The Rocky Mountain Towns are Reopening for Adventurers

By Eileen Ogintz

Let’s get going!

With summer here and fewer restrictions now in place for camping, rafting, mountain biking, guided trips and more, there are plenty of places ready to welcome outdoors lovers, albeit with some restrictions.

As long as you are willing to wear masks and social distance, you will find mountain towns have fine-tuned their lodging, restaurants, and guided adventures so that you can get outdoors and enjoy yourselves this summer—safely.

While Maine and Vermont at this writing still require out of state visitors to self-quarantine for two weeks, other states including Colorado , Utah, Wyoming and Montana have relaxed some restrictions which means visitors can enjoy the mountains, mountain towns and the National Parks, though the experience will be different this year with visitor centers, some lodging and restaurants shut

However, because there are no big tour groups or international visitors this summer, you may be able to score last minute lodging—at up to 30 per cent off–according to Xanterra, which runs concessions, lodging and more in national parks including the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

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“Bear Jam” in Yellowstone National Park pre-pandemic

Glacier National Parks. Even the iconic Grand Canyon Railway is 30 per cent off.

Mountain towns known for snow sports have always proved a good summer value –this year better than most, though much-loved activities like outdoor concerts and rodeos have been cancelled. You’ll see more dining spilling out on sidewalks and fewer tables inside. Guided activities may be limited to just your family and lodging will be at 50 per cent capacity.

The good news: mountain towns should be less crowded because no one wants to fly, and cancellation fees have been relaxed. You can also opt to rent an RV –even have it delivered to a campground in many cases from Outdoorsy or RVSHARE. You’ll find your pick of deals, including free nights from Benchmark’s Rocky Mountain Road Trips .

Here is what to expect this summer:

ASPEN: Lodging and restaurants are open at 50 per cent capacity; Aspen Meadows – Colorado residents receive 40% off with rates starting at $107/night. The Gant– Colorado residents receive 30% savings in deluxe and premier accommodations for stays June 4 – Oct. 31. Limelight Aspen– Colorado residents receive 40% off deluxe rooms and higher through Sept. 3. Reservations for Shuttle and Parking at Maroon Bells: Reservation requests for both the shuttle service and parking will be available to the public beginning June 2 at www.aspenchamber.org. Reservations will initially be available in rolling two-week increments. Aspen Mountain has opened; Snowmass is likely to open June 21; The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies has also resumed some of its popular summer activities.

The awesome troll Isak Heartstone
The awesome troll Isak Heartstone – seen in Breck last summer

BRECKENRIDGE: Historic Main Street will be transformed into a pedestrian-friendly walking mall with more outdoor dining options. . Beaver Run is among the lodging companies with special offers; Breckenridge Grand Vacations, which manages more than 800 units across four resort properties in Breckenridge has partnered with PURO™ Lighting to deploy groundbreaking UV disinfection technology. . Breckenridge Ski Resort hopes to have lifts spinning by late June/early July. Breckenridge Golf Course is open, you can fly fish and hike including Crystal Peak, Wheeler Mountain.. And of course you can pay respects to Isak Heartstone, the large-scale, wooden troll sculpture created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo, along the specially constructed one-way Trollstigen Trail.

VAIL VALLEY: The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spain Avon is touting 20 per cent off accommodations, food, massages and $20 off bike rentals; The Antlers at Vail has 10-pack of room nights bookable for stays between June 1- Nov. 14, starting at $189 . Lodging properties will operate at a maximum of 50 percent of occupancy and follow heightened health and safety guidelines. Pool and hot tub facilities also are open with occupancy limits, and fitness centers and gyms will operate at limited capacity. Saunas, spas and steam rooms remain closed for the time being. The Town on Avon has relaxed its regulations allowing for guests to consumer their own beer, wine and cocktails in the open air of Nottingham Park and on the Main Street Pedestrian Mall between 11:30 a.m. and 30 minutes after dusk. The Town of Eagle has allowed for the consumption of alcohol in their town parks and public spaces and has initiated a town-wide program entitled “Be our Guest,” allowing restaurants and bars the ability to apply for expanded use and service on the Town sidewalks, streets, and parking lots. There are more than a dozen golf courses, 80 miles of river and 300 miles of hiking. Museums and public facilities such as Walking Mountains in Avon and Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail also are open with limited capacity. The mountain has not yet announced when it will open.

Playing GaGa Ball at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park CO
Playing GaGa Ball at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park CO

ESTES PARK:  The YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center and Snow Mountain Ranch have begun to reopen with two-bedroom cabins starting at $169 and lots of complimentary activities including mini golf, guided hikes, outdoor climbing walls, arts and crafts, kids activities (including a new day camp at an extra charge) Devil’s Thumb Ranch also has reopened Receive a free night and Ranch Bucks to spend on dining, activities, and retail items during your stay. Offer valid through July 31. You currently need a timed entry permit or camping reservation to enter Rocky Mountain National Park

WINTER PARK Resort will re-open for gondola rides, putting courses, Trestle Bike Park and more on June 27. Nearby Devil’s Thumb Ranch is touting a third night free (on Sunday-Thursday stays plus $150 credit through the end of July.

A couple on the Nordic trails at Devil's Thumb Ranch with their 7-month-old in tow
A couple on the Nordic trails at Devil’s Thumb Ranch with their 7-month-old in tow early last winter

PARK CITY, UTAH has plenty to do with close to 400 trails for mountain biking and hiking. Utah Olympic Park include two hour sessions with a one-hour break between sessions ; Deer Valley Resort has announced reopening on June 26th for biking hiking and scenic rides.. You will find plenty of lodging deals too.

JACKSON HOLE Wyoming is the gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks with plenty of places to hike, bike, river raft and fly fish. Some resorts, like Spring Creek Ranch offer private wild-life viewing tours of the parks, horseback rides and star gazing. You can support Jackson Hole businesses—lodging, restaurants, shopping and more—by purchasing discounted gift certificates that you can redeem when you visit. Snow King Resort, just a few blocks from Jackson Hole Town Square, not only has newly renovated accommodations but an “On the Road Again” package beginning at $140 a night with a $40 gas credit, waived pet fee, to-go breakfast and more. Take a private Fishing lesson!

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