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December events in Colorado
December is here with all its holiday joy! There are lots of Colorado events to get you into holiday spirit!

Vail Snow Daze
December 11–13, 2015
http://www.vail.com/events/snowdaze.aspx
Vail Snow Daze, the largest early-season mountain bash in North America, returns December 11 - 13, 2015. Enjoy fresh tracks on the mountain and sponsor expo village by day and après parties and free live concerts by night. This bash welcomes the ski and snowboard season with free concerts, a rockin’ street fair and a tree-lighting ceremony in Vail Village. This year's headliners include The Wallflowers, Lukas Nelson & P.O.T.R. and Rusted Root.  

12 Days of Aspen
December 20–31, 2015 
http://www.aspenchamber.org/events/acra-annual-events/12-days-aspen
Downtown comes alive with a variety of free holiday activities, cookies, hot chocolate and much more to celebrate the holidays and the winter season. This festival will surely put you in a true holiday spirit!

Olde Golden Christmas
November 1, 2015 - December 31, 2015
http://www.visitgolden.com/
Experience small town, authentic holiday charm at Olde Golden Christmas in historic downtown Golden, presented by the Golden Chamber of Commerce. Olde Golden Christmas features Victorian carolers, holiday art market, live theater, dazzling holiday lights along Clear Creek, Santa encounters, free Newfoundland cart rides and more. Don't miss Golden's awe-inspiring Candlelight Walk with fireworks on Dec. 4 and holiday parades on Dec. 5, 12, 19. The parades start at 11am with lots of activities before and after.

Parade of Lights
December 4 – 5, 2015
http://www.denverparadeoflights.com/
The two-mile parade route in Downtown Denver is the stage for Colorado’s brightest holiday tradition. The FREE holiday spectacular features marching bands, ornate floats, and, of course, a special appearance by Major Waddles the Penguin and Santa! Grab your hot chocolate and ear-muffs, this year is going to be better than ever!

Blossoms of Light / Trail of Lights
November 27, 2015 – January 2, 2016
http://www.botanicgardens.org/events/special-events/blossoms-light
Blossoms of Light is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. The 2015 event features new elements, including the return of the grand illuminated O’Fallon Perennial Walk and the Romantic Gardens. Enjoy thousands of twinkling lights throughout the Gardens, as well as the always anticipated HoloSpex glasses.
Spread throughout Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms, Trail of Lights offers visitors a choice of paths; a shorter route takes visitors directly to the children’s play area, while an extended path allows visitors to explore the Green Farm Barn and silo before continuing onto the children’s area and 1880s homestead.
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Colorado November events
November signifies a beginning of the holiday season with all its pleasant errands and events! See what Colorado has in store this month!

Olde Golden Christmas
November 2 –  December 31, 2015
http://visitgolden.com/plan-your-visit/community-events-golden-colorado/olde-golden-christmas-parades-candlelight-walk-free-holiday-shopping
For an authentic hometown Christmas experience, plan to visit Golden Colorado where the holiday spirit is all around you from the natural beauty of Clear Creek in the winter to the small-town charm of historic downtown to the free family-friendly activities offered from Thanksgiving to New Years.
Golden has a longstanding tradition of featuring classic celebrations that really capture the spirit of the season. Watch the Olde Golden Christmas video and see the excitement and fun to be had.
Olde Golden Christmas includes a community candlelight walk, Victorian carolers, free horse drawn carriage rides, holiday parades, shopping, free admission to museums, music and theater productions, Santa Clause, Newfoundland dogs, holiday lights, art, and so much more!

Denver Film Festival
November 4 – 15, 2015
http://www.denverfilm.org/index.aspx
It entertains. It educates. It provokes and persuades, moves and motivates. The cinema’s potential to transform as well as reflect society in all its diversity is what the Denver Film Society aims to recognize and realize. Since 1978, the DFS has worked to promote the medium as both an art form and a civic forum, developing a program that includes year-round screenings, community outreach projects and renowned special events. It is in fact the only nonprofit organization in Colorado dedicated to engaging both its members and the general public in a lifelong, life-altering relationship with and understanding of film and film culture. The twin pillars it has built on the foundation of this vision are the award-winning Denver Film Festival, now in its third decade, and the Sie FilmCenter.

