Best of the Rockies

Every year we ask our readers to nominate their choices for the very best businesses, people, destinations, and events in the Rocky Mountain region. Then they vote for the winners. The result is a listing of the personalities and places that make the outdoors pump. Read on to find out who took top honors and plan to advocate for your heroes and go-to spots next year.

Featured photo of 2020 Best Advocate Clare Gallagher by Davis Brendan

Businesses

Outdoor Innovators

Innovators: Teton Gravity Research. Photo Courtesy TGR

Todd and Steve Jones, Teton Gravity Research, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Teton Gravity Research (TGR) started as an idea between brothers Todd and Steve Jones and their friend Dirk Collins on a river in Alaska in 1995. Since then, TGR has grown into one of the most innovative outdoor film production companies on the planet: They’ve made over 30 genre-defining ski, snowboard, and surf films. Now 18 years into the business, they’re still showcasing the world’s top athletes but pushing beyond pure action in films like “Andy Irons: Kissed by God,” which dives into the legendary surfer’s mental illness, and “Ode to Muir,” which speaks to conservation as much as snowboarding. TGR also works hard to reduce its environmental impact, through its support for a variety of different conservation and sustainability initiatives, like Protect Our Winters, One Percent for the Planet, BICEP, and the Surfrider Foundation. tetongravity.com

Runner up: Peter Hall, Hala Gear, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Outdoor Brand

Big Agnes. Photo by Noah Wetzel

Big Agnes, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

This is the fourth time in five years that Big Agnes, the Steamboat Springs-based outdoor gear manufacturer, has won Best Outdoor Gear Brand in this poll, for good reason. The company’s dedication to ultra-light, high-tech, family-friendly outdoor gear is unrivaled. And beyond its products, Big Agnes takes care of its own—employees can head out on company-approved adventures to use, test, and know intimately the gear they make—and love. bigagnes.com

Runner up: RMU, Breckenridge, colorado

Outdoor-related Company to work for

Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center (RMOC), Buena Vista, Colorado

Few companies offer their employees such a wide variety of opportunities to work in the outdoor realm as RMOC. It provides opportunities for employees to own equity in the company, creating a culture of hard-working, personally invested guides. rmoc.com

Runner up: Colorado Mountain School

Climbing Gym

Earth Treks. Photo Courtesy Earth Treks.

Earth Treks, Englewood, Colorado

Earth Treks started as a concept in a tent high on the slopes of Denali, and it has since turned into the largest indoor climbing gym in the world in the Englewood location, which claims 53,000 square feet of bouldering and roped routes as well as yoga and fitness classes and private coaches who will work with climbers of all ages to improve their skills on the wall. With five locations in Colorado, it’s a community of dedicated climbers who spread a love for the sport, which is why, for the second year in a row, it can be called the best climbing gym in the Rockies. earthtreksclimbing.com

Runner up: Boulder Rock Club

Outdoor Retail Shop

Neptune Mountaineering, Boulder, Colorado

Part outdoor store, part mountaineering museum, part neighborhood hangout, Neptune has been serving the good people of Boulder since 1973, when it was founded by Gary Neptune. It has since been saved from almost closing, remodeled, and revitalized by Shelley and Andrew Dunbar. To this day, it remains the local favorite for everything from advice on climbs to mounting your new touring skis. neptunemountaineering.com

Runner Up: Wilderness Exchange, Denver, Colorado

Running Retail Shop

7000 Feet Running Company, Salida, Colorado

Just a short jaunt from the popular Arkansas trail system, 7000 Feet Running Company is dedicated to serving customers who love running in the mountains and the feel of the trail beneath their feet. 7kft.co

Runner up: 42 Degrees North, Casper, Wyoming

Bike Shop

Over the Edge Sports, Fruita, Colorado. Courtesy Over the Edge.

