Though the weather has been slow to cooperate, summer is indeed coming to the Colorado Rockies – and with it, tons of recreational diversions for all to enjoy.
Whether running summer operations or not, most all Colorado resorts sit on U.S. Forest Service land and, thus, are open for hiking high in the Rockies. While officially closed, resorts like Monarch, Loveland, and Silverton provide jumping-off points for hikers and (when permitted) mountain bikers heading into the hills.
On the other end of the spectrum, massive activity centers have sprung up at major Colorado resorts to give visitors one-stop ticketing for zip lines, bungees, trampolines, kids' mazes, alpine slides, rock-climbing walls – and more. Summer Epic Discovery centers are now in full swing at Vail and Breckenridge. Copper Mountain is home to the only Woodward center in the state, where youngsters up their game in extreme-style sports.
Mountain biking may be the fastest-growing sport in the Colorado mountains. Resorts that run lifts have bike hangers to get riders up to the top for some downhill thrills. Crested Butte and Purgatory have been leaders in building trails and parks – and hosting top-talent races -- for summertime pedalers.
Thrills can be had on mountain coasters at a half-dozen Colorado resorts, including two of the longest in North America at Steamboat and Copper.
For the more mellow crowd, most any day you can hop on a chairlift or in a gondola to rise out of the valley and get dropped off at some of the highest, most scenic points in Colorado. Vail operates two gondolas during the summer, getting tourists and sight-seers to 10,000 feet where Epic Discovery activities abound.
Both Aspen Mountain and Snowmass crank up their gondolas for the summer months. At Telluride, the gondola runs as free public transit to get folks out of the town, over the ridge and into the base village for the ski and snowboard resort.
For those looking for quirky times in the mountains, here are a few oddball activities to keep things fresh:
- At Breckenridge, kids can go for gemstones in placer troughs, and more serious gold seekers can go on tours on nearby rivers that once yielded silver and gold bonanzas.
- Keystone keeps the snow guns going at the top of the mountain so that tubing operations run as much of the summer as possible.
- And, strolling around at 10,000 feet in Leadville – just down the road from Cooper/Chicago Ridge – may mean an encounter with a donkey. They are left over from the silver mining days and accompany mountain marathon runners in an annual race.