With age, opportunities to make friends and new connections become more sparse. Many people settle for the networking capabilities at their profession or in their status quo friend group. If outdoor activities are where you want to make new friends and you don’t work in the outdoor industry, it can be even harder to meet people with like-minded interests. You don’t often see someone sitting at a trailhead asking to join a hiking group. Meeting new people that share a love of the outdoors is undoubtedly easier with apps and online groups that organize in advance. Thankfully, in Denver there are plenty of those clubs and organizations for people to meet up and enjoy all of Colorado’s outdoor hobbies.
These clubs and organizations vary from lightweight outdoorsy styles (like an hour in the sun, tops), to the most hardcore backpackers, mountaineers, climbers and whatever other outdoor hobbies can be made extreme. Nine of these outdoor-oriented clubs that operate in and around Denver are detailed below.
Bike Denver is first and foremost an advocacy group for safe urban cycling. But, they are also membership-supported and offer a fairly consistent event listing for bike-related activities in Denver. In the summer they sponsor the City Spin Rides every Thursday starting at the Square on 21st at 6 p.m. The ride route is determined the night of, so just come with your bike (and helmet) and join the group for a somewhat mysterious cruise. The last one for the summer is August 10.
Bike Denver, as an organization focused on increasing the number of bicyclers in the city, also creates up-to-date maps with the best bike routes in Denver and suggestions on bike safety.
Play Mile High
Play Mile High is a collection of adult sports leagues that range in cost from $40 to $90 and usually last for six to eight weeks with a final tournament or end of season party. It’s just like those youth sports groups in school but complimented with adult beverages and meeting new people. There are 12 categories of leagues that operate in eight regions of Denver — Wash Park, Cap Hill, Sloan’s Lake, Cherry Creek, Downtown, Lakewood, LoDo and Uptown. Choose from traditional sports like volleyball, soccer, flag football, softball or pick something like cornhole, bocce, skeeball or kickball.
The best way to meet new people in one of these leagues is to register as a “Free Agent-Solo Player” where you will be matched in a team of other “Free Agents” or be an addition for an already established team. Partial teams of two to eight players and full teams of nine or more players are other options when signing up.
Denver Paddle Club
This club is dedicated to paddle sports, including kayaks, canoes and SUP boards. With a membership ($25 annually) there are discounts on outings and gear, access to free paddleboard demo days and exclusive member-only events. Non-members are welcome to purchase tickets for individual events, which range from field trips to lakes in other places in Colorado, to sunset paddleboarding sessions on Sloan’s Lake. Owning your own gear shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the outings, you just have to call ahead and make reservations so they know you plan on coming along.
Colorado Mountain Club
Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) acts as a gateway to the mountains in Colorado for experts and novices and has been around for over a century — since 1912 to be exact. There are trips all year round — from snowshoeing, to mountaineering and even wildflower hikes led by native plant specialists — and also educational courses and CPR/AED classes. Membership for people under 30 years old are $30 annually and will connect you with 60,000 other members in Colorado.
The main mission of CMC is to encourage outdoor enthusiasts to safely and respectfully enjoy the Rocky Mountain region. With knowledgeable guides and a collection of scientific, artistic, cultural, ecological and biological information, CMC ends up being a helpful database as well as a long-running club. Although the focus is on Colorado mountains, CMC also organizes international adventure travel trips like hiking in Slovenia or Switzerland (though those carry a more daunting price.) Check out their calendar for local upcoming events.
Colorado Slackline Club
Colorado Slackline Club started on Facebook and is still gaining some traction in Denver with weekly Wednesday meetings from 6 p.m. to sunset. These meet at the slack-park at Harvard Gulch (660 East Iliff Avenue) that Slackline Industries (based in Louisville) installed. With the slack-park, there is now a more fixed meeting place that will help facilitate more practical outings for more people.
Slacklining gained national attention when Boulder-based Gibbon Slackline’s Andy Lewis performed with Madonna at the 2012 Superbowl Halftime Show. And, slacklining competitions are now held at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail. The Colorado Slackline Club meets every Wednesday and are open to all skill levels and even people who do not own their own slackline. Pro tip: Slacklining is all about your core strength and will help improve it over time.
The idea behind bRUNch Running is to help connect a non-competitive community of runners that also love to eat. Add the allure of Denver’s brunch scene and you have a perfect excuse to put yourself out there and know you’ll at least get a tasty meal out of it. Tickets ($40 non-member, $35 member) are needed in order to participate, and the cost of the ticket includes an organized run, a post-run meal, two beverages of your choice (bring your ID if you want to drink something boozy,) tax, gratuity and a $1 donation to one of bRUNch Running’s local nonprofit partners.
The next two upcoming events in Denver will be:
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado
Volunteering for outdoor restoration and stewardship projects in Colorado not only facilitates quality outdoor time with people that may potentially become your friends, it also means you are participating in projects that help outdoor activities continue to thrive. Really, it’s a win-win-win — you get to meet other motivated and selfless people, you’ll be outside doing something physical and areas that need maintenance receive it at a minimal cost.
There are hundreds of projects throughout the state at any given time that may include: trail construction and maintenance, invasive species management, gardening and planting and even historic preservation. One of the upcoming projects is to restore the Hanging Lake Trail which has been in the news recently for its over-used condition, and that will happen on September 9 and 10, with registration beginning August 1. Visit this website to see a full list of upcoming opportunities.
Meetup is an app that believes, “when we get together and do the things that matter to us, we’re at our best.” There are too many categories within the Meetup Denver community to name all of them — if you are interested in something, there’s probably a few other thousand people at least who are interested in the same thing. Things like Denver Social Climb, New Kid in Town 20s/30s and Denver Outdoor Adventures are Denver area groups with several thousand active members. New Kid in Town 20s/30s is specifically created for transplants to Denver (within two years of moving here) and the next proposed outings within that meetup are: Friday night tennis, summer paintballing and City Park Jazz — and that’s only this upcoming weekend.
Membership (to download the app) is free and some, but not all, of the groups require an authorization to join from the organizer. Signing up takes less than five minutes and once you are logged in, the interface to search and read about each group or meetup is simple and self-explanatory.
Gociety — a Colorado-based social media company — is an app that’s considered a kind of Tinder for adventure, where meet ups with people are more about enjoying a shared activity than worrying about what to wear on the first date. Search the database of reviews and recommendations from users nearby, join an outing that’s planned by someone else or create your own trip and invite or share with other Gociety users. All skill levels for any activity are encouraged and within the app you can filter trips by region, activity or ability level.