As the heat of the summer starts to settle in, it’s time to think about escaping the sweltering pavements and overcrowded watering holes of Pearl Street. You won’t have to go far. Within four hours of Boulder, there are plenty of options to leave the crowds behind, cool off and find some elbow room. Here are three of our favorite escapes in summer.
The Gore Range
Hiking, camping and backpacking doesn’t get much better than the Gore Range, an underutilized stripe of mountains that separate Summit County from the Vail Valley. The terrain here is rugged, and while some of the easier-accessed trailheads (like those around Frisco and in East Vail) see plenty of folks, most of the Gore remains wild and empty. To experience it that way, savvy hikers access this beautiful mountain range north of Dillon at the North Rock Creek and Slate Lake trailheads.
Rafting in the Upper Colorado | Photo by Tom Winter
Upper Colorado River
Family-friendly camping, river rafting and yes, live music are available between Vail and Steamboat on this hip and happening section of the Colorado River.
While the legendary State Bridge Lodge was a victim of arson a few years ago, this western outpost isn’t out for the count, hosting live outdoor concerts on a revamped stage. With plentiful camping and the cool charms of the Colorado, which has fishing and family-friendly rapids suitable for the whole gang, the Upper Colorado is car camping at its best. Even better, the rustic cabins at State Bridge escaped the blaze, so you don’t have to camp if you don’t want to.
Cyclist Chris Albers outside Beaver Creek | Photo by Tom Winter
Bike Beaver Creek
Yes, it’s ritzy. But Beaver Creek is more than just a playground for the rich. In fact, the rich likely don’t ride their mountain bikes as much as you do, and in the summer this upscale ski resort has lodging deals galore, including luxury accommodations that go for a fraction of their winter rates. Throw into the mix a surprisingly varied mountain bike trail system, and the option to explore additional trails at nearby Eagle and Minturn, and you’ve got the summer’s most unlikely destination: a yin vs. yang experience that combines mud with high-thread-count sheets.