Many Coloradoans who live near mountain ski resorts say they moved to the area “in the winter, but stayed for the summers.” I’m the opposite. I moved to Aspen in the summer of 1994… and stayed in Colorado because of its glorious summer weather (well, that, and I met a boy). Sure, fresh powder and stellar ski slopes are awesome in Colorado, but summer is by far my favorite season – not only because of the temperate climate, sunny skies and abundance of colorful wildflowers, but because there’s just so much to do outdoors in the mountains from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Here’s a peek:
Scenic chair-lift rides to mountain trails: All of Colorado’s major ski resorts – from Aspen/Snowmass to Durango to Steamboat – run their chair lifts or gondolas in the summer months. I love bringing my out-of-town visitors to the top of the mountains in the summertime; it’s a fun way to introduce them to the gorgeous vistas that I enjoy so much in the winter. Chair lifts are an easy way to access the top of the mountain to then hike or bike down (chair-lifts are often outfitted with mountain-bike racks). Pick up a summer trail map at the lift-ticket office before you head up. Or, just pack a picnic to enjoy at the top, then take the chair down!
Alpine slides, bungee jumps and mini golf: Winter ski areas transform into summer playgrounds for kids (of all ages), with a bunch of fun “park” attractions. The Breckenridge Fun Park at the base of Peak 8 is a family favorite: pay one fee for the day and children can wear themselves out running from the bungee jump to the human maze to the mini-golf course to the alpine slide to the alpine coaster. Still more summer activities you might see at mountain resorts: climbing walls, gemstone panning, Frisbee golf, ropes courses, bouncy houses and mechanical bulls!
Summer festivals: The number of special events that take place at Colorado mountain resorts in the summer is mind boggling. If you’re heading to any one of our mountain towns this summer, consult the local visitor bureau’s (or ski resort’s) online calendar of events, because there will likely be a food, music, art, intellectual or sports event happening while you’re visiting. Telluride, in particular, packs its summer schedule with world-famous events like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride Blues & Brews, Telluride Film Festival and the ever-popular Telluride Mushroom Festival (aka ShroomFest).
Horseback riding, whitewater rafting, soaking in hot springs, road biking, fly fishing, four-wheeling, rodeos and ghost-town tours are just a few more of the awesome activities to enjoy at Colorado mountain resorts in the summertime. Remember, too, that hotel rates drop in the summer months – I’ve seen some rack rates discounted as much as 50 percent in June, compared to February. Plus, campgrounds abound, so a trip to a Colorado ski town can be easy on the pocketbook. Enjoy!