Additionally, a lot of these venues are out in the relative middle of nowhere, rocking a rootsy feel that has largely disappeared from the bigger, more mainstream Colorado music fests that draw thousands and overwhelm concert sites. These shows are for concert-goers who like to travel far, rough it and camp out. The raw, relaxed, improvised nature of the Colorado music scene can be felt at these places better than at many others. From polished small-stage gems to some tents in a field, here are some locales and events that deserve a visit, listed in order of scheduled upcoming events.
10. Mishawaka Amphitheatre
13714 Poudre Canyon Highway, Bellvue
It’s 23 miles west of Fort Collins up Poudre Canyon, but despite its isolation, the Mishawaka Amphitheatre has persisted since 1916. The intimate riverside venue is home to both acoustic and cutting-edge work from bands who are either on their way up, or who appeal to a specialized, dedicated crowd willing to make the journey. Dani Grant and Matt Hoeven are the current, savvy owners, who purchased it in 2010 from a premature potrepreneur who had to sell when he got caught with 280 pounds of merchandise on the property. Slated so far this season are groups such as Wookiefoot, Xavier Rudd and Face.
9. State Bridge
127 Trough Road, Bond
Originally a stagecoach stop on the way to Steamboat Springs, the old State Bridge Lodge served as a speakeasy, an ice cream parlor and a commune before it burned to the ground in 2007. The new owners rebuilt and constructed an amphitheater, cabins and yurts. It’s 135 miles from Denver in north-central Colorado, which makes going to a show a reason to visit the area for a few days. Concert info is spotty; call for details.
8. Hideaway Park
78841 U.S. Highway 40, Winter Park
Winter Park is aggressively booking many events into this gorgeous venue, created in 2008. The long-running Jazz Festival is now joined here by the Thursday High Note Series and Leftover Salmon’s SolShine Festival, now in its sixth year. To date, the stage has been set up and torn down each summer. Now an ambitious new plan seeks to place a permanent stage there, along with year-round facilities.
7. Feed Store Park and Amphitheatre
116 North Second Street, Westcliffe
6. A field
100 South Adams Boulevard, Westcliffe
The isolated town of Westcliffe, west of Pueblo, claims not one, but two unique venues. The Westcliffe Feed Store has been renovated completely by Garrett Carlson, and now holds a restaurant and apartments. Out back, a covered stage designed to look like an old mine shaft features concerts all summer long, with seating for 500. About a half-mile away, in the middle of a vacant lot, under tents, the High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival will hold sway from July 7 through 10. Last year, 3,400 attended the twelfth annual event.
Read on for five more of Colorado's outdoor music venues worth the trek.