Family Travel: Best Activities in Colorado’s Mountain towns this summer!
posted by: Julie Bielenberg
As Colorado continues to take positive steps toward reactivating our economy, the health and safety of both residents and visitors remain our highest priority. We encourage locals and travelers alike to embrace our new interpretation of responsible tourism — showing care not only for our destinations but for the people who call Colorado home–by adopting our new Care for Coloradans principles. -Message from the Colorado Tourism Board
ASPEN / SNOWMASS MOUNTAIN RESORT
Aspen Snowmass reopened summer operations on June 12 on Aspen Mountain and June 21 at Snowmass. The resort will modify its offerings and operational procedures to address all guidelines and health protocols as directed by state and local health authorities. Activities currently planned to be offered include scenic gondola/chairlift rides, downhill mountain biking, hiking access, the alpine coaster, the challenge course, climbing wall, and Camp Aspen Snowmass programming. There are plans to offer on-mountain dining and other activities within any existing limitations and upon county approval.
Make sure to check out the IMBA Gold-Level Ride Center. Snowmass really is at the heart of the Gold ride due to the various options for every single type, and level of rider. The Snowmass Bike Park and many of the most popular trails for biking open June 24 and last through September, so good for the entire summer! And, Snowmass Mountain has a Disc Golf course at the Lost Forest area. It is free to use if you have your own discs.
NEW Walkable Main Street – Historic Main Street was transformed into a pedestrian-friendly walking mall. Breckenridge places the highest value on safety and health, and opening the street to pedestrian traffic, allows for appropriate physical distancing while experiencing the same downtown charm.
Lodging – All transient lodging facilities (hotels, motels etc.) including timeshare style properties and short-term vacation-style rentals hotels are able to accept reservations as of June 1 (pending official notice from Summit County and the State of Colorado). While some amenities like pools, hot tubs and common areas will remain closed for now, lodging properties are closely following guidelines to ensure guests’ well-being. Breckenridge Grand Vacations, which manages more than 800 units across four resort properties in Breckenridge has partnered with PURO™ Lighting to deploy groundbreaking UV disinfection technology.
Dining – Many of Breckenridge’s restaurants are offering dining-to-go. In-person sit-down dining is currently operating at 50 percent capacity. Guests can also expect an increase in outdoor dining opportunities on walkable Main Street. Bars that do not have food service are closed at this time. Reservations are highly recommended.
Attractions – Many activities like rafting, zip-lining, and guided fly-fishing are limited to groups that are members of the same household. Guests should inquire directly with the activity provider well in advance before making plans. Breckenridge Ski Resort hopes to have lifts spinning by late June/early July.
Parking – The Town of Breckenridge and Breckenridge Ski Resort have partnered to construct a parking garage on the South Gondola Lot. During construction starting late-May, additional free parking will be available in the Airport Lot. Closer in paid parking resumes June 12.
Transportation – Breckenridge Free Ride community transportation will resume service on June 1 with appropriate facial coverings required, new practices and procedures, reduced occupancies and enhanced cleaning standards.
Breckenridge’s NEW Gravity Haus has a focus on stewardship: No single-use plastic on site. Eccentric about recycling, trash and composting diverting as much waste as possible. Partnership with the National Forest Foundation and Protect Our Winters. Unravel Coffee co-produces and imports straight from farms in Ethiopia and roasts on-site with a Bellwether zero-emissions roaster.
Breckenridge Golf Course opened 18-holes on its Jack Nicklaus designed course on Friday, May 29. Under safer guidelines, limited amenities will be offered. More information at www.TownofBreckenridge.com
Find Serenity at an Alpine Lake: Explore the beauty of the Crystal Lakes. Beginning on an 1880’s wagon road, climb to treeline through a spruce forest and into a vast alpine meadow to the Lower Crystal Lake surrounded by towering, craggy peaks. For those looking for more adventure, hike to the Upper Crystal Lake at 12,900 feet.
Fly Fish On Secluded Mountain Streams: Fly fishing has always been about peace and solitude, and Breckenridge is home to some of the best fly fishing waters in the state of Colorado. With numerous rivers, streams, alpine lakes and reservoirs carrying fresh snowmelt all within an hour of downtown, there’s a destination to match nearly all interests and skill levels
Opening day will be June 26 at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR). While additional activities may open as summer progresses and restrictions ease, here’s what is currently planned for activities and offerings at the resort:
Scenic chairlift rides on the Silver Queen Express Lift. Dogs and children in carrier packs are not permitted on the chairlift.
Hiking (including the Peak trail). With a little help from the Silver Queen Lift, hikers are offered a unique opportunity to summit iconic, 12,162-foot Mt. Crested Butte in just two hours. From the summit, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views in the area. You can also hike or run from the base area for a much longer and more challenging experience. For easily accessible views of Mt. Crested Butte, hike Snodgrass Mountain just north of CBMR. The trail ascends through thick aspen groves and lush wildflower meadows, making clear why in 1990 the state legislature officially designed Crested Butte as the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado.”
Butte 66 BBQ Roadhouse will offer grab ‘n go food and drink at the base of the mountain.