Over the Edge Sports, Fruita, Colorado

A pioneer in building, promoting, and supporting Fruita’s now-legendary trail system, Over the Edge is still the go-to shop to find beta and gear for singletrack in Western Colorado—and beyond. otesports.com

Runner up: Black Burro Bikes, Buena Vista, Colorado

Climbing/Hiking Guide Company

Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center (RMOC), Buena Vista, Colorado

The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center provides year-round, top-of-the-line opportunities to kayak, raft, ski, snowboard, SUP, and mountain bike with some of the best guides in the Rocky Mountains. rmoc.com

Runner up: Colorado Mountain School

Whitewater Guide Company

Whitewater Guides: River Runners. Photo courtesy River Runners.

River Runners, Colorado

Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced river rat, the folks at River Runners have a trip that’s your speed. They run the Arkansas River and the Royal Gorge, as well as doing multi-day trips and gear demos. whitewater.net

Runner up: Rim Rock Adventures, Fruita, Colorado

Bike Guide Company

Beer and Bike Tours, Fort Collins, Colorado

There’s a reason why this tour company has won Best Guide Company for four years in a row—cycling and craft beer go together like bike lube and chains. Take to the road the Fort Collins-based operation to explore Colorado craft breweries from the saddle of your carbon-fiber steed. beerandbiketours.com

Runner up: Colorado Backcountry Biker, Fruita, Colorado

Yoga Studio

Thrive Yoga Fruita. Courtesy Thrive.

Thrive Fruita Yoga, Colorado

For the yogis at Thrive, the practice is not just a workout but a way of life. The studio and the yogis of Thrive embody personal well-being and foster health, growth, strength, and peace of mind. thriveyogafruita.com

Runner up: Wyoming Yoga & Massage, Casper, Wyoming

Outdoor Non-Profit

POW with Best of the Rockies Politician Jared Polis. Photo by Carlo Nasisse

Protect Our Winters (POW)

Climate change is getting worse. Luckily, this dedicated, winter-loving, non-profit, founded by snowboard legend Jeremy Jones, is fostering the cultural change, political will, technology, and financial instruments necessary to achieve carbon neutrality and limit global warming before the end of the century. protectourwinters.org

Runner up: Women’s WIlderness

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PEOPLE

Politician

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Photo by Carlo Nasisse.

Jared Polis, Governor of Colorado

Polis established himself as one of Colorado’s most prolific philanthropists well before he ever became the Governor of Colorado and even before he was a representative for the 2nd District of the state.

In 2000, he started the Jared Polis Foundation to “create opportunities for success by supporting educators, increasing access to technology, and strengthening our community.” He has established several charter schools dedicated to uplifting at-risk students, co-founded the Academy of Learning in Denver, and served on the Colorado Board of Education for six years.

Now, as governor, Polis has pushed for better environmental stewardship with stricter pollution and emissions standards, and he has sponsored multiple important education bills. He is pro-cannabis, anti-NDAA, and anti-Patriot Act. He is also a staunch advocate for civil liberties and for the second year in a row EO readers voted him the best politician in the Rockies. colorado.gov/governor/

Runner up: Jon Tester

Instagrammer

Loki the Wolf Dog. Courtesy @loki.

@loki Loki the Wolf Dog

Why does watching a dog doing dog things fill people with such  pure joy? With 2 million followers, Loki the Wolf Dog is doing it right—no matter where this photogenic pup is posing. lokithewollfdog.com

Runner up: @katieboue Katie Boué

Blogger

Cathy Holman

She writes with sass and style about parenting, faith, and self-care; she’s unafraid to be vulnerable so that others might learn from her, and above all Cathy Holman is dedicated to living a life of grit and grace. prairiewifeinheels.com

Runner up: Just a Colorado Gal

Photographer

Devon Balet in action on Horsethief Bench. Photo by Brook Hayer.

