Two Summit County breweries took home prestigious awards from the Great American Beer Festival last weekend.
Pug Ryan’s Brewing Company in Dillon added to their mantel by securing the bronze in the Bohemian-Style Pilsener category with its Peacemaker Pilsner. And, after only 16 months in the business, Broken Compass in Breckenridge brought home a bronze in the Field Beer category, earning its first award.
The Great American Beer Festival brings industry professionals from around the world to judge beer from 92 different categories. The judges award gold, silver and bronze medals that are recognized around the world. The festival began in 1982 and has continued to grow, bringing together breweries from around the country for a public tasting event as well as the competition. This year, the beer festival boasted the most breweries in its history, said David “Axe” Axelrod, cofounder of Broken Compass.
“It’s so huge, it’s amazing,” Axe said of winning the bronze medal. “Great American Beer Festival is one of the hardest medals to win. This year was the most entries they’ve ever had, the most breweries they’ve ever had, so to come away with anything from this competition is just so big for us. It gives us validation and recognition from our peers and other breweries. Obviously, the community has already been supporting us massively. … We’ve gotten great word-of-mouth, and everyone tells their friends — but this is professional recognition that really means the world to us. It’s just incredible.”
Jason Ford, brewmaster for Broken Compass, said there were around 55 other entries in the Field Beer category.
“Great American Beer Festival is one of the hardest medals to win.”David “Axe” Axelrod cofounder of Broken Compass
“It was a complete surprise; it caught us all off guard,” he said. “You’re up there, you’re screaming, you’re yelling, you can’t hardly remember walking up there, you can’t hardly remember getting the medal. Just an amazing, amazing feeling. It’s the World Series of beer; it’s a pretty big deal.”
The Field Beer category focuses on beers whose primary flavoring or ingredient is something that comes out of a field, Axe said. The Breckenridge brewery won the bronze with its Coconut Porter. He said they describe the brew as “liquid crack,” and patrons call it the “Almond Joy.” It’s not overly sweet but the flavor of the coconut mutes some of the darker toasted roast to make it a balanced, smooth drinking beer, he said.
“It’s a really funny beer because it’s one that people who don’t like beer really stay away from the dark beers, but this is the one when someone comes into Broken Compass and says, ‘I don’t like beer, and I especially don’t like dark beer,’ we give it to them,” he said. “It’s a really smooth drinking, easy drinking dark beer with a lot of flavor to it, but not heavy.”
The win for the Coconut Porter has special meaning for the brewery, Axe said. The recipe was created by Ford’s wife, Jo Ford, who has been making sacrifices to get the brewery going.
“Jo is one of the three of us (who) took one for the team and kept her day job down in Denver while we’ve been getting this going,” he said. “So she and Ford have been separated for a year and a half. … She took one for the team, and it’s her recipe that took the award.”
This is the second year Broken Compass has participated in the festival, but, last year, the brewery was just starting up and didn’t have a bottling line yet, leaving their beer fairly oxidized by the time it was judged, Axe said.
“They were also our first beers out of our tank, so we really didn’t expect to win anything last year because we knew they weren’t up to the quality we were pouring out of the tap house,” he said. “To win one with your first beers out of your tank would be a miracle. We pretty much think it’s a miracle to have won 15 months in.”
Ford said it was a collaboration between himself and his wife, along with the hard work of assistant brewer Marshall Shaw, that helped them earn the award.
“Anybody (who) knows anything about beer looks at that list,” he said. “To be able to get that kind of exposure, especially in the Front Range, and people (who) are going to be coming up here this winter — it’s a huge, huge deal for us.
“Anybody (who’s) anybody is going to see us on that list, and it’s going to put us on the map for probably literally tens of thousands of people.”
Pug Ryan’s won the bronze for its Peacemaker Pilsner, competing against 62 entries in the Bohemian-Style Pilsener category. This award isn’t new for the brewery or even for the beer, as the Peacemaker has won awards in the Great American Beer Festival and the North American Beer Awards multiple times, said Dave Simmons, Pug Ryan’s brewmaster.
“In the Great American Beer Festival, this is the fifth medal for that beer,” he said. “It’s also won a gold and three silvers. Now we have the full podium.”
The pilsner was formally known as the Pallavicini Pilsner until the brewery rebranded in 2012. The brew is modeled after a classic Bohemian style, as Simmons said he is a big fan of the Czech pilsners.