Idea Lab
November 6, 2015
http://www.denver.org/includes/calendar-of-events/Idea-Lab/30525/1089/
On November 6, join creative leaders from Denver and nationally for a full day event featuring panel discussions and workshops on getting inspired, building partnerships and putting your ideas into action. By pairing Denver creatives with a national perspective, and arts leaders from different disciplines and practices, the Idea Lab is a unique opportunity to connect your creative practice to what comes next. 
This event is presented by Creative Exchange, an online platform for artful ideas for stronger communities, and Confluence, which highlights the people, ideas, entrepreneurs and creatives elevating Denver and its role in the global economy, and sponsored by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation.
Denver Arts Week
November 6 – 14, 2015
http://www.denver.org/includes/calendar-of-events/Denver-Arts-Week/11345/1089/
The ninth annual Denver Arts Week is an eight-day celebration of all things art in the Mile High City, running from November 6-14, 2015. The program, presented by VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau, features more than 300 events at a wide variety of art galleries, museums, theaters and concert halls many of which are deeply discounted.

Denver Veterans Day 5K & 10K Run
November 8, 2015
http://www.runningguru.com/EventInformation.asp?eID=13241
The Denver Veterans Day Run is a memorial 5K/10K that will begin on Denver's scenic Auraria Campus and continue along the Cherry Creek Bike Path and back.
The Run is hosted by Colorado Veterans Project, whose mission is to enhance pride and patriotism in all Coloradans by building a stronger, more supportive community around our Veterans.
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Best Colorado scenic drives to take in October
Grand Mesa
Distance: 63 miles • Allow 2 hours • Total elevation gain: 4,780-10,500 feet

Traversing the world’s largest flattop mountain, this 63-mile route offers travelers wide-open vistas and more than 300 stream-fed lakes with thriving trout populations. The route spans four distinct Western Colorado areas hugged by national forest land: Plateau Valley, Mesa Lakes, Land O’ Lakes and Land’s End.
The Grand Mesa Byway goes through Plateau Valley with its plentiful sandstone canyons and climbs the mesa’s northern slope into a subalpine forest. A section of the byway branches out west along the rim of the Grand Mesa. At Lands End, views stretch across western Colorado and into Utah. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the Lands End Observatory sits at the mesa’s edge.

Trail of the Ancients
Distance: 480 miles • Allow 9 hours • Total elevation gain: 4,750–8,571 feet

The first national park established to preserve the achievements of humankind Mesa Verde contains more than 5,000 archaeological sites, 600 of which are cliff dwellings is a great starting point of the byway. Also, visit Ute Mountain Tribal Park that is governed by the Ute Mountain Ute Indians. You can only access it with the escort of a Ute guide. These lands are and access is available only Half- and full-day tours around select sections of the 125,000-acre reservation provide an insight in an area with an estimated 200,000 Ute and Ancestral Puebloan sites. Along the northern side of the byway, the Canyons of the Ancients and Hovenweep National Monuments look amazingly untouched, and this is true. Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores is the official visitor center to the Monument and displays artifacts of ancient inhabitants. 
Select Mesa Verde National Park cliff dwellings are close during winter. Visiting some sites requires climbing ladders.

Frontier Pathways
Distance: 103 miles • Allow 4 hours • Total elevation gain: 4,695–9,350 feet

On the Frontier Pathways, drivers can experience the transitions between five distinct “life zones” — prairie, foothills, lower montane, upper montane and subalpine. In the span of an hour, sights include pronghorn grazing around Lake Pueblo State Park, bighorn sheep perched in Hardscrabble Canyon and herds of elk moving through pastures in the Wet Mountains. Visitors can even detour off the byway at Westcliffe and climb into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to experience the alpine life zone, where cold-resistant vegetation and specialized animals such as pika survive among rugged 14,000-foot peaks. 
The byway returns toward Pueblo but forks south to the historic communities of Rye and Colorado City. Along the way, it passes Bishop Castle, a peculiar and captivating structure that one man has been building on his own since 1969.
Loose chunks of granite in Hardscrabble Canyon can sometimes be found on the roadway. Keep your eyes open for debris when passing through this stretch.
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Best October events in Colorado

October brings a cornucopia of Colorado events well-suited for the whole family! 

