By Patte Smith
When autumn in Colorado arrives, it is a special time to enjoy cooler blue sky days and picturesque fall drives along the Front Range and in the mountains. Whether taking a day or an overnight trip, many scenic destinations not only offer colorful fall foliage but festive events with music, arts and crafts and tasty food and drink. Mix a scenic outing with an enjoyable festival and voilà – a great getaway for families and friends.
Close to home, the 27th Annual Colorado Artfest in Castle Rock will run September 10 and 11 in historic downtown Castle Rock. This year, art lovers can enjoy the Rock After Dark VIP event on Saturday from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. featuring live music, food and more (to be announced later). The admission fees for adults are $5, seniors 65 and older are $3 and children 16 and younger are free. For information, visit www.castlerockculture.com. The creative expertise of more than 170 artists from across the country will be on display.
A short jaunt down I-25 south to Larkspur and nestled in the foothills near the Pike National Forest, the annual Autumn Harvest & Craftfest runs September 17 and 18 at Larkspur Community Park. Open both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors can stroll through the small-town festival that features 60 arts and crafts vendors, food and drink booths, hay rides, live music and a bounce castle for the kids. For more information, visit www.larkspurautumnharvestcraftfest.com. For information about Pike National Forest, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/psicc/about-forest/about-area.
A must-visit (and my absolute favorite) is the Holly Berry House Folk Art Festival at the Rock Ledge Ranch. It is set in the spectacular Garden of the Gods Park and features food, music, historic tours, fine art, unique crafts, and one-of-a-kind collectibles and antiques. The event benefits the preservation and restoration of the ranch. The drive through Garden of the Gods is breathtaking. Admission prices for adults are $6, seniors are $5 and children ages six to 12 are $2. For festival tickets and information, visit www.hollyberryhouse.com. For information about Garden of the Gods Park, visit www.gardenofgods.com.
A little further from home but well worth the trip are two festive and unique events that share the perfect backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP):
East of RMNP in Estes Park is Autumn Gold – a festival of bands, brats and beer held September 24 and 25. As elks bugle, event-goers can enjoy delicious food, music, dancing and many activities for kids – plus admission is free. For information about the festival, visit www.visitestespark.com. For information about Rocky Mountain National Park, visit www.nps.gov.
September 10 to 11 is the Grand Lake ArtFest held at the Town Square Park. It showcases fine art and handcrafted goods, as well as food, beverages and live music. Drive west through RMNP over Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake where you can marvel at the view. For information about Grand Lake and the ArtFest, visit www.colorado.com/events.
This is only a smattering of the many festivals held throughout Colorado this fall. For additional resources, visit www.colorado.com/events.