"Keystone offers no shortage of summer fun to be had, and what's more Colorado than guests being able to slide down snow despite the calendar being set on summer," said Cody Stake, manager at Adventure Point, the summer and winter activities hub at the top of the River Run Gondola. As Stake says, Keystone is packed with summer diversions — scenic lift rides, mountaintop yoga, the Keystone Bike Park — but summer tubing is one of the strangest, and by far one of the most enticing. Keystone is home to the only snow tubing operation in Colorado after the ski season ends, with lanes open for tubers of all ages from now until at least mid-July. Some seasons, when Mother Nature cooperates with cool temperatures, the tubing lanes are open as late as August.
"(Snow tubing) continues to be another fun way for guests of all ages to experience the mountains," Stake said. "It's quite the rush to be sitting atop snow in shorts and a t-shirt, with nothing but mountaintop views surrounding you, while your friends back home have the air conditioning cranked up to full blast."
SUMMER ON SNOW
Snow tubing in summer is a one-of-a-kind experience, to be sure, but how exactly does it work? As seen from U.S. Highway 6, Keystone's slopes are usually the first in Summit County to appear completely dried out, and there certainly isn't anywhere anxious skiers and snowboarders can hike to for mid-summer turns, like they often do on July 4 at Fourth of July bowl (aka Peak 10) looming over Breckenridge.
Simply stated, Keystone isn't as snow-free as it seems. The upper reaches at nearly 12,000 feet hold snow long after summer begins, Stake said, and crews begin farming snow for the tubing hill as soon as the lifts stop spinning in April.
"Once Keystone closes for the winter, we begin condensing our eight winter tubing lanes into two summer lanes, piling the snow as high as we can to create an experience that will last into the summer," Stake said. "Our two summer snow tubing lanes are 500 feet long. That's a lot of tubing."
The tubing hill didn't open until June 9 this season — nearly a full two months after closing day — but that only meant the rest of Keystone truly felt like summer by the time it was ready for tubers. Shorts, t-shirts and tank tops are more than acceptable for summer tubing, Stake said, but he recommends anyone who signs up for an afternoon of tubing bring layers, just in case. The only things required are close-toed shoes and a sense of adventure.
But what does a taste of winter in the heat of summer cost? As winter lift ticket prices inch closer and closer to small fortunes — a single-day adult ticket at Keystone this past season was more than $100 — summer tubing has remained relatively affordable. The price is $33 per person, which includes a lift pass to the top of the mountain and one hour of tubing. Groups of up to four people in daisy-chained tubes can cruise the lanes and Stake makes special arrangements for large groups, such as birthday parties, family reunions and church groups.
"Come and enjoy some of the last remnants of snow at Keystone," Stake said, "Before it's too late!"
Governor John Hickenlooper doesn't have a lot of spare time for bike rides, but on Thursday he got the chance to cruise down several miles of the Summit County recreation path from Copper Mountain to Frisco.
"This is really the first time I've ridden more than a mile this year," he said, adding that it's not a very long trip from the Governor's Mansion to the state capital.
The ride came after a presentation from the county open space and trails department, which was showing off a planned extension of the path that would link Summit and Lake counties over Fremont Pass, allowing cyclists to skip the treacherous stretch of Highway 91 dubbed "The Narrows."
That project is one of 16 chosen by the governor's office last year for its Colorado the Beautiful initiative, which identified the state's most pressing trail gaps in the hopes that the added spotlight might help local governments gin up funding to get them built.
“I appreciate that public-private mix and I love the notion that we’re getting counties working with each other.”John HickenlooperColorado governor
"The state's role here isn't top-down," said Ken Gart, the governor's bike czar and the man who spearheaded the program. "It's to facilitate and help find opportunities to get local groups involved."
Last year, the county unsuccessfully courted a $2 million grant for the project from state lottery funds. Nonetheless, said open space and trails director Brian Lorch, the designation from the governor's office was key to a $4 million federal grant the county secured for the project in February.
"I just want to thank everyone who was involved in getting us on that list," he said. "It was huge for getting access to the grant — being able to say the governor is behind this."
Although the county has secured partial funding for the trail, it still has another hurdle to clear; the route runs through lynx habitat, and there are also concerns about bringing people to one of the last patches of untouched land in the county.
If the project gets the final green light, however, it would fill a key link in the still-fabled Alma-to-Aspen loop, an enormous trail network that would include roughly half of Colorado's 14ers.
"We're trying to get from here to Leadville, to Aspen, to Glenwood, to Vail and back," assistant county manager Thad Noll said. "That kind of a loop will become a mecca for summer tourism."
Officials hope to begin work on the first 3-mile stretch in 2020. The full path would follow a long-abandoned railroad grade, cross Highway 91 via a new overpass and end just south of Leadville after a brief stretch through private land owned by the Climax Molybdenum Mine.
"I appreciate that public-private mix and I love the notion that we're getting counties working with each other," Hicknelooper said. "I think the real willingness and commitment to make these bike trails all over the state a reality is going to be a big deal."
