Story Ideas

COLORADO STORY IDEAS FOR SUMMER 2016

Colorado National Park Bucket List. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, and special events and programs will take place at Colorado’s four national parks and eight national monuments. Celebrate this milestone by experiencing the diversity that Colorado’s four national parks have to offer. Rocky Mountain National Park provides visitors with more than 300 miles of hiking trails, fishing, backcountry camping and campgrounds, scenic drives, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and a variety of ranger-led programs and instructional classes. Enjoy wildlife and the great outdoors by fishing in one of the deepest canyons in the Western Hemisphere at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Head to Mesa Verde National Park and experience history first-hand while viewing the largest Ancestral Puebloan dwelling in North America. Sand surf down the highest sand dunes in North America in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

New and Unique Summer 2016 Vacation Packages.

·       Minturn Anglers Offers Heli Fly Fishing. New for Summer 2016, Minturn Anglers offers a one-of-a-kind fly-fishing experience that allows anglers access to private Colorado waters in the most exclusive and amazing way possible – in a helicopter. Travel to one of the outfitters remote, private ranches while enjoying streamside fine dining. Custom itineraries can be built to fit each individual group’s needs. All-inclusive trips start at $3,995 for up to three anglers.

·       Studio Anjali at The Westin Riverfront Beaver Creek Offers Aerial Yoga.Located at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, Studio Anjali at the Westin Riverfront Beaver Creek launched a new aerial yoga program open to guests in February 2016. Following the AIReal Yoga method, this is the first and only form of aerial yoga accredited by the Yoga Alliance. Studio Anjali is the first studio in Colorado to offer AIReal Yoga.

·       Four Seasons Resort & Residences Vail’s ‘Lunch with a Llama’ experience. New for summer 2016, the renowned property has partnered with local guiding outfitter, Paragon Guides to provide a llama so guests can go hiking with a furry friend. The llamas are great not only because they’re super friendly, but also because they can shoulder loads that most guests would choose to leave behind if they had to carry it themselves.

·       Hotel Telluride offers ‘Altitude High’ package with Via Ferrata and Glider Experiences. New for summer 2016, the Hotel Telluride’s ‘Altitude High’ package invites guests to experience Telluride's high terrain with a guided Via Ferrata climb on an exposed ladder and cable system (one of the few places in the United States that offers Via Ferrata trails) and a private glider ride to soar above Telluride and its highest peaks. The Hotel Telluride's new 'Altitude High' package starts from $1,580 (based on double occupancy) and combines comfort and luxury with a 3-night stay in an King Deluxe room. Package also includes an 'Altitude Adjustment Amenity’ to help acclimate guests to the high altitude.

·       Aspen’s Limelight Lodge & Crested Butte’s Nordic Inn Offer New Aspen to Crested Butte Hiking Experience. Gear up for an adventurous summer filled with wildflowers, mountain vistas and vibrant culture from two very unique mountain towns: Aspen and Crested Butte. Travelers can enjoy a stunning 6-hour, 11 mile-hike through the mountains connecting the two towns. The package includes two nights at The Limelight Hotel in Aspen, private shuttle to the trailhead on the White River National Forest, as well as an assortment of local and organic snacks for the journey. The hotel will also provide a map for the hike and a Spot Satellite GPS Messenger. Once hikers reach Crested Butte, private transportation will greet hikers at the trailhead to whisk them to their accommodations at the charming Nordic Inn.

·       Viceroy Snowmass to Offer Cycling Program with Pro Rider, Will Frischkorn. New for summer 2016, the Viceroy Snowmass will offer a cycling program in conjunction with former pro rider, Will Frischkorn (Tour de France competitor for Garmin). The experience is entirely customizable and can include activities such as a 25-mile ride to Sustainable Settings Farm followed by a true farm-to-table dinner prepared by Viceroy’s Executive Chef, Will Nolan. Or a ride to the Maroon Bells and Castle Creek/Ashcroft followed by a massage at the hotel.

·       ART Hotel Launches Guided Public Art Runs. The new ART, located in Denver’s museum district, recently launched an 5K urban public art run. Guests receive a detailed map from the concierge featuring a route that highlights downtown Denver's most significant public art pieces. A guide is also available upon request.

The Growing Trend of Urban Food Halls and Markets.

