Nearly two years cocooned in our homes have made us wishful for the adventure and entertainment we once took for granted. Fortunately, while we’ve been hiding out, classic Centennial State attractions, from mountaintops to rooftops, have been transforming themselves, making the old new again, in anticipation of our return.
Snowmass Finally Glows Up
Aspen is known as the playground of the rich, while neighboring Snowmass is where families go for a “bargain” ski holiday. But capital investments of $600 million over the past six years have given a Botox-like injection—including chic lodges, elevated dining, and a new entertainment complex—to a beautiful village that just needed a little lift.
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A $40 million investment from Atlanta-based High Street Real Estate Partners and Zurich-based Acron Group transformed the old Westin Snowmass Resort and Wildwood Snowmass hotel into two new luxury properties: Viewline Resort Snowmass and Wildwood Snowmass opened in December. Both resorts, perched midmountain, offer upscale digs inspired by midcentury design and history. But Viewline’s ski-in, ski-out experience feels more Aspen-like with its private ski and bike concierge. Its other amenities, like Lupine Spa’s ayurvedic facial and massage treatments, fine dining at Stark’s Alpine Grill, and a kids club ($25 per hour per child) to entertain your offspring feel similarly high-rent. Wildwood’s 151-room, neon-hued lodging isn’t lowbrow by any stretch, but its groovy ’60s feel, more affordable pricing (starting at $229 per night versus $711 at Viewline), and double-over-queen bunk beds cater to a specific genus of young adult: those without children but with sidekicks in tow. The breezeway connecting the hotels means you’re never too far away from whichever vibe you like best.
The Japanese concept of “kaizen,” or continuous improvement, is exactly what Brent Reed, owner of Kenichi Aspen and Izakaya Carbondale, had in mind when he opened the newest addition to the Snowmass food scene this past December. While Reed’s Aspen location of Kenichi is a beloved hangout with world-class sushi, it’s the exquisite architectural details—40-foot ceilings, private booths separated by gorgeous shoji screens—at the Snowmass outpost that make eating at Kenichi a feast for your eyes as well as your mouth. At your table, delectable plates of Japanese-sourced mackerel and sea bream cozy up alongside sashimi-grade Colorado bass. Far Eastern flavors spice up American fare in hot plates like Asian baby back ribs, braised beef short ribs with a Korean-style chile pepper glaze, and seared duck breast with yuzu orange glaze and scallions.
Body and Mind
Snowmass has a novel way to work the muscles that both skiers and the ski-averse can appreciate. The new Snowmass Fitness Room offers core-shredding classes of varying levels of intensity: from yoga and Pilates to barre and Brazilian jiujitsu. Located on the lower level of the Snowmass Village Mall, Snowmass Fitness Room’s drop-in day passes provide an opportunity to learn take-downs for $25, while mat Pilates, barre, and yoga classes start at $30.
Anderson Ranch Arts Center was founded in 1966 by artist Paul Soldner, who revolutionized ceramics by bringing new textures and color effects to a 500-year-old Japanese art tradition called raku. That cultural cache is why this center—which offers multiday workshops for all ages and abilities, free lectures, and artist-in-residence programs—is visited year-round by creators with impressive CVs; this spring, expect to meet renowned photographers Paul Mpagi Sepuya and Sama Alshaibi. And efforts to expand access got a boost this past November when the nonprofit received an anonymous gift to fund a three-year initiative focused on Latino engagement, including teacher training and a visiting artists series. That, and an already robust scholarship program for any aspiring Georgia O’Keeffes, means it might be time to break out your watercolors. Winter workshop registration opens January 3
These four Centennial State activities have long made access to our great outdoors higher, faster, and less crowded. Here’s what new.