“Do I try to steer in that direction — kind of, sort of — but you can’t duplicate what they do over there; the beer is just incredible,” he said. “So it is modeled after a Bohemian style. There is a large amount of hops in there, but they are all noble hops, Czech Saaz hops — lower in the alpha acids — so you don’t get that bittering profile that you would from a lot of other big, high-alpha-acid hops that people put in the pale ales.”
The brewery also uses all Weyermann malts from Germany, and the yeast used is from Andechs Monastery, also in Germany.
“So this is a beer, when I try to duplicate a beer or something similar — do your best, put your best foot forward and spend the money on the right ingredients is my theory behind it all,” Simmons said.
He said the award is very prestigious, and is good exposure for Pug’s.
“It’s a big to do,” he said. “It’s always good to receive some sort of honor like this.”
With a fresh layer of pavement in place, construction in Summit Cove wrapped up just in time for the first fall frosts. Columbine Hills Concrete completed the much-needed repaving project last weekend, adding bike lanes and repaving a large stretch of Cove Boulevard.
“We’re getting fantastic feedback. I’m thrilled,” assistant county manager Thad Noll said. “We’re going to do more projects like this where we get neighborhood deeply engaged early on.”
Noll added that the final cost of the project came in lower than Columbine’s $741,000 bid, which was already significantly cheaper than the county’s estimates.
While the project came to a close after the planned Aug. 30 completion date, with rainy summer weather and multiple contractors working simultaneously, Summit County senior planner Kate Berg said the project came together smoothly.
“There were some delays with the extent of the side work that needed to happen with this phase. It made sense to minimize the disturbance to residents,” she added. “We figured if we got this section done first, it would help us get things dialed in, so we could implement things that are more complicated more smoothly.”
For the final project, the road was widened two feet on each side to allow room for four feet of bike lanes in the roadway. In addition, brand-new mailboxes were installed. The side roads of Idlewild Drive, Vail Circle, Meadow Drive and Hideaway Court were repaved using the Cutler process, where old asphalt is melted down to form a base layer to remove stubborn cracks.
“This section of the neighborhood contains side roads that neighbors said were most in need repair. We wanted to respond to those concerns,” Berg said.
Once shoulder season ends, Summit County will begin discussing the next two phases of the project: finishing the rest of Cove Boulevard past Summit Cove Elementary and linking it to Summit Drive to complete the loop.
“Once we finalize the budget, we will have a sense of what will be involved in all of road and bridge projects for next year,” Summit County public affairs coordinator Julie Sutor said.
Future plans include larger, buffered bike lanes, sidewalks going into the school zone and improved crosswalks. Berg said the county would coordinate with Summit Cove Elementary to design safety improvements along the school zone.
She said all of the parties involved would start coordinating soon to make plans for construction over the next two years to wrap up phase two and three of the project and complete the loop. She said it would be a matter of timing to coordinate with the timing of the school, the county and Cutler Repaving, if more extensive work to side roads is needed.
“I think we’re gonna get into some serious planning discussions once things are wrapped up for the fall,” Berg said. “There are just a lot of balls in the air right now, and we’re not sure how it’s gonna shake out.”
St. Anthony Summit Medical Center will present the third annual Brain Injury Conference for the high country region on Monday, Oct. 5.
The conference will be held in Breckenridge at the Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The medical community, traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors and caregivers are strongly encouraged to attend.
Registration costs $45 and includes lunch or $25 for lunch and the afternoon sessions only. Brain-injury survivors and family members can attend for a $15 fee.
Experts speakers will present on topics including sleep impacts, protocol for pro-cyclists, education for military veterans, neuropsychology, concussions in athletes and art therapy.
Additionally, Dr. Michael Roshon, an emergency physician and team doctor for the United Health Care Pro Cycling Team, will present on the team’s protocol and assessments for TBI and concussion during a free community talk on Sunday, Oct. 4.
Roshon will discuss his experience in treating and managing TBIs, and he will share information about new helmet technology for cyclists and how it may improve protection for the brain during a crash. His public talk will be at Beaver Run from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
KAISER ANNOUNCES NEW CLINIC LOCATION IN EAGLE COUNTY
Kaiser Permanente Colorado recently announces Edwards as the location of its new medical offices in Eagle County.
Set to open on Jan. 4, the Kaiser Permanente Edwards medical offices will be at 56 Edwards Village Blvd., west of Beaver Creek.
The office will be Kaiser Permanente’s second facility in its expansion into Colorado’s mountain communities. Kaiser Permanente will open a new medical office building in Summit County at the Basecamp retail center in Frisco.
