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We don’t need to convince you that June is objectively the best month in the Rockies. But if all this Front Range gray has your head in the fog, consider: The swells of destination travelers have not yet arrived in our mountains’ majesty, so there are shreds of solitude to be had. The valleys are exploding with more shades of green than in a Crayola box—and fresh blooms are popping, too. The peaks are still cloaked in snow, but ambient air temps are pleasant enough for wearing just a T-shirt.
It also happens to be unofficial festival season in the high country. There are the big ones like Aspen Food and Wine and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, of course, but if you didn’t score tickets (and don’t want to try your hand at the secondhand market), there’s no shortage of smaller-time live music, fresh eats, and lung-busting adventure to be found. What better way to enjoy the longest days of the year?
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Arapahoe Basin Closing Weekend
Yes, it’s June, but you still have one more weekend to shred with the lifts. Providing the swan song for Colorado’s 2022–’23 ski season, A-Basin has slush turns, beach barbecues, pond-skimming, and costumes galore—plus free live music at the base area. Find discounted lift tickets online. Dillon; June 3–4; free to attend
Colorado Barbeque Challenge
Follow your nose to Copper Mountain, where this celebration of meat goes down Father’s Day weekend. In addition to competition grilling and delightful eating, enjoy free live music by Nashville artists and the array of ski resort offerings like a gondola ride, a zipline, a mountain coaster, a climbing wall, and go-karts (additional tickets required). There’s also a 5K (aptly named the Bacon Burner), a “Ribs and Jibs” rail jam for park skiers, and a nine-hole golf event. To help equalize the indulgence, partake in free yoga on Saturday and Sunday morning. Frisco; June 15–17; free to attend
Bacon and Bourbon Festival
Sample a few dozen whiskeys, then mop it all up with steaming samples of crispy pork at this popular festival. There’s a bacon-eating contest and a fan vote, plus a kid area for crafts and games at Camp Bacon. And, of course: free live music. Keystone; June 23–25; free to attend, food and drink tickets cost $25
Buena Vista and Salida
FIBArk Whitewater Festival
At the 75th annual FIBArk Whitewater Festival, witness raft and kayak races, trick comps, and obstacle runs. More of a landlubber? There are footraces, trail runs, and a skate comp, too. The banks of the Arkansas become a sea of food and merch for the four-day celebration, and live music cranks from the stage in Riverside Park. Salida; June 15–18; $10
Vail and Beaver Creek
GoPro Mountain Games
If you landed in the Centennial State because of the prospect of outdoor adventure, consider the Mountain Games a rite of passage. The four-day festival features all semblance of trail, mountain, whitewater, and, yes, canine competition, plus lower-key outdoor leisure like yoga classes, slacklining, and even a dance party (DJ and all). (Also, gear. Lots of gear.) Neat: Catch a new (free) presentation series that features rad outdoor personalities like Rafa Jaime, Laura Zerra, and Brodie the Goldendoodle. Vail; June 8–11; free to attend
Scandinavian Midsummer Festival
You know who celebrates June better than anyone else? Scandinavians. If you’re not in Sweden experiencing sunshine at midnight during the longest days of the year, consider Estes Park a worthy alternative. There, in the shadow of the national park, don your finest Viking helmet or fresh flower crown and nosh on Swedish meatballs, smoked salmon, and potato sausages while fiddles play in the background. There’s folk dancing and sword fights, too. Estes Park; June 23–25; free
Strawberry Days Festival
For more than a century (126 years to be exact), folks have gathered for this weekend of live music, art, food, and drink. Stroll through the sea of masterpieces by local artists, shop for your week’s produce, or kick back and relax. Best bet: Partake in the celebration’s namesake free strawberries and ice cream. Glenwood Springs; June 16–18; free
Pikes Peak Celtic Fest
Bagpipes blaze with their most majestic strains throughout this weekend of Scottish and Irish fun. Learn about the weapons of Scottish highlanders and the art of Irish step-dancing, then try to identify the intricacies of fine Scotch and Irish whiskey. Colorado Springs; June 16–18; tickets start at $7.50
Pagosa Folk ’n Bluegrass
If you didn’t get tickets to Telluride, fear not. Bluegrass music’s next generation of talented artists are on tap at this lesser-known, but still lively festival of twang. Pack your tent or van for onsite camping and get ready for an extravaganza of arts, crafts, instrument workshops, food trucks, beer, and wine. Festival passholders also have access to morning yoga and bluegrass. Pagosa Springs; June 9–11; day passes start at $75
TheBigWonderful Beer Fest and Bluegrass
Sip unlimited suds from dozens of Colorado breweries (as well as cideries and distilleries) at this buzzy one-day festival. Winter Park’s base area village becomes a thumping scene of sippers meandering through a market of craft and clothing vendors, all to the soundtrack of live bluegrass (lineup TBA). Tasting tickets sell out quickly, so act in advance. Winter Park; June 24; free to attend, beer tickets start at $35
Channeling the spirit and fashion of the Wild West, Black Hawk reels back to 1859 when gold was first discovered and the town was incorporated. Share the streets with individuals in full-on 1800s garb, try your hand at gold panning, and check out rock drilling demonstrations on how the rich stuff was extracted back in the day. Also, chomp on barbecue, shop inspired wares by local artists and vendors, enjoy free live music all weekend, and sip a custom Founder’s Day brew from Cabin Creek. Black Hawk; June 3–4; free to attend