Around this time every year, we’re asking outdoorsy Coloradans to give thanks to the places they adore the most. Let their gratitude inspire your own (and tell us what you're thankful for in the comments section at the end of the story):

John Fielder, Summit County, renowned nature photographer

I am thankful for the fact that I can still find places in Colorado’s high country that no one knows about, and that no one else has photographed (as far as I know). It requires study of old-fashioned USGS 7.5-minute topographic maps and maybe a quick look at Google Earth. I made this image last summer by stitching together seven vertical shots into one grand panoramic. It is one of my favorite Colorado reflection photographs of all time. And, no, I cannot tell you where it is.

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Said Colorado nature photographer John Fielder: “I made this image last summer by stitching together seven vertical shots into one grand panoramic. It is one of my favorite Colorado reflection photographs of all time. And, no, I cannot tell you where it is.”

Rebecca Jewett, Colorado Springs, president and CEO of Palmer Land Conservancy

I am grateful for Garden of the Gods. But not the magnificent parts of the park that draw millions of people; I am grateful for the nooks and crannies that I explore almost daily in the less visited portions of the park. I am grateful for the pockets of the park where I can turn a corner and suddenly be caught breathless by a stunning view of Pikes Peak, or a perch that illuminates those inspiring red rocks from a new angle.

Bill Wright, Boulder, runner/rock climber

My first thought was to be grateful for the Flatirons above Boulder, as I believe these rocks to be unique in all the world. But, I’m even more thankful for the people in my adventure group: Satan’s Minions Scrambling Club. These are my partners. People that risk it all with me and sometimes hold my life in their hands. I’m grateful for their friendship and camaraderie. And I’m grateful that I get to share the Flatirons with them.


Scott Winans takes a break on his mountain bike in the canyon country of western Colorado. Photo courtesy of Scott Winans

Scott Winans, Fruita, Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association director

Time spent on the Grand Mesa over the last few decades has provided me with solace, adventure, exploration, experiences with wildlife from solitary moose and bear to flocks of turkey. Rough and exciting trails with friends, and bushwhacking for miles searching out a route for the recent creation of the Palisade Plunge Trail has provided hours and days of satisfying adventure.

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Crystal Egli and her dog walking her local paths in the suburbs of Denver. Photo courtesy of Crystal Egli

Crystal Egli, Thornton, co-founder and CEO of Inclusive Guide

I am a huge fan of state and local parks, but one of the things I enjoy the most about the outdoors is discovering all of the hidden parks and secret bike paths Thornton has to offer. I love how my little suburb has so many hidden gems that are bursting with so much wildlife, you almost forget you’re not out in the countryside. All you have to do to find them is wander off the main road and you’re there.

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Scott Willoughby fishing the Colorado River.

Scott Willoughby, Eagle, Trout Unlimited Colorado conservation coordinator

About a quarter-century ago, I realized my happy place was in the canyon country of the upper Colorado River. While I’m thankful that Colorado is a headwaters state with some 100,000 miles of streams radiating in every direction, the nearby canyons — from Gore to Glenwood — of our namesake river continue to awe and inspire me with their rugged beauty, roiling energy and wild spirit. The surrounding Gold Medal trout fishing isn’t half bad either.

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Allie McLaughlin atop the Manitou Incline. Photo courtesy Allie McLaughlin

Allie McLaughlin, Colorado Springs, champion mountain runner

I am so very thankful for the Incline at the base of Pikes Peak. The Incline has seen me grow up. It’s been a part of my hardest workouts as a 15-year old lacrosse player to a 31-year-old professional trail runner. It has met most of my closest friends, seen me at dawn and dusk, summer and winter, holidays and birthdays. It saw my dog, Kenzi, as a puppy to not long before she passed. It’s been there on my happy days and hard days.

Juan De la Roca, Trinidad, cyclist

I’m thankful to find myself in southeast Colorado right now. There is no more exciting place to be in the state. Leading the way is the rising gravel cycling scene, where in the last year a fun and unique travel guidebook and major endurance event have emerged to show people why the region’s cycling profile will improve. Trinidad is no longer the sleepy, drive-through town of the past.

Andrea Sansone, Golden, climber

This Thanksgiving, the foothills are my focus of gratitude. As an endurance athlete, I’ve spent years running around North Table Mountain (in Golden), powering up Mount Morrison and running Bear Peak and Green Mountain in Boulder. Training on these trails has given me my strong climbing legs, but above all, they are a place of escape. A place where my drive to stay fit is maintained, where my confidence is built, and will to succeed is a constant motivation to go back.

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Patrick Ortiz in the South San Juan Wilderness. 

Patrick Ortiz, Alamosa, San Luis Valley Great Outdoors

I am thankful for the vast expanses of wilderness that we have in Colorado. If I had to pick my favorite, it’d be the South San Juan Wilderness. Any time I reconnect with any of these remote spaces and ecosystems, I am comforted by the fact that man is only a temporary visitor there. This is both a humbling and healing experience.

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Jackie Miller takes in the view of Arapahoe National Forest. Photo courtesy of Jackie Miller

Jackie Miller, Denver, Great Outdoors Colorado executive director

My daughters and I often romp around our community parks in the Berkeley neighborhood of Denver. And I head up to the Butler Gulch Trail in the Arapaho National Forest when life’s moments catch up to me and I need to work my body and clear my head.

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