Devon Balet, Grand Junction, Colorado

Longtime EO contributor Balet captures the adventurous spirit of the Rockies through authentic scenes of travel, sport, and natural wonder. Bikes, road trips, dogs, glaciers, cacti, and alpine lakes are just some of the subjects you’ll find perusing his portfolios. devonbaletmedia.com

Runner up: Jaylyn Gough

Writer

Sally Ann Shurmur

A mere two years after graduating from the University of Wyoming, Sally Ann Shurmur joined the team at the Wyoming Star Tribune. Today, she’s still working there as the community news editor, striving to keep the people of Casper informed. trib.com

Runner up: Paddy O’Connell

Guide

Ryan Coulter

If you’re looking for a guy who’ll take you on a committing trip down the Arkansas River or multi-pitch climbing at Shelf Road, look up Ryan Coulter. This Baltimore native turned Rocky Mountain adventure specialist is one of the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center’s premier adventure guides. rmoc.com

Runner up: Ty Hallock, Ugly Bug Fly Shop, Casper, Wyoming

Advocate

Clare Gallagher. Photo by Davis Brendan

Clare Gallagher, Boulder, Colorado

Sure Gallagher cruised to wins in the Leadville 100, CCC 101K, and Western States, but she has also reinvented the idea of what an athlete should represent in the community. As a Patagonia ambassador and POW athlete she is a constant voice for climate action, social justice, and public lands. clare.run

Runner Up: Amber Pollock, Casper, Wyoming

Legend

Conrad Anker. Photo courtesy TNF.

Conrad Anker, Bozeman, Montana

His face is all over the world of mountaineering, almost as much as Conrad Anker himself is all over big mountains. Anker has ascended some of the most hallowed rock faces and alpine peaks on the planet, and the stories he’s returned to tell have cemented his place as a legend in the Rocky Mountains. conradanker.com

Runner up: Scott Jurek, Boulder, Colorado

Athlete

Sara Hastreiter, Casper, Wyoming

If she isn’t sailing across vast distances on the open ocean, breaking records on her boat, or expeditioning to the top of mountains including Aconcagua, Mount Elbrus, and peaks in the Himalayas, you’ll find Sara Hastreiter giving inspirational speeches and advocating for humanitarian and environmental good. sara.blue

Runner up: Tommy Caldwell, estes park, Colorado

Dirtbag

Sean McCoy. Photo by Peter Kray.

Sean McCoy, Denver, Colorado

What makes a dirtbag great? Is it a lifelong dedication to outdoor sport and adventure? A junkie-like fixation on outdoor gear and tech? A great goatee? Sean McCoy has it all, which is why EO readers recognized GearJunkie.com’s editor-in-chief as this year’s top dirtbag in the Rockies. gearjunkie.com/author/broman

Runner up: Cedar Wright, boulder, Colorado

Entrepreneur

Epic Days Coalition/RMOC: Tommy Gram, Brandon Slate, Ryan Coulter, Kate Stepan

These four veteran guides and entrepreneurs have all worked with the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center for four or more years. They recently invested in equity in RMOC to grow the company as their own, and further establish its roots and future in the Rockies. rmoc.com/rmoc-presents-the-epic-days-coalition/

Runner up: Kristin Carpenter, Verde Brand Communications, Durango, Colorado

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FOOD and DRINK

Restaurant

The Hot Tomato’s Jen Zeuner and Anne Keller. Photo by Carl Zoch

The Hot Tomato, Fruita, Colorado

The Hot Tomato has won this award multiple times now for being far more than another pizza joint in an outdoor-rec-obsessed town. Mountain bikers, proprietors, and life partners Jen Zeuner and Anne Keller worked at Best Bike Shop winner Over the Edge Sports. The pies are New-Jersey authentic and the place has grown into the epicenter of Fruita’s ever-growing bike and outdoor scene.

