Coloradans (and Colorado visitors) love to get outdoors, whether it’s to ski and stargaze, camp and hike — or to drive onto dirt roads until they get stuck and have to be rescued.
And The Denver Post’s readers love to dig into those stories. This year, as always, skiing was one of the top topics of discussion, especially Epic Pass sales and a resort ranking. But hiking and camping were also big, especially when it came to Rocky Mountain National Park.
We also had an unusual sighting, literally, in our top 10. But we’ll let you see that for yourself. Here are our 10 most-read outdoor recreation stories of the year, with the number-one story at the end.
The sheriff in San Miguel County called a group of people who slid off Black Bear Pass in their truck “ass clowns,” which is funny. But the problem is real: More and more people, who lack skills or experience or proper maps, are driving on backcountry roads they can’t handle in Colorado — or simply ignoring closures — resulting in more rescues.
The gorgeous Blue Lakes in the San Juan Mountains near Telluride have become so crowded in recent years that the U.S. Forest Service wants to require permits just to hike there during the day — as well as to camp. The goal of the plan, which would be the first in Colorado of its kind on forest service land, is to reduce the environmental impact of recreation.
Sunlight Mountain Resort’s Sunlight chairlift began its long life at Aspen in 1954 before being relocated in 1973. Since then, it has faithfully served skiers at Sunlight. The relic of ski history engineering is still safe, but is scheduled to be put out to pasture this spring.
Nearly 2,500 feet below the summit of Long’s Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park is a beautiful alpine tarn called Chasm Lake. The 4.2 hike to get there is strenuous, but the steep rock walls soaring into the air above the water make it one of the most beautiful payoffs in Colorado.
Rocky Mountain National Park has been feeling the heat. Not only will its busiest campground, Moraine Park, be closed into this summer (see below), but visitation continues to soar, resulting in what will likely be a permanent ticketing system. To make things worse, one of its two Estes Park-area entrances, Fall River, was under construction all summer and fall.
Vail Resorts announced its early bird prices in March for this season’s Epic Passes — and Denver Post readers wanted to know all about it. Of course they did. The pass, which includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge and Crested Butte, is one of the hottest items in Colorado. so the costs, the on-sale dates and every other detail is big news.
Magazines, newspapers and websites love to rank things, including ski resorts, and since Colorado has some of the best in the world, they often end up on lists. In March, readers of OnTheSnow, a website, voted Steamboat as North America’s best overall resort.
Rocky Mountain National Park’s largest campground, the immensely popular Moraine Park, shut down last summer so it could undergo a major modernization project, meaning 244 fewer sites in the area. That figured to put more pressure on nearby campgrounds in the adjacent and already overloaded national forests. The campground will hopefully reopen in June 2024.
Seeing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is on a lot of people’s bucket lists. So, how cool would it be to be able to see them from Colorado rather than having to travel to the Arctic? Space weather predictors say there is more of a possibility of that happening in 2024 with increasing solar storm activity — something that happens in an 11-year cycle.
In October, a Wyoming couple was looking for elk while riding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in southwest Colorado when they spotted, well, something that looked like Bigfoot. The story made national news after a video taken by another passenger went viral online. Was it really the famed but elusive cryptid? We’ll let you judge for yourself. See our story, with video, here.