Elk Fest
October 3 – 4, 2015
http://www.visitestespark.com/events-calendar/special-events/elk-fest/
To celebrate the annual elk rut and learn about the "wapiti," the Native American name for elk, Estes Park hosts the 17thAnnual Elk Fest in Bond Park and the surrounding area. The free festival features bugling contests, Cabela's Archery Range, elk exhibits, the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, elk seminars, a Mountain Man Rendezvous, elk-inspired arts and crafts, Native American music, dancing and storytelling, self guided elk tour maps, a children's' area with elk-themed activities, and a craft beer garden. Vendors will display artwork, handmade elk-ivory jewelry, and will offer distinctive elk cuisine.  Mountain men from around the country will gather at the Mountain Man Rendezvous to sell their wares and demonstrate their skills.

Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival: Still on the Hill
October 23 – 25, 2015
http://www.breckenridgecraftspiritsfestival.com/
Craft distillers each year gather in Breckenridge for the Craft Spirits Festival, which features a grand tasting, restaurant specials, a downtown pub crawl and historic saloon tours. Born of Colorado's – and the nation's – rapidly-growing artisan spirits industry, the Breckenridge fest is the first of its kind in Colorado and last year added a new judging format to highlight top distillers and products.

Applefest
October 3 – 4, 2015
http://cedaredgechamber.com/seasonal-events/applefest/
Driving into the small town of Cedaredge on Colorado’s Grand Mesa, you’ll pass row after heavenly row of trees bursting with shiny red and green apples beckoning you to sink your teeth in. At Applefest, more than 150 vendors share the area’s agricultural wealth with visitors, who can also check out a classic car and antique tractor show, bands and much more. 

Telluride Horror Show
October 16 – 18, 2015
http://www.telluridehorrorshow.com/
Already famous for film, Telluride is also embracing the spooky fun of October with this sixth-annual horror, fantasy and sci-fi film fest in the town's historic Sheridan Opera House.  

U-Pick Farms and Corn Mazes
Many Colorado farms offer opportunities in the fall to pick your own cherries, strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, melons, beets, squash, cucumbers and more. The most popular thing to pick by far this time of year is your own pumpkin.
Farms across the state invite visitors to stroll rows of pumpkins searching for the perfect jack-o-lantern candidate. Many of them also offer corn mazes, hayrides, petting zoos, bobbing for apples and other hallmark activities of the season. See the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s list of pumpkin patches and corn mazes in your area.
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Best September Events in Colorado
September brings a crop of fun Colorado events! Enjoy warm days and cool nights!

September Splendor in the Rockies 
September 1, 2015
http://www.gunnisoncrestedbutte.com/rocky-mountain-fall-foliage
Seeing the aspens change color is an annual Colorado event. Celebrate the season in Gunnison and Crested Butte, where the state's largest aspen stand (along Kebler Pass) puts out a riot of color in September. Self-guided tours, farmers' markets, art walks, a harvest festival, mountain-bike tour and more make the month especially merry. 

Downtown Boulder's Fall Fest
September 18–20, 2015
http://www.boulderdowntown.com/events/fall-fest Boulder's autumn fest lines up music performances, a beer garden, local food vendors, a children's carnival and more along the city's beloved and bustling Pearl Street Mall. 

Oktoberfest Denver
September 18–20 and 25–27, 2015
http://www.thedenveroktoberfest.com/
Oktoberfests around the world are largely about beer, but downtown Denver’s autumn celebration turns out fun for the whole family with a daschund derby that has to be seen to be believed, costume contests, food booths, polka dancing and live music. 

