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.


Best Outdoor Gear Brand
Big Agnes

The Big Agnes gang. Photo by Devon Balet.

Steamboat’s Big Agnes has grown into one of the most influential national brands in the outdoor industry, crafting warm, light sleeping bags, tents and apparel, and employing 80 locals who live to get out in the surrounding mountains. Runners Up: Pearl Izumi, Dynafit North America

Best Outdoor Start Up
Feral Mountain Co.

The Denver store. Photo courtesy Feral Mountain.

Located in the heart of Denver, hip retail shop Feral does far more than sell outdoor gear, offering expert products and planning for outdoor endeavors. Feral will open a second location in Idaho Springs. Runners Up: My Trail CO, Western Slope SUP

Best Outdoor Non Profit
American Alpine Club 

The AAC at Looking Glass. Photo courtesy Vickie Hormuth/AAC.

Boasting 20,000 members, the American Alpine Club advocates for the mountains,mountain communities, alpinism and high mountain environments. Runners Up: Protect Our Winters, River Network

Best Outdoor-focused Company to work for
American Alpine Club

The Golden-based winner in the above category is also the ideal place to score employment. Runners Up: Verde Brand Communications, AVA Rafting and Zipline, CO Wilderness Rides and Guides

Best Outdoor-Related Job
Wildland Firefighter

Firefighter wets down area in front of private home in effort to retard the advance of the High Park Wildfire on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland. FS photo.

In a year that saw wildfires devastate California and a decade with massive blazes engulfing the West, EO readers praised the pulaski swingers who risk their lives to battle blazes. Runners Up: Arborist, Product Tester

Best Climbing Gym
Earth Treks

Accomplished alpinist and Earth Treks founder Chris Warner opens gyms in abandoned big box stores across the nation. This year, Earth Treks will open the largest climbing gym in the world in the former Sports Authority headquarters in Englewood, Colorado. Runners Up: Movement, Evo Rock + Fitness

Best Outdoor Retail Shop
Bentgate Mountaineering

Climbing the walls. Photo courtesy Bent Gate Mountaineering.

Gear up for backcountry skiing, climbing, mountaineering and backpacking adventures at Bentgate. The brick-and-mortar shop beats online shopping thanks to its educated staff and community-building efforts, via hosting backcountry clinics and more. Runners Up: Wilderness Exchange, The Trailhead

Best Running Retail Shop
Runner’s Roost

Colorado-owned and -operated since 1977, Runner’s Roost proves that savvy staff who understand feet and trails will put you in the right shoes. Runners Up: Shoes and Brews, Twisted Trails

Best Bike Retail Shop
Republic Cycles

Spin it here. Courtesy Republic Cycles.

Need work on your bike? Boulder’s Republic Cycles boasts incredible, quick turn-around on repairs, mechanics who know what they are doing—and pick up and delivery in town. Need a new bike? The independently owned shop also hosts a top-notch demo program that can get you out testing hot new rides like Trek’s Slash 9.8 and Fuel EX. Runners Up: Tin Shed Sports, Absolute Bikes

Best Climbing Guide Company
Colorado Mountain School

Photo courtesy Colorado Mountain School

Colorado Mountain School employs more AMGA-certified guides than any other guide service in the state and can do anything from top-rope excursions to training you for the Himalaya. Runners Up: Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides

Best Hiking Guides
National Park Service Rangers

Want real insight into the outdoors? Get out in a national park on a tour with NPS rangers who know the ins and outs of the place, from deep geology to landscape ecology to the narratives of the original inhabitants. Runners Up: Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides, Aspen Alpine Guides

Best Whitewater Guide Service
AVA Rafting and Zipline

Running Clear Creek with AVA.

AVA runs rafting adventures on eight  rivers—from hour-long runs down Clear Creek to three-day floats down the Colorado. Runners Up: Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center, Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides

Best Bike Guide Service
Beer and Bike Tours 

Beer and bikes? What could go wrong? Hire a guide and support services from Fort Collins’ Beer and Bike Tours and ride anywhere from Colorado to Japan. Runners Up: Absolute Bikes Adventures, Front Range Ride Guides

Best Yoga Studio
Yoga Pod

Planks at the Pod. Photo courtesy Yoga Pod.

With 13 studios in Colorado, including new Longmont and Westminster locations, Yoga Pod spreads enlightenment by rewarding popular teachers and encouraging everyday yogis to deepen their practice. Runners Up: Core Power, Jala Blue

Best Brewery

Photo courtesy Ska Brewing.

Winning for the second year in a row, Durango’s Ska has more than fine craft brews: live music, trivia nights, weekly BBQ and tours of the wind-powered facility. Runners Up: Upslope, Melvin

Best Winery

The name Colterris means “from the Colorado land,” so it’s no surprise that all the vinter’s Colorado grapes grow on its Western Slope estate. Runners Up: Infinite Monkey Theorem, Vino Salida

Best Distillery
Woods High Mountain

Wood’s in its element. Photo courtesy Wood’s High Mountain Distillery.

