contrasts as well. Dress in layers, and bring a hat. It can (and will) snow there in June.A visit to Telluride isn't just about the scenery, however. With numerous festivals and a formidable night life, a long-weekend visit can feature anything you want. There's top dining, numerous outdoor recreation options, shopping, a variety of bars and lots of cultural events. Don't forget to ride the gondola up to Mountain Village, home to Telluride Ski Resort and Telluride Golf Course.Do visit the Historic Sheridan Opera House, or the New Sheridan's Chop House for a steak and a drink. If you like barbecue and bourbon, Oak by the gondola is your best bet. Also, don't miss the hike up to Bridal Veil Falls. It's at the far end of town, past the cemetery. At 365-feet-high, it's said to be the tallest free-falling waterfall in the state.Room prices soar during festival and holiday weekends, however. And, even with high prices, most hotels won't have walk-in space during special events. So, pre-planning your trip is a must.Two more travel tips - request a room with view (preferably with a balcony) and stay in town. The Hotel Telluride on Main Street, near the high school, has private balconies for all its rooms.If you'd rather wait to book your stay, stop by the Telluride Visitor's Center upon arrival. Staff can direct you to last-minute deals.Carpooling as a group is also recommended, as town parking is limited. You won't need to drive once you're there.For more information about visiting Telluride, go to www.visittelluride.com.

With so many recreation options - like hiking, biking, rafting, climbing and horseback riding to name a few - Ouray is another great pick for a weekend away. Known for its mountain scenery and seasonal wildflowers, a summer visit to Ouray is ideal. An ice-climbing mecca, it's pretty dark and cold during winter months.Only two hours away, you can leave after breakfast and be there for lunch. Do visit the Ouray Brewery for its unique feel - it features three floors, food and craft brews right on Main Street.Planning on some exercise? Bring your bike, or plan a hike. And, you should definitely pack a picnic snack to enjoy while appreciating Ouray's natural beauty.According to the Ouray Chamber Resort Association, "the Box Canyon Waterfall & Park is Ouray's natural wonder - formed when the rushing waters of Canyon Creek eroded a deep and narrow box canyon through fault-weakened limestone. The park's short trails are easily accessible from the southwest corner of town. ... The lower trail, an easy 500-foot hike via a walkway and suspension bridge will lead you straight into the belly of the falls."If you want to combine education with adventure, the Bachelor-Syracuse Mine Tour is just the ticket. Guided tours into a real silver and gold mine provide insight into Ouray's rich history. An added bonus - temperatures inside mines are naturally cooler than outside. Visit www.bachelorsyracusemine.com for more info.If you like to soak, the Ouray Hot Springs Pool may be another fun stop. The website says it's open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day. The slides run from noon to 6 p.m. Definitely call around to find ideal accommodations, or visit the Ouray Visitor's Center website for trip tips at www.ouraycolorado.com.

Literally in our backyard, Unaweep Canyon is the perfect spot for an exploratory day trip, or a stop on the way to Gateway. It features breath-taking desert scenery, a higher elevation (so, it may be a little cooler) and limited traffic flow. Don't be surprised if you see caravans of college students studying rocks near the road. This spectacular canyon area boasts of a landscape interesting to both scholars and scientists because of its geological formations and unique fossils. Whether you're there to climb, hike or simply take in the sights, you can do it from Grand Junction as a day trip and be home by dinner. If you're into it, check out local rock climbing guides for a variety of routes in the area. Don't forget to pack lots of water. It's dry up there!According to the Bureau of Land Management website, Unaweep Canyon is found on the northern boundary of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. This BLM-managed area features 209,610 acres of land from Mesa, Delta and Montrose counties. "Red-rock canyons and sandstone bluffs hold geological and paleontological resources spanning 600 million years, as well as many cultural and historic sites," the BLM website said. "Ute Tribes today consider these pinyon-juniper covered lands an important connection to their ancestral past."If you have the time, hop on Colorado's Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway. The Colorado Department of Transportation says you can drive it in three hours. The 133-mile-long byway is made up of Highways 141 and 145, and you can even take it as an extended drive on the way to Telluride or Ouray.Have fun!


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The Post Independent Updated Jun 28, 2012 05:40PM Published Jun 28, 2012 04:55PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.