Mountain Harvest Festival
September 24–27, 2015
http://www.mountainharvestfestival.org/
Colorado’s Western Slope town of Paonia covers all the festival bases at their annual celebration of harvest with live concerts, farmers’ markets, beer and wine tasting, a chili cook-off, arts and crafts, and farm tours. The bounty from locally owned orchards, ranches and farms brings in revelers from all over surrounding Delta County. 

Colorado State Fair
August 28 - September 7, 2015
http://www.coloradostatefair.com/
Concerts, rodeo, free attractions, carnival, exhibits ... and fantastic fair food too! Enjoy 11 days and nights of family fun. You'll love this fair!
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Best Colorado events in August
What August has in store for Colorado? Lots of fun events! Like the ones listed below and so much more! 
Colorado Shakespeare Festival
June 5 – August 5, 2015
http://www.coloradoshakes.org/  
For the 2015 season the Colorado Shakespeare Festival presents: Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Wittenberg by David Davalos, Henry V and Henry VI, Part 1.

Skyline Park Games
July 13 – September 30, 2015
http://www.downtowndenver.com/places/skyline-park 
Challenge your colleagues during the lunch hour, bring the kids down during the weekend or grab a few friends and head over to Skyline Park to experience the mini-golf course. In the heart of Downtown Denver, Skyline Park offers a variety of games such as ping pong, bocce ball, ladderball, board games and more!

Vail International Dance Festival
July 27 – August 10, 2015
http://www.vaildance.org/ 
Featuring world premieres, exceptional debuts, and captivating collaborations.
The Festival features many of the world's greatest artists from all genres of dance. Under the direction of former New York City Ballet star Damian Woetzel, the Festival's 2015 season includes Artist-in-Residence ballerina Carla Körbes, Savion Glover, Wendy Whelan, American Ballet Theatre's Isabella Boylston, Misty Copeland, and Herman Cornejo and many more.

Evergreen Bluegrass Festival
August 22, 2015
http://www.evergreenbluegrassfestival.com/ 
Evergreen Bluegrass Festival is a family-friendly acoustic celebration. Enjoy music, local artists, food and beverages in the beautiful foothills of Evergreen. As a tribute to Tom Hushen, an invaluable member of the Evergreen community who passed this last fall, we present the first annual Evergreen Bluegrass Festival. Tom was an avid volunteer (honored as Volunteer of the Year by the Evergreen Chamber), amazing husband, father and friend. Tom had a vision for a new family-friendly music festival and the EBF Committee is bringing it to life.

In Bloom
July 19 – October 11, 2015
http://denverartmuseum.org/exhibitions/bloom
The colorful exhibition demonstrates how a traditional genre was reinvented by 19th century artists, as the art world's focus was shifting to modernism. The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Heather MacDonald, Dallas Museum of Art, and Dr. Mitchell Merling, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and curated locally by Angelica Daneo, associate curator of painting and sculpture at the DAM. In Bloom examines the change from meticulous and lush still-life paintings to compositions with looser brush strokes and fewer, unified subjects.
 