The 6,000-square-foot facility in Edwards will offer a variety of health-care services under one roof, including primary care, laboratory and routine medical imaging.
Interior construction is set to begin mid-September, including the installation of primary-care exam rooms, computer systems and other medical equipment. Employees will begin moving into the building in late 2015.
While specific staffing plans are still in the works, the new Edwards medical offices will employ a variety of health-care professionals, including physicians, nurses, technicians and administrative staff. Open positions will be posted on kp.org/careers.
Kaiser Permanente members will be able to visit any Kaiser medical office in Colorado, including the Edwards and Frisco locations. In addition, the state’s largest nonprofit health plan is actively working to build a network of local primary care and specialty care physicians and hospitals.
CMC BRECKENRIDGE HOSTS PANEL ON SUICIDE PREVENTION, SUBSTANCE ABUSE
The Colorado Mountain College Speaker Series will welcome a panel of local experts, authors and educators on Oct. 8 who will share and engage with community members about suicide prevention, substance abuse and behavior patterns.
Panel members include counselor and psychology professor Drew Mikita, psychologist and Summit Community Care Clinic assistant director of behavioral health Cassie V. Comeau, author and suicide-prevention advocate Molly Fiore, Mind Springs Health program director Kathryn Davis, educator and author Carrie Brown-Wolf and educator and counselor Stacy Smith.
The panelists will discuss mental wellness and include personal experiences and community resources. They will each give a five-minute overview of their selected topic, and the remainder of the evening will be for audience participation.
The event will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Eileen and Paul Finkel Auditorium and is free and open to the public. CMC in Breckenridge is at 107 Denison Placer Road.
For more information, call Heidi Kunzek at 453-6757 ext. 2614 or go to cmcspeaks.com.
Summit County loves its history. If you don’t believe me, try taking a tour sometime. I’ve had the privilege of taking two such journeys this fall. This first, was set up by Breckenridge Heritage Alliance archivist, Kris Ann Knish. After a summer of working she and I realized we had missed every single Bill Fountain tour, and so she pleaded with him for one more. Bill graciously combined all three of his tours into one adventure packed day for us, and cross-country skier Tom Waymire, a tour guide up from the Front Range for a little history intake. It was worth the wait.
ON THE TRAIL
Some people are just magnetic. Bill Fountain is one of those people. As our tour began in the trailhead parking lot across the street from the site of the Wellington Mine, people were drawn in. Throughout the day a mountain biker and some hikers joined our tour, unable to resist Fountain’s charisma and knowledge. It seems easy for him as he recounts each mine, owner and his own adventures through their history, but eventually you realize Fountain has been a student of Summit’s history for decades, and he’s just kind enough to share what he’s learned.
In our first lesson, Fountain held up pictures against the aspen-dotted background of the former Wellington Mine giving a glimpse to what lies beneath the surface. Massive tunnels run underground, at one time pulling carts of gold to the surface, now belying the history of the land. The Wellington was located near a series of mines including the Country Boy, Lucky and Minnie mines.
MEN AND THEIR MINES
The history of the men who owned these mines is as boom-and-bust as it gets. Men like John Traylor and Ben Stanley Revett ventured to Summit County with big plans. They had ideas about how to make their fortune, not just hopes. However, a lot of the time this wasn’t enough. When Traylor tried to build a 2000-foot shaft for mining, he made it 150 feet before running out of money. This wasn’t his only venture into the mining game though. Traylor was a major figure in Summit’s history. He purchased the Royal Tiger in 1917 and connected it by tunnel to one of his other claims, the Cashier Mine. Fountain has some personal knowledge of this tunnel, as he and his son have both ventured inside to get a better look.
That’s not usual for Fountain. He has several stories that seem to intertwine his research and the subject, including taking a serious fall down a 150-foot mine-shaft. He claims that three miracles happened that day: The shaft had already filled with water so he only fell about 20 feet into the splash-zone, his flashlight fell out of his hand and landed on a ridge pointing directly down at him and a board over the opening of the shaft allowed him to pull himself out. It’s kind of hard to argue his theory. And don’t worry, his wife already knows the story, as well as many others, I’m sure.
After we had all piled into Fountain’s Chevy Avalanche he continued up the road giving us the history of mining sites all along the way from the Wire Patch to information on the dredging fields. Including how Revett had refused to let a competitor run a dredge through his land. The competitor would eventually have to move the dredge over the land in order to keep dredging farther down.