Colorado and Denver in particular are having a renaissance when it comes to food, and one of the top trends we are seeing is urban food halls and markets showcasing local culinary treats and artisan crafts. New this summer, Denver welcomes Stanley Marketplace. The indoor/outdoor space was once Stanley Aviation headquarters, and now it is an adaptive reuse community hub, home to a park, beer hall, multiple restaurants, boutique shops and more. Also new this year is the historic Jessup Farm in Fort Collins, which has been reimagined as a new artisan village focused on handcrafted and locally sourced products and includes The Farmhouse that utilizes the village’s small farm and garden operation to create the menu. Denver’s Union Station recently reopened and includes six new restaurants, 22,000-square-feet of retail space with 10 boutiques and the new high-end, 112-room Crawford Hotel. New this summer the station will offer a growers-only farmers’ market and will offer new lightrail service to Denver International Airport. Inspired by European markets and foodtruck roundups Avanti Food & Beverage opened last year in Denver’s Lower Highland’s Neighborhood (LoHi) and is a modern day food hall. Seven different restaurant concepts housed in modified shipping containers will provide guests with an eclectic mix of affordably priced, chef-inspired cuisine. The Source, Denver, is a highly curated European-style artisan food market and retail space in the River North (RiNo) district that showcases some of the finest Colorado products in a refurbished historic ironworks building. Ivywild School, Colorado Springs, is a 100-year-old former schoolhouse that has been redeveloped into restaurants and a brewery.

Revitalized Ranch Experiences.

Colorado is home to 864 farms and ranches with experiences for visitors, and more and more agritourism activities are being launched every day in Colorado. Several Colorado ranches are launching new and unique offerings for summer 2016. Opening in June 2016, Elk River Guest Ranch is located just north of Steamboat Springs. Bordered by the 2.2-million-acre Medicine Bow - Routt National Forest, and offering 2,000 feet of private river frontage, the Elk River Guest Ranch offers a unique blend of outdoor activities, town proximity and mountain solitude. Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa will open Palisade Ranch, an on-property ranch designed to provide the ultimate western experience on May 1, 2016. Palisade Ranch at Gateway Canyons Resort will offer ranch experiences such as daily trail rides, ranching education, roping lessons and historic guided rides. Smith Fork Ranch, located in the North Fork Valley on Colorado’s Western Slope, is offering a new ‘Horseback Riding & Foraging’ experience this summer. Led by one of the ranch’s chefs, guests will depart on a guided ride in search of mushrooms and other local delicacies. They’ll return to the ranch to create a meal using the foraged ingredients and paired with produce from the ranch’s farmstead. Join The Home Ranch staff for five nights and experience life on the ranch during their new Work Week. Help get the herd ready for a busy season, ride horses, fix fence, repair trails, plant seedlings and take a workshop from the property’s Master Gardener and be part of an amazing team. Several workshops, demonstrations and lectures will be offered throughout the week.  After acting as a fishing lodge for several years, Rawah Ranch recently reopened with extensive renovations as a dude ranch. Northern Colorado's Historic Rawah Ranch is a Colorado guest ranch located in one of the west's most scenic and unspoiled valleys in North America.

Summer is Heating Up at Ski Resorts.

With low humidity, mild temperatures and plenty of mountain adventures, summer is the secret season at Colorado’s ski resorts. This summer, Vail will launch Epic Discovery, a new comprehensive summer activities experience. Epic Discovery will offer learn-through-play elements that will provide guests with hands-on information and activities about forest health, wildlife and the mountain geography of the White River National Forest. The Game Creek Canopy Tour will immerse guests in the forest habitat with an array of zip lines and aerial bridges; the Forest Flyer™ is an alpine coaster that runs on raised rails with an expanded trail system that will encourage more hiking and trail exploration across Vail Mountain. Powderhorn Mountain Resort will debut two new mountain bike trails in summer 2016.  The bike trails will be serviced by the newly-built high-speed quad, and Powderhorn is also working with local area bike shops to build and grow a downhill bike series. Also new for summer 2016, Evolution Bike Park on Crested Butte Mountain Resort will offer an added pump track and practice loop at the base area for beginners. Guests will also have access to Happy Hour, a new intermediate trail that links the bike park with the area’s well-known single track and the town of Crested Butte.

Distill My Heart: The Rise of Colorado’s Artisanal Craft Distilleries.

