While Denver has a lot to offer in the summer time, it’s no secret the mountains are a playground of adventures waiting to happen. An escape in elevation is good for the soul, and no summer is complete without a campout under the stars.
Combine music, art, yoga, and your closest buddies — and you have the makings of a deep, meaningful and often transcendent life experience. With summer calendars quickly filling, there’s no better time than now to plan for a festival escape. We’ve done the research for you and narrowed down the Top 8 Camping Festivals in our state from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
This Memorial Day Weekend festival is billed as a “family gathering of respectful, gracious, positive and generous artists & fans.” The 6th annual Campout For the Cause features yoga, workshops and music along the upper Colorado River at the Rancho Del Rio — about 40 miles northwest of Vail.
Founded in 2009, the festival is aligned with the international disaster relief organization All Hands, as well as local non-profits including the Eagle Valley Land Trust, which will receive all proceeds from alcohol sales this year. The music line-up includes Paper Bird, Elephant Revival, Head for the Hills, and Fruition. A three-day pass currently runs $129.
Started in 2013 by Boulder-based electro-jam fusion band The Magic Beans, the Beanstalk Music and Arts Festival is a three-day camping experience which merges artistic expression and the outdoors — stressing the necessity of art and the environment in everyday life.
Located at the awe-inspiring State Bridge Amphitheater in Bond, Colo. the musical lineup also features The New Mastersounds, Particle, Night Moves and YAMN. Only three-day passes are available, which cost a relatively affordable $70 (with fees). For more on the up-and-coming Magic Beans, check out our interview with frontman Scott Hachy before their sold-out show at the Bluebird Theater last month.
Telluride Bluegrass – June 19-22 – Telluride, CO
Perhaps the most famed and well-respected summer festival in our state, tickets to all four days of the 41st Telluride Bluegrass Festival are already sold out. If this news is upsetting, there is a consolation for those who have yet to experience the magic of one of the state’s best mountain towns in the summertime. The Telluride Jazz Festival (Aug 1-3) and Telluride Blues & Brews (Sept 12-14) offer the same setting with a slightly different music — and tickets are still available.
Sonic Bloom – June 19-22 – South Park, CO
Colorado’s premiere electronic camping festival has a new location this year at the American Safari Ranch in South Park. Just 75 minutes from Denver, the new venue also boasts a “360 degree panoramic mountain backdrop and majestic views of the continental divide.”
Headliners include Tipper, EOTO, The Polish Ambassador, Zion I and Break Science. Live painting, art installations, morning yoga and other various workshops are among the other draws of Sonic Bloom, which stresses creating a “resonant field in which to unify all forms of human creative expression.” A pass costs $195 (plus fees) and includes free camping and water.
Wanderlust Aspen Snowmass – July 3-6 – Aspen, CO
The yoga-centric festival heads to the Aspen valley this year, falling right on a conveniently timed 4th of July three-day weekend. Jurassic 5, Tycho and DJ HyFi headline the music side, which is just one part of a multifaceted retreat. Wanderlust features speakeasy lectures, guidance in yoga and meditation, outdoor expeditions and the aforementioned live music — sure to make this the perfect retreat for mind, body and soul. Camp near Independence Pass or along Maroon Creek Road — or choose from a number of festival-sponsored lodging packages.
“Uplifting the World Through Music” is the simple mantra of the ARISE Music Festival, which features four stages of music at the grassy meadows and red rock backdrop of Sunrise Ranch in Loveland. The musical lineup is notable for its collaborations and “supergroups” — Galactic with Chali 2na & Lyrics Born, and Grateful Grass featuring Keller Williams, Billy Nershi (String Cheese Incident) & Reed Mathis. Also headlining are Beats Antique, The Infamous StringDusters and The Polish Ambassador. Like many festivals we’re profiled, yoga is a centerpiece of the experience, along with workshops and art installations. Just an hour from Denver, this is the perfect festival for those seeking a convenient staycation.
NedFest – August 22-24 – Nederland, CO
Mixing microbrews, art and three days of bluegrass and jam music is NedFest, which enters its 16th year at one of Colorado’s most notoriously strange yet beloved towns. Robert Randolph and the Family Band headline, along with several String Cheese side projects (Billy Nershi’s Blue Planet, Kyle Hollingsworth Band). The family-oriented event features (limited) camping in Chipeta Park and a progressive zero waste commitment. One, two or three-day passes are available, starting at $45.
JAS Labor Day Experience – August 29-31 – Aspen, CO
Subject of a rebranding for it’s 24th season, the JAS Aspen Snowmass Labor Day event would no longer like to be called a “festival,” but an “experience,” as organizers seek to distance it from “festivals which truly cannot realistically be compared.” The main reasons: only one stage and its first-class VIP experience — which includes live gourmet cooking stations and cuisines. How Aspen of them.
Anyway, the lineup matches the the caliber of its privileged target audience, and includes FUN., Ziggy Marley, Earth, Wind & Fire, One Republic, Nickel Creek, and Carrie Underwood. For those not looking to splurge on the 1,500 VIP experience, three-day passes are available for a modest $180, while a Saturday/Sunday pass costs $75.