“We are pumped to be recognized for this,” says Keller. “We love our little corner of heaven in western Colorado and it means so much to us that both our local, and our Rocky Mountain regional guests and friends support us in such a huge way!” hottomatopizza.com

Runner up: FireRock Steakhouse, Casper, Wyoming

Brewery

Copper Club Brewing Company, Fruita, Colorado

Copper Club Brewing Company has become the go-to spot to sip on a craft concoction and share singletrack stories. We suggest you try the oh-so-appropriate 18 Road IPA, or post up with a beer that celebrates the town: the Great American Beer Festival-winning F-Town Amber.  copperclubbrew.com

Runner up: Elevation Beer Company, Poncha Springs, Colorado

Distillery

Peach Street Distillers, Palisade, Colorado

The distillers at Peach Street are so dedicated to their craft, they almost stumble over themselves to do things the hard way: locally sourcing all their fruits and grains, and turning Rocky Mountain water into some of the best bourbon, vodka, gin, and liqueur anywhere in the high country. peachstreetdistillers.com

Runner up: Breckenridge Distillery, Breckenridge, Colorado

Winery

Colterris, Palisade, Colorado

In the shadow of Grand Mesa, Colterris is one of the most beautiful wineries in the state—it also produces award-winning wines that take advantage of this unique terroir. colterris.com

Runner up: Vino Salida, Poncha Springs, Colorado

Cidery

Talbott’s Cider Company, Palisade, Colorado

On the very land that Joseph Yeager settled in 1907, his great-great-great grandsons have created a modern hard-cider mill run on the apples that grow on the fertile land here. Their goal is simple: produce value from the ground, something they explicitly accomplish through their locally produced ciders. talbottsciderco.com

Runner up: Stem Ciders, Denver, Colorado

Bar

The Lariat, Buena Vista, Colorado

Good local energy, great drinks, fantastic food, and awesome live music is the perfect equation for the kind of bar that leaves an impression. Which is why The Lariat in downtown Buena Vista has once again been named by EO readers as the best bar in the Rockies. thelariatbv.com

Runner up: Mangy Moose, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Coffee Shop

Bestslope Coffee, Fruita, Colorado

A good cup of Joe can have a profound effect on your outdoor adventures. Bestslope is slinging some of the tastiest in-house-roasted bean beverages anywhere. On top of that, the cafe itself is a hip and laid-back place to get some work done or chat up riders for trail beta. bestslopecoffeeco.com

Runner up: Buena Vista Roastery, Buena Vista, Colorado

Food Truck

Big Mike’s Pork N’ Wings in Fruita. Photo courtesy Big Mike’s.

Big Mike’s Pork N Wings, Fruita, Colorado

At Big Mike’s Pork N Wings, they don’t just serve mouth-watering morsels of pork and chicken—they’re serving up a little bit of their heart and soul in every order of ribs or pulled pork that comes out of the food truck, which Big Mike built himself and modified into a super BBQ mobile machine. facebook.com/bigmikesporknwings

Runner up: Buena Viking, Buena Vista, Colorado

Kombucha

High Country Kombucha, Eagle, Colorado

Just off Broadway in Eagle, High Country Kombucha has raised the brewed probiotic tea beverage to another level. Authentic kombucha brewing techniques (hello, mother mushroom) make for a drink that wows the taste buds and soothes the digestive system. facebook.com/HighCountryKombucha/

Runner up: Rowdy Mermaid, Boulder, Colorado

Dispensary

Native Roots, Colorado

At Native Roots, you can rest easy knowing that you’re not only going to find top-quality flower and cannabis products, but you’re also going to get knowledgeable help from seasoned budtenders.  nativerootscannabis.com

Runner up: High Country Healing, Colorado

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DESTINATIONS

Ski Snowboard Resort

Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Courtesy JHMR.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Jackson, Wyoming

The steep-and-deep slopes of Jackson Hole pump out some of the most daring pros and dedicated ski bums in the nation (most of whom show up for a season and never leave). Among the resort’s 2,500 square acres of terrain, skiers and boarders can find a lifetime’s worth of iconic couloirs, cliffs, pillows, and glades. That shouldn’t scare off newbies and intermediates—the glut of talent here means it’s also the best place to learn or up your game.