It is no surprise that as one of the top craft beer producing states in the nation, many award-winning craft distilleries have been popping up across Colorado. In the last few years, Colorado’s craft distillery scene has exploded to more than 70 distilleries and counting. With the growth of craft spirits producers comes a flourishing scene of tasting rooms, distillery tours and craft cocktail bars. What started with Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey has grown to include small batch distillers, like Loveland’s Dancing Pines Distillery, which is run by a father and son team and creates unique concoctions like Chai and Espresso Liqueurs. Denver’s Leopold Bros. is known for its award-winning gin, which has been called the best American gin by The Wall Street Journal. Leopold Bros. also debuted a new distillery this past summer that includes a 1,900-square-foot tasting room, a traditional dunnage-style barrelhouse and the nation’s largest floor malting operation. What many don’t realize is that the secret to making these flavorful spirits is local ingredients from Colorado farms. Peach Street Distillers’ spirits are crafted using local Colorado produce picked within 40 miles of the distillery. Deerhammer Distilling Companysources their grain from the nearby San Luis Valley, where their Buena Vista Brandy is made in partnership with grapes grown on Colorado’s Western Slope and their barrel aged spiced apple liqueur is made from Cedaredge apples. Woody Creek Distillers in Basalt grow their own alpine potatoes at Scanlan Family Farm in Woody Creek for their potato vodkas completely grown, distilled and bottled in the Roaring Fork Valley. They are also releasing three specialty spirits including Gin, Apple Brandy and Pear Eau de Vie utilizing pears and apples from local farms, Colorado rye and wheat, mountain spring water and Colorado-sourced barley malted by Coors.

* 2016 Trend: Hipster Vintage-Style Barbershops and Booze.

The Bookcase & Barber Barbershop/Speakeasy Opens in Durango. This establishment is a place to refresh your mind and body with high-end barber services with a twist. Beyond a bookshelf in the vintage-style barbershop lies a cozy speakeasy bar that serves up strong, specialty-crafted drinks. The passphrase, "Who is Hemingway", grants you access. Many of their ingredients are made from scratch at the bar, including bitters and grenadine, creating unique and complex flavors.

The Barber Shop at Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail. The first of its kind in Vail Village, this classic American barbershop offers a variety of traditional and cutting-edge men’s grooming services, complete with local craft brews and liquors served up with each treatment. The shop features unique “man cave-esque” décor, barber art and a host of men’s magazines, along with an old-fashioned Collins barber chair and a classic American Marvy barber pole.

*  Trend: Boozy Lodging Properties.

DRAM Apothecary’s DRAM Lodge. DRAM is giving their fans yet another reason to travel to their magical corner of the world- with the opening of the DRAM Lodge, a 4 room eclectic lodge housed in the former historic Knights of Pythias Secret Society building on Main Street in Silver Plume, Colorado. Located 2 blocks from their existing bar/tasting room, the lodge will offer guests a rustic and comfortable experience in one of the town’s oldest buildings complete with self serve coffee bar and library. Rooms will begin booking in April of 2016.

Marble Distilling Company Craft Distillery and Inn. Adding to the vitality of downtown Carbondale, Marble Distilling Company built a family-owned and operated craft distillery, tasting room, and luxury boutique Inn on the east end of Main Street. Completed in early 2015, guests enjoy contemporary luxury at the new Distillery Inn. All rooms offer a fireplace and private balcony with breath-taking views of Mt. Sopris, while the garden level room offers a private courtyard with outdoor fireplace.

Hut-cations in Colorado’s Backcountry.

Colorado is home to one of the most extensive backcountry hut systems in North America, the 10th Mountain Division Hut System that includes huts named after members of the Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division that trained in the area. Southwest Colorado is home to the San Juan Hut System, a series of backcountry huts that lead hikers and bikers through spectacular Southwestern terrain and allow for lightweight travel. The San Juan Hut system – the only destination hut-to-hut based system in the U.S. – boasts two 215-mile mountain bike routes through Colorado. The fledgling Grand Huts Association is planning to establish nine huts in Grand County starting with the Broome Hut on Berthoud Pass that recently opened. Creede Mountain Huts features two structures located in the San Juan Mountains, perfect for the wilderness vacation. Hinsdale Haute Route is Colorado's highest hut system consisting of two yurts, located in the San Juan Mountains, along the Continental Divide above Lake City. Colorado is also home to individual huts not associated with a hut system, including the Opus Hut, a high alpine backcountry lodge nestled on the southern face of 13,666-foot Lookout Peak in the Northern San Juan Mountains, which operates as a B&B in the summer – complete with a hut butler.

