Many Denverites take off for the mountains as soon as the work week ends, hitting the slopes nonstop until trudging back home on Sunday afternoons. Yet sometimes even the most dedicated snow junkie wants a change of pace — an activity other than hurtling downhill — and Colorado's mountain towns offer a lot of opportunities to catch live music.
We've entered the last few weekends of ski season — but don't despair! It's actually a sweet spot in the year, when high-country locales start programming outdoor entertainment for when your quads just can't take it anymore — including music festivals that won't get snowed out. For example, Breckenridge's Spring Fever Concert Series kicks off today (Friday, April 8) with free concerts at the base of the peak from Michael Franti and Spearhead; Lukas Nelson (son of Willie) performs tomorrow, Saturday, April 9.
Below is a list of the best live-music venues in mountain towns.
Fly Me to the Moon Saloon
136 East Colorado Avenue, Telluride, CO 81435
If you couldn’t get your tickets to one of Telluride’s many world-renowned bluegrass festivals, rest assured that the town has music all year round. Fly Me to the Moon Saloon is the prime location in Telluride for enjoying Colorado’s various craft beers while seeing your favorite local and national bands. And they aren’t all bluegrass bands!
Belly Up Aspen
450 South Galena Street, Aspen, CO 81611
A weekend in a mountain ski town like Aspen might not fit into everyone’s budget, but if you have a chance, a show at the Belly Up is definitely worth the price. This venue brings in international touring acts and has hosted bands like the Flaming Lips, the Raconteurs, the Tempations, Deadmaus, Nas, Calvin Harris and the National. The 450-seat venue ensures an intimate, high-style concert experience.
78415 U.S. Highway 40,Winter Park, CO 80482
Ullrs Tavern is a newer venue (built in 2009) in downtown Winter Park and produces concerts of all genres, including many Colorado bluegrass, folk, funk and reggae favorites. The venue includes billiards tables and tasty late-night food.
Gold Hill Inn
401 Main Street, Boulder, CO 80302
If you take a winding dirt road west through Sunshine Canyon from Boulder, you’ll come across the tiny town of Gold Hill. You might feel as though you’ve been transported into the past and are attending an actual Gold Rush-era hoedown. The Gold Hill Inn hosts plenty of bluegrass, indie and folk concerts in a mining-town atmosphere. Mountain fine dining, murder-mystery parties and accommodations are also available.
108 Main Street, Jamestown, CO 80455
The Merc is an ideal hangout if you’re looking for an intimate concert in a small mountain community. The stage isn't large, but it's perfect for your favorite folk and bluegrass sessions. Food made from local produce is served all day, as the location is a popular pit stop for cyclists and tourists.
28075 Highway 74, Evergreen , CO 80439
A little closer to Denver, this venue offers world-class bluegrass among other genres of music almost every day of the week. The little town of Evergreen is an effortless day trip for Denver locals and offers diverse food and shopping variety for a small town.
610 Main Street, Frisco, CO 80443
The Barkley Ballroom on Frisco’s main street has plenty of space and quality sound for those who make their way up to Summit County. Many bands of all genres from the Front Range play the Ballroom.
The Lava Room at Reserve Casino
321 Gregory Street, Central City, CO 80427
Located in the historic town of Central City, the Reserve Casino creates an uncomplicated way to eat, drink, play, win/lose and sleep all in the same place. Local bands and national acts (rock, funk, jazz and 1980s hair-metal superstars) play the room all year round; staying true to the name, lava lamps keep the Lava Room groovy.
Snake River Saloon
23074 U.S. Highway 6, Keystone, CO 80435
Keystone’s Snake River Saloon features Colorado bands that will keep you entertained well into the early-morning hours. Reasonably priced food and drink and friendly bartenders will make it easy for you to feel like a local after a long day on the slopes.