Brothers, P.T. (the current mayor of Salida) and Lee Wood dreamed up the concept of Woods High Mountain (woodsdistillery.com) on a Grand Canyon Trip. Now, they reign at the top of the small scale distilling hierarchy with an impressive range of local whiskeys, gins and liqueurs. Runners Up: Breckenridge Distillery, Deerhammer, Wyoming Whiskey

Best Cidery
Big B’s

Nobody serves apple-derived alcoholic goodness like Hotchkiss, Colorado’s Big B’s, who produce and sell all-organic and local apple juices and hard cider from organic Western Slope fruit. Runners Up: Colorado Cider Company, Stem Ciders

Best Restaurant
Hot Tomato

Hot Tomato post-ride pies. Photo by Cameron Martindell.

Owned and lovingly operated by bike industry vets Jen Zeuner and Anne Keller, Fruita, Colorado’s Hot Tomato is the perfect place for pizza and beer after a big ride in the desert. Runners Up: Zia Taqueria, The Shed

Best Après Stop
Mangy Moose

Sitting at the base of Jackson Hole, The Mangy Moose draws crowds ranging from van lifers hoping to make it in a ski flick to investment bankers wanting to be van lifers. Runners Up: Dillon Dam Brewery, The Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar

Best Coffee Shop
Salto Coffee Works

Housed in the same building as Nederland’s Tin Shed Sports, Salto draws skiers, snowboarders, bikers, hikers and inspired slackers who need a jolt—or a cold one. Runners Up: Ozo Coffee, Buena Vista Roastery

Best Dispensary
The Farm

The Farm cultivates 100 percent of its signature Craft Cannabis in Colorado’s Boulder County, using zero pesticides. Runners Up: Organic Alternatives, Native Roots


Best Mountain Town Influencer
Susan Wood 

Photo Courtesy Susan Wood

Marketing manager at core retail shop The Trailhead, Susan Wood worked as a whitewater rafting, backpacking and rock climbing guide prior to becoming Buena Vista, Colorado’s biggest advocate, curating town-wide events and festivals including the multi-sport 14erFest. Runners Up: P.T. Wood, Eric Henderson, Kassondra Kloos and Abigail Wise

Best Instagram Account

Loki’s person started this account four years ago after a hike in Wyoming. “My friends had given me a hard time about not having a page for Loki’s pictures” he says, “because I was posting so many shots of him on my Instagram.” Runners Up: @jercollins_com, @katieboue

Best Photographer
Claudia Camila Lopez

Lopez at the office. Photo by Isaac Savitz.

“I am originally from Colombia and very proud of my roots. But I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge,” says Lopez. “Photography has been the catalyst to fulfill that thirst, taking me to remote corners of the world to photograph displaced cultures, women in conflict zones, communities and mountaineers at high altitude. In the process, I have helped raise awareness on local and global issues, the most relevant aspect of my work.” Runners Up: Eddie Clark, Devon Balet

Best Outdoor Legend
Lynn Hill

More details
Lynn Hill in Stavanger in conjunction with World cup in climbing in Stavanger 2015. Wikimedia Commons.

Who doesn’t know the first person to free climb The Nose on El Capitan, and who conquered it in less than 24 hours the following year. If you don’t know Lynn, read her book Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World. Runners Up: Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, Klaus Obermeyer

Best All-around Mountain Athlete
Avery Collins

Photo courtesy Avery Collins.

It’s not just because Avery Collins won the Continental Divide 50K Ultramarathon, Grindstone 100 Ultra, Hahn’s Peak HIll Climb, Quest for the Crest 50K and Georgia Death Race last year that EO readers voted him number one. He’s also an outspoken proponent for the smart use of cannabis as a training aid. Runners Up: Todd Wells, Clare Gallagher

Best Winter Mountain Athlete
Mikalea Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin races GS. Photo by David Clifford.

Vail wonderchild Mikalea Shiffrin was the youngest slalom champion in ski alpine history at 18 years old. At 22, she took gold in slalom at the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi. In 2018, she won gold in giant slalom at PeyongChang. Runners Up: Pete Swenson, Caroline Gleich

Best Local’s Local
Josh Harrod

Tin Shed’s loco local. Courtesy Josh Harrod.

Looking for the local lowdown? Find Josh Harrod. The manager of Nederland’s Tin Shed Sports says: “We play where we work, so we can provide some pretty high-level local knowledge. We tend not to stock the latest and greatest just for the sake of it. We carry what we have found works well in our own backyard.” Runners Up: Joshua Baruch, Jen Zeuner

Best Outdoor Curmudgeon
Lou Dawson

Lou skiing Crestone Needle. Photo by Glenn Randall.

The founder of WildSnow.com may not be as cranky as some of those he beat out here, and he’s not getting rich recommending the best in backcountry and touring ski gear, but you go to his site knowing you’ll get the unfiltered truth. Runners Up: Clyde Soles, John “Verm” Sherman


Best Hiking Trail
Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop

Ringing the Bells. Photo by Chris Kassar.