600: Feet of elevation gained on the Cloud Ladder, Estes Park’s newest via ferrata, which debuted in August 2021. Fixed by Kent Mountain Adventure Center into the Deville rock formation on the northern part of the Twin Sisters peaks, the Cloud Ladder is billed as the steepest via ferrata in North America. You’ll be hard-pressed to dispel that claim (or maybe just scared speechless) after your guide leads you up a 90-degree initial ascent, across two sky bridges, and eventually to a 30-foot, 110-degree overhang. The adventure center recommends visitors have some climbing or via ferrata experience, so it might be worth a trip to your local climbing gym before clipping into the Cloud. $174 per person for a group of four or more
250: New acres of skiable terrain in Beaver Creek Resort’s McCoy Park. The bowl, geared toward beginner and intermediate skiers and riders, is sliced with 17 groomed and gladed alpine skiing trails, offers fresh vantage points of the Sawatch Range, and boasts a new high-speed quad lift that means you’ll get your Epic pass’ worth
of extra runs.
6000: Feet of descent over the course of the rugged 32-mile Palisade Plunge, a new mountain-biking-only trail atop the Grand Mesa’s west flank that opened this past July. The grueling point-to-point route ribbons its way through a dazzling landscape of dense aspen groves, volcanic boulder fields, and desert terrain along Whitewater Creek and the Colorado River. Beginners beware: This remote backcountry challenge requires advanced skills and proper provisions; consult the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association to be sure you’ve packed the appropriate supplies and have accurate maps.
43: Total state parks in Colorado, once a deal to acquire Sweetwater Lake and a surrounding 488-acre ranch in Garfield County is finalized. The state and federal partnership will be the first to create a park on U.S. Forest Service land. This stretch of White River National Forest—slated to open to visitors this summer—won’t get the usual amenities, like a visitor center or picnic areas, for years, but a new boat launch area is in the works for June.
When the Denver Art Museum reopened its Lanny and Sharon Martin Building this past October, the museum made clear its ambition to be a preeminent culture hub. We spoke with curators about three exhibitions in the refreshed venue—and why they’re so excited to share them with the world.
Opened in 1971, the 210,000-square-foot Martin Building was designed by famed Italian architect Gio Ponti and is his only work in North America. But to call him a mere architect would belie the breadth of his creativity, says Denver Art Museum (DAM) curator of architecture and design Darrin Alfred. Beyond the building itself, on view will be objects from the museum’s architecture and design collection, including a desk, an armchair, flatware, and ceramic dinner plates designed by Ponti.
The Expert: “Gio Ponti designed everything from spoons to skyscrapers—and all the things in between. I’m always thinking, I’d love to have that in my home or I’d love to have that flatware. Ponti was always someone of his time and, simultaneously, timeless. Looking at many of the objects on view, they look like they could have been done yesterday, or, you know, 10 years or even 20 years ago. There’s a current quality that’s very of-the- moment in my mind.” —Darrin Alfred
The DAM’s world-class collection of Latin American art made the decision to display this exhibit (open through July 17) on the Martin Building’s first floor a no-brainer. As the Frederick and Jan Mayer curator of Latin American art, Jorge Rivas Pérez says the difficult part was selecting artifacts that reflect the diverse, contested, and overlapping histories of a region that stretches from the Bering Strait to the Southern Cone. The exhibit begins with objects highlighting pre-Columbian connections to the land, weaving together history and contemporary issues related to colonialism and exploitation, as well as belonging and displacement.
The Expert: “For the first time, we created this mix of art from the ancient Americas but also [included] contemporary works. We make big statements, too, like including a work called “Afro Charlie” by an Afro-Dominican artist named Jorge Pineda that relates to the African influence in the Americas. Those voices counterbalance the European part of the history.” —Jorge Rivas Pérez
This striking arrangement of more than 30 designers examines how the suit revolutionized the female wardrobe—and pushed gender boundaries. Among looks by Halston, Givenchy, and Chanel, a contribution by Yves Saint Laurent most excites Florence Müller, the Avenir Foundation curator of textile art and fashion. It’s a gender-bending photograph of models Gia Carangi and Robin Osler in a 1979 issue of Vogue France, where the former is dressed in a slinky evening gown and the latter in a chic YSL tux.
