Colorado’s mountain resorts aren’t just ultimate winter destinations. Colorado mountain resorts are also ultimate summer destinations. Blame the comfortable climate (mild temperatures, no humidity, and no pesky insects), adventurous activities and of course great events. A Colorado summer is loaded with things to do like camping, rafting, ziplining, thrilling attractions, off-roading, hiking, biking and on and on. But what really makes a Colorado resort stand out in the summer is the free concerts and festivals like river fests, hot air balloon fests, food fests, wine fests, and beer fests. Summer resorts also feature car shows, outdoor movies, rodeos and other family-friendly and date night friendly entertainment. Most of Colorado’s best summer event resorts have all kinds of sports events anyone can compete in. Here are my favorite top mountain towns based on the events they have taking place this summer.
Copper Mountain is conveniently located about 90 minutes from Denver in Summit County. Visitors to its village during the summer can ride the longest Rocky Mountain Coaster in America, play golf, ride the boats on Copper’s West Lake, play mini golf, ride go-karts and scale the climbing wall. The summer really kicks in June 22 to 24 when the Attack of the Big beers takes place in Center Village and features brewers competing for the Brewzilla Cup. There’s also free music at this event and most all of Copper’s events. Other signature summer events at Copper Mountain include The Colorado Cider and Beer Festival, The Copper Mountain Music Festival, the Mac, and Cheese Fest, Guitar Town featuring the best guitarists in the world performing and hosting clinics, the Copper Crush Wine Fest, the Genuine Jazz, and Wine Festival and Copper Country. Summer sporting events anyone can register to participate in include the Fjall Raven Classic Trek, the Under-Armor Trail Run and Triple by Pass, the Children’s Hospital Courage Classic bike race, the Copper Triangle Bike Ride, and the popular the Ragnar Relay.
Winter Park kicks the summer festival season off the weekend of June 23 with the Blues from the Top Festival featuring headliners the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and North Mississippi Allstars at the new and improved Hideaway Park in Downtown Winter Park. The Hideaway Park stays busy the rest of the summer offering up free concerts every Thursday. In July, you can experience the Tequila & Taco Festival, The Winter Park Alpine Art Affair or the Winter Park Jazz Festival. The Winter Park Beer Festival takes place in August and there’s more. The Winter Park Ski Resort doesn’t sit idle during the summer either. The Trestle Bike Park has numerous mountain bike exhibitions and competitions. The Winter Park Resort Village kicks off its summer events with the Chocolate Festival on June 16. That one’s followed by The Uncorked Wine, Art and Cheese Festival in July and the Whiskey and Wings festival in September. Two world-class rodeos take place right outside of Winter Park. The Flying Heels Rodeo takes place in Granby on Saturdays in June and The High-Country Rodeo takes place in Fraser on Saturdays in July and August.
The Snowmass concert stage looks good no matter who’s performing on it. Set up at the base of the Snowmass ski hill, the Roaring Fork Valley provides a jaw-dropping backdrop. The stage at Snowmass hosts free Thursday concerts and the famous Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience. Every Wednesday there are rodeos at the Snowmass Rodeo Grounds. Other top summer events at Snowmass include The Tough Mudder Competition, the Snowmass Balloon Festival, The New Belgium Ranger Station 5K – Run for Beer and the Craft Beer Rendezvous. This year’s headliners at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience include Zac Brown Band, Lionel Richie, Fitz and the Tantrums, Michael Franti, and more.
Steamboat’s Keepin’ it Free Summer Concert Series at Howelsen Hill features a nice line up of headliners on selected weekend nights. This year, Keller Williams and the HillBender’s Pettygrass perform their tribute to Tom Petty. Other headliners playing for free at Howelsen Hill this summer include JJ Grey & Mofro, Stephen Marley, and the Kyle Hollingsworth Band. Steamboat signature summer events include The Friday and Saturday Pro Rodeo that starts in June and goes into August, the Yampa River Festival, Cowboy Roundup Days, the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, The String Music Festival, the Wild West Air Fest, and more.
There’s nowhere else in Colorado that offers a train ride to a concert venue. Fir Amphitheatre, one of USA Today’s 10 Best Concert Venues you shouldn’t miss, is that venue. Mountain Rails Live is an adventure event set up to entertain the whole family with lunch included. Alamosa is close to the Great Sand Dunes National Park which holds events for the curious adventurer. Other signature summer events in Alamosa include Summer Fest on the Rio, the Hot Rod Dirt Drags, the Rollin Deep Car Show, the Alamosa Round-Up Rodeo and Beat the Heat BBQ, Brew and Chili Festival.
Telluride’s summer is most famous for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival which will celebrate its 45th festival this year. The success of that music festival has sprouted off several other summer festivals over the years including the Ride Festival, The Telluride Jazz Festival, The Telluride Americana Music Festival and the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival. All feature major headliners in the incredible setting of Telluride’s town park. Telluride’s not easy to get to, but worth the trip. Other signature summer events at Telluride this year: The Telluride Mushroom Festival, The Telluride 100 Bike Race, The Telluride Wine Festival and the Chamber Music Festival.
It only makes sense that one of Colorado’s most popular summer destinations also hosts incredible summer events. Free concerts at Performance Park Amphitheatre in downtown happen on random dates throughout the summer. There are also outdoor markets for arts and crafts, the Thursday Farmers Market, a jazz festival, the Rooftop Rodeo (complete with parade), The Estes Park Comic Con, The Friends of Folk Festival, a couple car shows and several forest service events at the nation’s most popular National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park.
Keystone Resort in Summit County earned a spot on this list thanks to the 8th annual Bacon and Bourbon festival. The bacon also lures in visitors to kick off Keystone’s Summer festival season. The Bacon Fest features multiple ways to eat bacon and you can combine that tasty pork with a tasty bourbon then swish it all around as you rock out to Lez Zeppelin and Helles Belles. Other festivals taking place at Keystone Village over the summer include The Keystone Wine and Jazz Festival, the Art Festival, the Bluegrass and Beer Festival, the Mountain Town Music Festival and keystone’s Octoberfest. Best part? They’re all free.