Although Colorado is landlocked within the central western United States, it also offers ample opportunities for waterfront recreation due to a number of natural and manmade lakes and swimming beaches. Acclaimed fishing areas also abound, including prime salmon fishing areas at Blue Mesa Reservoir.

1. Boulder Reservoir

Boulder Reservoir
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Boulder Reservoir is a scenic 700-acre manmade lake within the northern section of the city of Boulder, serving as the main water supply reservoir for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. The reservoir, which was constructed in 1955, serves as the anchor for Boulder Reservoir Regional Park, which is overseen by the city's Department of Parks and Recreation and offers a wide variety of seasonal outdoor activities. Public swimming beaches are offered during the summer months, along with day-use and rental picnic areas with picnic tables, charcoal grills, and horseshoe and volleyball courts. Populations of rainbow trout, saugeye, and black crappie are stocked at the reservoir for anglers, with ice fishing opportunities available during colder months when the lake is frozen over. Other popular activities at the park including boating, waterskiing, wildlife watching, sunbathing, and cycling. Things to Do in Boulder & Places to Visit

5565 North 51st Street, Boulder, CO 80301, Phone: 303-441-3461

2. Blue Mesa Reservoir

Blue Mesa Reservoir
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Blue Mesa Reservoir is the largest body of water in Colorado, contained within the Curecanti National Recreation Area, which has been overseen by the National Park Service since 1965. The 29-mile reservoir is one of three reservoirs located within the recreation area, along with the Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs, and was constructed in the 1960s along the upper portion of the Gunnison River. It is home to the United States' largest cokanee salmon fishery, making it one of the state's prime sites for public fishing. Two marinas are also offered, along with boat launches and a variety of hiking and horseback riding trails. Windsurfing and waterskiing are popular activities during the summer months, while ice fishing is popular during colder weather conditions. Traditional and group campgrounds are offered at the site, including boat-in campsites.

102 Elk Creek, Gunnison, CO 81230, Phone: 970-641-2337 x205

More ideas: Must-See Natural Wonders

3. Medano Creek

Medano Creek
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Medano Creek is a unique seasonal location within Great Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, which spans more than 107,000 acres throughout the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range in southern central Colorado and preserves North America's tallest collection of sand dunes. The creek, which is named for the Spanish word for sand dune, receives surge flows from the snow melt of nearby peaks, which cascades onto the nearby dune ridges and produces high wave conditions throughout the spring and early summer months. At peak flow times, especially in May and June, the creek becomes a veritable paradise for beachfront activities such as inner tubing and wakeboarding, earning it the nickname "Colorado's Natural Beach." Hiking, sandboarding, sandsledding, and four-wheel driving are popular activities at the site during the off season, when creek conditions steady out to only a few inches deep.

11999 State Highway 150, Mosca, CO 81146, Phone: 719-378-6395

More ideas: Things to Do in Snowmass

4. Beaches Near Me: Chatfield State Park

Beaches Near Me: Chatfield State Park
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Chatfield State Park is a lovely Denver-area state park that is open to the public year-round between 5:00am and 10:00pm, centered around the 1,423-acre Chatfield Reservoir, which receives waters from the South Platte River. The park is a popular spot for natural activities throughout the year and is home to the Audubon Center at Chatfield State Park, which offers workshops and nature programming for visitors of all ages. During the summer months, a public swimming beach is operated at the park, with a full-service marina offering boat rentals and boat launches. Fishing, jet skiing, waterskiing, and wildlife watching are popular activities during the summer months, with trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing offered for use during the winter. A number of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails are also offered, with 197 campsites and RV hookups available for overnight visitor stay. Things to Do in Littleton

11500 N. Roxborough Park Rd, Littleton, CO 80125, Phone: 303-791-7275, (website link)

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5. Colorado Beaches: Grand Lake

Colorado Beaches: Grand Lake
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Grand Lake is Colorado's largest natural lake, located along the western edge of the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park. The lake is home to the world's highest altitude yachting club and is a popular site for boaters, waterskiiers, and fishers throughout the warmer months. A full-service marina is offered, with boat and paddleboard rentals available for visitors, and a number of sandy areas offer opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, and beachfront activities. During the winter months, visitors can enjoy snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, along with sleigh rides offered at the nearby Winding River Resort. The nearby mountain resort town of the same name is home to a number of bustling shops, restaurants, art galleries, and theaters, hosting annual special events such as a summer concert series.

