Wildflowers, endless trails, and rugged views draw tourists to the mountains in the summer. Knee-deep powder does the same in winter. And although high-country communities have largely accepted mud season (April through June) as a wash, they’re bolstering their autumn offerings to lure in some postsummer revenue. “Fall offers an opportunity to slow down and experience the mountain town like it’s supposed to be,” says Michelle Krasilinec of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. “You get a true feel for what [it’s] all about.” Below, three mountain towns that are morphing into three-season destinations.
Dubbed “Main Event” (Sept. 10), this inaugural farm-to-table dining extravaganza will shut down Main Street for the evening. Don’t miss other fall celebrations such as OktoberWest (Sept. 16–18), a three-year-old Western version of the famed German festival, and cool-weather dining deals at restaurants such as Cottonwood Grill, whose creekside patio affords stunning foliage views along Howelsen Hill.
Saving in the Butte
Butte Bucks, which cost 80 cents on the dollar, are good at just about every eatery and shop in Crested Butte during the fall—so everything is 20 percent off. Plus, new off-season events such as the first Crested Butte Film Festival (Sept. 30–Oct. 2) complement favorites like the Fall Festival of Beers & Chili Cook-Off (Sept. 10). Bonus: Soupçon Bistro, the town’s top foodie haven, is stretching its season this year until October 29, with a more robust menu heavy on fall harvest flavors.
Along with an annual effort to keep its restaurants open come fall—usually with menus priced for ski-bum budgets—and popular yearly events like the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival (Sept. 16–18), Telluride is working to keep the gondola (free public transportation) running through late fall for the first time, bridging the gap till the start of ski season. Telluride is also negotiating with Great Lakes Airlines to offer affordable fly-and-stay packages from Denver.