The Expert: “Saint Laurent saw that it was not only interesting to dress women in pantsuits but [to do so] with a new attitude. Traditional representations of femininity—makeup and high heels—could also be powerful. By mixing masculinity and femininity, he explored a new vision of women as not only mothers but also as women in business and an active part of society.”—Florence Müller
The Sun’ll Come Out
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts returns with nostalgic Broadway musicals sure to lift our spirits, and local shops help you dress for the occasions.
March 29 to April 10, The Buell Theatre
Denverites love a good ’80s melodrama. (Thanks, Dynasty.) This story about out-of-work actor Michael Dorsey reinventing himself as Dorothy Michaels to snag a role in a musical (how meta) will have us all asking: Where can I find a red sequined dress in my size?
Dress the Part: Scout Dry Goods and Trade is the perfect place to snag inexpensive, secondhand, shimmery ’80s frocks. For that wavy ginger bob you’ve been dying to rock, head to Coco Coquette Denver’s wall of wigs.
August 2 to 14, the Buell Theatre
Get lost again in the enchanted land of broken dreams—i.e., the 1990s—as sex worker Vivian charms titan of business Edward. The original score, written in part by Bryan Adams (yup, that Bryan Adams), doesn’t upstage all the cheesy romance you came to see.
Dress the Part: Cherry Creek North is Denver’s answer to Rodeo Drive, where Vivian begins her ascent into high society. Not visiting the personal stylists at the A Line Boutique while shopping in the district? Big mistake. Big. Huge!
October 25 to November 6, the Buell Theatre
These crooners of R&B are likely responsible for many of us being conceived, but this show delivers more than baby-making music: It follows the quintet’s rise out of Motor City and into music history.
Dress the Part: Hit up Boss Vintage, a Broadway classic for old-school suits and party dresses.
A Wrinkle In Time
Research has found that periods of stress—such as, say, a global pandemic—can distort our perception of time. But one person’s time warp is another’s vacation. Stay at these three Colorado hotels and revel in bygone eras while also relishing the bright spots of 2022.
Escape To: The ’50s
Stay: Opening this month, the Thompson Denver in LoDo combines mid-century modern aesthetics with a distinctly Colorado feel (think: clean lines but plenty of saddle leather, too). Its most desirable amenities, however, are the unobstructed views of downtown and the foothills from the rooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows. Rooms starting at $299 per night
Eat: Doo-wop your way into the Original, a new 1950s-inspired diner in nearby McGregor Square that serves plates of hearty Americana like the Reuben’s Cousin Rachel, a pastrami and Swiss cheese sandwich bolstered by caraway sauerkraut. Don’t leave without sharing one of the boozy milkshakes—like the Salty Jim, with bourbon, salted caramel, vanilla ice cream, and two straws—with your steady.
Play: Indulge your fantasy for midcentury digs at the Kirkland Museum’s Returning Wright: Repatriating Two Martin House Windows (March 3 through mid-April), a farewell tour for two art glass windows acquired by Kirkland when the Wright-designed Martin House—a Buffalo, New York, dwelling—fell into disrepair. After 23 years, the windows will return home in 2022. In June, Wright’s obsession with tiny details will loom large in Frank Lloyd Wright Inside the Walls, a display highlighting accessories from roughly a dozen of Wright’s buildings from around the world that were already a part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Escape To: The ’20s
Stay: Although the Oxford Hotel first welcomed guests in 1891, it transformed its decor from Gilded Age glam to an art deco extravagance worthy of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel in the 1930s. For the second year in a row, patrons can swing into the Jazz Age with a 1920s-themed package (starting at $5,000 for two people) called the Bee’s Knees, which offers one night in the presidential suite; dinner for two at the Oxford-attached Urban Farmer steak house; private mixology classes focusing on Prohibition-era cocktails; two luxury spa treatments; and a $2,000 shopping spree at the Vintage Label at LoDo’s Dairy Block.
