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Rolling Into The Rockies: The stunning Rocky Mountain region awaits as the 73rd PVA Annual Convention visits the Denver area.

The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Annual Convention has visited some pretty beautiful locations before, but it might be hard to top the view of the majestic Rocky Mountains during the 73rd annual gathering in the Denver area.

Set for May 14-18, the convention will be held at the new Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, Colo. Opened last December, the 85-acre resort provides a stunning setting with views of the Denver skyline while being framed by the Rockies.

The resort's location allows quick travel to the nearby Denver International Airport while also offering access to plenty of attractions, activities, nightlife and dining options in the neighboring area, including Denver.

However, don't forget there's plenty of work to do during the convention. Among the bigger orders of business is electing PVA's Executive Committee, including the national president. Statements from candidates running for various offices were included in April's issue of PN. There will also be fiscal matters to discuss, awards to hand out, committee meetings and more.

It's easy to see that the days will be filled with important business, but that doesn't mean there isn't time to explore and enjoy the area.

Relax At The Resort

When it comes to relaxing and enjoying some downtime from the convention, the best place to start is right at the host site itself.

The Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center (marriott.com/hotels) features a rustic, alpine charm that stays true to the Front Range region. It features cascading waterfalls over boulders, local nature artwork, native landscaping and even elevators designed to look like old mine shafts.

Begin by just taking in that stunning view of the Denver skyline or Rocky Mountains from an eight-story tall window in the Grand Lodge's atrium. From there, you can dine formally or casually at eight food and beverage outlets, serving American, Asian and Italian fares.

If you're looking for something a bit more active, then check out the Gaylord Rockies' pool area. It features indoor and outdoor pools complete with a lazy river and three waterslides. There's also an arcade, miniature golf, pickleball and more.

That's a lot to do, and you haven't even left the resort yet. However, keep in mind that while the resort is only 10 minutes from the airport, it's not necessarily that close to central Denver and some of the more popular attractions.

That may require a little more transportation planning, but it doesn't mean there aren't a lot of fun things worth traveling for in the Denver area.

Eye An Eagle

The Gaylord Rockies offers some great views of Colorado's natural beauty, but there's nothing like getting out to see it in person. A fantastic place to take some of it in is only about 20 minutes west of the resort.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest urban wildlife refuges in the nation with more than 15,000 acres of land. More than 300 species of wildlife called the refuge home, including bald eagles, raptors, deer, bison and prairie dogs.

You can experience much of the refuge from the comfort of your car via the 11-mile Wildlife Drive that goes around the preserve. The drive takes 45-60 minutes, and the best times to see wildlife are around sunrise and sunset.

The refuge also has a visitors center with an interactive exhibit hall and a discovery room for all ages with hands-on activities that change each season.

Best of all, visiting the refuge is free, and it's open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.

For more information, visit fws.gov/refuge/rocky_mountain_arsenal.

Take Flight

Another terrific attraction also involves the great outdoors but at a higher altitude, and it's one that should be a big hit with Air Force veterans.

The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is located on the former Lowry Air Force Base, about a 30-minute drive from the resort and only 15 minutes from the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center.

The museum, located in an old hangar, features more than 182,000 square feet of iconic aircraft, space vehicles, artifacts, military uniforms and more.

Among the more than 50 aircraft on display are massive B-1A Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress bombers, as well as F-4 Phantom and F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft. The museum even has a 2/4-scale replica of a Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter signed by numerous cast and crew from the films, including Harrison Ford and George Lucas.

You can also get a taste of being in a cockpit through the Virtual Reality (VR) Lounge. Equipped with an Oculus Go headset and an Oculus Rift headset, the kiosk offers immersive custom aerospace experiences. It's free with paid admission.

Adult admission is $15, while active duty military members and veterans are $11.50. For more information, visit wingsmuseum.org.

Make Change

Aircraft like those cost "a lot of coin." And if you actually want to see a lot of coin, head to the United States Mint in downtown Denver.

Located about 35 minutes west of the resort near the Colorado State Capitol, the mint can make about 50 million coins a day. It produces regular currency for the western half of the U.S., as well as specialty coins and sets.

The mint offers six free and accessible guided tours each day. The tour covers all the stages of coin production, including the design and sculpting process and the actual striking of the coins.

Tour tickets are for same-day tours only and are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, visit usmint.gov/about/mint-tours-facilities.

Get Lo

If you're already downtown learning about our nation's currency, you might as well spend some more time in the area exploring more of the Mile High City.

Only a few blocks north of the mint is Denver's 16th Street Mall. The mile-long pedestrian promenade is lined with trees, shops, bars and restaurants offering indoor and outdoor dining options. There's also a free, accessible bus called MallRide to help you travel the mall.

At the north end of the mall, you'll find Denver Union Station (unionstationindenver.com). The transportation hub for the Mile High City, the station is also a popular dining and shopping destination. It features 10 restaurants and also has a farmers market with fruits, veggies, cheese and fresh-baked bread on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., starting in mid-May.

Denver Union Station is located in the popular Lower Downtown, or LoDo district (lodo.org). LoDo is a thriving, mixed-use neighborhood with plenty of art galleries, restaurants, clubs and Coors Field, home of Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies.

Drink Up

Coors Field is, of course, named for the Colorado institution that has been brewing beer since 1873, and it offers accessible, daily tours.

Located in Golden, Colo., about 45 minutes west of the convention site, Coors Brewery is the largest single-site brewery in the world. The 30-minute, wheelchair-accessible tour looks at Coors' malting, brewing and packaging processes. It also delves into the brewery's history with old photos, neon signs, historical beer cans, bottles and memorabilia.

The tour is free for active duty and veterans with military ID, $5 for Colorado residents and $10 for other visitors.

For more information, call 303-277-2552.

Discover More

These ideas barely scratch the surface when it comes to a city like Denver and the state of Colorado. There is so much more to see and do.

Take a roll around the 330-acre Denver City Park, which features the Denver Zoo and many other attractions, get a taste of the Rocky Mountains with a drive on the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, known as North America's highest paved auto road, or visit the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Better yet, get out into the Denver area or the state with no real plan and discover your own fun and adventure.

For more information on Denver and the surrounding area, visit denver.org.

Caption: The Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center features rustic decor.

Caption: The Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, Colo., has an indoor pool with waterslides.

Caption: The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is housed in an old hangar with more than 182,000 square feet of memorabilia.

Caption: Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum

Caption: The United States Mint in downtown Denver offers free tours.

Caption: Denver's pedestrian-friendly, mile-long 16th Street Mall features shops, bars and restaurants.

Caption: Denver Union Station in the Lower Downtown district features dining and shopping.
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Author:Nemann, Andy
Publication:PN - Paraplegia News
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:May 1, 2019
Words:1422
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