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Best Colorado byways to ride on in July
Santa Fe Trail
Distance: 184 miles • Allow 4 hours • Total elevation gain: 3,397–7,800 feet
The famed lifeline between Missouri and Santa Fe, in what was then Mexico, ran through the southeast corner of Colorado. This reliable route was traversed by a bevy of fortune-seeking individuals, including glory-garnering “Wild” Bill Hickok, frontiersman Kit Carson, Jedediah Smith and explorer Zebulon Pike.
In 1833 — the year the number of travelers and traders using the Santa Fe Trail was at its peak — Bent’s Old Fort was constructed. The adobe fort was originally built as an outpost for pelt trappers and buffalo skinners. But thanks in large part to its convenient location along the trail, its role soon took on other facets. Weary travelers seeking respite from an arduous journey across the Great Plains were able to restock their reserves and repair their wagons. The adobe fort of today has been completely reconstructed, and costume-clad guides lead visitors on guided tours. One of the highlights of the tour is a look into the commander’s quarters, a room once occupied by frontiersman Kit Carson.
Dinosaurs roamed these lands long before pioneers left their still-visible wagon ruts along the Santa Fe Trail. Evidence of these behemoths can be found in Picketwire Canyons in Comanche National Grassland. The fossilized footprints of Allosaurs and Brontosaurus can be found along a quarter-mile stretch within the canyon. Scientists have been able to glean a good amount of information about the habits of these creatures by studying the tracks they left behind. One of the most intriguing sections involves two sets of Brontosaurus tracks tracing toward each other, and where they meet, an obvious interaction between the two giants is evidenced by the prints left behind.
Trinidad, which is found at the western end of the byway, is a beautiful city situated in the Purgatoire River Valley. This was a logical place for a settlement in the days of the Santa Fe Trail. It had available water, and served as a resting and restocking place before the arduous trip over Raton Pass into what is now New Mexico. The people who settled Trinidad — including travelers of the Santa Fe Trail, cattle barons and fortune-seeking miners — helped to shape Trinidad’s identity. Visitors to the town are encouraged to take a walking tour of El Corazon de Trinidad (“the Heart of Trinidad”) National Historic District for a look into the lives of each. 
There are no stops for gas or water along the stretch of road between Trinidad and La Junta (81 miles).

Alpine Loop
Distance: 63 miles • Allow 7 hours Total elevation gain: 7,706–12,840 feet
Requiring four-wheel drive for much its length, the Alpine Loop is unlike any other byway in Colorado. Passing over roads established in the late 1800s, the route takes in thick wildflower meadows, and abandoned mines and ghost towns at extremely high elevations.
The Alpine Loop has three entry points to choose from — Silverton, Ouray and Lake City — each a historic town of great significance.  Beginning in Silverton, the byway leads travelers over bumpy terrain and passes the Mayflower Mill. The fully intact mill — which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000 — is a rarity in the American West: few mills from its day remain. Just beyond the mill is the Old Hundred Mine, which opened in 1872 and operated for 101 years, despite ultimately being a less-than-profitable venture because of its numerous changes in ownership and the volatility of the silver market. Today it is open for tours that show mining techniques. From the mine’s portal, visitors can crane their necks and see the Old Hundred Boarding House. At an elevation of 12,000 feet on the crumbling face of Galena Mountain, the structure seems doomed to collapse. But its demise was staved off in 1999 when a team of carpenters fixed the roof and contractors cabled it to the mountain. 
Beyond the mine, the road ascends to Animas Forks, a mining town that showed great potential in the 1880s, but was abandoned by the 1920s because of declining investment in silver mining. At 11,200 feet, it was one of Colorado’s highest settlements, which inherently meant problems in winter. Situated in a narrow valley, avalanches were a constant threat. In 1884, a 23-day blizzard buried the town in 25 feet of snow. Visitors can stroll among the abandoned wood buildings and envision life in the rough and tumble town.
Above Animas Forks, the route splits. A left descends down Mineral Creek to U.S. 550 and Ouray. A right or second right leads to one of two passes with extremely high elevations — Cinnamon Pass (12,640 feet) and Engineer Pass (12,800 feet). Both eventually lead to Lake City. Below Engineer Pass is Capitol City, another ghost town defined by unrealized potential. This in part has to do with the lofty ambitions of its founder, George T. Lee, who was convinced the town could some day become Colorado’s capital. With a population that never exceeded 800, the mining town never even managed a county seat position. By 1900, the town had been abandoned.
Do not attempt this byway without four-wheel drive and without extensive off-road experience. Numerous guides offer Jeep tours. The byway is only open from late May through October.