This may seem harsh, but you have to understand men like Revett came to Summit before the law. The first mining claim in Summit was made by Ruben J. Spalding on Aug. 10, 1859. Things escalated quickly from there as throngs of people came to Summit for their riches.
Each mining claim was in a mining district, and the district had its own law. It was pretty loose though. There were no national standards for mining claims, so each district had their own rules for how claims were made and kept.
Being the High Country, mining could really only take place during the summer and in the winter the camps were largely abandoned. This meant for a lot of claim jumping. In one instance, a miner was chastised into taking his wife and child to Denver so that they wouldn’t have to brave the elements. When the miner returned, the same men who had implored him to go, had jumped his claim. Such was life.
It wasn’t until 1872 when national mining laws came into place that claims had to be registered. This too led to a lot of jumping; It didn’t matter who had been working the land before, it only mattered who got their claim registered the fastest. Meaning many men saw their claims disappear in the stroke of a pen.
GOING TO TOWN
Tales of glory and betrayal aren’t the only legacy of the mining era. Huge dredge piles still infiltrate the land, with rocks that have been pristinely scrubbed and cast aside in the quest for gold. Abandoned towns have become a new kind of buried treasure. Parkville was once the first County Seat, and a happening place for miners. It included two theater companies, the oldest Masonic Lodge, and had its own currency. A Parkville coin is now worth thousands of dollars, which is unfortunate in that the Mason’s memorial was destroyed by people hoping to find a coin inside.
The town was founded in 1860, and if you take Georgia Road you can still see where the town was located at Georgia Gulch. Georgia Gulch leads up the hill to Humbug Gulch which is where another outcropping of Parkville buildings was located. Unfortunately, the same mining that created the town, also destroyed it. Parkville was eventually buried under sludge created from hydraulic mining on the hillside. It is probable that many of the buildings were deconstructed or moved before the rubble over took it, but nothing is known for certain.
Parkville wasn’t the only town to spring to life during mining, only to be destroyed after time. Swan City held miners through the high points in mining history in 1914 and saw dredging become a truly viable source of income. When Dredge #7 was operational it was cranking out $1500 per day, until it eventually died in 1920. At the time it was owned by the Tonopah Company, which built a company town at the current site for Good Times Adventures.
The town of Tiger lasted longer than most. It lasted so long, it had an additional history past its days as a company town. Tiger remained a lively place until the 1970s when it was burned to the ground by the US Forest Service. In the ‘60s hippies had taken over Tiger, and their flower power didn’t really appeal to the authorities. After several clashes, everything in the town was burned except for the Assayers Office, which longtime local Maureen Nichols was instrumental in saving.
Summit’s mining history is complex to say the least. Much like Parkville, we wouldn’t exist without mining, and yet the land still bears the scars these men and machines left behind. Our bike paths were their mining roads, the railroad and stage came through Summit because of these towns and mines now buried under layers of history. If you get the chance, take a Bill Fountain tour and learn exactly what Summit’s made of.
Though Summit County residents and visitors are often drawn to the forested area by the potential for wildlife sightings, some forget they are in bear, moose, deer and elk territory while driving or securing their trash.
Local wildlife and police officers encouraged people to drive slower and store trash properly after drivers recently hit and killed three bears within 24 hours and bears have been reported getting into trash around Breckenridge.
A driver on Highway 9 near Blue River hit two bear cubs around 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and both died.
CPW Summit County officer Tom Davies said one cub was killed instantly, and the other was so badly injured that he euthanized it.
The cubs were “real little guys,” he said. They were born this spring and weighed about 25 or 30 pounds. He called it one of his worst days as a wildlife officer.
“I really dislike putting critters down because of people. Wildlife is always the thing that loses,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t have time to stop, but most of the critters, it’s just because people are just not paying attention or speeding.”
Later that night, a 200- to 250-pound sow was hit and killed at the same spot, around mile marker 82, he said.
DRIVE WITH VIGILENCE
Neither driver stayed at the scene or called to report the dead animals, which Davies said is not legally required but is helpful for wildlife officers. He didn’t know about any vehicle damage.
Collisions with large animals not only threaten the wildlife, they also cost people thousands of dollars in car repairs, and sometimes the human drivers or passengers are the ones who end up dead.
Parks and Wildlife said drivers should stay vigilant, especially this time of year when the days become shorter, visibility worsens and animals are moving and migrating. Wildlife are most active around dusk and dawn and at night.