Scenic Byways and Biking. Crested Butte is home to Colorado Scenic Byways including the West Elk Loop and the Silver Thread Scenic Byway which weaves through historic districts like Lake City and Clear Creek Falls. For one of the most beautiful drives in Colorado, head out of town on Country Road 317 toward Gothic. If you’re ambitious, Trail 401 is an intermediate/difficult section of singletrack that is quintessential Crested Butte mountain biking, with breathtaking views of the Elk Mountains while winding through fields of wildflowers and shoulder-tall skunk cabbage.
Lodging, restaurants and shops in Estes Park are now open and ready to welcome visitors, however, the Ariel Tramway and Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute Programs will unfortunately not operate this year. Of course, safety precautions are in place, and visitors are encouraged to wear a mask (also to note, Larimer County requires visitors and residents to wear a face-covering while in shops). The trails in and around Estes Park are also open. Rocky Mountain National Park entered “Phase Two” of its reopening on June 4 with a temporary timed entry system. Visitors can reserve a timed entry permit, available through July 31, online: https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/fees.htm
The mountain town’s major attractions including Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and Iron Mountain Hot Springs have made significant alterations to reduce capacity, facilitate social distancing, enhance hygiene and limit the number of touchpoints throughout the visitor experience. Like many aspects of life in a COVID-19 environment, visitors can expect some changes. “Every business that is open has had their reopening plan approved, but each one is unique, especially Glenwood Springs attractions and activities,” said Lisa Langer, Director of Tourism Promotion for Glenwood Springs. “The best way to make plans to visit the hot springs, adventure park or go rafting is to check their websites first. In addition to wearing a mask, you may have to purchase your admission online and arrive within a predetermined time frame.”
Glenwood Springs attraction websites are up to date with all the details that visitors will need to know before arriving. For Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and Iron Mountain Hot Springs plan to purchase tickets online and sign digital waivers. For Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, tickets will be available to purchase at the property on a first come first serve basis.
In addition to major attraction openings, Glenwood Springs activities including guided trips such as rafting, fishing, paragliding and horseback riding are open and providing visitors with the chance to get outside and have some out-of-the-ordinary experiences. Because of the reduced capacity and trips now organized according to social group size, visitors should plan to make reservations for guide-led excursions in advance.
For history buffs, the Frontier Museum will open on June 14. See how Glenwood’s earliest residents lived, worked and played. Also learn about the town’s connection with gambler-gunslinger Doc Holliday who is buried in Linwood Cemetery, a pioneer graveyard located on a scenic hillside above Glenwood Springs.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is a mountain-top theme park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Guests travel to the top of the mountain via gondola where they can enjoy cave tours, thrill rides, family-friendly rides and adventures, dining and shopping. www.glenwoodcaverns.com
While awaiting word on when they can reopen, the park has submitted reopening plans with state and county health officials. This plan includes limiting capacity; requiring online ticket purchases with assigned entry times to control the flow of people into the park; allowing guests to ride in gondola cabins in social groups or to ride alone; frequent disinfecting of gondola cabins and common touchpoints throughout the park; reducing the number of guests per cave tour; social distancing in all queues; reducing capacity in the restaurant and increased outdoor seating spread throughout the park; increasing the number of hand-sanitizing stations; touchless transactions whenever possible; sneeze guards at cash registers; face coverings and health screenings for employees; and encouraging frequent hand washing for guests and employees.
Here’s a bucket list of “must-dos” in Silverthorne.
- Bike or walk the 3.5-mile Blue River Trail through Silverthorne
- Cast a line on the Gold Medal rated Blue River
- Ascend the aquatic climbing wall at the Silverthorne Recreation Center
- Enjoy one of Baker’s Brewery’s 23 locally-inspired craft beers on tap
- Pick up authentic Mexican cuisine from Fritangas or La Escondida Bakery
- Take in a show by the Lake Dillon Theatre Company in the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center’s black box theater
- Celebrate Silverthorne like a local at a monthly First Friday event
- Hike to Lily Pad Lake with the family
- Bathe in wildflowers on a hike up Ptarmigan Peak
- For a trail less traveled, hike up to Mahan Lake
- Paddleboard at North Pond Park
- Play disc-golf at Maryland Creek Park
- Take in the sunset over Buffalo Mountain from Rainbow ParkHa
- Have a picnic at Willow Grove
- Play a round of golf at The Raven by summer; try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing by winter
- Sip coffee and read the paper with a view of the Blue on the back patio of Red Buffalo Café
- Mountain bike from town to the Salt Lick Trails
- Sleep under the stars on an overnight backpacking trip along the Gore Range Trail
- Take your pick of white- or flat- water for a raft trip on the Blue River
- Shop til you drop through the three villages at The Outlets at Silverthorne
- Grill your own steak to perfection at The Mint
- Put the happy in “angry hour” at Angry James Brewing
- Sip a Treeline Bloody Mary at Timberline Craft Kitchen & Cocktails
- Take in the alpenglow along the Continental Divide and Gore Range Mountains after a long day of adventure
Please visit steamboatchamber.com for the most up-to-date information on events, as well as the status of popular local attractions, including Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Old Town Hot Springs, Yampa River Botanic Park, Tread of Pioneers Museum, Fish Creek Falls and Yampa River Core Trail.