Off-The-Beat Colorado: The San Luis Valley.

Colorado’s San Luis Valley is a hidden treasure full of quirky roadside attractions, incredible scenery and outdoor adventures, interesting towns, unique ranches and agriculture, wildlife viewing and the tallest sand dunes in North America.

The San Luis Valley is home to a UFO Watchtower; a huge Colorado Gators Reptile Park that teaches gator wrestling classes; Zapata Ranch owned by the Nature Conservancy with unique ranch accommodations where you can ride with buffalo against the backdrop of the Great Sand Dunes; the spiritual and new age town of Crestone, home to several world religions and dozens of spiritual organizations and retreat centers; a growing system of high desert canyon, purpose built singletrack mountain bike trails emerging on the west side of the valley; White Mountain Farm, the first large-scale quinoa operation in North America; hot springs including Joyful Journey and Valley View; sculptor, Huberto Maestas’ life-sized Stations of the Cross and much more.

The San Luis Valley is also home to the tallest sand dunes in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Park, just outside of Alamosa. Visitors will find a 149,512-acre landscape of 8,000-foot sand peaks that were created by ocean waters and wind more than one million years ago. Sled down the sand dunes and plunge your feet into the soft dunes, or explore the Park’s numerous hiking and horseback riding trails. A hidden gem inside the Park, Medano Creek is Colorado’s secret beach. When the snow melts every spring, the gentle Medano Creek emerges from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that tower behind the sand dunes to create a true beach oasis. Sand castle builders and beach loungers can enjoy the beach until about August, when it disappears for another year.

One Wild Family.

With the kids out of school this summer, Colorado family attractions aim to continue their education with some “wild” experiences. Stroll above the habitats filled with tiger families, packs of wolves, grizzly bears, Bolivian lions and other rescued exotic and endangered species at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, just an hour’s drive from Denver. Visit during summer evenings to witness lots of animal activity — most of the howling and roaring happens around sundown. One of Colorado’s most unusual and intriguing animal offerings is the Colorado Gators Reptile Park in the San Luis Valley town of Mosca. A Reptile Handling Class gives visitors a chance to hold turtles, tortoises, gators, snakes, lizards and other creepy crawlies in the palm of their hand. The Denver Zoo is home to the Toyota Elephant Passage, the largest bull elephant habitat in the world. Built on massive islands, elephants and rhinos are separated from humans by only a few yards of water. Elephant excrement and other zoo waste powers this groundbreaking LEED-certified complex. Tucked in the foothills of Colorado Springs, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is America’s only mountain zoo and is committed to comprehensive education programs and advanced conservation efforts for its more than 800 animals. Guests can even hand-feed the giraffes and elephants. Also near Colorado Springs are the Serenity Springs Wildlife Sanctuary home to 16 exotic cat species and the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center.

A Window to the Past: History and Heritage in Southeast Colorado.

Travelers to the canyons and plains of historic southeast Colorado can look into the state’s storied past, from trails featuring the largest known set of dinosaur tracks in North America and Native American rock art, to Bent’s Old Fort, a National Historic Site and a restored replica of a popular 1800’s trading post on the Santa Fe Trail.  The area is extremely popular with hikers, birding enthusiasts and wildlife watchers, who can explore hundreds of thousands of acres in the Pawnee and Comanche National Grasslands as well as the many ancient canyons that dot the area. Visitors come from around the world to view ancient Native American markings, such as those in Crack Cave, located in Picture Canyon, which illuminate for just 8-12 minutes on two days each year during the spring and fall equinox.

Bikes and Brews.

Colorado is home to 20 designated bicycle-friendly communities. Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Durango and Steamboat Springs have been ranked gold-level, and Boulder and Fort Collins have been awarded platinum status. These bike-friendly communities are also home to another Colorado staple: craft beer. Breweries are even easier to get to in these bike-friendly towns, where you’ll find quintessential Colorado craft breweries such as Breckenridge Brewery in Breckenridge and Denver, Eldo Brewery in Crested Butte, New Belgium Brewing and Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Avery Brewing Company and Boulder Beer in Boulder, Ska Brewing Company and Steamworks Brewing in Durango, and Butcherknife Brewing and Storm Peak Brewing Company in Steamboat Springs. These Colorado towns are the ultimate destinations for bike and beer lovers.