Peak to Peak
Distance: 55 miles • Allow 2 hours Total elevation gain: 7,522–9,258 feet
Generous alpine curves and gradual grades lend to the Peak to Peak’s reputation as the ultimate sports car highway. The 55-mile route brings travelers up close and parallel with the Continental Divide for a tour of ghost towns, Victorian-era opulence and stunning views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker.
Peak to Peak’s southernmost point swoops through steep terrain to remnants of Colorado’s mining heydays. Black Hawk marks the narrow gulch where Georgia prospector John Gregory first struck gold in 1859. Central City was coined “the richest square mile on earth” after nearly $2 million in gold was discovered that year. This string of mining camp towns survived floods, fires and a population flux that surged to 30,000 during gold booms and plunged to 250 after mines were exhausted. Today, they have become destinations for tourists, among them those who seek out casino gaming.
Colorado’s leading show house of the late 1800s was the Central City Opera House. The mining town jewel thrives as a summer cultural destination with award-winning preservation of the interior’s ornate stone and woodwork, and a popular opera festival that dates back to 1932. The opera house holds the title as the oldest running theater in the Rocky Mountain Region.
Peak to Peak serves as a main artery to some of the state’s most desired recreational spots, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, and Eldora Ski Resort. Strong ties to nature and heritage are visible in today’s mountain towns and can be seen in places such as the people’s co-op at the byway’s halfway point in Nederland and at Charles Eagle Plume in Allenspark, an authentic American Indian art and crafts trading post that has been in operation since 1917. Acclaimed Estes Park pioneer and naturalist Enos Mills spurred the 1915 designation of Rocky Mountain National Park. Travelers’ first glimpse of the park comes into view north of Allenspark with Longs Peak and its often-photographed Diamond Face. Peak to Peak reaches its northernmost point at the park’s eastern edge, cresting into the elkladen valley of Estes Park and opening up to a windshield full of the Continental Divide’s overlapping summits.
Unpaved roads to Nevadaville and other ghost towns — along with narrow passages to hiking trails — may require four-wheel drive.
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Best July events in Colorado
July is full of colorful Colorado events! Where will you be?
Hot Air Balloon Rodeo
July 11 – 12, 2015
http://www.steamboatchamber.com/info/events/sbcccalendarevent.hot.air.balloon.rodeo.item.asp
The Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and Art in the Park events offer artistry and color both on canvases and in the air making this weekend a staple of Steamboat Springs, Colorado in the summertime.
Get to the launch grounds early to see the balloons inflate and enjoy this wonderful photography opportunity. The rodeo portion of the event consists of fun contests like dipping into Bald Eagle Lake and since balloon pilots can be pretty competitive, you’re guaranteed a good show.
Once the balloons are in the air, sip on coffee, grab breakfast from one of our local vendors, and let the kids burn off some energy in the kids zone as you watch more balloons dot the Yampa Valley sky.

Crested Butte Wildflower Festival
July 13 – 19, 2015
https://www.crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com/
This festival began in 1986 through the efforts of a few insightful Crested Butte locals who envisioned a wildflower celebration in one of the most picturesque valleys in Colorado. The Festival has grown into a summer-long season of events with over 200 classes offered by over 80 instructors, tour guides and volunteers. 
As the official Wildflower Capital of Colorado, Crested Butte is the obvious place to host this event, packed with guided wildflower hikes, 4x4 tours, photography classes, gardening instruction and much more. 

Ansel Adams: Masterworks
June 13 – August 30, 2015
http://foothillsartcenter.org/fac/portfolio/ansel-adams-masterworks/
The Foothills Art Center presents Ansel Adams: Masterworks, a traveling exhibition of photographs by legendary photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984). The exhibition consists of 48 works from the Museum Set, a portfolio hand-selected by Adams to represent his best work.
The photographs presented in Ansel Adams: Masterworks reveal the importance Adams placed on the visual splendor of natural environments such as the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite Valley and New Mexico. Landmark photographs such as Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California and Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico are included in the exhibition. It is through Adams’ photographs that many Americans have come to know these places. Also on display will be examples of mountaineering photography from the late 19th century to the present from Vittorio Sella and Bradford Washburn.

