Labor Day weekend might be the unofficial end to summer, but technically speaking, autumn doesn’t start until September 23. And, as any longtime Centennial State resident knows, our state’s weather doesn’t exactly abide by seasonal conventions.

This just means there’s plenty of time to sneak in some final alfresco concerts, sun-soaked happy hours, and at least one more trip to the mountains (that is, before leaf-peeping begins). So, don’t let the season slip away without tackling at least some of these 15 late-summer shenanigans. Before you know it, we’ll be traversing the mountains on skis and snowshoes.

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Summit County

Wine in the Mine
In the city, wine tastings can mean cocktail attire and hoity-toity conversations, but the oenophiles at this mountain-town sampling soirée do things a bit differently. For one, the event’s setting is a 136-year-old mine, in which guests are encouraged to pan for gold and throw axes. Instead of the stuffy classical music that’s de rigueur at typical tastings, groove to electric string quartet Spinphony’s high-energy tunes while you quaff Colorado-made libations from Carboy Winery. Sept. 7; 5:30–9 p.m.; $55

Parade of Homes
Trade in your weekly Zillow stalking for something so much better: exploring extravagant digs in person. This annual self-guided tour grants nosy guests access to some of Summit County’s most jaw-dropping abodes. Look around eight private estates—including a three-story Silverthorne dwelling with private access to the Blue River and an Old World-inspired Breckenridge stunner with a 1,000-bottle wine cellar and insulated music room—and connect with the area’s best builders, architects, and designers so you can implement your favorite elements in your own home. Sept. 23–24 & Sept. 30–Oct. 1; 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; $25 for four days

Tig Notaro
When this Los Angeles-based comic isn’t lighting up the screen (you might have seen her in the 2023 Netflix rom-com Your Place or Mine or on Paramount Plus’ Star Trek: Discovery), she’s making audiences laugh—and often reflect—with her dark, deadpan comedy. The Grammy-nominated stand-up brings her international Hello Again tour to the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge for an evening of self-deprecating drollery. Sept. 28; 7:30 p.m.; $35-$45

Vail and Beaver Creek

Climb It for Climate
Is there a more apt locale for a climate-change awareness gathering than one of Vail’s gorgeous summits? We think not. Conservation-minded folks will hike the Berry Picker trail to the top of Vail Mountain, where they’ll be greeted with food, wine, beer, and live music from jazz-rock-folk outfit the Runaway Grooms. Stop along the hike to chat with staff at educational stations and take on interactive challenges. Not up for the four-mile trek? Take the gondola to the top, and you can still relish the views and partake in the revelry. Your ticket purchase will directly benefit Walking Mountains Science Center, an environmental education organization in Eagle Valley. Sept. 23; 10 a.m.–2 p.m. $100

Vail Concours
The Centennial State’s ubiquitous Subarus and Jeeps will take an, ahem, back seat to flashy hot rods, European sports cars, and pre-World War II vehicles during this annual display. Those with impressive automobiles—expect plenty of Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes—can join the pre-show caravan around Vail and Steamboat Springs on Friday (with an intermission for a catered lunch), then park their wheels so spectators can ooh and ahh. Sept. 15–17; show is 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Sept. 17; $150–$180 to enter, free to attend

Crested Butte and Gunnison

Chili and Beer Festival
Sure, your family says that your chili recipe is the best they’ve ever had, but they have to say that. At this crowd-favorite cook-off, chefs can see how their skills really stack up by serving portions to attendees in hopes of winning over their taste buds. Homebrewers can enter their ales to vie for best Pilsner, porter, seltzer, and more. If your talents are more consumption-focused, purchase a general admission ticket to taste all of the beverages and stews you desire. Sept. 9; 11 a.m.–4 p.m.; $60

Harvest Hoedown
Consider this jubilant jamboree Gunnison Valley’s official welcoming party for autumn. Local farmers, ranchers, brewers, and more will pitch in their home-grown goods (think: pulled pork raised by local 4H students, organic veggies and salad from Mountain Roots, pies from Gunnison Valley Cattlewomen, and Zuni Street Brewing craft beer) for a bountiful dinner honoring the harvest. After the feast, stick around for square dancing with a live caller, plus twangy tunes from Andrea Earley-Coen and Dakoda Tagg. Sept. 29; 5:30 p.m.; dinner is $30

