Falling for Colorado
Whiskey, cowboy poetry and beer
It’s a special time of year in Colorado, and those lucky enough to visit during the fall can experience numerous unique getaways and experiences, not to mention a chance to take in one of the hundreds of festivals or special events.
Fall in Colorado kicks off with a glorious display of fall foliage (pictured above in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo courtesy MATT INDEN/MILE), but as the days shorten and evenings cool down, there’s no better place to be than fireside, sipping whiskey from a local distillery. Or trying out a wintry ale, while listening to a cowboy reciting his poetry. It’s all possible in Colorado, where the changing seasons bring a whole host of celebrations, some geared to mountain men (and women) like the 14erFest in Buena Vista, and others meant for food and beer lovers alike.
One sure sign of fall is the plethora of beer festivals that happen around the state. Denver hosts the largest brew festival in America, while OktoberWest is a small town celebration of suds that draws beer enthusiasts to Steamboat.
October is also a time for ghost stories and hauntings, and lovers of spooky places might head to Aspen, to visit two nearby ghost towns, Ashcroft and Independence. While there, head to a screening at the Aspen Filmfest, where Oscar-winning films often get their debut.
Perhaps the most unique of all October events is the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Durango, where a tear might drop in your beer, while listening to the tales of lonesome cowboys.
Fall Getaways & Experiences
Hike the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
Bucket list material. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) winds through some of Colorado’s most impressive and breathtaking landscapes. An incredible 800 miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail are located within the state’s boundaries with almost 100 miles of the trail right in Grand County and Rocky Mountain National Park.
There are several different access points. Day hikers can begin and end a CDT adventure in Grand Lake, or do a longer trek through Never Summer Wilderness area.
Get Away to Young-at-Heart Boulder
Only 45 minutes away from Denver International Airport, Boulder is the city to see to experience all that Colorado offers. From cocktails or micro-brews on lively Pearl Street to a hike on the scenic Red Rocks Trail (right near downtown), there is something for everyone. Tour the U of C campus where “techpreneurs” are developing the next big thing, snap a pic at the iconic FlatIrons, or just chill post-adventure at The Spa at St Julien.
Explore a Ghost Town on Two Wheels
Colorado’s history runs as deep as the silver and gold veins that once lured a surge of fortune seekers here during the late 1800s mining boom. But when those rich resources went bust, dozens of towns were abandoned – leaving behind saloons, mercantiles and other hallmarks of Wild West life. Just 11 miles south of Aspen is Ashcroft, one of a few ghost towns that can be visited year-round. Named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, Ashcroft is currently maintained by the Aspen Historical Society, and highlights include the still-standing post office, Blue Mirror Saloon and town jail. Visitors can experience fall’s brilliant foliage, while cycling – or driving – along Castle Creek Road. A second ghost town also worth a visit is the former gold mining town of Independence, 16 miles east of Aspen.
Food Crawl with Rocky Mountain Food Tours of Colorado Springs (until Dec. 31)
On weekend afternoons join the flagship tour of Colorado Springs and graze through the heart of historic downtown, sampling along the way. As you stroll down Tejon Street, envision a horse-drawn carriage, hear the chug of the railroad, and learn about the trade of gold and silver. Visit five diverse culinary destinations within a walking distance of a half mile.
Festivals & Events
14erFest in Buena Vista (Sept. 30–Oct. 1)
Colorado is known for its rugged mountain ranges, and its many peaks (53) higher than 14,000 feet, so there is no more fitting place for a mountain festival than here. Whether into hiking, trail running, fly-fishing, off-roading, or mountain biking, the 14erFest has something for everyone.
Denver Beer Fest (Sept. 29–Oct. 7)
The ninth annual Denver Beer Fest features dozens of beer-related events at area breweries, restaurants, tap houses and attractions. From beer tastings to firkin tappings, events include beer bike nights, midnight beer breakfasts, beer-paired dinners, brewery tours, brewer vs brewer competitions, meet the brewer nights, tap takeovers, beer quizzes, and even a beer street party with bands, brews and food trucks.
Aspen Film Festival (Oct. 3–8)
Aspen Film’s flagship event is a non-competitive festival showcasing narrative and documentary features, a dynamic mix of award-worthy fall previews, and acclaimed independent films from the international festival circuit.
Great American Beer Fest, Denver (Oct. 5–7)
Billed as the nation’s largest festival devoted to beer, the 800 breweries and literally thousands of beers that you can taste must surely make it so. This year is the 36th edition of the popular event, but there are dozens of other brewfests across Colorado, many of them taking place in October, making the state the go-to destination for all things beer.
Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Oct. 5–8)
The Gathering is a celebration of the rich culture of the American cowboy that has drawn cowboy musicians, artists and poets to Durango for more than 30 years. The unique event includes live performances, along with a parade, food events, youth programs, and other activities to honour the proud traditions of the American West.
Whiskey Summit: Tasting Festival (Oct. 17)
Whiskey Summit’s Tasting Festival in Estes Park features the products of more than 40 distillers and bottlers of whiskey, rum, vodka, and other distilled spirits from Colorado and the region. The festival will feature live music, finger food, a “Whiskey 101” presentation and special events.
Where to stay, The Broadmoor
For agents with clients looking to spoil themselves, why not try a stay at the historic Broadmoor hotel?
Built in 1918 and described as the “Grand Dame of the Rockies,” The Broadmoor in Colorado was the vision of Spencer Penrose whose goal was to introduce European luxury and service into the American West.
He succeeded. The Broadmoor remains one of the top hotels in the US and is the world’s longest-running consecutive winner of both the AAA Five-Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star awards. The Broadmoor’s Penrose Room is Colorado’s only Five-Star, Five-Diamond restaurant, and both its spa and golf courses have been recognized.
Twenty restaurants, cafés and lounges make dining at The Broadmoor a special experience.
Located in the Old Broadmoor neighbourhood of Colorado Springs, The Broadmoor has hosted everyone from heads of state and celebrities to professional sports stars. Today’s Broadmoor, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, has 784 rooms, including a recently acquired mansion that can sleep up to 16. It has something for everyone and attracts visitors from around the world.
A US$140 million renovation was recently completed, a project that saw the original Southlake building totally renovated and the original Broadmoor West building reimagined and expanded. Work also included the expansion of The Golden Bee, an authentic English pub. The historic Pauline Chapel, created in 1919 by Broadmoor matriarch Julie Penrose, was also renewed and now offers non-denominational Sunday services and musical recitals.
New adventures at The Broadmoor include the Ranch at Emerald Valley, a wilderness retreat with 10 cabins offering a unique Colorado outdoor experience just eight miles from the main resort in Pike National Forest, and Cloud Camp, a mountaintop retreat sitting 3,000 ft. above The Broadmoor – ideal for group retreats and leisure getaways.
Also available is The Fishing Camp, an exclusive fly-fishing experience on the Tarryall River about 75 minutes from The Broadmoor. The set-up includes a restored lodge and miner’s cabins from the 1880s.
The Broadmoor is also the ultimate meetings destination, offering a 60,000 sq. ft. pillar-less, carpeted ballroom increasing the capacity on property to 185,000 square feet of adaptable and flexible function space and a total of 62 separate meeting rooms.