At night, “people outdrive their headlights,” Davies said, and even during the day, “slowing down would be huge.”
He said it seems more wildlife have been killed by vehicle collisions on that section of Highway 9 this year, including at least two moose and one elk.
On the other end of Summit, parts of Highway 9 north of Silverthorne and between Green Mountain Reservoir and Grand County are especially notorious for animal-vehicle accidents.
Around 30 years ago, Parks and Wildlife changed its policy to allow people to collect roadkill meat. First priority goes to anyone on scene, whether it’s the driver who hit the animal or a passerby who expresses a desire to take the meat home.
Those who find freshly dead deer or elk in the road can collect the carcass on the spot as long as they obtain a roadkill permit from Parks and Wildlife, state patrol or their local government within 48 hours.
People who stumble upon roadkill mountain lions, bears, bighorn sheep and mountain goats must call Parks and Wildlife first before moving the animal.
The agency salvages any trophy parts — hides, heads, paws, antlers — for an annual auction put on in the winter by the nonprofit Colorado Trappers Association and adds the money it makes from sales to taxidermists and the like to its general operating budget.
Davies and his partner officer Elissa Knox said when they find roadkill in Summit that isn’t spoiled or destroyed they contact people on an informal list who’ve asked to receive the meat.
FED BEARS ARE DEAD BEARS
Local bears are now in their hyperphagia stage, when they consume more than 20,000 calories a day to prepare for hibernation, and conflicts between bears and humans peak between August and December.
The Breckenridge Police Department announced on Thursday, Sept. 17, that officers have recorded a recent increase in bears coming to feed on garbage.
“This is unhealthy for the bears, problematic for the community and could result in a ticket for the homeowner,” the police announcement said, and once bears know where to find a non-natural food source they will return.
Bears found in trash or too close to humans are first scared away or tranquilized, trapped, tagged and relocated; the second time a bear becomes an issue it is killed. Bears who are aggressive or show no fear of humans may be put down immediately, an exception to the two-strike rule.
So far in 2015, the Breckenridge police have received 31 calls about wildlife. Thirteen were about bears, and of those, eight were bears in dumpsters. August was the month for the most calls, with seven.
The department gave 10 trash violation warnings in June and July and about 45 in August and September, opting to educate before giving citations or fines.
Davies said a late freeze and above-average spring and summer precipitation slowed plant growth, which has meant less natural food for bears this year.
Breckenridge residents or visitors with questions on trash rules can call the police department at (970) 453-2941, and a community service officer will come make sure the caller’s trash is compliant.
In an article in the Summit Daily published Sept. 23, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer Tom Davies said the bear cubs were hit and killed near Blue River earlier in the week and the mother was killed the next day. On Thursday, Sept. 24, he said he remembered the cubs were hit on Thursday, Sept. 17, and the sow was killed some time that night.
Summit County sales tax revenues have jumped to a post-recession high, with a strong ski season and bustling summer tourism continuing into the fall. With the steady increase in funds since 2007, several of Summit County’s municipalities have been able to move forward with larger plans for construction and other improvements.
Chad Most, revenue specialist for the town of Frisco, referred to this year’s spike as “unsustainably high levels of growth.”
“We had a multitude of factors come together to make it go so well,” Most said. “We don’t want to oversell ourselves for the next year.”
He listed off the late spring snow, the lack of drought or wildfires and low unemployment rates as a few examples.
Looking at next year’s revenues, Frisco budgeted for no sales tax increase over the current year. Dillon budgeted for a one-percent jump, reflecting the addition of a few new businesses to the town in the last year.
“We don’t budget for businesses until they’ve actually opened,” said Carri McDonnell, Dillon’s finance director.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Looking at figures from January through July, Frisco’s sales tax revenues are up 14.15 percent when compared to 2014. From 2011, revenues have steadily increased, with 2014 bringing in a total of $6,852,990. In 2013, the town saw $5,905,223.
Many of the increases have ties to tourism, with restaurants, hotels, retail and recreation seeing a moderate boost in the last year. Most said that December, March and July are the town’s busiest months for tourism, bringing increases across the board.
Surprisingly, groceries, liquor and marijuana saw large increases between 2014 and 2015, up 31 percent, 33 percent and 76 percent, respectively. While these numbers are impacted by fluctuations in visitors and recreational marijuana’s recent legalization, new businesses, such as Whole Foods, factor in significantly.