Colorado Hiking Trifecta.

Take the ultimate Colorado challenge of hiking three types of terrain in three days, and tour of some of the most spectacular areas of the state. Start your hiking trek in Crested Butte, the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado.” Experience 1.2 million acres of wildflower hiking through the Gunnison National Forrest. Next, head to Southwest Colorado and take the train on the historic Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to the Needleton stop for train-accessed hiking. Most hikers prefer to make a multi-day trip out of this excursion by camping in Chicago Basin. There is hiking for all abilities in this area and for those who want the ultimate challenge, summit one of Colorado’s three area fourteeners (14,000 foot mountains). End the trip by heading to Colorado’s San Luis Valley and summit the tallest sand dunes in North America at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Music in the Mountains.

Music simply sounds better in the high-altitude Rocky Mountains.​​ The naturally occurring, jaw-droppingly scenic, acoustically perfect, Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison is the king of all outdoor music venues, and it’s been captivating audiences and musicians alike celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2016. Situated in an impossibly beautiful box canyon setting, the Fred Shellman Memorial Stage in Telluride Town Park sits at the base of the jagged, 14,000-foot peaks of southwest Colorado that rise 360 degrees around the town. This permanent stage is the ideal live music setting for annual blues, folk, and bluegrass festivals and other summertime shows. Just north of Boulder in a secluded valley in Lyons is the open-air Folks Fest Stage at Planet Bluegrass, which boasts a grassy and sprawling field that provides the perfect spot for picnickers and folks looking to relax as they take in a live show. Nestled on the Poudre River’s wooded banks, the jam bands lineup continually draws big crowds to the endearingly rustic lodgepole-pine stage at the Mishawaka. Shows like Leftover Salmon, Toad The Wet Sprocket and The Wailers keep the Colorado-cool vibe alive here.

Colorado’s Cheese Culture.

Colorado is a burgeoning specialty cheese destination, with many artisan and farmstead producers. The Avalanche Cheese Company creates local cheeses made with milk from their goats that are raised and grazed at their farm and dairy in Paonia. The award-winning Haystack Mountain Goat Cheeseis nationally recognized as a producer of premium, handcrafted raw and pasteurized goat cheeses, made in a variety of styles. Fruition Farms Dairy & Creamery creates three distinct sheep’s milk cheeses, each highlighting a different characteristic of the milk from which they are made. Rocking W Cheese is a family-owned farmstead artisan cheese producer, cow dairy and farm in Olathe. Jumpin Good Goat Dairy is dedicated to sustainable farming and loving treatment of their goats and includes a dairy, cheese aging caves and Country Store in Buena Vista. They also offer interactive dairy farm tours. Visit James Ranch near Durango to experience their raw cow’s milk artisan cheese making process with milk from their grass-fed Jersey cows. The Mountain Goat Lodge in Salida offers house-made goat cheese during a stay, as well cheese-making classes. This two-hour class includes goat husbandry, which prepares students for goat ownership, and a hands-on workshop to learn how to make chevre, mozzarella, feta, paneer and even Greek yogurt.

Llamas Take the Load Off.

Colorado has numerous farm and ranch offerings where guests can interact with llamas, sheep and alpacas, and now some of the state’s most noted hotels & resorts are getting in on the fun with unique packages that take guests for a wild hike.  The YMCA of The Rockiesis offering a new llama pack trip experience at Snow Mountain Ranch which includes instruction how useful pack Llamas can be in the great outdoors. Guests can learn the basics of packing a llama efficiently and explore more than 5,100 acres across Snow Mountain Ranch, nestled below the Continental Divide, with a pack llama.  The Four Seasons Resort & Residences Vail offers a llama trek to the top of one of Colorado’s legendary 14’ers (mountain peaks that exceed 14,000 feet). During an exclusive two-day adventure led by the local outdoor experts of Paragon Guides guests are accompanied by llamas that carry gear and food as they journey to 11,000 feet to set up camp and savor a gourmet meal prepared by the Resort’s chefs. After spending the night in characteristic Four Seasons comfort, they embark for the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross. The Resort also offers a tamer, ‘Lunch with a Llama’ experience.