Summer in Colorado: Cultural, culinary and adventure opportunities collide
Special to the Weekly
Coloradans like to do it all, and it can be difficult to choose between that concert you’ve been dying to see and a weekend of hiking or biking. But why should you have to choose? We curated three summer weekend trips that bring you the best of Colorado’s culinary, cultural and outdoor offerings. That way, you can have the best of all worlds.
Run, eat and sleep in the clouds
Endurance athletes know Leadville as a training mecca, with its miles of trails, thin air and famous mountain bike and running race series. But did you know you could have a gourmet weekend there, as well?
Skip the budget motel and instead book a yurt and dinner reservation at the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse and yurts (www.tennesseepass.com). The locale is about 20 minutes from downtown Leadville but feels like it’s a million miles away. The Tennessee Pass Cookhouse encourages diners to earn their dinner by hiking on forest trails for about a mile from the parking lot to the Cookhouse Yurt, where they’ll be treated to Colorado signature dishes such as elk tenderloin, rainbow trout and rack of lamb.
Make a night of it by staying at one of the Tennessee Pass sleep yurts, which may be off the grid but don’t lack in comfort, warmth and coziness. They’re equipped with kitchenettes, furniture and solar lighting.
It’s all a perfect excuse to sign up for one of Leadville’s well-known trail races (www.leadvilleraceseries.com). Test the waters on Sunday, Aug. 14, with the Leadville 10K run, an out-and-back course that includes the first and last few miles of the Leadville 100 run course on both paved and dirt roads.
Looking for something a little different? On Sunday, Aug. 7, as part of Leadville’s Boom Days festival (www.leadville boomdays.org), runners and donkeys carrying traditional mining packs participate in the famous Burro Race. Don’t worry, you can rent a donkey, but make sure you’re ready to run 21 miles of backcountry trails.
Music in the mountains
Those who want to jam and still play hard outdoors should look no further than the brand-new Vertex Festival in Buena Vista. Set against the backdrop of a number of 14ers, this music festival invites attendees to camp and experience live music on the grounds of a working ranch from Friday, Aug. 5, through Sunday, Aug. 7 (www.vertex festival.com). Headliners include electronic duo Odesza, four-time Grammy winners Alabama Shakes and the Trey Anastasio Band, among many others.
The festival is also designed to allow attendees ample time to enjoy the surroundings as well as the music. The event schedule offers daily yoga practice, stargazing opportunities and rafting excursions, getting adventurers back to camp in time for the music. It doesn’t hurt that the event is right around high season for kayaking and rafting on famous stretches of the Arkansas River, such as Numbers and Brown’s Canyon.
As many Coloradans know, early August is also prime peak-bagging season, and Buena Vista serves as base camp for peaks that include Mount Princeton, Mount Harvard, Mount Belford, Mount Yale and more.
“Vertex is for Coloradans and for people who want to visit Colorado and experience the best of the state. It’s for people who are interested in music, art, great food, the outdoors and for people who enjoy community,” said event producer Jeremy Steiner.
“Vertex is an exploration of what happens when the best of Colorado comes together to make magic in an amazing outdoor environment. Simply put, this is the dream summer Colorado weekend event to get out to and enjoy what our state is all about.”
Bikes and wine in Breck
Aspen leaves turn a magnificent golden in the high country during September, and as the trails clear at the end of the season, there’s no better time to do some mountain biking and enjoy some epicurean delights. Two September weekends offer wine and gourmet food in Summit and Eagle counties — Gourmet on Gore in Vail from Friday, Sept. 2, through Monday, Sept. 5 (www.gourmetongore.com), and the new Breckenridge Wine Classic, Thursday, Sept. 15, through Sunday, Sept. 18 (www.breckenridge wineclassic.com).
Both feature a number of Colorado chefs, wineries and spirits purveyors from around the country, plus tastings and seminars to help you appreciate the finer points of dining and sipping. In Vail, we recommend the open-air tasting in Vail Village on Saturday, Sept. 3, paired with a ride on the intermediate Son of Middle Creek trail, accessed from Red Sandstone Road in Vail. This trail offers great leaf viewing opportunities, as well as a chance to burn off all of that delicious food.
At the Breckenridge Wine Classic, foodies will enjoy wine seminars, a farm-to-mountain wine dinner and a tapas-and-wine lunch. Organizers encourage attendees to get into the mountains with events such as Savor the Singletrack. Attendees will ride with executive chef Matt Fackler, of Relish, master sommeliers and avid cyclists Damon Ornowski and Sean Razee and retired pro racer Tammy Jacques. The ride ends with a lunch prepared by Fackler.
Event producer Katie Schultz said she sees increasingly more people looking to combine activities and unique experiences with culinary events.
“We love helping people optimize all the things they want to do,” she said. “I think at the end of the day, most patrons are there for wine and educational component and are usually pleasantly surprised at the outdoor activities that are also offered.”
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More base areas open means more space for guests to disperse upon, even if those base area openings don’t translate into more actual terrain openings.