Hickenlooper said that polling done by his office shows that good bike infrastructure is a major draw for the young people coming to Colorado in droves, who in turn contribute to Colorado's strong economy.
"We're at, what, 2.3 percent unemployment?" he said. "That's a good place for a state to be, and part of it is we've become this destination, and bikes are a huge part of it."
People have been driving by the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center for months, watching as the new $9 million facility took shape and wondering what's inside. However, with "Sister Act" set to debut there Friday night and a daylong grand-opening celebration planned for Saturday, that wait is almost over.
Ahead of this weekend's festivities, town officials and representatives of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company gave members of the media a sneak peek of the new performing arts center, built in a public-private partnership between the town and the local theater group.
For its part, the Lake Dillon Theatre Company put up $2.7 million toward the total while town residents footed the remaining $6.3 million.
LDTC executive director Joshua Blanchard said the money came from a $3.8 million fundraising campaign, of which the theater company has already raised $3.2 million.
For their investment, the company gets regular use of the new center, including office space, while taxpayers get a brand new public facility that's four years in the making and widely seen as a catalyst for further downtown development.
That's because even as they prepare to take their scissors to a ribbon on Saturday, Silverthorne officials like town manager Ryan Hyland have their attention fixed on a much bigger mission, bringing a "main street" feel to the Blue River Parkway, north of Intestate 70, through Silverthorne.
"We really wanted to design an iconic landmark for our downtown, which we think we've accomplished," Hyland said. "We also needed to create a world-class facility for our main tenant, if you will, our main partner — the Lake Dillon Theatre Company — and I think we accomplished that as well."
Most notably, the new performing arts center features three unique performance spaces, not counting a small, weatherproof stage built of wood and concrete just outside the front entrance.
Just inside the main lobby is the biggest of the three indoor performance spaces — The Flex, as they've named it — and it can be adjusted to fit any one of five different configurations, seating up to 150 depending on the stage setup.
The Flex comes with false floors ready for all sorts of different theatrics, a vaulted two-story ceiling, multiple projectors, state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, a balcony along the back wall and a tech booth neatly removed from view.
Also included is a heating and cooling system, which did not exist at the Lake Dillon Theatre Company's old facility. Additionally, the entire building was designed to muffle noise from the highway and from other performance areas by using thick walls and things like hallways as natural sound barriers.
The second-largest performance area — The Studio — is comparable in size to the theater company's old stage, and it can seat up to 68 theatergoers at any given time.
The smallest of the trio, The Lab, is undeniably the most intimate, and it might be the most intriguing too. That's because the comparatively small room, which closely resembles a dance studio, has one wall covered in mirrors and another with a large garage-style door that pushes up on the opposite side of the building from the highway to reveal a view of the Blue River, fully integrating the stage with the outdoors for any would-be indoor-outdoor performances.
The center also contains a workshop area with table saws, other construction tools and a loading dock that, when necessary, will allow theater workers to take stage construction and set design outside.
The green room, a behind-the-scenes area for actors and actresses to change into wardrobe, among other things, features a fair amount of space with multiple dressing and restrooms.
An orchestra pit is located in a separate room apart from the performance areas, but it remains wired into the main stages, allowing musicians to follow the production.
Altogether, the Lake Dillon Theatre Company sponsors about 150 days of programming each year, with up to four different programs on a single day, Blanchard said. They have a regular staff of 10 full-time employees, and Blanchard said that as many as 70 people can be working out of the building at any given time.
More important than having a new performing arts center, however, might be what it can do to transform downtown Silverthorne, both as a gathering place and as a symbol of downtown.
"We see this as a community-gathering space, and that's really what this was about, is place-making for Silverthorne," Hyland said. "… We want that traditional downtown feel."
Even "before a shovel was in the ground," he explained, the new performing arts center was sparking newfound confidence in nearby developments, giving people the faith they needed to move forward with, for example, things like the Fourth Street Crossing, a roughly $70 million mixed-use development across the street, or the construction of the Angry James Brewery on Adams Avenue, which broke ground in fall 2015 and is expected to open this year less than two blocks away from the performing arts center.
The sky is clear, the weather is wonderful and the singletrack is finally dry. Now's time for the bike lovers to come out and play.
Breckenridge's annual celebration of all things on pedals and two (or fewer) wheels, Breck Bike Week, rolls through town June 21-25 with all-new activities, including women-only clinics, guys and gals combo clinics, family poker ride, a new adult big-wheel race, and brewery and distillery rides across town.
The party kicks off today (June 21) with Bike to Work Day and continues all week in downtown Breck with bike-in movie night, the Funkadelic Pond Crossing and more, according to a release from the Breckenridge Tourism Office. Also open this week is the Breck Connect gondola, providing free access to Peak 8 base area and beginner biking lessons through Breckenridge Resort.
Here's a quick roundup of not-to-miss Breck Bike Week events. For the complete roster, including times and locations, see BreckBikeWeek.com.
Bike-in movie | Wednesday, June 21: Come to town at dusk for a free screening of "Breaking Away," part of BreckCreate's LateNite @ the District. Bring blankets and lawn chairs for the outdoor event.
