by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer
As popular as Snowmass is in the winter, it’s a uniquely Colorado place to visit in the summer. First, the scenery is spectacular. From the top of the gondola, above Elk Camp, one can see the Maroon Bells, an iconic Colorado vista, as well as a postcard-perfect panorama of mountainscapes.
Snowmass Base Village is the first area one reaches as they climb out of Snow-mass, an unincorporated community in Pitkin County. On the mountain above the community is Snowmass Ski Area and Town of Snowmass Village. Just 15 minutes from Aspen, the Aspen Skiing Company owns and operates the Snowmass ski area.
Up the gondola from the Village, Elk Camp offers on-mountain dining as well Lost Forest, which features recreational activities such as a climbing wall, alpine roller coaster, ropes course, a bike park and more. Wildflowers are abundant here and one of the best ways to stop and smell the blooms is by playing disc golf.
Each summer, the course changes, and discs can be rented at Four Mountain Sports inside the main Elk Camp building. Playing the course is to hike with a purpose and this means walking pastblue columbines and bright yellow alpine sunflowers. It’s the ideal way to take in the beauty by not having to stick to a path.
After a round of disc golf, the restaurant at Elk Camp serves farm-to-table, organic dishes, perfect on a sunny after-noon. Set above the abundant Roaring Fork Valley, this establishment sources food from local farms. In fact, a list of the farms being used on any given day is located above the sandwich-making area of the cafeteria-style restaurant.
For wildflowers lovers, Snowmass offers a free guided wildflower hike led by naturalists and biologists. This part of Colorado is known for its fields of brightly colored blooms. Of course, enthusiasts need to have good timing because these flowers seem to vanish as quickly as they appear. Late summer is usually wildflower season but call ahead to be sure.
The free hikes are provided by naturalists from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and last about two hours. The Wildflower Hike happens daily, June 15 through September 3, at 10 a.m. Call 970.925.5756 for details and departure information.
Snowmass Base Village is hometown a bustling new area of the resort that features an ice rink that turns into a grassy games and live music plaza in the summer. One of the crown jewels of Snowmass Base Village is the Limelight Hotel, which boasts the tallest climbing wall of its kind in Colorado. It is five stories high and a glass enclosure to the outside world allows those passing by to take in the scene.
The Limelight is a modern hotel with a large restaurant boasting an outside area warmed by outdoor fire pits. Known for their wood-fired pizza, locals now consider this one of the top pizza jointsaround. They also serve entrees such as salmon and steak, and the French fries with three dip-ping sauces—horseradish caraway, ketchup and green goddess aioli—are as good as they look.
The hotel also has two inviting poolspas, kids’ room, fitness center and is pet-friendly. A stay here also includes breakfast and access to the hotel shuttle.
Snowmass Base Village is also the place to find The Collective, a brand-new community hub featuring a game lounge and live music wall with an up-stairs restaurant called MoxiBar.
Other noteworthy spotsaround Snowmass Base Village include the Colorado Dough popup bar. If it pops up in the village this summer, be sure to stop by to get a reasonably priced beer and a fresh donut. The Crepe Shack is also just a stone’s throw from Limelight and serves made-to-order hot and delicious crepes and coffee. Part of the adventure of traveling is to find a yummy meal.
In the summer, the Colorado sunshine means that patios exist everywhere in Snowmass but there’s no better al fresco dining than at Venga Venga Cantina & Tequila Bar. Located in Snowmass Village just steps from the Sky Cab, the restaurant’s patio is a coveted seat during the warmer months. Try the tableside guacamole and browse the extensive tequila list.
Founded in 1966, a year before the ski area at Snowmass, Anderson Ranch Art Center attracts artists of all kinds and all ages. It is located about five minutes from the ski area and is a welcome escape for the live-in artists and those who visit or take a workshop there.
It is a place to make art (woodworking, photography, ceramics, sculpture, painting and drawing, digital fabrication and printmaking), show art and even buy art during the weekly summer auctionettes. Visitors can also shop in the store and gallery. The luncheon auctionette is held to sell art made by one of the 28 in-house artists who stay at the ranch for the spring or fall term. Visitors can also take advantage of the children’s workshops offered at Anderson Ranch. Learn more at AndersonRanch.org.
In addition to beautiful hikes, free concerts and festivals, Snowmass features its very own rodeo. Just minutes down the mountain, this summer marks the 47th year of the Snowmass Rodeo, an event that introduces visitors to what rodeo is all about. At the time of publication, the Snowmass Rodeo’s revised summer dates are every Wednesday night from July 1 to August 19, 2020.
The evening begins with a barbeque dinner. This is when children can enjoy pre-rodeo activities like the petting zoo and roping for kids. Throughout the event, mom and dad are welcomed to partake at the saloon.
Produced by the Snowmass Western Heritage Association, the rodeo is one way to preserve the culture and character of Snowmass and the Roaring Fork Valley community. Originally settled by ranchers and farmers, agricultural roots run deep here.
From barrel racing to bull riding, the cowboys and cowgirls at this rodeo aren’t competing for cash prizes, but they are working to keep the history of the region alive, and let’s not forget that they are competing for bragging rights, too.
Sign up for the Calf Scramble and Mutton Bustin’ starts at 5:30 p.m. and closes at 7 p.m. While these are chil-dren’s events, adults can take part in the Burro Race. This competition involves a person riding a burro as their partner pulls the burro along the race route. These three events bring the crowd to their knees with howls of laughter.
Most hotels provide shuttle service for their guests and this is the easiest way to get to the Snowmass rodeo grounds.
Spending a little part of summer in Snowmass just makes sense. From the rodeo to disc golf on the mountain, it’s a picturesque piece of the Colorado experience.