Grand Lake Chamber Of Commerce, P.O. Box 57, Grand Lake, CO 80447, Phone: 970-627-3372

More ideas: Things to Do in La Junta

6. Cherry Creek State Park Beach

Cherry Creek State Park Beach
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Cherry Creek State Park is a scenic destination in the Denver, Colorado area and provides a wide array of both land and water activities for people who love the outdoors. The Cherry Creek Reservoir is a 800-surface-acre reservoir surrounded by a prairie landscape and is open to the public for fishing, paddle boarding, jet skiing, and boating. During the summer season, the lake also offers an area for swimming. For visitors wanting to stay in the state park after dark, Cherry Creek features a modern campground open throughout the entire year with more than 100 campsites. There’s also a dog park. Things to Do in Aurora

4201 S Parker Rd, Aurora, CO 80014

7. Beach Near Me: Jackson Lake State Park

Beach Near Me: Jackson Lake State Park
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Jackson Lake State Park is a popular state park located within Morgan County northeast of the city of Orchard, anchored around the 2,411-acre Jackson Reservoir, which was constructed in the early 20th century and receives its water from the nearby South Platte River. The park and reservoir, which should not be confused with Mancos' Jackson Lake, is home to beautiful spacious beachfront areas that have been named as one of America's top 15 park beaches by Reserve America. In addition to seasonal swimming opportunities, fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, jet skiing, and waterskiing are also popular activities at the reservoir. Land recreation opportunities include hunting, biking, hiking, and an OHV motocross track. 260 campsites are offered at the park, including ADA-compliant facilities and group campsites.

26363 County Road 3, Orchard, CO 80649, Phone: 970-645-2551

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8. Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir is an expansive reservoir within Colorado's Larimer County, located above the western edge of the city of Fort Collins along the Dakota Hogback. The reservoir, which was originally constructed in 1949 as part of the Bureau of Reclamation's Colorado-Big Thompson Project, stretches for 6.5 miles from north to south, spanning approximately one mile across. It serves as a municipal water source for area communities such as Fort Collins and Greeley, named in honor of the nearby Horsetooth Mountain. During the summer months, the reservoir serves as a popular outdoor recreational destination, attracting more than 570,000 visitors each year. A designated swimming beach is maintained seasonally, with opportunities for boating, canoeing, kayaking, and shore fishing also offered. On the shoreline, visitors can hike and mountain bike in areas such as the Foothills Trail. Things to Do in Fort Collins

4200 W County Rd 38 E, Fort Collins, CO 80526, Phone: 970-498-5610

9. Dillon Reservoir

Dillon Reservoir
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Dillon Reservoir, also known as Lake Dillon, is a manmade freshwater reservoir in Summit County bordering the towns of Dillon, Frisco, and Silverthorne. The reservoir, which was constructed in 1963, serves as a municipal reservoir for the city, operated under the supervision of Denver Water. Visitors can enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities at the site throughout the year, including boating, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing at the beachfront areas of the reservoir. Seven miles of hiking and biking trails are offered throughout the recreational area around the reservoir, with more than 350 campsites available for tent and RV hookups. Waterfowl hunting and cross-country skiing are permitted at designated areas, with a number of special events hosted at the reservoir each year, including an annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

More ideas: Things to Do in Estes Park

10. Ridgway State Park

Ridgway State Park
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Ridgway State Park is a beautiful state park in Ouray County, located approximately 14 miles northeast of the city of Ouray and four miles north of the city of Ridgway. As Colorado's westernmost public park, the park offers stunning scenery and ample opportunities for water activities at Dallas Creek and Pa-co-chu-puk, including excellent fishing conditions for rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. Swimming is permitted during the summer months at beachfront areas, along with a marina providing lake access for boats, canoes, and kayaks. Limited hunting opportunities are also offered, along with hiking and biking trails, volleyball courts, and opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing during the winter months. 283 campsites are offered, including several yurts and rental cabins. Things to Do in Ridgway

28555 Hwy. 550, Ridgway, CO 81432, Phone: 970-626-5822

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11. John Martin Reservoir State Park

John Martin Reservoir State Park
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John Martin Reservoir State Park is a popular state park located approximately 17 miles east of the city of Las Animas, anchored around Colorado's second-largest body of water by capacity, created by impacting at John Marin Dam. The park serves as one of Colorado's best birdwatching locations, with more than 400 species of birds documented within the surrounding Bent County area. Fishing and watersport opportunities abound during the summer months, including swimming opportunities at posted swimming beach areas and opportunities to catch saugeye, bass, crappie, catfish, perch, and bluegill. Day-use picnic sites are available throughout the park, with 213 tent and RV campsites available for overnight visitor stay. Other attractions include the 4.5-mile Red Shin Hiking Trail, which offers opportunities to see indigenous rock art, historic canals, and a wide variety of native wildlife.