Add in the wild energy of the Teton Range, surrounding wilderness areas, and national parks, and the place draws world-class alpinists, guides, and conservationists. Oh, did we mention the resort has averaged 459 inches per year over the past five seasons? That number doesn’t include 2019-20, which featured a record-breaking 126 inches in two weeks in January. There’s a reason why big-mountain legends like Lynsey Dyer, Jimmy Chin, Kit Deslauriers, and EO Best Innovator winners Todd and Steve Jones call the place home. 

“Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is thrilled to be named as the people’s favorite mountain for this year,” said Anna Cole, longtime spokesperson for Jackson Hole. “This is the type of resort you come to to push yourself, and from beginner to expert, Teewinot to the tram, Casper to Corbets, we have the goods, and we appreciate the Elevation Outdoors readers recognizing that.” jacksonhole.com

Runner Up: Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado

Resort Accessed Backcountry Ski/Snowboard Terrain

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Jackson, Wyoming

Lest we forget, Jackson Hole is also incomparable when it comes to the terrain you can access outside of the resort gates. Unsure of your skills or just want to get a safe lay of the land? Hire the resort’s impeccable pro guides. jacksonhole.com/backcountry.html

Runner Up: Monarch Mountain, Colorado

Mountain Town

Sheridan, Wyoming

Sheridan, Wyoming

Sheridan is what the great mountain towns of the West used to be like. It’s managed to hold on to its gritty cowboy character first and foremost (stop in the Mint Bar) while also adapting to the new wave of outdoor recreation junkies with grassroots events like the Dead Swede bike race—and you can find a good craft beer in town. The town is heavy with western history and surrounded by the undiscovered Bighorn Mountains. With a healthy focus on the arts and a community that cares about conservation of land and culture, it’s a worthy winner. sheridanwyoming.org

Runner Up: Crested Butte, Colorado

Trail

The Colorado Trail

Add it up: 567 miles, 90,000 vertical feet, and an average elevation of 10,300 feet above sea level, all running through some of the most spectacular scenery Colorado has to offer. The Colorado Trail stretches from Denver to Durango, and winds its way through the heart of what makes the Centennial State great. coloradotrail.org

Runner Up: Teton Crest Trail, Wyoming

Mountain Bike Ride

Horsethief Bench, Fruita, Colorado. Photo by Devon Balet.

Horsethief Bench, Fruita, Colorado

Fruita is the town where mountain bikers built the singletrack, and the Horsethief Bench ride is one of the town’s most treasured trails. The views are breathtaking and the ride serves up everything from an optional extreme section to flowing goodness.

Runner Up: Monarch Crest Trail, Colorado

Road Bike Ride

Platte River Trails, Casper, Wyoming

Snaking through the city alongside the North Platte River, the Platte River Trail system keeps Casper townies connected. It offers 11 miles of beautiful paved trails that wind through parks, picnic areas, and campgrounds. platterivertrails.com

Runner Up: Colorado National Monument

River Trip

North Platte River, Wyoming

Running the North Platte River is about as western as a river trip can get. Paddle through class III-IV rapids along canyons, past cattle ranches, and among picturesque snow-capped mountain ranges. Because the river is a designated Wilderness area, it’s a great opportunity to see cougars, elk, bald eagles, and golden eagles in their element.

