Spring Break Day Trips for the Adventurous Student

With spring break quickly approaching, many FRCC Westminster students may be dreaming of long days filled with sleep and Netflix shows. But for those of us who can’t afford a trip to warmer tropical destinations yet still dream of some fun activities to fill our days off, I present to you a list filled with the wacky, weird and wonderful things in our own backyard here in Colorado. 

The time estimates that appear next to the towns are given in reference to a starting point from the FRCC Westminster campus, but all can be found with a quick google search to chart your own routes. Make the most of our week off and take some friends to make some new memories!

Paint Mines Interpretive Park – Calhan (2-hour drive)

https://communityservices.elpasoco.com/parks-and-recreation/paint-mines-interpretive-park/

This is a perfect road trip for people who like the great outdoors and going someplace off the beaten path. Located in a very much middle of nowhere town, which is about 45 minutes outside of Colorado Springs, you cannot even see the amazing landscape from the road or parking lot. A short hike in will reveal amazing views and over three miles of trail to follow that can easily fill an afternoon. This attraction is amazing due to the variation of the rocks that have eroded away, leaving behind the bands of color left behind by different sediments over thousands of years. 

Baldpate Inn (Seven Keys Lodge)- Estes Park (1 & ½ hour drive)

https://sevenkeyslodge.com/

Another spot that can’t be seen from the road is this inn that sits just outside of Estes across the street from a beautiful lake with trails to walk around. When you walk in, just say that you are there for “the keys,” and you will be directed to a room filled with keys of all shapes, sizes, and origins from all over the world. It is free to enter, but stick around for a while and read up on the history of why the keys are collected. It’s also a great place to grab some homemade lunch that truly is the definition of mountain deliciousness. 

Swetsville Zoo (sculpture garden)- Fort Collins  (1-hour drive)

https://www.uncovercolorado.com/activities/swetsville-zoo/

Want something even a little stranger to fill your time? Check out this amazing sculpture garden created just outside of downtown Fort Collins. The sculptor, Bill Swets, loves to transform old metal into living creatures, and the property is filled with so many sculptures to explore it will make for a great afternoon activity. Afterward, head into town and walk around and try some of the great restaurants, maybe even check out the local art galleries while you’re there. 

The Wild Animal Sanctuary- Keensburg  (1-hour drive)

https://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org/

Though this spot is a bit on the pricey side compared to the other destinations to fill your spring break with, it is definitely one worth the trip if you have never been. The tickets for an adult are $50, but that money does go to the operations of the sanctuary, which rescues animals like lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) but is also home to camels, wolves, bobcats, and so much more. Not only are they doing so much to help protect and save these animals from horrible living environments, but they are giving them a place to roam free. The sanctuary has acres upon acres of property out in this rural farm town and visitors get to view the animals from a mile-long suspended walkway above their habitats. A fun little fact: many of the tigers rescued from the zoo that Joe Exotic owned ended up going to this sanctuary. 

UFO Watchtower, Gator Farm, The Great Sand Dunes National Park  (4-hour drive)

https://www.alamosa.org/directory/835-ufo-watchtower

These three are all lumped together for a bit of a longer road trip experience, but they are all in the same area and on the way to The Sand Dunes. The UFO Watchtower is an…eccentric stop to say the least. This little igloo-looking hut is surrounded by a bit of a shrine or as they call it a portal that is filled with all the weird wonders that people decided to leave behind for outer space visitors to discover. It’s a great stop to look at the stars at night from the upper deck and maybe even see something out of this world.

The second stop is another strange attraction of course! A gator farm in the middle of nowhere in Colorado may sound a little strange, but these chompy little dudes were brought in to help control tilapia populations at a fish hatchery nearby and came to stay. Visitors even have the opportunity to hold smaller gators for a picture if they are brave enough before walking through to see the bigger gators, lizards, turtles, and other reptiles on the property. 

The Sand Dunes are always a great stop if you are eager for outdoor activities. From sandboarding (think snowboarding but on sand) to hiking the dunes, this natural wonder is a great place to see at least once in your life. Fair warning, be prepared for warm and cold temps, pack sunscreen, and if you are unlucky to be there on a windy day just know that having your legs sandblasted is pretty painful. 

Hope this list provides you with some great starting points for your spring break adventures and let us know here at the newspaper what you thought!

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