“The addition of Whole Foods has caused the growth in the grocery category to skyrocket over the past year or so, while our restaurant and hotels and inns categories have also seen significant growth,” Most said. “In addition, it is important to note that gains in tourism are also tied to the increased purchasing power of local employees and residents, and an influx of potential new second-home owners, which indirectly impacts all other categories.”
In Dillon, fall-season tourism has been growing steadily in the past two years, according to director of marketing and communications Kerstin Anderson.
“Destination travel primarily tracks school schedules,” Anderson said. “Winter is our largest revenue driver, but we also see significant revenue in summer.”
She noted that Dillon’s retail, restaurant and lodging categories are tied most closely to tourism, with retail seeing the greatest gain in the last four years.
“All categories have rebounded and seen an increase over 2009,” Anderson said. “Tourism and revenue are significantly tied both in supporting a year-round work force that drives a base line of revenue throughout the year, but also in driving peak revenue numbers in prime winter and summer months.”
This year, Dillon has already seen $2,818,362 in sales tax revenues, with March as a peak month. Last year, the town brought in $5,376,666, a slight increase from 2013.
With the increased revenue streaming in, both towns have been able to move forward with construction and maintenance projects that had been delayed since the recession.
“The revenue growth experienced from 2003 to 2007 directly impacted our ability to invest in the Frisco Adventure Park, and the revenue growth experienced from 2011 to 2014 impacted the scope of the Step Up Main Street project,” Most noted.
He added that increased revenues would not affect current projects in Frisco, but would impact town council spending decisions in future years.
Renovations to Dillon’s Marina Park were a result of the larger pool of funds, McDonnell said. She noted that the other capital projects, such as newly repaved streets, also stemmed from the sales tax revenue.
Scott O’Brien, Dillon public works director, noted that plans for Marina Park had been in place for a while, but were stalled due to a lack of necessary funds.
“Certainly because of the recession, we had some plans that we had to delay for some time,” O’Brien said. “Revenues are up, and we’ve been able to move those forward again.”
This summer, the park was transformed with fresh landscaping and a brand new playground, with plans moving forward for Dillon’s Town Park for next year.
The month of September is one of the best times of the year to visit the High Country when it comes to breathtaking views. An explosion of reds, oranges and yellows transforms the landscape into an artist’s palette. As locals know, the aspen leaves change suddenly and dramatically, and then in the same fashion, disappear. If you blink, you’ll miss it.
There are many places in and near Summit County for spectacular fall foliage viewing, and it just depends on whom you ask as to which one is the best.
Elevation: 11,488 feet
Boreas Pass in Breckenridge is an option for phenomenal views year-round, but even more so this time of year. The road is open to vehicles during the summer, or park in the lot and hike or bike up. The road has a gradual ascent to the summit, making it a relatively easy hike. Boreas offers an expansive view of the Blue River Valley and the Ten Mile Range, and also boasts views of Breckenridge Ski Resort.
“Boreas Pass showcases the best of both worlds, panoramic views and tight clusters of golden aspen,” said Rachel Zerowin with the Breckenridge Tourism Office. “You can drive the road or explore the singletrack, and both options give you that tunnel feel, with the changing leaves on all sides.”
In the late 1800s, early 1900s, the road was used as a narrow-gauge railroad, running from Breckenridge to Como. Closed to motor vehicles in the winter, the gravel road is drivable in the summer with any passenger vehicle. The pass is approximately 6.6 miles one-way, and it’s a popular spot for both summer and winter recreation.
General directions: In Breckenridge, follow Main Street to the south end of town (toward Blue River). At the southern end of town limits, turn left onto Boreas Pass Road (also known as County Road 10). Follow road for 3.5 miles to Bakers Tank Trailhead, with parking on the left, or continue on the road to drive over the pass.
TOP OF THE ROCKIES NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY
In Summit County, the Top of the Rockies National Scenic Byway starts at Copper Mountain and travels over Fremont Pass to Leadville, where travelers can take one route to Granite or, to loop back to Summit, follow the extension to Tennessee Pass, through Camp Hale, Red Cliff and Minturn, and back to I-70 East.
“That’s a gorgeous drive,” said Carly Holbrook, director of public relations at the Colorado Tourism Office. “There’s a lot of aspen on that route and a lot of wide-open spaces where you get expansive views of 14ers and fall colors.”
General directions: From Summit County, start the Top of the Rockies at Copper Mountain. Take CO-91 South to Leadville. At Leadville, there is an extension that continues south, or take US-24 West all the way to Minturn.
