Go Your Own Way

Five hundred dollars can buy you a lot of things: an iPad, a mediocre bike, a lawn mower—or three days of glorious summertime freedom (transportation excluded). Here are our picks for the best do-it-yourself budget escapes in North America, plus outfitted adventures you can't afford to miss.

Rocky Road
Nederland, Colorado
This town, just 17 miles uphill from Boulder, is part Peruvian-sweater-wearing mountain freaks and part Crocs-clad ex-Denverites. It's also home to some of the best mountain biking along the Front Range. (You can take the bus all the way there, with your bike, from Denver.) Rookies: Try the West and East Magnolia trails, which start just south of town. Experts: Hit the Sourdough Trails. Pick up free maps at the Happy Trails coffee-and-bike shop.

Two round-trip bus tickets from Denver (rtd-denver.com): $18. Coffee at Happy Trails (303-258-3435): $8. Two nights at the Sundance Lodge, just south of town (sundance-lodge.com): $180. Smoked chicken wings and ribs, plus beer, at the Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery (wildmountainsb.com): $40. Total: $246 (or $436 with two $95 two-day mountain-bike rentals from Happy Trails).

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