For tourism-dependent towns across Colorado, these unprecedented times — and the economic downturn they’ve inspired — have been particularly hard to swallow. Tourism is the state’s second-largest employer, bringing in more than $22 billion in 2018. And as restrictions ease and visitors return, towns that rely on tourism must balance attracting much-needed revenue with taking precautions to safeguard public health.
Right now, visitor bureaus and tourism organizations across the state are rolling out new programs that address potential concerns about travel...and starting a second wave of the pandemic. “Our new ‘The Adventure Is You’ campaign is proactive about promoting travel when the time is right for their comfort level,” explains Alexea Veneracion, communications manager for Visit Colorado Springs. “While in this ‘Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors’ phase, we’re highlighting things like scenic drives and activities that can be done while social distancing, and emphasizing new measures to keep everyone safe.”
“We’re not aggressively marketing,” echoes Tom Wilkinson of Visit Telluride. “This is a very small town, and a lot of our second-home owners are here more permanently this summer. Telluride is not just looking at the money, but at the overall good of our community. And we definitely do not want to do this again.”
While most of the festivals that add fun to a Colorado summer have been canceled this year, the state has no shortage of open space and “life is good” landscapes. Campground sites and hotel rooms could be hard to come by, though, so you’ll want to plan early and well. The Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) app has up-to-the-minute info on trails, parks and open spaces, campgrounds and other closures; colorado.com is full of ideas and information on reopening attractions. Or you can always reach out directly to the town you want to visit.
Here are ten great destinations for an in-state road trip this summer, in alphabetical order:
Colorado’s glitzy sister resort towns aren’t giving up on summer — not by a long shot. Sure, a few festivals won’t be happening, the Belly Up is still distressingly silent and the Canopy Run Zipline tour at Lost Forest is currently off limits. But the Audi Power of Four Trail Race and Snowmass 50 Mountain Bike Race are taking registrations, and the party is ON. Morning yoga on top of Ajax? Check. Maroon Bells? Open, though you have to use the shuttle from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and reservations are most definitely required. Sundeck Restaurant, gondolas and chairlifts? Scrubbed and ready for your sipping, snacking and sightseeing enjoyment. A few miles away, the Snowmass Bike Park continues to expand, and restaurants, galleries and boutiques are as ready as they’ve ever been to collect all those tourist dollars. See you at the Caribou Club, dahling.
For more information on Aspen, call 970-925-1940 or go to aspenchamber.org. For the lowdown on Snowmass, call 970-923-1227 or visit aspensnowmass.com.
Summit County has canceled most of its events this summer, setting its sights on September. But there’s still plenty to do in Breckenridge and nearby towns. The area has zipline and rafting adventures, and too many trails to hike in a lifetime. Marinas in Dillon and Frisco are just waiting for water lovers to enjoy their liquid assets. For liquor lovers, Breckenridge Distillery is open for tastings (no tours), and the restaurant is serving (if you don’t eat all the brisket, we will). And at Country Boy Mine, visitors can tour a real gold mine and enjoy other activities, including ax throwing. If there’s one thing we want to do in 2020, it’s throw a big ol’ ax...at the entire year!
Find out more at gobreck.com or call 970-453-2913.
The Springs is welcoming summer guests with open arms (from six feet away, naturally) while maintaining a focus on outdoor activities — which is easy to do when you’re in the land of Pikes Peak and a stone’s throw from Garden of the Gods. But the great outdoors isn’t the only draw. The legendary Broadmoor Hotel reopens on June 28, and with 5,000 acres, the historic “Grand Dame of the Rockies” will offer guests plenty of room and exclusive private wilderness experiences, along with social distancing-friendly sports like golf, tennis and pickleball. Animal lovers will rejoice at the reopening of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, where the peacocks are ready along with precautions including a reduced number of timed admissions. The city is also exploring solutions such as synchronized fireworks to celebrate holidays.
Find out more at 719-635-7506 or visitcos.com.
Get Rocky Mountain high at this gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, beloved for ambling herds of elk and hometown hospitality. Whether you choose to stay in a serene cabin or at the spooky-cool Stanley Hotel, you’re never far from outdoor adventure and family-friendly fun in Estes Park. Stroll the downtown Riverwalk, where the Big Thompson and Fall rivers converge. Grab an ice cream cone and check out the shops. The popular aerial tram isn’t currently open to visitors, but that may change. Rocky Mountain National Park is operating a timed reservation system to reduce crowding; try to get a red-hot reservation at recreation.gov. Or try Hermit Park Open Space or Roosevelt National Forest, both of which offer incredible views and many of the same activities as their better-known neighbor — but with fewer crowds. And as always, maintain a healthy social distance...from wildlife!
Find out more at visitestespark.com or call 970-577-9900.
From Hanging Lake to the historic Hotel Colorado to Halvor Flowstone — a friendly fourteen-foot troll — the attractions of Glenwood Springs await visitors seeking a summer escape. Famed for its geothermal offerings, this resort town has a bounty of outdoor activities and a lively dining scene that’s been augmented with temporary pedestrian malls. The whitewater park and activity area welcomes kayakers and paddleboarders, but they’re limited to 25 people at a time. Reserved one-hour entry slots for the gondola up to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park ensures plenty of room to spread out while enjoying that family-friendly theme park. In town, Iron Mountain Hot Springs is employing online reservations for 2.5-hour soaks, while tickets to the large Hot Springs Resort pool are on a first-come, first-served basis. The popular Tuesday Night Market is spaced out along 7th Street — which is also home to the award-winning Glenwood Canyon Brewpub. While festivals are currently on hold, you can still snag a seat on Amtrak’s daily run from Denver’s Union Station.
Learn more about Glenwood Springs at visitglenwood.com or by calling 970-945-6580.