Cherry Creek Arts Festival
July 3 – 5, 2015
http://cherrycreekartsfestival.org/
This annual event is a world-class and award-winning celebration of the visual, culinary and performing arts, and enjoys an attendance of 350,000 visitors over the 3-day event.

Cirque Kurios
June 11 – July 26, 2015
https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/kurios/
What if you could alter reality at will? Delve into a world of curiosity where seeing is disbelieving: the world of KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities from Cirque du Soleil. The show immerses you in a mysterious and fascinating realm that disorients your senses and challenges your perceptions, leaving you to wonder: "Is it real, or just a figment of my imagination?"
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Colorado scenic byways for May
It's a perfect time to take a short road trip on some of the most scenic Colorado byways!

Pawnee Pioneer Trails
The unassuming prairie town of Fort Morgan was home to a well-known World War II hero and 1940s musical mastermind — Glenn Miller. Miller spent his high school years here, playing football and honing his soon-to-be-fa¬mous musical prowess. The Fort Morgan Museum carries items and information on his career and connection to this community. In addition to exhibits on this musical pioneer, the museum also offers artifacts and displays on the town’s military history as well as that of Plains Indians. A favorite among visitors is the 1920s-era soda fountain, harkening to a bygone era. 
The Overland Trail Museum, a comprehensive museum dedicated to the mystique of American Indian and pioneer history is found in the town of Sterling — the region’s largest settlement. The coup de gras of the well-stocked museum is an exact replica of a pioneer blacksmith shop, complete with coarsely hammered horseshoes, oven-fired iron nails and many of the original tools used by pioneer “smithies.” Other displays include an extensive collection of authentic American Indian weapons, tools and clothing. While in town, consider strolling the quiet avenues with an eye out for elaborately carved trees. Each was sculpted by Brad Rhea and takes on the shape of everything from a herd of giraffes with necks craning skyward (a piece en¬titled “Skygazers”) to a cottonwood carved to depict strong, salt-of-the-earth figures embodying the pioneer spirit (“Scion”). These dozen or so “living tree” sculptures can be found peppered throughout town. 
Directly north of Fort Morgan, jutting 250 feet above the grassland floor are the Pawnee Buttes — a pair of towering sedimentary rock buttes seemingly out of place in a land dedicated to rolling short-grass prairie. Over the years, the area surrounding the buttes has proven to be a treasure trove of bones for paleontologists. While the names of the skeletons uncovered here may not be part of anyone’s vernacular, they’re stunning finds for experts. Both an Amphycyon (a bear-like creature) and Alicamelus (a cross between a giraffe and a camel) have been unearthed in the area. Hiking trails can be found in and around the base of these buttes, some following the old hunting trails of the Pawnee Indians. 
The byway continues along country roads to the small com¬munities of Grover and Briggsdale, then follows Colorado 14 to the town of Ault. 
Drive through Pawnee National Grassland and see a landscape that is largely unchanged from what the original settlers saw. Look for the original wagon ruts left behind by pioneers, many of them can be seen from your car window. 

Much of this route is dirt and gravel and services are limited. While travel is generally easy and can be accessed without any sort of four-wheel drive, rains and snow can make sections of the road harder to traverse.