Crested Butte Film Festival

Courtesy of Crested Butte Film Festival

Telluride might get much of the film-fest publicity, but this smaller cinema-focused gathering is a more accessible—and budget friendly—alternative for movie buffs. Over five days, attend screenings of films with local ties like Hard Miles, a film based on a Denver story about a social worker at a youth prison who puts together a cycling team of incarcerated teenagers. Stick around for post-film Q&A sessions with directors and actors (including Hard Miles’ Matthew Modine), and attend viewings of classics like the 2000 comedy Shadow of the Vampire. Sept. 27–Oct. 1; times vary; $50-$275

Estes Park

Women of Rocky History Tour
Exactly 150 years ago this fall, England-born Isabella Bird traveled to Estes Park, summited Longs Peak with the help of “Rocky Mountain Jim,” and put Estes Park on the map with a bestselling book about her experience, A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains. On this special guided bus tour marking the anniversary, guests will see the area through the eyes of Bird and learn about her and other female homesteaders like Anna Wolfrom Dove, Esther Burnell, and Bettie Willard. Tours offered on Fridays beginning Sept. 15–Nov. 17; times vary; $25-$50

Elk Fest

Photo courtesy of Visit Estes Park

Estes Park values all of its residents—including its critters. Case in point: this annual party dedicated to elk and their mating season, commonly referred to as the “rut.” Learn more about these large-and-in-charge locals from Colorado Parks and Wildlife experts, then saunter between stations dedicated to Native American dancing, storytelling, and music with Danny Many Horses. You can also give your best elk call a go in the bugling contest, meet a live raptor (the bird, not the dinosaur) courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, and if you’re lucky, spot some of the party’s honored guests. Sept. 30–Oct. 1; Sat 10 a.m.–5 p.m.,Sun 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; free

Winter Park

Plein Air at Altitude
Instead of lamenting your iPhone’s inability to capture the spectacular beauty of Grand County, consider purchasing an expert-made painting to remember its splendor. Earlier in the summer, artists set up their easels on the banks of the Colorado River, beside babbling creeks, and on the bustling streets of Winter Park resort, then rendered the scene on canvas. Bid on those beauties while enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at this auction. Sept. 2; 4:30–6:30 p.m.; $50 per person


NedNed Trail Fest
Denver runners who’ve grown accustomed to the altitude can take their endurance to new heights during this multi-event race day. Whether you opt for the relaxed 5K run/walk, the more-challenging 10K and half marathon, or the new-this-year mountain bike race, you’ll get a VIP tour of Nederland via dirt roads and singletrack trails. Sept. 9; 8 a.m.–noon; $25-$105

Buena Vista and Salida

Salida Studio Tour
Think of this behind-the-scenes tour as How It’s Made: Art Edition. Some of Salida’s preeminent creators will open their studio doors to curious aesthetes, answer questions about the artistic process, and even create new pieces in front of visitors. The artisans span a wide breadth of mediums, including watercolor from Martin Jolley, hand-painted black-and-white photography from Mary Staby, and even clockmaking from Thomas Franke. Sept. 23–24; 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; free


John Wayne Grit Series

Photo courtesy of John Wayne Cancer Foundation

The scenery along this half marathon and 5K might look a bit familiar if you’re a John Wayne fan: The race weaves through Ridgway, where Wayne and his costars filmed the 1969 Western True Grit. The route includes iconic settings from the film, like the barn and Deb’s Meadow, not to mention picturesque vantages of the San Juan Mountains, so we won’t knock you if your time takes a hit from all the photos you have to stop and snap. The best part? Funds from the event supports cancer research via the John Wayne Cancer Foundation (Wayne died of stomach cancer in 1979). Sept. 23; half marathon starts at 8:30 a.m.; $100 for the5K, $120 for the half marathon


Colorado Mountain Winefest
For aspiring sommeliers, the four-hour journey to Palisade for this bash—the state’s largest wine fest—will be well worth it. Dozens of wineries from around the state, like Purgatory Cellars and Carlson Vineyards, will pour tipples of their best vino. Don’t worry, food vendors including Bonfire Oyster Co. and Lucky Thai will ensure you have enough food in your stomach to soak up the samples. The fete coincides with Colorado Wine Week, so whether you make it to Palisade or stay in the city, check out the wine-focused programming happening across Colorado, which includes paired dinners, educational classes, and even a paddleboard-and-wine retreat. Sept. 16; 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.; starting at $75