Elevation: 11,542 feet
Distance from Frisco: 30 minutes; 20 miles
A route many Park County dwellers drive every day to get to Summit for work, Hoosier Pass separates the two counties. There is a large parking lot at the top of the pass for picture taking, as well as hiking trails for the adventurous.
“The wonderful thing about going to Hoosier Pass is it’s one of the highest passes in Colorado that you can actually drive to with a solid road that’s paved,” said Veronica Anderson-Bodnar, a sales clerk with the South Park Historical Museum and Visitor Center. “You can look over onto Summit County, you can also look over into Park County. Right on the top of that is Montgomery Reservoir. Montgomery Reservoir is a really nice place to go on a short hike — it’s not a very difficult hike. It’s also a great picture place; they have waterfalls there and you can actually fish.”
General directions from Frisco: Follow CO-9 about 20 miles south. The pass straddles the line between Summit and Park counties.
Elevation: 11,670 feet
Distance from Frisco: 1 hour; 39.5 miles via I-70
Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway is a 23-mile route through Pike and Arapaho national forest land that links Georgetown and Grant. From Georgetown, about 10 miles of the road is paved, with the remaining 12 to Grant unpaved, according to the town of Georgetown’s website. Although maintained for passenger vehicles, slower speeds will be required. Guanella Pass is a less busy tourist destination because the road is rugged, Holbrook said.
Along the byway, catch views of Gray’s and Torrey’s peaks, both Colorado 14ers.
General directions: Follow I-70 East to Georgetown. Take exit 228, drive to Guanella Pass Road
Elevation: 9,997 feet
Distance from Frisco: 1 hour, 10 minutes; 52 miles
Take a drive through Park County toward Denver along Highway 285 to hit Kenosha Pass. The Colorado Trail crosses the summit of Kenosha Pass, and there are many hiking and biking trails nearby to take in the scene. There is a large parking lot at the top of the pass to stop, but it is super busy this time of year, especially on the weekends, so watch for slowing traffic and pedestrians when getting close to the top.
“This time of year, if you can drive (Kenosha Pass) during off-peak times, is probably the best advice I can give —for any of these drives really,” Holbrook said. “If you’re hitting them on the weekends, try to go really early in the morning, which is actually really gorgeous for photography if you can hit some of these areas for sunrise.”
Directions: From Frisco or Breckenridge, follow CO-9 South toward Fairplay. Once in Fairplay, turn left onto US-285 north. Follow 285 to Colorado Trail, turn right.
Elevation: 10,007 feet
Distance from Frisco: 3 hour, 45 min; 182 miles
The West Elk Loop Scenic & Historic Byway includes the 30-mile Kebler Pass road, and travels through the towns of Crested Butte, Gunnison, Montrose and Carbondale. The route also runs through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park between Montrose and Gunnison. Although a decent drive from Summit County, Kebler Pass boasts major aspen.
“Kebler Pass between Crested Butte and Paonia has the largest aspen grove in Colorado,” Holbrook said. “It’s probably our most iconic scenic fall drives. You also get McClure Pass on that drive, which is also stunning.”
The whole historic byway loop is 205 miles and takes around six to eight hours.
Directions: Follow I-70 West to CO-91 South. Take exit 195 for CO-91 South toward Copper Mountain/Leadville. Take US-50 West to N. Main St. in Gunnison. Take CO-135 North to Co Rd 12.
Travelers looking for a day trip can take a loop to combine Loveland Pass, Guanella Pass and Kenosha Pass. From Silverthorne, follow US-6 East, passing Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and over Loveland, hop on I-70 East to Georgetown, hit Guanella Pass, then Kenosha. From Kenosha Pass, take US-285 back to Fairplay, and hop on CO-9 North back to Breckenridge.
For a less heavily traveled thoroughfare, try Ute Pass Road north of Silverthorne. Follow CO-9 North for about 15 miles from Silverthorne before turning right on Ute Pass Road.
For those looking to stay close to town and get out of the car, Vanessa Agee, marketing and communications director with the town of Frisco, recommends hiking the Perimeter Trail in Frisco. That area has been heavily logged due to the pine beetle, resulting in expanding aspen groves and incredible views, she said.
“The views from the Perimeter Trail and from the top of the ridge are amazing,” she said. “First you see Ptarmigan Mountain and the changing aspen there, then you see the area around Wildernest and below Buffalo (Mountain), and then you see views of the aspen below Peak One above Frisco. It was the most broad and expansive view of changing aspen that I have likely ever seen.”
