Well, you flunked that last exam, your girlfriend/boyfriend dumped you, and you're still nursing that horrible hangover from Friday night ... on Sunday. (Damn you, tequila.) Rest assured that when everything goes wrong, you are in Colorado, after all, where there's a multitude of outdoor activities to take your mind off your troubles.
Picture this: It's a brisk late-summer morning and you've just planted a juicy fly right behind the big boulder in the middle of the South Platte River. The fishing at Elevenmile Canyon and the surrounding area is some of the best in the state. If hunting trout isn't your thing, check out the hiking and climbing along the river. Campgrounds are located throughout the canyon.
Directions: Head west on U.S. 24 until you get to the town of Lake George (roughly 40 miles). Turn left on the well-marked road toward Elevenmile Canyon.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Once upon a time, there were (brace yourself) redwood trees in Colorado. These stumps, now petrified, are among the thousands of plant and animal fossils to be found at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Hike more than 14 miles of trails or, if Daddy's bought you a pony, ride it through the meadows. In winter, the monument serves as the perfect place to get your glide on — the lush meadows are ideal for cross-country skiing.
Directions: Head west on U.S. 24 until you get to Florissant (about 35 miles). Follow signs 2 miles south until you reach the visitors center on Teller County 1.
The Arkansas River runs 1,469 miles, making it the sixth-longest river in the United States. With that said, I'm not going to mention the thousands of fishing and swimming opportunities along its banks. Instead, I'll urge you to experience the river by hurtling down the rapids in a little inflatable raft. If you're a screamer, prepare to take a mouthful of water as you run into that huge standing wave. Trips cost as little as $49.
Directions: Head south on Nevada Avenue, which becomes State Highway 115, to Penrose. Take U.S. 50 west until you reach Cañon City. The river follows the highway to the west of Cañon City.
Garden of the Gods
You've probably driven through the park and stopped to take a picture at Balanced Rock, but have you stepped out of the car and gone on a hike? Pulled the mountain bike off the rack and torn through the trails? Climbed the rocks? The Garden's big and gorgeous enough that it never gets old. Plus, it's nearby and free, so if you go, you can save the gas money for next weekend.
Directions: From Interstate 25, take exit 146 (Garden of the Gods Road) and travel west for 2.5 miles. Turn left at 30th Street.