It doesn’t get much better than that last, sun-soaked, springtime ski run high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Or does it?
You might be shocked to learn how the locals of Vail and Aspen feel about the winter wind down. Even die-hard cold weather sports fanatics, originally lured to the area by the stellar skiing and snowboarding conditions, are stoked for the arrival of warmer temps. And shockingly, it isn’t all about getting rid of the tourists. In fact, it’s the opposite. Extreme athletes, music lovers, and foodies will all find something to love in the lush Rocky Mountains. For one, it never gets oppressively hot. So when the skiers and shredders replace their winter gear with mountain bikes, hiking boots, and kayaks the weather is just right. So if you enjoy the crisp, mountain air, why not get after it like a Colorado Rocky Mountain local this summer?
The stellar mountain biking scene attracts tons of tourists, but is also a favorite among the locals. Pumping up the mountain can be just as scenic as riding down when on a mountain bike. “Someone once said that you have to train extremely hard to be ordinary in this town. In a community full of active people, training for a race and playing in the great outdoors is what you do,” says Manor Vail Lodge’s Nicole Martin.
Think you’re in shape? Test your fitness prowess and start training for next year’s Leadville Trail 100 MTB Bike Race. It’s the ultimate bike challenge that will push your body and mind to the limit with a total elevation gain of 11,000 feet with a time limit to finish of under 12 hours. “If you make it, you can earn the famous belt buckle. The faster you finish, the bigger the buckle. However, it is not just about the prize. It’s about the opportunity to participate in this one-of-a-kind mountain bike race set in the highest town in Colorado. It is also quite incredible what the human body can do, and the Leadville 100 teaches you that.”
GoPro Mountain Games
The GoPro Mountain Games will take place in Vail, June 7-10. Boasting “the largest celebration of adventure sports, music and mountain lifestyle.” Don’t miss the coming together of seasoned pros and hardcore amateur athletes as they converge to compete in all kinds of outdoor disciplines like road cycling, extreme kayaking, mud and road running, World Cup Climbing, and the Ultimate Mountain Challenge. But if you don’t film it did it really happen? Extreme creative and budding Ansel Adams types can compete in the mountain photography competition, adventure film school, and the film festival.
Music in the Mountains
Fine music lovers will enjoy the sweet sounds of Bravo! Vail. This year the international music festival will be hosting Academy of St. Marten in the Fields, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Expect the great classics, jazz, and pop tunes from the most exceptional musicians as they make their summer home in the Vail Valley. Enjoy this trifecta of talent all season by checking into the host hotel, Manor Vail Lodge located right at the base of the mountain.
Hit the dusty trail in style. You can’t beat the shopping in Aspen and that doesn’t change when the snow melts. Along with the designer duds of Gucci, Moncler, and Aviator Nation, you’ll find the friendly staff at Kemo Sabe. Saddle up and trade in your ski boots for a pair of exquisitely crafted Cowboy kicks, fashionable western apparel, and authentic belt buckles. Giddy up!
Speaking of trails, the summer is for hiking. Challenge yourself by heading up the Ute Trail to the top of Aspen Mountain. At the top, you’ll enjoy dazzling views of the Elk Range while enjoying a refreshing beer at The Sundek. Kick back and relax. The trip down is much easier when you take the free gondola ride back down into Aspen.
Take a Dip
Whether you’re on a guided fly fishing tour, cooling off in the Grottos at Independence Pass or paddle boarding the North Star Preserve you’ll want to enjoy your time on the water responsibly. Start by checking into the cozy and nature loving Gant Aspen. “Partnering with Leave No Trace not only gives us the opportunity to support local sustainability projects right in our own backyard, but it also allows us to educate our guests on how to enjoy all the outdoor activities Aspen has to offer responsibly,” says the Gant Aspen’s Lou Eppelsheimer.
The Rocky’s aren’t all about the sporting life, but the mountains always take center stage. Pioneering culture lovers can enjoy a coffee at SO Café on top of the Aspen Art Museum. Designed by famed architect, Shigeru Ban, this building is as much a work of art as the installations it houses. Ban explains, “In any design, I always strive for a unified relationship between the structure and its surroundings. The design for the new AAM is a very exciting opportunity to create a harmony between Aspen’s existing architecture and the surrounding beauty of the natural landscape.” And indeed the space allows you to take in breathtaking views of Aspen Mountain followed by free entrance to the exhibits in the museum.
Decompress in Nature
If sunshine on your shoulders makes you happy, enjoy a book from The Gant’s Little Free Library and read it at the John Denver Sanctuary. Erected in 1998 after the death of the acclaimed songwriter and beloved Aspen resident, this nature sanctuary celebrates Denver’s life as well as his passion for the environment. Now according to the Aspen Chamber of Commerce, this memorial consisting of hundreds of boulders, native plant life, rivers and streams “serves to continuously clean the community’s storm runoff”.
And while you’re in Colorado, you might as well hit up the Colorado Spirits Trail. It’s a can’t-miss drinking doozy.
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