Colorado Explorer

Swetsville Zoo

Spring flings

By Linda DuVal

Wild cow milking and loading a trailer with uncooperative livestock are just two of the events scheduled for the Working Ranch Rodeo Championships at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in Hugo, June 27-28. Not like professional rodeo, this event will show spectators the challenges that really face cowboys on Western ranches. Winners will compete in the national championships of the Working Ranch Rodeo Association. 719-743-2201.

Have you visited the Swetsville Zoo? Created by a retired farmer who had lots of time (and machine parts) on his hands, this clever metal menagerie of 160 or so critters is like nothing you've ever seen. It's just off Harmony Road as you enter Fort Collins from the south. Entry is free, but the experience is priceless. 970-484-9509.

Ever ride a camel? You can do it at the C2K Camel Ranch in Rifle, which offers rides through the high desert for $75 per hour. They'll give you instruction on how to ride Gwenivere or Bill, recent imports from Moab with years of experience toting human passengers around. 970-625-5088.

Starting weekends in May, buckle the kids into the car and head to the southwest side of Denver to the Tiny Town Railway. Dating back to 1920, this is America's oldest kid-sized train, complete with a kid-sized village. 303-697-6829.

If that's way too tame for your taste, take to the air at Soaring Tree Top Adventures in the San Juan mountains. You ride the train out of Durango to the Tall Timber Depot. Here, you disembark and spend a day soaring on zip-lines from one tree-top platform to the next (22 in all), through ancient trees and over rivers, before returning to Durango by train. A gourmet lunch is included. 970-769-2357.

See how Colorado's earliest settlers might have lived at the Boggsville Historic Site near Las Animas. The free, living museum on the Santa Fe Trail opens for the summer on Memorial Day weekend. It's a long trip out to the prairie town, so consider spending the night in your RV or, if you're adventurous, a tipi! 719-456-2748.

Linda DuVal is former travel editor of The Gazette in Colorado Springs and a freelance writer.