Lists

The 25 Best Summer Music Experiences in the Rocky Mountains

Summer music festival season is here, and where better to enjoy it than in the Rocky Mountains?
Summer music festival season is here, and where better to enjoy it than in the Rocky Mountains? Brandon Marshall
Summer's coming. While Denver newbies may think of ski resorts as just snowy-season destinations, the warmer months offer many reasons to head for the mountains, too. Sure, hiking, backpacking and rafting are all good reasons to go west. But when you're tired of nature but still can't get enough of the Rocky Mountain high, consider attending these stunning live-music events, venues, concerts and festivals – some of which are free.

click to enlarge One of the many extreme events at the GoPro Mountain Games. - WESTWORD
One of the many extreme events at the GoPro Mountain Games.
Westword
1. GoPro Mountain Games
June 8-11
Vail

The GoPro Mountain Games bring you pretty much every extreme sport that doesn't require snow: Mountain biking, disc golfing, kayaking and slack lining will all be available June 8-11 in the Vail Valley. If you're bold enough to compete, you might just win cash and prizes. The games include three nights of free music at the Amp — what locals call the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Headliners include Moon Taxi, Keller Williams' Grateful Grass, and Nahko & Medicine for the People. To view the full music lineup for the GoPro Mountain Games, visit the festival's calendar.

2. Belly Up
Aspen

Aspen's Belly Up is one of the best mountain venues for national touring acts. This summer, catch acts including Jurassic 5, Gary Clark Jr., Miike Snow, Thomas Jack, Thievery Corporation, Blues Traveler and Spoon. To plan your visit to this intimate venue, check out the Belly Up calendar.

3. Club Red Presents: Langhorne Slim & the Law
June 9
Club Red

Telluride

Club Red in Telluride was voted the second-best ski-country venue by Skiing magazine. To get to the venue, take the Telluride Mountain Village Gondola up the mountain to arrive at your musical destination. On June 9, Langhorne Slim & the Law offer up bluesy and soulful tunes sure to please all rock lovers' palates.


4. Crazy Mountain Brewery's Hot Summer Nights
Tuesdays, beginning June 13
Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
Vail

Head to the Vail Valley early in the week, because Crazy Mountain Brewery is providing you with free concerts every Tuesday this summer. From June 13 through August 22, catch acts such as Hurray for the Riff Raff, Donovan Frankenreiter and the Shooter Jennings Band at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Visit the calendar to plan your night of music in the valley.

click to enlarge Templo, a purveyor of Colorado's bass music, performing at Sonic Bloom. - BASS FEEDS THE SOUL
Templo, a purveyor of Colorado's bass music, performing at Sonic Bloom.
Bass Feeds the Soul
5. Sonic Bloom Music Festival
June 15-18
Humingbird Ranch
Spanish Peaks Country

Sonic Bloom Festival, which brands itself as "Colorado's Premier Electronic Music Festival," is probably more accurately described as the headiest mountain-music festival in the state. The headliner is an all-star compilation of jam bands most loved by Coloradans: Big Gigantic, the String Cheese Incident and the Disco Biscuits, who have baked themselves into a new supergroup, Gigantic Cheese Biscuits. Among other electronic and jam artists, attendees of Sonic Bloom have access to different activities from June 11 to 14, including yoga, slacklining, acroyoga, visionary arts, music production and permaculture. For more information, go to the Sonic Bloom website.

click to enlarge Yonder Mountain String Band in Telluride. - WESTWORD
Yonder Mountain String Band in Telluride.
Westword
6. Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 15-18
Telluride

Telluride's Bluegrass Festival is a great entry-level bluegrass event for newcomers to the genre. The 44th edition of the festival will include headliners like Jason Mraz, Norah Jones, Dierks Bentley With the Travelin' McCourys, and Brandi Carlile — all great artists, albeit not all that bluegrass. The mountain town is taken over by festafarians who flock annually to Telluride for the event and its many Nightgrass after-parties. Visit the Bluegrass Festival website for the full list of artists, lodging information and a roster of Nightgrass shows.

click to enlarge Kenny Chesney at Mile High. - WESTWORD
Kenny Chesney at Mile High.
Westword
7. Country Jam Colorado
June 15-18
Grand Junction

To be clear to the transplants, Grand Junction isn't technically in the mountains; it's over them. So for those going to Country Jam Colorado, you'll be driving smack-dab through the Rocky Mountains. Country Jam showcases some of the biggest – and richest – artists in the genre. Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Justin Moore and Randy Houser all top the bill. Go to the festival's website for more information.

click to enlarge I know it's only Cover Rock, but I like it. - JOHN RAMER
I know it's only Cover Rock, but I like it.
John Ramer
8. Cover Rock Festival
June 23-24
Nottingham Park, at the base of Beaver Creek
Avon

If you're looking to jam out to the music of the ’60s and ’70s, Cover Rock Festival is the perfect mountain jamboree for you. A British-invasion-themed festival brings you covers of the Beatles, the Stones, Cream, Led Zeppelin and Queen, plus a Pink Floyd laser show. For more information, visit the Cover Rock Festival website.

9. The Ride Festival
July 8-9
Telluride

The Ride offers a mix of rock and singer-songwriters. Beck, Ben Harper and John Butler Trio top the two-day bill. The festival will be held in Bear Creek Field in Telluride. For those looking to continue the fun after the sun goes down, a separate lineup of shows are spread across small venues around the mountain town. General-admission passes start at $234, which does not include camping options. Visit the Ride website for more information.

Read on for more of the summer's best Rocky Mountain music events.

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