Rifle: A new destination for rock climbers

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With its location at the junctions of I-70 and Colorado Highway 13, Rifle is developing as a popular stop for tourists and visitors to the Northwest Colorado area, said Rifle Chamber of Commerce manager Patty Lambert.

"I think people are becoming more aware of the opportunities offered around Rifle," she said. "The rock climbing is becoming world famous and our other sports are great to explore year around."

Below are some of the attractions accessible from the community.

Rifle Gap State Park -- At an elevation of 6,000 feet, Rifle Gap State Park has something to offer every outdoor enthusiast. The clean, clear waters of the 350-acre reservoir afford some of the best scuba diving, boating, swimming, water-skiing and windsurfing in Colorado. Camping, hiking and picnicking opportunities are available at the 1,305-acre park. Rifle Gap is close to many ski areas and is only 40 miles from Glenwood's famous hot springs. It also is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer and elk.

Rifle Falls State Park -- Rifle Falls State Park is the closest one can get to the tropics in Colorado. The falls is a lush area of trees and greenery kept moist by the spray of the cascading triple waterfall. The park's vegetation and waterfalls have attracted photographers and movie crews from around the country who take advantage of the area's unique scenery. Mysterious limestone caves beneath the falls entice spelunkers and other curious visitors to explore their dark depths.

Golf -- The Rifle Creek Golf Course has been called one of the most scenic and spectacular 18-hole championship courses in Colorado. Richard M. Phelps designed this beautiful and pristine course using all of the area's natural beauty. Situated in the narrow Rifle Creek Valley at the foot of the Grand Hogback Range, Rifle Creek is only a few yards from the spot of artist Christo's famous Valley Curtain.

Mountain Biking -- Mountain bikers will find ample opportunities in the Rifle area. Explore the beauty of the West Flat Tops Plateau or the grandeur of The Roan Cliffs. This area is habitat for a variety of wildlife and is used for livestock grazing, logging and mineral activities. Whether new to mountain biking or a seasoned veteran, riders will have a first-hand view of spectacular scenery that includes shale cliffs, sandstone mesas, sagebrush parks and pinon-juniper woodland, grass and wildflower meadows, mountain streams and aspen and fir forests. Panoramic views extend for many miles showcasing the quiet splendor of the Elk Mountains, Gore Range, Grand Mesa, the Flat Tops and the western plateaus.

Rock Climbing -- Rifle Mountain Park 13 miles north of Rifle is becoming a destination for rock climbers from around the world. The 2.5 miles of steep limestone walls in the park make for dramatic climbs. Climbers can choose climbs in the sun or the shade, and rain is generally not a deterrent due to the steepness of the crags. The season runs from mid-April through late October.

Water Sports -- Fishing enthusiasts can cast into the powerful Colorado River, which borders the town. A bit farther up-valley, one can enjoy a wild ride in a guided White River rafting tour.

North of town is one of Rifle's real treasures in the form of Rifle Gap State Park. The park has a crisp mountain reservoir that provides for some of the best scuba diving, swimming, boating, water skiing and jet skiing in Colorado.

Rifle Gap also offers trout, walleye and small mouth bass fishing year round. Rifle Gap has a paved boat ramp, numerous camping areas, picnic areas, a swimming beach and abundant fishing areas, making it one of the finest areas in the state to enjoy the water.

Harvey Gap, five miles east of Rifle is another favorite spot for anglers. Harvey Gap doesn't permit boats over 20 horsepower, which makes it an ideal spot for wind surfing, sail boarding, canoeing and kayaking. n

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