Runner Up: Browns Canyon, Colorado

Campground

Steamboat Lake State Park,
Clark, Colorado

There’s nothing quite like waking up on the banks of a beautiful lake at the foot of Hahn’s Peak surrounded by stillness. colorado.com/state-parks/steamboat-lake-state-park

Runner up: Alcova Reservoir, Wyoming

SUP Spot

Fremont Canyon at Alcova Reservoir, Wyoming

The sunsets over Alcova Reservoir are some of the most beautiful along the South Platte River. But they aren’t the only reason people travel from far and wide to hang out on the 2,470-acre lake: There’s great fishing, nearly unlimited kayaking, six campgrounds, trails for biking, trails for hiking, and interpretive geologic trails like the Cottonwood Creek Dinosaur Trail. visitcasper.com

Runner Up: Salida River Park

Fly Fishing River

Arkansas River, Colorado

Running through the Arkansas Valley, through the shadows of some of Colorado’s tallest mountain peaks, the Arkansas River is not only a beautiful place to cast a fly, but an abundant one as well. Some of the biggest hogs in the state are caught on this river.

Runner up: North Platte, Casper

Climbing Area

Fremont Canyon. Photo courtesy Visit Casper.

Fremont Canyon, Wyoming

Not far from Casper, Wyoming, Fremont Canyon is stacked with hundreds of climbing routes both sport and trad. It’s easy to access, a cinch to locate, and it’s still secluded. mountainproject.com/area/105825913/fremont-canyon

Runner Up: Eldorado Canyon State Park

Wilderness Area

Collegiate Peaks, Colorado

Named for the group of towering 14,000-foot peaks that speckle the area—including Mount Princeton, which rises 7,000 feet from the valley floor—the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area stretches from just south of Aspen to just west of Buena Vista and calls to adventurous spirits.

Runner up: Cloud Peaks, Wyoming

Kid-friendly Outdoor Destination

Fruita, Colorado

While it has garnered a reputation as adventure-sports central, Fruita is the ideal spot for families looking to get their groms into the outdoors, too. The mellow, 4-mile Rustlers Loop makes for the perfect intro to mountain biking, and plenty of group camping options mean multiple families can meet up here on long weekends. Not to mention, even the big kids enjoy the Dinosaur Journey Museum. gofruita.com

Runner up: Snow Mountain Ranch, Colorado

Dog-friendly Outdoor Destination

Photo by Devon Balet

Salida, Colorado

With pet-friendly hotels like the Loyal Duke Lodge and Circle R Motel and the Loyal Dukes Dog Park for uninhibited frolicking, Salida’s a safe destination for you and your pup.

Runner up: Fruita, Colorado

Place for Outdoor Singles to Live

Boulder, Colorado

The People’s Republic of Boulder is many things: a bubble, a college town, a hotspot for good food and drink, and, of course, a great place to be young, outdoorsy, and single.

Runner up: Denver, Colorado

Adventure Park

Sleeping Giant Zip Line,
Cody, Wyoming

This adventure park offers everything from downhill skiing on diverse terrain to zip-lining along Wyoming’s largest dual zipline course. zipsg.com

Runner Up: Captain Zipline, Salida, Colorado

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EVENTS

Multisport Festival

14er Fest. Courtesy 14er Fest.

14er Fest, Buena Vista, Colorado

Taking full advantage of the surrounding mountain peaks, rock walls, and rivers, this high-country trail festival is focused on getting everyone out and having fun. “It’s one thing to have a multi-user event concept turn into 14er Fest, but it’s unbelievably humbling and awesome to have 14er Fest win an EO Best of the Rockies Award,” says event coordinator Susan Wood. “I still can’t believe our small-town festival is being recognized in the greater Rocky Mountain Region. The momentum is growing, and we are excited to roll out several new trail options at 14er Fest 2020!” The festival features 4×4 off-roading, mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking, and trail running events. Plus, there are seminars, local libations, and some great live music on top of all this outdoor activity. 14erfest.org

Runner Up: FIBArk, Salida Colorado

Running Race

2018 Winner Katie Arnold running the Leadville Trail 100. Photo by Glen Delman.

Leadville Trail 100 Run, Leadville, Colorado

Running 100 miles is a feat no matter where you do it, but when you’re powering up mountain faces, climbing alpine lakes at elevation, and snaking above and below treeline, that distance takes on a new meaning. Leadville’s Trail 100 Run (Aug 22-23, 2020) has been making heroes out of those brave enough to attempt it since 1983. leadvilleraceseries.com