Breckenridge Distillery bike tour | Thursday, June 22: Stop by Ridden in Breckenridge for a tour of town on a carbon fiber fat bike. Casually roll through town to the Blue River Rec Path and finish at the Breckenridge Distillery for sprit sipping and patio relaxing.
Skils clinics | Thursday to Sunday, June 22-25: Join Yeti Beti for beginner and intermediate women's skills clinics. New this year are beginner and intermediate guys and gals' combo clinics with Colorado Adventure Guides. These free mountain bike events fill up fast, so sign up now by emailing Cat (email@example.com) to reserve a spot for Yeti Beti and Abe (firstname.lastname@example.org) to sign up for combo clinics.
Firecracker 50 pre-ride | Friday, June 23: Are you planning on conquering Breckenridge's classic Firecracker 50 mountain bike race this Independence Day? Breck Bike Guides can help. No matter if you are training or just want to tour one of the summers best race loops, meet at Breck Bike Guides in downtown Breck for a course preview.
Funkadelic Pond Crossing | Saturday, June 24: Formerly held during the USA Pro Challenge, this favorite local "race" challenges townies, unicycles and anyone with a great costume to a ride across the dredge pond on a narrow, unstable rail bridge in downtown Breckenridge.
Adult Big-Wheel Race | Saturday, June 24: Grab your favorite goofy costume, hop on a provided big wheel (yes, the same plastic bikes from when you were a kid) and race around the dredge pond in downtown Breck. It's a must-see intermission during the Funkadelic Pond Crossing, with for prizes first, second, third and best costume.
Bikes + Beers + Bands | Sunday, June 25: Breck Bike Guides and Rocky Mountain Underground team up for this brand-new, summer-long series, which kicks off during Breck Bike Week. For $15 per person, get a full-day skills clinic at the Breckenridge Pump Track and two post-ride beers at RMU's new backyard beer garden. All proceeds benefit Summit County Search and Rescue.
Take our word for it: You don't have to dodge cars and semis on U.S. Highway 6 to get from Keystone to Lake Dillon and back again. There's a recpath for that.
Found on the banks of the stunning Snake River, the Snake River Rec Path (aka Keystone recpath) from Keystone to Summit Cove is one of several routes in the sprawling Summit County Rec Path System. The entire system stretches nearly 50 miles across the county, connecting Keystone, Breck, Frisco, Copper, Dillon and Silverthorne on wide paved trails with stunning scenery, from the crest of Swan Mountain overlooking Lake Dillon to the summit of Vail Pass west of Copper Mountain.
The Snake River Rec Path runs 4 miles one way, linking the east end of Keystone Resort to a long, fingerlike bay on the east end of the lake. From there, it connects with a tough (but short) climb southwest to Swan Mountain, or a meandering cruise on the lakeshore northwest to Dillon.
The short-and-sweet path is one of the mellowest sections in the entire system, with hardly any vertical gain. This makes for a picturesque bypass of the noisy and bustling highway, which stays mostly hidden by trees and homes to the north.
Along with the namesake river, the Snake River Rec Path passes by quiet neighborhoods, quaint meadows and The River Course at Keystone golf club. On the east end, you'll find dozens of restaurants and eateries at River Run Village, The Lodge at Keystone and elsewhere in the resort hub. On the west end are several secluded benches and tables to rest your legs or stop for a picnic lunch with the family.
The Snake River Rec Path begins at River Run Village in Keystone, with free parking at the Montezuma Lot throughout the year and the Hunki Dori Lot from June to September.
From Interstate 70, take Exit 205 for Dillon/Silverthorne and drive east on U.S. Highway 6 past Dillon for about 6 miles. Look for signs leading to Montezuma Lot. For Hunki Dori Lot, pass by the Montezuma Lot to the stop sign on Montezuma Road. Turn right and take your next right onto Hunki Dori Court. The lot is next to the base of the River Run Gondola.
Colorado Ski Country USA announced during its 54th annual meeting skier visits at its 22-member ski areas totaled 7.3 million during the 2016-17 season. It is estimated that after final numbers are tallied, the 2016-17 season will be the state's second-best season on record. This year's season total was up 6 percent over the five-year average, marking the fourth consecutive year that skier visits at Colorado Ski Country USA resorts have outperformed the five-year average.
"This season had a little bit of everything," Colorado Ski Country USA president and CEO Melanie Mills said. "A warm fall kept skiers away from the High Country early in the season, but deep snow totals in December and January attracted record numbers of guests during the busy holiday period.
"These are very strong numbers, especially considering the warm start to the season," Mills added. "Colorado's consistently great snow conditions are a draw for in-state, out-of-state and international guests. … We're looking forward to another strong season in 2017-18."
Vail Resorts is not a member of the statewide group, so its skier numbers aren't included in the Colorado Ski Country USA total. Vail Resorts doesn't report skier numbers for individual resorts. The company's most recent earnings report showed 11.6 million skier visits collectively at all of its resorts around the world.