^Pictured: Great Sand Dunes National Park
I know it’s starting to feel hot here in Denver, and you may already even be sick of the heat. But don’t forget, summer in the Rocky Mountains is really just beginning. the high country is finally easily accessible. Yeah, there is still some snow up in the high country and yes, there will still be thunderstorms most afternoons in the mountains. But you don’t have to worry about an avalanche (for the most part), and you don’t need to bring your snowshoes or crampons (again…for the most part). July and August are the months where you can hang out in a tee shirt and shorts during the day, and enjoy refreshingly cool temperatures and breathtaking stargazing by night. One of the great things about Colorado is that every season is enjoyable. Check out a few of my favorite things to do in the Colorado Rocky Mountain summer.
^Pictured: Quandary Peak
Colorado has 58 peaks over 14,000 Ft. Following Colorado with the most number of 14ers is California with only 12…so take advantage! If you have never hiked a 14er, they can seem a bit daunting. However, anyone in reasonable shape can do it. There is a ranking system, class 1-5. There are a number of class 1 and class 2 peaks within an hour or two of Denver that are very manageable (some examples are Bierstadt, Quandary, Torreys and Grays. July, August and most of September are the only months where you really don’t have to worry about snow up there. There will still be a bit but usually nothing light hiking boots or even gym shoes can’t handle. The Colorado 14er website is a great resource http://www.14ers.com. You can search by difficulty and by location. There are frequent updates on road and trail conditions, directions to trailheads, trail descriptions and helpful pictures. This is a great place to start. But remember, thunderstorms are very frequent in the high country during summer months. The rule of thumb is to be on your way down before noon, so get an early start. Lightning at elevation is nothing to mess around with! And last, beware of altitude sickness...but that's probably a topic for another article.
Colorado boasts 4 National Parks: Rocky Mountain, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of The Gunnison. Rocky Mountain is about an hour and a half drive from Denver, Great Sand Dunes is about three and a half hours, Black Canyon about five hours, and Mesa Verde is the furthest at almost seven hours. Personally, I have made it to Rocky Mountain and Great Sand Dunes this year. The parks are absolutely incredible and have so much to offer. Hiking, camping, climbing, swimming and horseback riding are just a few of the activities allowed. Check out the National Park Service website to learn more about each park https://www.nps.gov/index.htm.
^Pictured: Great Sand Dunes National Park
There are more than a dozen national forest areas in Colorado, and again many of these like the Roosevelt, Arapahoe and Pike are easily accessible from Denver. The great thing about national forests is that you can camp on the land. Depending on what type of vehicle you have, you can traverse many of the roads that take you deep into the mountains. You can camp in deep woods on a river, high up on a cliff, or in the open with big skies and mountain views. There is dispersed camping all over where you can camp right next your car for people who don’t have the gear or knowledge for backcountry camping. Unfortunately, I can’t give up my favorite spots of course…but make sure to pack it in and pack it out, leave no trace!
Yes, Red Rocks lives up to the hype. Red Rocks won the award for best concert venue so many years in a row that they eventually just named the award The Red Rocks Award. It’s an easy 20-minute drive from Denver and has plenty of parking for great tailgating. Here’s the link to the summer concert schedule, still plenty of shows that aren’t sold out! http://redrocksonline.com/concerts-events/listing
^Pictured: Red Rocks Amphitheatre (denverpartybusco.com)
Written by Kyle Barrett, Founder & CEO of Bighorn Apparel
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