30703 County Road 24, Hasty, CO 81044, Phone: 719-829-1801

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12. Best Colorado Beaches: Ruedi Reservoir

Best Colorado Beaches: Ruedi Reservoir
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Ruedi Reservoir is a manmade reservoir located along the Continental Divide's West Slope at the Fryingpan River, approximately 15 miles from the town of Basalt within the White River National Forest. The reservoir is located at the former site of the town of Ruedi and was constructed between 1964 and 1968, owned and overseen by the United States Bureau of Reclamation. Visitors can enjoy boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, tubing, and sailing on the reservoir's 102,000-acre water surface throughout the summer months. The downstream area of the Fryingpan River is also acclaimed as a Gold Medal fishery, with endangered fish species in the area protected since the 1980s by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Overnight campsites are offered nearby at the Ruedi Marina Campground, which is situated at an elevation of more than 7,800 feet above sea level.

More ideas: Colorado Hotels & Resorts

13. Steamboat Lake State Park Beach

Steamboat Lake State Park Beach
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Steamboat Lake State Park Beach is located on the shores of Steamboat Lake in Clark, Colorado, surrounded by the state’s alpine wilderness and sitting at approximately 8,100 feet above sea level. Open for boating between the beginning of May through the beginning of November, the lake is known for rarely being crowded and is surrounded by over 180 campsites that offer picturesque views. Boating activities possible on the over 1,000-acre Steamboat Lake reservoir include water skiing, jet skiing, and wake boating. Swimming is possible at the Steamboat Lake State Park Beach. There are no lifeguards on duty. Browse our Weekend Getaways in Colorado guide for more ideas.

61105 Rcr 129, Clark, CO 80428, (website link)

14. Colorado Beaches: Aurora Reservoir

Colorado Beaches: Aurora Reservoir
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Covering more than 30,000 acres of Colorado’s plains territory, the Aurora Reservoir features a water surface of more than 800 acres. Water-related activities possible at the reservoir include swimming at the park’s swim beach, scuba diving, paddle boarding, and fishing. The beach is open for swimming from Memorial Day to Labor Day, along with stand-up paddleboard and kayak rentals. Boating season typically begins around the middle of March and runs through the end of November. No gas-motored boats are allowed. There are also several land-based activities possible around the Aurora Reservoir, such as leisure walks, hiking, running, and biking.

5800 S. Powhaton Rd, Aurora, CO 80016

More ideas: Colorado Beaches & Lakes

15. North Star Nature Preserve

North Star Nature Preserve
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North Star Nature Preserve provides a great way for locals and tourists alike to experience the nature of the Aspen, Colorado area. Visitors can view the nature preserve as they float down the Roaring Fork River. Visitors will need to respect the regulations and rules of the preserve and stay on their watercraft, leave dogs at home, and remain quiet as they float. Preferred vessels to float through North Star Nature Preserve include kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards. The preserve also includes the North Star beach open to visitors, but it is not a takeout for floating watercraft.

43151 CO-82, Aspen, CO 81611

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The 15 Best Colorado Beaches, Reservoirs and Lakes near me today according to local experts:

More Ideas in Colorado: Pikes Peak

The Pikes Peak region of Colorado is full of family friendly vacation attractions and mountainous exploration. Visitors can experience culturally rich history or adrenaline rushing excitement at attractions that bring in thousands of visitors annually. Pikes Peak is found in the Rocky Mountains with Colorado Springs at its base. The mountain is 14,000 feet above sea level and the region offers many different family attractions on and surrounding the mountain and peak.

About Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak was discovered in the 1700’s and is also near to Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs, Cripple Creek, Denver, and Canon City.

Visitors can take the 19-mile journey from top to bottom in a car on the Pikes Peak Highway which takes about 1.5 hours, by train which is the most popular, on a bike, or by hiking. The Train is a 3.5-hour round trip climb on the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway that goes up 14,000 feet. Bicycling can be done with a tour group from the top of the peak or individuals may bike using the highway. There are many miles of hiking with easy to strenuous levels for hikers to summit the mountain. Hiking can take anywhere from 8 hours to 2 days. Three lakes are available for fishing from May to October with many picnicking areas available off the 19 miles Pikes Peak Highway as well.

Visitors should remember to dress is layers. The top of the mountain is at least 30 degrees cooler than the base. To summit Pikes Peak is for experienced climbers. Altitude sickness is possible and all hikers should be aware of the proper gear needed for a climb.

