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Family-friendly Colorado: Top places to take the kids around the state

When I moved to the Colorado Rockies from New York City 19 years ago, I couldn’t get enough of the new-to-me outdoor lifestyle here. I bought a bunch of secondhand Patagonia clothing, rode my first mountain bike and visited my first national park.

Six years later, when I became a mom, I had no intention of ending outdoor explorations of my adopted state. Sure enough, my daughter camped for the first time when she was 2 months old, in a tent in the woods near Leadville. My sturdy son climbed the log ladders to reach Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park when he was just a toddler.

I want my kids to grow up appreciating all of the treasures in their backyard — from our high-mountain peaks to our powerful whitewater rivers to our cowboy heritage. Not one to eschew man-made thrills, I love that they like riding the roller coasters at our state’s amusement parks even more than I do.

Here are just a few family-friendly Colorado experiences I’ve enjoyed with my children — now 11 and 13 — over the years. With less than two months of summer left before the school year begins, I’m hoping that this list will inspire you to get out and explore with your kiddos somewhere in our great state in the coming weeks.

Crested Butte Family Travel Report: Musical Mayhem in the Mountains

We all have our happy places and Crested Butte is mine. With this week’s staggering triple-digit-temperatures, Crested Butte’s crisp mountain air has never sounded so good.

A world-class music festival and a bounteous recreational playground don’t sound too bad, either.

A few highlights of my family’s recent trip to this gorgeous mountain hamlet included:

Crested Butte Music Festival

My kids are not musical aficionados but the CMMF’s Divine Family Young People’s Concerts may just make a convert out of them. Designed for kids ages 4-12, these free concerts are held every Saturday at 11 a.m. during the festival. My kids raced around the lawn at the base of Mt. Crested Butte dancing and singing to the Barefoot Bluegrass Band’s foot-stomping tunes. But it didn’t stop there. The new Trailhead Children’s Museum (a definite must-visit) also offered free face painting, art projects, bubbles and more.

The Crested Butte Music Festival’s impressive line-up of world-class musicians will be performing in paradise until August 5, 2010.

Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory

I am in love with one of the nation’s most renowned high-altitude field stations in Gothic, just 4 miles from Crested Butte. My kids spent a morning in RMBL’s sold-out