Use the Dickey Day Use Area to access the trail.
The aspen are currently peaking just about everywhere. Holbrook said there will probably be about two weekends left to view the fall colors, although that could change quickly with a cold snap or big snow.
“This time of year you can’t really go wrong with any of the mountain passes,” she said.
Disclaimer: These are generalized directions from Google Maps, and do not include every single turn. So don’t get lost and blame us.
On any given day, you can drive around Summit County and gaze upon the outer style and architecture of Summit’s top houses. But, for two weekends in September, you can admire not only the exterior, but the interior as well of 15 Summit homes.
The Parade of Homes, now in its 21st year, is one of Summit’s premier real estate events. It’s a chance for builders and designers to show off their best work, from the latest trends to experimental and artsy flourishes. It’s also an opportunity for people to see these elements close up and speak face-to-face with the people who designed them.
This year’s homes are divided into three categories based on size. There are six houses in the 2,900-3,999 square-foot category, five houses in the 4,000-4,999 square-foot category and four houses in the largest category of more than 5,000 square feet. All square footage is “livable” space, not counting garages.
Each year, the entered homes are a mix of new custom-built or speculation-built homes, alongside recently remodeled houses. This year, 17 houses were entered into the Parade of Homes booklet, but two of those houses were purchased before the event occurred and have been removed from the event.
Each house was judged by a panel of three judges, comprising an architect, a builder and an interior designer. Awards are given for categories such as Best Master Bedroom Suite, Best Kitchen, Best Landscaping, etc.
The parade represents a number of neighborhood communities across the county, from Breckenridge to Frisco, Keystone and Silverthorne.
Linda Miller, chair of the Parade of Homes committee this year, suggests that participants pick up a Parade of Homes booklet and use the map to plan out their visiting strategy.
“The houses (are) logically numbered from Silverthorne to Keystone, Frisco and then Breckenridge,” she said. “But some people, if they’re starting in Breckenridge, will do it in reverse.”
This year, she said, parade participants can expect “some really nicely constructed homes, beautiful finishes — a great way to get ideas for their own home if they’re planning on building or remodeling. It’s a great way to spend a weekend, looking at our leaves, enjoying our fall weather and seeing some beautiful homes to get the creative juices flowing.
“Expect to get wowed because these are the best of the best that get put in this parade,” she said.
Participating in Parade of Homes is a prestigious affair for anyone in the industry, but it’s also a time-consuming and occasionally nerve-wracking process, getting the house perfect before the public comes to view.
Denise Williams Roberts, owner of Lilli’s Lighting and Décor in Frisco, has been part of Parade of Homes since 2004. She works with builders to design and furnish empty rooms in the houses to make them more appealing and livable to prospective buyers and also to show off her skills.
“We want to choose things that fit the personality of the house,” she said, so her designs and stagings will vary from property to property. This year, she worked on two different houses — 113 Mumford Place and 7 Spencer Court, both in Breckenridge.
In addition to working closely with the builders, Williams Roberts’ favorite part of the Parade of Homes is the event itself.
“I actually love being at the house and being able to talk to people (who) are walking through and just talking about what the design trends are and showing them the house,” she said. “A lot of people are there for ideas. They may have an upcoming home, or they may be in an exiting home where they want to update a little bit and just see where trends are going.”
This year is the first year that the folks at Allen-Guerra Architecture have entered a house into the parade, according to project manager Tim Sabo. They have three houses — 220 Cottonwood Circle, 65 Penn Lode and 106 N. Gold Flake Terrace, all in Breckenridge.
“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “We’re really proud of the product and we’re excited to show what we feel is the next trend.”
While two of the houses were custom-built for clients, the Penn Lode house was designed exclusively by Allen-Guerra, as a project to stretch their creative muscles.
“Amongst all the homes that are in there, it shows the diversity of what we can do,” Sabo said.
Among the interesting aspects of the Penn Lode house is a spiral staircase that Allen-Guerra commissioned from an artist in Switzerland. It shipped whole, in one piece, and had to be installed by crane.
“It’s a really cool feature,” Sabo said.
The Parade of Homes event also serves as a fundraiser for The Summit Foundation, a local nonprofit that acts as an umbrella organization for nonprofits in Summit and surrounding counties.
All ticket proceeds go to the Foundation. Last year, more than $30,000 was raised.
“I think it’s a fabulous thing that the builders’ association does in conjunction with the community,” said Williams Roberts.