Drink: According to liquor historians (yes, they’re a thing), the golden age of cocktails began in the 1860s and peaked right after Prohibition ended in 1933. But a revival of the art of mixology arrived last January in the form of the L. Located on South Broadway, the L is the brainchild of Alex Lerman and Adam Hodak, both alums of Larimer Square’s Green Russell speakeasy. The veteran barkeeps are reintroducing Denver to what cocktails should taste like, with drinks such as the El Camino, with avocado-oil-infused mezcal, watermelon and lime juices, aloe, celery bitters, black pepper, and a puckering dash of manzanilla sherry.
Play: Dazzle jazz bar’s Bread & Jam program was a lifeline for artists struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The paid jam sessions doubled as connection points to mental health services and a food pantry. It’s now morphed into Late Night Sessions, bimonthly gigs for local musicians to hone their crafts by playing alongside nationally renowned touring artists. Of course, groupies are allowed ($5 to $10)—as are continued cash and food pantry donations.
Escape To: The Silver Boom
Stay: The Western Hotel in Ouray is slated to open later this year, once renovation of the 16-room boutique lodging is complete. Denver-based Zeppelin Development made the $2.5 million purchase in December 2020, securing the property and the architectural goodies still inside. The 131-year-old building’s historical charm includes a hand-carved bar, original tin ceilings, and stained-glass windows, all of which the new owners plan to fold into an updated interior design scheme. While the grand opening is TBD, guests can expect a trendy restaurant with locally sourced eats as well as a day spa.
Eat: History and dinner are a perfect pairing at the Outlaw, Ouray’s oldest eatery. The 1908 building housed a saloon and gentlemen’s clothing store before becoming a restaurant. Patrick Hurtt joined Outlaw’s kitchen in July 2021 and plans to spice up the surf and turf cuisine with Southern flair. Outdoor seating added in 2020 is available for those who prefer their dinners with a side of mountain majesty.
Play: San Juan Scenic Jeep Tours’ newly custom-fitted fleet is perfect for passengers viewing the San Juans. See the wildflower-and-waterfall paradise that is Yankee Boy Basin or, for those with more nerve, bounce over Black Bear Pass, known as one of the state’s most dangerous backcountry routes. Half-day tours from $69 per adult, $138 for a full day
Colorado boasts no more classic pastime than ogling the Rocky Mountains. Broken down by elevation, these Front Range bars serve up new views and spectacular sips.
At 6,460 feet: Colorado Springs’ Red Leg Brewing Company anchors an $8 million, 14,000-square-foot facility that opened in July 2021 and boasts views of Pikes Peak from its second-story rooftop bar. The taproom is currently pouring 20 offerings, but the Stanley-Marketplace-esque hall (which will eventually be known as the Garrison) plans to add more tenants—including Nekter Juice, Criterium Bicycles, Sasquatch Cookies, Oliver’s Deli, and Taco Q—later this year.
At 6,070 feet: A former flour mill and feed store, the Golden Mill food hall opened this past April and, along with tasty bites, gave downtown Golden its first rooftop bar. Tucked along the western edge of the metro area, the foothills loom larger, the sky is somehow bluer, and the sound of nearby Clear Creek reminds you you’re not in Denver anymore. Ditto for the smaller winter crowds and dedicated parking.
At 5,276 feet: Last April’s opening of Sloan’s Lake Brewhouse represents the further expansion of Fort Collins’ Odell Brewing in Denver. We’re cool with the spreading empire because the beer is good, the ownership is two-thirds female, and its new location has a rooftop. A trifecta of views—the Rockies to your west, downtown to the east, and the iconic lake below—go great with 16 house brews on tap.
At 5,270 feet: The Red Barber, a new-in-August patio atop RiNo’s Catbird Hotel, is everything you wish your backyard setup could be. That is: comfortable and cleverly designed, with an ambience that nurtures a party. A vaguely island-y indoor-outdoor bar serves boozy frosé; local bands or DJs deliver tunes from the amphitheater; cornholers let bags fly on a grassy lawn; and cozy fire pits chase away the chill as patrons snuggle close to watch Denver’s skyline light up the night.