Silver Thread
From the Windy Point overlook just south of Lake City, spreads a surreal vista. To the left rises Uncompahgre Peak, its bizarre, lopsided form looks like a collapsed wedding cake. Below is Lake San Cristobal, which formed only 800 years ago because of the feature that slowly tumbles to your right — the Slumgullion Earth Flow. Beginning 2,000 years ago, this everlasting landslide filled the bottom of the valley (creating a natural dam) and it continues to shift up to 21 feet a year. As a result, subalpine firs grow at awkward angles. 
This is just one of the wonders of this byway, a place that feels off-the-beaten path but is remarkably accessible today. That was not always the case. It took eight years — from surveying to completion — for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad just to reach Lake City. Today, the town still has a modest population of 400. With its wood-plank sidewalks and architecturally diverse buildings, the historic downtown is ideal for a stroll. The Hinsdale County Museum offers walking tours of downtown, and also houses engaging ex¬hibits that chronicle the county’s past through meticulously preserved artifacts. Another must is the Hinsdale County Courthouse, which hosted a speech by suffragette Susan B. Anthony in September 1877. 
In 1883, the courtroom held a trial for accused cannibal Alferd Packer. In 1874, he was stranded with his travel party on a nearby plateau. Allegedly, he killed and con¬sumed the other five members and then found his way back to civilization. Packer confessed to the cannibalism, and was sentenced to death for murder. But the evidence that he murdered his peers before eating them was paltry, and eventually, the Colorado Supreme Court repealed the death sentence that was handed down to him in this very courthouse. 
Beyond Lake City is a route that was never forged by railroads, in large part because of its remoteness. In fact, the next significant mining camp along the Silver Thread, Creede, is a full 50-mile drive to the south through gor¬geous, high-altitude meadows and forest. Creede would be one of the last towns in Colorado to experience a silver boom. Incorporated in 1892, Creede flourished and expanded on the back of silver mining to a population of 10,000. A stop at the Underground Mining Museum — which is built into the walls of Willow Creek Can¬yon and is a re-creation of a typical mine — reveals how demanding this industry was on the miners who worked in the mineshafts. 

The stretches between Blue Mesa Reservoir and Lake City, as well as Lake City and Creede, are long and without gas service. Make sure you top off in either town before setting off.


Frontier Pathways
Driving west out of Pueblo across the prairie and desert scrubland, travelers can almost imag¬ine what Zebulon Pike — an American lieuten¬ant who led an expedition through this area in 1806 — thought when he came upon the Rocky Mountains. With a sudden movement upward, everything changes. Plants, animals, geology and even the weather shift with every 1,000 feet you climb. 
On the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway, drivers can experience the transitions be-tween five distinct “life zones” — prairie, foothills, lower montane, upper montane and subalpine. In the span of an hour, sights include prong¬horn grazing around Lake Pueblo State Park, bighorn sheep perched in Hardscrabble Canyon and herds of elk moving through pastures in the Wet Mountains. Visitors can even detour off the byway at Westcliffe and climb into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to experience the alpine life zone, where cold-resistant vegetation and special¬ized animals such as pika survive among rugged 14,000-foot peaks. 
The Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains had captivated entrepreneurs long before gold and silver were discovered. That is because the practice of trapping and trading beaver pelts from these mountains was big busi¬ness from the 1800s to the 1840s. One trading post where pelts and other goods were exchanged can be experienced at the Colorado Historical Society’s El Pueblo Museum in Pueblo, where an archaeological dig has unearthed remnants of the El Pueblo trading post from the era. The fort was in existence for only 12 years, and in that time it weathered Mexico’s trade restrictions and tensions between whites and Indians. The site is open to visits, and a re-creation of the adobe trad¬ing post and its plaza — as well as artifacts from the era — complete the experience. Nearby is the Union Avenue Historic District, which seamless¬ly blends the city’s cattle and railroad past with its sophisticated present of shops and cafes. 
Around the time that the fur trade was dwin¬dling, the cattle business began to take off. Ranching has deep roots in this area, especially since the Goodnight-Loving Cattle Trail ran from Texas to Pueblo and became one of the West’s most significant ways to bring cattle to market. Charles Goodnight — the rancher who pioneered the route with his partner Oliver Loving — also invented the chuckwagon, which was used on that maiden trip to Pueblo. The Wet Mountain Valley, a broad basin that cradles the towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, continues to be a productive ranching area in Colorado. A short detour off the byway up Colorado 69 to the north leads to Beckwith Ranch, which was the largest ranch in Colorado in 1900. 
The byway returns toward Pueblo but forks south to the historic communities of Rye and Colorado City. Along the way, it passes Bishop Castle, a peculiar and captivating structure that one man has been building on his own since 1969.

Loose chunks of granite in Hardscrabble Canyon can sometimes be found on the roadway. Keep your eyes open for debris when passing through this stretch.


Information Credit: Colorado Tourism Office 
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