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Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in our June 2017 issue. This version was fact-checked and updated (where possible) with current information for the 2018 edition of 5280 Traveler.
Craggy peaks, aspen-lined trails, and brilliant wildflowers—these are a few of our favorite things about Colorado’s mountain towns. For both locals and tourists, though, another category of entertainment is moving up the marquee. “A lot more people [are coming] to Crested Butte not for the recreation opportunities but for the arts,” says Jenny Birnie, executive director of Center for the Arts Crested Butte, which is currently undergoing an expansion. And Crested Butte isn’t alone: Two other mountain towns have recently debuted arts properties. We pull back the curtain on the high country’s new additions.
Annual patronage at the 31-year-old Center for the Arts Crested Butte (CACB) rose 17.5 percent in 2016 and reached 48,105 visitors in 2017. In the summer of 2017, the CACB broke ground on an 18,000-square-foot new building to serve that crowd. When it’s completed in January 2019 (phased construction has allowed the CACB’s existing venue, which will be renovated next, to stay open), the $12.5 million addition will include a larger theater, two dance studios, an art studio and gallery space (now ADA accessible), and a kitchen for culinary demonstrations by area chefs.
Long considered a pass-through town and shopping destination (hello, Coach, J.Crew, and three dozen other outlet stores), Silverthorne is hoping its new multipurpose arts space will change its reputation. The 16,000-square-foot Silverthorne Performing Arts Center opened in June 2017. In addition to art exhibitions, the year-round venue houses the popular Lake Dillon Theatre Company, the only professional theater troupe in Summit County, which had outgrown its previous home in Dillon.
Winter Park is becoming more than just a much-loved ski destination. The June 2017 debut of the Hideaway Park Stage, a new permanent outdoor stage designed by Denver’s Semple Brown Design, means visitors have many more reasons to head downtown. In the summer, those reasons include festivals (like the 36th annual jazz festival taking place on July 21 and 22), free yoga, and concerts (capacity: 5,000 people). Come winter, the stage serves as a home base with sweeping panoramic views for families zooming down the adjacent sledding hill.
For The Adrenaline Junkies
Prefer a heart-pounding adventure to a heart-rending performance? These three mountain thrills will get your ticker thumping in no time. —Spencer Campbell
Outlaw Mountain Coaster
Steamboat Resort’s monster of an attraction opened in September 2017 and descends 420 vertical feet over 6,280 feet. That makes it the longest mountain coaster in North America (beating out Copper Mountain’s newer, 5,800-foot-long coaster).
The Haunted Mine Drop
On Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park’s newest ride, which opened in summer 2017, visitors might get so caught up in the retelling of a fictional 19th-century mining accident that they won’t notice the floor dropping away. They’ll realize what happened, though, after they plunge 110 feet into Iron Mountain.
Last year, Vail Resorts’ summer concept expanded to Breckenridge, where adventures include the Expedition Zip Line Tour and the Alpineer Challenge Course. Purchase a day pass ($62 or $89) or go à la carte.