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The weather is turning and summer is finally here! In addition to staying up-to-date with new information developing in your industry of choice, you can help yourself by taking some time off and exploring all the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer.

There are two main problems to enjoying yourself to the max at most outdoor Colorado activities, especially in the Denver Metro Area: cost and crowds. While I can’t predict where the crowds will surge next along the Front Range looking for fun ways to enjoy this Colorado sunshine, I can identify a few places to enjoy for free or for very little money.

Here are five great outdoor activities to keep you sun-tanned and smiling all summer:

City Park (Denver)

City Park is the largest park in Denver, and while it might be a little out of the way if you live in Aurora or Centennial, it’s open from dawn until dusk every day, and its sunshine, lakes (I wouldn’t swim in them because of the geese), and wide-open green fields are free for anyone to enjoy. City Park is so large that it hosts a number of events throughout the summer, many of which are free to attend. One example of a splendid City Park event is Jazz in the Park, a weekly outdoor concert featuring top-notch jazz bands and orchestras every Sunday evening from Memorial Day until Labor Day.

Confluence Park (Denver)

In the heart of downtown Denver is where the city began: the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. It’s the best place to get in the water anywhere in the city, in my opinion. Even with the crowds that tend to fill up the sunny sitting areas on the riverbanks, it’s a relaxing scene. The water moves fast, yet makes for a great place to take a quick dip. Look out for periodic events taking place at the park as well.

Boulder Creek (Boulder)

Every summer, the residents of Boulder and the surrounding area congregate on the banks of Boulder Creek. This 32-mile river provides opportunities for wading, swimming, inner tubing, sunbathing, and even fly fishing. Crowds will be present, but on a sunny day, all you need is a towel and a generally positive attitude to fit right in.

Aurora Reservoir (Aurora)

A little more close to home for Pickens Technical College is the 800-acre Aurora Reservoir. You’ll find a bit more space here to spread out and relax under the sun while going for a swim in the reservoir. Non-motorized boats are allowed, as is fishing. There is a $10 entry fee per vehicle, but if you buddy or squad up, this fee can be very affordable.

Mount Falcon (Morrison)

In the foothills behind Morrison is Mount Falcon Park, which features a 1.7-mile hikers-only trail, and another 11 miles of multi-use trails that run up and down the mountain and lead to historic ruins such as the John Brisben Walker castle, the would-be site of a summer White House that was never completed. A hike up the mountain offers spectacular views of the area. For a fee, you can even set up camp here.

Of course, there are plenty of other outdoor activities for free or on the cheap in the great state of Colorado, especially if you make it out of the Denver Metro Area. Get out and explore this summer.