Wild animals roam, flowers bloom, birds sing and rocks tell stories of the past. A trail ride through Pike National Forest with Drew Stoll on a Polaris vehicle is an interlude during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stoll, who with his wife Angelica owns Great Outdoors Adventures in Woodland Park, has an eagle eye for what makes the forest tick. Great Outdoors Adventures was recently recognized by Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice 2020 as an attraction in the top 10% of places to visit in the world.

“See that buck over there, right behind the tree?” he said on a recent tour that began in West Creek and traveled through Trail Creek Valley in Teller County. (Nobody saw the buck until he announced it).

Along with revelations about the forest wildlife, Stoll threw in a thriller or two, such as gunning the engine for a speedy ride (only briefly) on the utility terrain vehicle.

Stoll tells tales of nature in the mountains, a place where even a culvert holds wildlife secrets. “A friend of mine said he saw a mountain lion feeding on a deer inside the culvert,” Stoll said.

Stoll knows the landscape, points out landmarks such as the Thunder Butte Overlook, Sheep Nose Rock, Signal Butte or Truman’s Rock, each one offering a photo op.

Far away but still visible is Devil’s Head lookout. “It’s one of the places where the U.S. Forest Service has a fire tower so they have an active person up there all summer who can see fires from 200 miles away,” Stoll said.

For thrill seekers, a gully washer offers the opportunity for Great Outdoors Adventure clients to rev up the engine and race through the water — and enjoy the splash.

But it’s the quiet scenes that capture the harmony of nature — a columbine, the state flower, in full bloom, or a family of elk with calves. It is peaceful out there complete with a wondrous sense of calm that comes with just listening to the quiet.

As summer heat transitions to fall chills, the Stolls offer tours to view the colors of autumn in enclosed heated Polaris vehicles, either for rent or for guided rides. All tours come with maps and GPS tablets.

For information, call 719-686-6816 or go to goadventures.org.

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