Attractions at Pikes Peak

There are many attractions at pikes Peak that each have their own hours of operation and ticketing requirements. While many attractions are free and open year-round, some restrictions and ADA accessibility may be different from place to place. Each of the Pikes Peak attractions has a website and is detailed on the Pikes Peak website on hours of operation and cost of admission if there is one.

Broadmoore Pikes Peak Cog Railway- The highest cog railway in the world winds up Pikes Peak 14,115 feet past waterfalls, and through the forests. This three-hour round trip operates all year round with reservations suggested. Trains are not heated but remain at 50-60 degrees.

Cave of the Winds Mountain Park- Spend an afternoon touring the caves discovered in 1881 in Colorado Springs. One of the highest show caves in the United States at 7,000 feet, the Cave of the Winds offers three tours, rides, and views of the canyon.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo- The only mountain zoo in America, this zoo has over 750 animals for visitors to enjoy with many interactive experiences offered.

Broadmoor Seven Falls- This outdoor adventure land just had renovations to bring a fine dining restaurant, zip lines, and other upgrades to the park. Visitors can hike to the waterfall, pan for gold, see exhibits and visit the gift shop here.

Echo Canyon River- This outdoor river adventure offers quiet family floats and white-water riptides for those looking for a rafting experience. Half-day to multi-day trips are offered with lodging options from camping to cabins available.

Gardens of the Gods Trading Post- Found near the Balanced Rock at the Garden of the Gods, the Trading Post has existed for over 100 years and features almost 100,000 items for sale from souvenirs to handcrafted jewelry, and artisanal crafts. There is also a café with an outdoor patio, Coffee shop, ice creamery, and mining adventure for kids. The Trading Post is also leashed pet friendly!

Historic Cripple Creek- This town is just west of Colorado Springs at the base of the mountain and is an old west mining town featuring trains, museums, casinos, a gold mine, and heritage center. The Cripple Creek Ice Fest is held annually in February and showcases an ice bar with liquor for adults, ice sculptures, and ice treats.

Historic Manitou Springs- Known for their numerous mineral springs that produce drinking water, this popular tourist spot is at the foot of Pikes Peak and is an arts community with a downtown area lined with galleries, locally owned cafés and restaurants. The town is also host to beer and wine festivals, Carnivale, and many other charming festivities.

Historic Old Colorado City- This more modern town at the base of the mountain is home to shopping centers, fine dining, art galleries, and locally sponsored farmers markets, summer concerts, and art festivals.

Manitou Cliff Dwellings- These Anasazi cliff dwellings are more than 700 years old and can be touched and explored by visitors. Next door there is a pueblo that houses the Anasazi museum and gift shop. This museum was built as a replica of the architectural style of the Pueblo Indians who were kin to the Anasazi.

Ghost Town Museum- Found in Colorado Springs, this preserved old west town dates to the late 1800’s and early 20th century. This indoor attraction is a unique way to experience the history of Colorado Springs and the region of the Rocky Mountains. Private events can be hosted here.

North Pole-Santa’s Workshop- Christmas is all year around at the North Pole on Pikes Peak. This amusement park is Christmas themed and visitors can meet Santa, Mrs. Clause and the elves of course. There are over 24 rides, live animals, and village shops, all decorated for Christmas. Admission includes unlimited rides.

Royal Gorge Bridge & Park- Visiting this park is ideal for thrill seekers. One of the highest suspension bridges in the world, the Royal Gorge Bridge Park offers activities such as gondola rides, a visitor center, cade, an outdoor play center, carousel, the World Scariest Skycoaster and a zipline that is the highest in North America. This Park is open year-round and hosts an after dark concert series for adults as well as several other special events.

Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad- This locomotive ride is one hour long and tours behind the mountain through Cripple Creek, a gold rush town and past many historic mines.

Iron Springs Melodrama and Dinner Theater- This production is held inside the Iron Springs Chateau and brings back the days of vaudeville performance with a three-course dinner. Reservations are needed.

May Natural History Museum- This Natural History Museum features more than 8,000 insects which are part of one of the largest private collections in the world. This museum is nicknamed the “Bug Museum” and has been an attraction in Colorado Springs for over 80 years.

Miramont Castle Museum- This Manitou Springs museum preserves the Victorian era heritage of the region through exhibits and artifacts that detail the history of life in the late 19th century. A Victorian style tea is offered daily. Reservations are required.

Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine- An elevator takes visitors underground to explore this mine that was discovered in 1891 producing gold ore 100 stories below Cripple Creek. This is the only 1,000-foot vertical shaft gold mine tour in the country and is one hour in length. The Hard Rock Diner is on site for dining. The mine is not ADA accessible.