At 5,013 feet: Steamboat Springs’ Back Door Grill expanded into Fort Collins in March 2021, becoming a favorite of Colorado State University fans and, oddly enough, Cheeseheads cheering for Green Bay. The 4,113-square-foot sports bar boasts 22 flat-screens and a tiki bar rooftop with misters and overhead canopies, making it the perfect spot to enjoy $10 pitchers of PBR or a fishbowl of the Angry Aggie, a tart cocktail that will take the sting out of a CSU loss.
More than a century after Denver Mayor Robert Speer unveiled his ambitious City Beautiful plan, the Mile High City still aspires to achieve his dream, as these recently completed parks projects show.
RiNo ArtPark has risen from its industrial past to become a green gathering spot for a diverse set of cultural endeavors. The park, which opened in September 2021, employs recycled materials from the old concrete plant that sat north of the South Platte River to create large-scale sculptural features that blur the line between art and playground. This oasis of vegetation is the new front lawn to the latest branch of the Denver Public Library as well as the RedLine Contemporary Art Center’s satellite operation, which has open-to-the-public artist studios.
Greenwood Village’s Marjorie Park reopened last June after a three-year closure for renovations that included the reopening of the beloved Victorian Diorama, a 30-year-old exhibition space for local artists making modern and contemporary art. Jodi Stuart, a 2021 artist-in-residence at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, became the first artist to display fine art in the revamped space this past November. Created using a 3D pen (which is similar to a glue gun), her ambiguously shaped, amoebalike sculptures are up to 30 inches in diameter. Stuart’s work, and that of other artists the museum’s residency program supports, is aimed at elevating the art experience for adults as well as kids.
39th Avenue Greenway is easily the best part of an urban planning project meant to protect North City Park and other nearby low-lying areas from stormwater flooding. Completed last November at a cost of $77.5 million, the 1.6-mile-long greenway diverts floodwaters but also connects the Cole and Clayton neighborhoods between Franklin and Steele streets, creating a pathway to run, bike, and relax on the large swings installed along the park’s western edge.
Paco Sanchez Park’s $13 million renovation has delivered on the Re-Imagine Play concept Denver Parks and Recreation announced back in 2017. The main playground structure, completed in September 2020, is a vertical jungle gym of sorts modeled after a 1950s microphone—an homage to the park’s namesake, who started the city’s first Spanish-language radio station. A peek inside inspires wonder in kids, who are faced with a mazelike space with nearly 50 different ways to climb to the top of the 30-foot-tall complex.
At an elevation of 5,415 feet, Inspiration Point Park is one of the few places to take in a full view of the Front Range—from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak—on a clear day. But the 112-year-old park’s overlook was uninspiring due to deterioration. Last year, the city added structural reinforcement as well as accessibility features and a new play area.
A calendar of events for enjoying the second iteration of the partnership between Black Pride Colorado and the Juneteenth Music Festival.
Last year’s first-of-its-kind alliance between Black Pride Colorado and the Juneteenth Music Festival resulted in a summer weekend of both reverie and reflection. If you hadn’t gotten vaxxed in time to enjoy local funk band Grand Alliance or strut your stuff at the Black Pride Gala, put that immunity to good use this year by planning to attend these celebrations of Black heritage and Black queer culture.
- June 16: The inaugural combo celebration this past June opened with a drag show at Tracks nightclub. And—yas, queen—this year will follow suit. (Time and location are still TBD.) Last year, you needed $20 at the door, so have a few bills handy.
- June 17: In the afternoon, tune in to the State of Black Colorado community discussion that ends with food and live music. Then, channel your inner dandy or diva at the second annual Black Pride Gala at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
- June 18: Black Pride Colorado is mixing it up this year with a new family picnic event. Although details were fuzzy at press time, it’s likely that the fete will be held near the Juneteenth Street Festival in Five Points. The Juneteenth R&B Summer Kick Off is an evening to lift every voice and sing. Tickets go on sale in May.
- June 19: Praise the Lord—and bottomless mimosas—at the gospel brunch presented by Black Pride and hosted by the legendary Juicy Misdemeanor.
- October 1: Black Pride will glam up your fall calendar with its second Black Fantasy Weekend vogue ball. So get snatched, sissy that walk, and come ready to slay.