Top 10 Sports Road Trip Destinations In The Rockies

Ryan FallerAnalyst IFebruary 10, 2011

Top 10 Sports Road Trip Destinations In The Rockies

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    "Road trippin', road trippin', we're not happy unless we're road trippin'."

    The above should be the official anthem for any adventurous sports fanatic.

    Yeah, spectating at games locally is a delight, but there's a whole nation out there, filled with wildly entertaining and historically significant venues that dot the landscape from coast-to-coast and everywhere in-between.

    So, get out there and find them. But before departure, use the following as your guide.

    There are any number of great sports road trip destinations that await you, but we had to draw the line somewhere.

    For us, 10 seemed like a nice, round number, including 10 apiece from 10 distinct regions around the U.S.

    Wary of altitude sickness, in this slideshow, we head above sea level, to the Rockies; (Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming) where thin, dry air lingers amongst some of the nation's premiere venues.

10. Washington-Grizzly Stadium

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    Photo: Lake County Leader

    As modest as the unassuming lifestyle of Montana residents, Washington-Grizzly Stadium seats only 25,000, but it houses one of college football's premier programs.

    Winners of 18 Big Sky titles and two FCS national championships, the Montana Grizzlies have won at least five home games in a season every year since 1991—including unblemished marks at Washington-Grizzly seven times in that span.

9. Pepsi Center

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    The second project of a six-year sporting venue upgrade in Denver that included Invesco Field and Coors Field, the Pepsi Center is owned and operated by tycoon Stan Kroenke, whose Kroenke Sports Enterprises has been vital to community and civic causes in and around the city.

    Boasting more than 675,000 square feet of space, the five-tiered facility is regarded as one of the nation’s finest in its ability to host a multitude of events and offers a smorgasbord of amenities—including several fine-dining options and a fully-equipped business center.

8. Folsom Field

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    At 5,360 feet above sea level, Folsom Field on the campus of the University of Colorado is the third-highest stadium in major college football, behind only Wyoming and Air Force.

    But this charming setting is not meant solely for the violence and hostility of the gridiron. As versatile as it is quaint with its brick facades, Folsom has welcomed a number of impressive musical acts through its gates in past years—including The Rolling Stones, Van Halen, Journey, The Beach Boys, and The Dave Matthews Band.

7. Kibbie Dome

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    Nestled snugly in the hills of the Palouse region of Northern Idaho, the Kibbie Dome sits plainly amidst the scenery, but don’t mistake it for a hastily-built airplane hangar. Also, never mind the fact it seats only 16,000, the fewest of any facility in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

    Rather, think of the enclosure as a marvel of modern engineering. Originally an open-air facility upon completion in 1971, the Kibbie Dome was not actually a dome until 1975, when the structure was fitted for its arched roof and soon thereafter, was bestowed with the Structural Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

6. Coors Field

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The builders of Coors Field saw the home runs coming. Sure enough—when the park opened in 1995, balls immediately began leaving the yard, cutting through the dry, Rocky Mountain atmosphere like cheese cloth.

    Despite losing nine games during its inaugural season because of the 1994-95 lockout, Coors Field nearly tied the major league record for most home runs hit in a ballpark in a season.

    In the years to come, it would set a new mark—twice.

    A new record has since been set, but the days of the juiced ball are gone at Coors—where the much-controversial humidor has largely cut down on the theatrics since its arrival in 2002.

5. Energy Solutions Arena

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The poor Utah Jazz may be the NBA’s "Exhibit-A" of what happens when naming rights agreements go terribly wrong.

    To me, the Energy Solutions Arena will forever be the Delta Center, a title so fluid in comparison that you almost forget that it too, was the result of corporate sponsorship.

    Energy Solutions, an international nuclear waste services company headquartered in Salt Lake City, has an agreement with the Jazz for another five years, so I suppose complaining is futile.

    But that won’t stop sickened fans from continuing to throw out their suggestions for an arena name, which have included such favorites as The Dump and Plutonium Palace.

4. Bronco Stadium

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    The big boys won’t risk playing here. WAC opponents only treaded the blue turf because they had to.

    Foes from the Mountain West, Boise’s home conference as of the 2011 season, are dreading what lies ahead.

    For many teams, the trip to Bronco Stadium has been over before it even began. For countless others, with the exception of Washington State and Boston College—the two teams to beat Boise State at home since 1999—undergoing a fall trek to Southwestern Idaho meant nothing more than wasted travel expenses.

3. Buttermilk Mountain

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Aspen’s foremost slopes are no joke.

    Buttermilk was rated as having the best park and pipe by a Transworld Snowboarding Magazine readers’ poll, which is probably why ESPN agreed to host its Winter X-Games here through at least 2012.

    Yep, Shaun White shreds here, but if I were you, I’d steer clear of the 22-foot superpipe. Attempting to impress the snow-bunnies is nice, but not at the expense of your femur being javelined through your intestines.

2. Lavell Edwards Stadium

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    Photo © 2004 Bobak Ha'Eri (CC-BY-SA-2.5)

    ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit once remarked during a live broadcast of a BYU game that Lavell Edwards Stadium is “one of the prettiest settings” in the game. And it’s hard to find fault with the comment.

    Smack dab on the horizon across from the press box is the Wasatch Range—mountains that run to the east of campus—providing a most inspirational background for all mediatypes who are lucky enough to cover a Cougar game.

    But ‘ol Lavell isn’t all looks and no substance.

    The earth below its east bleachers contained part of the largest collection of Jurassic fossils ever found in North America.

1. Invesco Field at Mile High

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Despite the insane fondness Bronco fans had for old Mile High Stadium, team officials swore up and down in the mid-'90s that a new facility was crucial to the sustained viability of the franchise in Denver.

    Less than three years after legislation proposing a new stadium was passed, Invesco Field at Mile High was born—but nonetheless met with much resistance from the public—including the Denver Post, which reportedly refused to acknowledge the corporate-funded name in its articles for several years.

    Opposition to change has simmered since 2001, however, as allegiances of Denver fans have settled firmly into the new digs and have continued to practice all the traditions which made the old stadium so great.