ProRodeo Hall of Fame- Open daily from 9am to 5pm in Colorado Springs, the ProRodeo Hall of Fame details the history and legends of the professional rodeo circuit, Hall of Champion inductees which includes over 300 rodeo contestants, clowns, and contractors. The Museum was opened in 1979 and preserves the legacy of the cowboy and cultural and competitive rodeo.

Space Foundation Discovery Center- Located near Garden of the Gods, the Space Foundation is the regions only science and technology attraction offering programs for the entire family focused on space and STEAM exhibits.

Western Museum of Mining and Industry- Visitors to the Western Museum of Mining and Industry learn about how mining as impacted health, food, economy and industry since 1890. Hands on exhibits over 27 acres of replica mines and mills are presented with family exploration days, lectures, workshops, and special exhibits rotated.

Garden of the Gods- This outdoor park is 1364 acres with 19 rock formation and 12 hiking trails that can be enjoyed by the public. Considered one of the top geological wonders in the United States, this site is one of the top visitor attractions in Colorado and includes an activity playground, with equine and bike trails, native American art galleries and the Trading Post. Garden of the Gods is pet friendly and can be seen by car as well. Rock climbing is allowed but climbers must register with the Visitor Center and proper climbing gear must be worn. Entrance to this attraction is always free.

Lodging at Pikes Peak

There are many different lodging opportunities at Pikes Peak from camp grounds, RV parks, cabins, hotels and Inns. Each of the towns including Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, and Canon City have Many options for hotel accommodations while there are more primitive options available on the mountain. There are a few on mountain resorts—The Broadmoor, Hotel Elegante, Lakeside Cottages, Rocky Mountain Lodge and cabins, and Green Mountain Falls Resorts on Pikes Peak Mountain as well.

More Ideas in Colorado: Cave of the Winds

Cave of the Winds was discovered in 1881, and has been one Colorado's leading attractions for over a century. Visitors can explore fascinating caverns, experience total darkness, and wonder at stunning formations that have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. With three cave tours, kid-friendly activities, and daring attractions atop William Canyon, Cave of the Winds is a great source of adventure. While the amazing cave tours draw many guests, the more thrilling attractions, such as the Bat-a-Pult Zip Line, the Williams Canyon aerial dive ride, the Terror-dactyl, and the Wind Walker Challenge Course, are worth the visit as well.

Discovery Tour

The educational, easy 45-minute Discovery Tour is a great option for families and beginning cavers. Knowledgeable guides answer visitors' questions as they lead them under the mountain through twisting paths, discussing cave geology and history. Visitors will duck beneath Fat Man's Misery, view the Temple of Silence, and marvel at the Giant's Bleeding Heart. The Discovery cave tour is an amazing Colorado experience.

Lantern Tour

The Lantern Tour provides visitors with a rugged cave adventure that gives them the opportunity to experience the thrilling journey of early explorers. Guests will journey deep into the Manitou Grand Caverns during the tour, exploring formations and passageways lit only by hand-held lanterns. Along the way, guides will tell ghost stories and folklore, as well as the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park's history. Visitors will feel like they've gone back in time as they walk through the barely lit Fairy Bridal Chambers and Marble Hall.

Caving 101

The Caving 101 Tour at Cave of the Winds explores undeveloped areas of the Manitou Grand Caverns by crawling and climbing through passageways only lit by a flashlight. Both visitors and locals alike around Colorado Springs will enjoy this unique underground adventure. Guests interested in the Caving 101 Tour need to reserve their spots at least two days in advance.

Wind Walker Challenge Course

Adventure and thrilling fun are combined at Cave of the Winds in the one-of-a-kind Wind Walker Challenge Course, an obstacle course that spans three stories. Balanced on top of the edge of Williams Canyon, featuring a 600-foot drop, the course thrills guests with a maze of ladders, ropes, and steel beams.


Visitors can experience the thrill of flying through the sky aboard the Bat-A-Pult. The epic aerial ride sends guests from the rafters of the Pavilion on a round-trip, 1200-foot flight at speeds of almost 40 mph along the breathtaking Williams Canyon. Younger guests can experience the ride with their mom or dad by their side.


Terror-dactyl is the first ride of its kind, with none like it in the world. This ride is definitely one that will give guests a rush of adrenaline as it sits on the end of the Williams Canyon's 200-foot cliff. Visitors with the courage to ride the Terror-dactyl will be sent more than 150 feet at speeds of almost 100 mph into the canyon.

100 Cave of the Winds Road, Manitou Springs, Colorado, Phone: 719-685-5444