Runner Up: Rim Rock Marathon, Grand Junction, Colorado

Road Bike Race

Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Durango, Colorado

This year marks the 49th anniversary of the Iron Horse Bike Race (May 22-24, 2020), one of the most unique bike events anywhere in the country. Ride 50 miles and 5,700 vertical feet up along closed highway in one of the most beautiful parts of the Rockies: the San Juan Mountains. ironhorsebicycleclassic.com

Runner Up: The Dead Swede, Sheridan, Wyoming

Mountain Bike Race

Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Leadville, Colorado

“The Race of All Races”  (Aug 22-23, 2020) begins at 10,152 feet above sea level, and only gets crazier from there. Athletes charge along 100 miles of singletrack, pedaling to a peak height of 12,424 feet, all the while surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the state—if you can catch your breath to take it in. leadvilleraceseries.com

Runner Up: Grand Junction Off-Road, Grand Junction, Colorado

Paddling Event

FIBArk, Salida, Colorado

There are few things more Salida than the famed annual whitewater festival—the oldest one in the nation. At the 71st annual FIBArk (June 18-21, 2020), you can hang out on the beautiful banks of the Arkansas River and watch competitors flip, dive, and twist through the town’s renowned whitewater course. fibark.com

Runner Up: CKS Paddlefest, Buena Vista, Colorado

Climbing Event

Ouray Ice Festival. Courtesy Ouray Ice Festival.

Ouray Ice Fest, Ouray, Colorado

Clinics, multimedia presentations, food, drink, dance parties, and lots and lots of ice climbing characterize this three-day, four-night winter extravaganza. Ouray transforms into an ice climbing showcase and bazaar where everyone from professionals to amateurs gather to celebrate the growing sport, learn from each other, and watch some of the best ice climbers in the world do their thing. ourayicepark.com/ouray-ice-festival

Runner up: Ten Sleep Climbers Festival, Wyoming

Triathlon

3P Crested Butte (Pole, Pedal, Paddle)

It’s rare that you can get in backcountry skiing, mountain biking, and kayaking all in a single day. But in Crested Butte, Colorado, the CB3P triathlon makes a race out of that holy mountain-sport trinity. Competitors start high at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and descend first on skis, then on bikes, down to the Gunnison River below, where they get their boats on paddle downriver in an experience that gives a whole new meaning to the term “multi-disciplined.” crestedbutte3p.com

Runner Up: MAD Racing Triathlon at Highline Lake, Fruita, Colorado

Toughest Race

Leadville 100 Trail Run

For the bravest ultramarathon runners, the annual “Race Across the Sky” (August 22, 2020), which also won best running race, is about as extreme as these things get. Athletes huff over mountains around a picturesque lake and along forest trails at elevations from 9,200 to 12,600 feet.  It is not for the faint of heart—which is likely why this is the second year in a row the race has won this category. leadvilleraceseries.com

Runner Up: Hardrock 100, Colorado

Music Festival

Telluride. Courtesy Brews and Blues.

Telluride Blues and Brews, Telluride, Colorado

High in the Rockies, tucked back in the box canyon of Telluride, the annual Blues and Brews Festival draws crowds from around the world. Some of the baddest, blues-iest names in rock ’n roll gather to lay down the jams, while attendees wander a labyrinth of local craft beer tents. tellurideblues.com

Runner Up: Seven Peaks Festival, Buena Vista, Colorado

Beer Festival

Best Beer Festival. Courtesy Telluride Blues and Brews.

Telluride Blues and Brews

Yep, EO readers love this one so much it took two awards. That makes sense, since it is the perfect pairing of craft suds and tunes. Truly, there’s not another beer festival like it on Planet Earth. tellurideblues.com

Runner Up: Great American Beer Festival 

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