While some events will look different — some are virtual and the farmers market includes food vendors to start — they will still retain the hospitable Western spirit you love. There is an abundance of wide-open spaces and outdoor activities ready to satiate your yearning to get out. Here in Steamboat, adventure awaits—vast trail networks are perfect for hiking and biking, while gorgeous lakes and refreshing rivers are ready for your tube, boat, SUP, or even just a dip of your toes.
Several of Vail’s more than 35 hotel and condominium properties are taking reservations including well-known options like The Sonnenalp, The Sebastian-Vail and Manor Vail Lodge with more set to open throughout the month of June. Some properties are developing special rates to encourage extended visits, such as Antler’s at Vail’s special “Your Vail Home for the Summer” package, which starts at $3,500 for a studio suite for 30 nights of tax-free lodging June through October. At this stage in re-opening, lodging properties are operating at a maximum of 50 percent of occupancy and follow heightened health and safety guidelines. Pool and hot tub facilities also are open with occupancy limits, and fitness centers and gyms operating at limited capacity. Saunas, spas and steam rooms remain closed for the time being.
Vail restaurants and bars such as Sweet Basil, Mountain Standard, La Tour, Root & Flower and Terra Bistro also are welcoming guests back for dine-in service with indoor seating limited to 50 percent capacity and tables spaced for appropriate social distancing. Heightened health and safety protocols for restaurants include required facemasks for servers, table service at all bars and a ban on counter seating.
Vail is a natural playground for outdoor pursuits. Hundreds of miles of river and recreational trails wind from one end of the valley to the other, allowing guests to get away from it all and explore. The valley’s expansive trail system offers nearly 300 miles of hiking trails that range from paved walking paths to backcountry trails that lead to mountain peaks, waterfalls, hidden lakes and more. Walking Mountain Science Center offers various themed backcountry hikes throughout the summer and fall showcasing Vail’s beauty. For a unique hiking experience, Paragon Guides offers a “Take a Llama to Lunch” program that entertains and guides hikers through the backcountry.
For those who opt to explore on two wheels, there are more than 340 miles of mountain biking trails and nearly 300 miles of road biking options in the area. Venture Sports is one of several local guides that take road bikers up to Vail Pass for a guided downhill experience on the paved trail into town. Vail Mountain is great for lift-served mountain biking, while West Vail offers classic aspen and alpine single-track trails.
Water sports abound in the area with more than 80 miles of river with whitewater ranging from Class I to Class V rapids that keep rafters and kayakers thrilled from start to finish. Sage Outdoor Adventures and other local guide companies can show off the best whitewater rafting or kayaking spots. Anglers will enjoy several blue ribbon and gold medal fly fishing streams. Gore Creek Fly Fisherman and Sage Outdoor Adventures can take beginners and experts on guided trips to the various streams and rivers in the area including the Gore Creek, Eagle River, Colorado River as well as lesser-known backcountry locations.
Vail also offers motorized ways to experience the region with options for ATV and Jeep 4×4 tours through locally owned and operated Nova Guides that provides guests with access to the beauty of the backcountry while learning about the history of the region. The area’s heritage also is found through the many guest ranch experiences open to visitors this summer for horseback riding with Vail Stables, archery, campfire cookouts and even glamping at Piney River Ranch.
Area outfitters will operate this summer to help guests experience countless adventures. Many of these options include natural social distancing and operators have enacted additional protocols to enhance safety such as offering more private tours and limiting the number of participants for activities. Guests are encouraged to contact individual outfitters to understand specific protocols for various guided outdoor pursuits.
Vail Golf Club is open and operating, providing golfers with manicured greens and stunning views of the Gore Range. When staying at select Vail hotels, guests also have access to down valley resort courses including Red Sky Golf Club and Sonnenalp Club. Guidelines this summer include single rider carts unless of the same group or household. Amenities such as scorecards, pencils, towels and tees currently are not available in carts. Flagsticks should not be touched or removed from holes.
Drop-in spots for kids such as skateparks and playgrounds also have reopened with social distancing rules. Museums and public facilities such as Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and the Colorado Snowsports Museum also are open with limited capacity. The Snowsports Museum is currently offering weekly reservation-required walking tours highlighting the history of the area and the Vail Art in Public Places program will resume weekly art walks beginning July 1. Both tours will operate at limited capacity with social distancing protocols.
Vail Resorts has expressed its intent to open Vail Mountain for gondola rides and activities this summer, however, a final decision and announcement are not expected until June. For additional information on summer activities and adventures in Vail, please visit the destination’s new website at DiscoverVail.com. The site provides detailed information on summer adventures, events, lodging and more.
In our next installment, we are covering hotel and resort deals, even MORE towns including Fort Collins, Telluride, and we have two local authors who published Colorado camping and hiking books this year who are giving us some of their insider secrets to the most glorious outdoor adventures. Be safe, stay healthy and find the smiles.
Other Great Resources:
Where to pull of I-70 when you’re stuck in traffic (fun activities and restaurants)