This classic 26.6-mile loop showcases four distinct mountain passes, each above 12,000 feet and revealing a fresh view of the expansive and rugged Elk Range. Runners Up: Flattop Loop, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO; Lower Calf Creek Falls, Boulder, UT

Best Trail Run
Imogene Pass

Feeling the pass. Photo by Kim Fuller.

You can compete in the 17.1-mile Imogene Pass Run, which tops out at 13,114 feet between Ouray to Telluride on the first Saturday after the Labor Day holiday—or run the rocky gut buster at your leisure. Runner Up: Mount Sanitas, Boulder, CO

Best River Trip
Browns Canyon National Monument

Silver Bullet Rapid in Browns Canyon. Photo by Chris Kassar.

Created by President Obama in February 2015, Colorado’s newest national monument encompasses over 21,500 acres of river, canyons and forest. The best way to experience it? Get wet and run the Arkansas River through raucous class II-III+ rapids. Runners Up: Ruby Horsethief, CO/UT; Gates of Lodore, Dinosaur National Monument, CO/UT

Best Climbing Area
Eldorado Canyon

Photo by Chris Van Leuven.

Sweet sandstone draws climbers here from across the planet. The state park appeals to a wide range of climbers with easier classics like Calypso (5.6) or The Yellow Spur (5.9), but there’s plenty of challenge here, too, with testpieces like The Naked Edge (5.11b). Runners Up: Vedauwoo, WY, Penitente Canyon, CO

Best Mountain Summit
Mount Princeton

Mount Princeton. Photo by Scott Peterson.

Gracefully lording over Colorado’s Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, 14,197-foot Mount Princeton, is one of our most popular Fourteeners. The main trailhead begins at 8,900 feet and the stiff but accessible hike to the top is 13.25 miles round-trip. Runners Up: Longs Peak, CO; Grand Teton, WY; Granite Peak, MT

Best Campground
North Fruita Desert Campground (18 Road)

Smack in the middle of one of the best singletrack systems in the country, this campground draws riders who want to spin tall tales around the campfire. Runners Up: Saddlehorn, Colorado National Monument, CO; Sibley Lake, Bighorn Mountains, WY

Best Mountain Bike Trail
Horsethief Bench Loop

Horsethief Bench. Photo by Devon Balet.

It’s tough to beat the technical eight-mile Horsethief Bench Loop, part of Fruita’s Marys Loop system, which features ledges, drops and slickrock along cliffs overlooking the Colorado River. Runner Up: 401, Crested Butte, CO

Best Road Bike Ride
Colorado National Monument 

A monumental ride. Photo by Devon Balet.

Climb 1,800 feet on this 33-mile loop with constant oh-my-God beautiful views of Colorado National Monument. Runner Up: Independence Pass, Aspen, CO

Best Urban Park
Valmont Bike Park

Boulder’s sprawling 42-acre, outdoor cycling terrain park includes trails, ramps, stairs, loops and jumps for riders of all ages and cycling skills. The park is free and open whenever weather permits. Runner Up: Riverside Park, Salida, CO

Best Water Park
South Main Whitewater Park 

Wet and Wild in Buena Vista. Photo by Scott Peterson.

With freestyle features in view of town, Buena Vista Colorado’s adventure-oriented urban whitewater park on the Arkansas River anchors a town  dedicated to outdoor recreation. Runners Up: Green River Water Park, WY; Clear Creek Whitewater Park, CO

Best SUP Spot
South Main Whitewater Park 

Two-time award-winner, Buena Vista River Park offers SUP-friendly tame and challenging rapids with five in-stream recreational features—all open to the public. Runner Up: Sibley Lake, Bighorn Mountains, WY

Best Ski/Snowboard Resort
Monarch Mountain

You won’t find high-end real estate or resort spas on the slopes of Monarch Mountain, located 20 miles west of Salida. “The biggest little mountain in Colorado” focuses on skiing and riding, highlighted by the in-bounds hike-to terrain of Mirkwood Bowl. Runners Up: Jackson Hole, WY; Crested Butte, CO

Best Terrain Park
Area 51, Keystone Mountain

The A51 progressive park at Colorado’s Keystone has already earned numerous awards, including a rating of #2 Terrain Park by TransWorld. Props go to its diverse jumps and rail features loved by newbies and pros alike. Runner Up: Breckenridge Resort, CO

Best Inbounds Ski/Snowboard Terrain
Teocalli Bowls, Crested Butte

Deep thoughts in Crested Butte’s Teocalli Bowls. Photo courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Resort/C Segal.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort prides itself on its extreme terrain and comps. Tucked away from the gapers on the back side of the mountain, the Teocalli Bowls are where aspiring and grizzled skiers and riders test their skills on drops, chutes and steep shots. Plus, you look out on big-wide views of wilderness. Runners Up: Palmyra Peak, Telluride Ski Resort, CO; Lone Mountain North Summit Snowfield, Big Sky Resort, MT

Best Resort-accessed Backcountry Ski/Snowboard Terrain
Silverton Mountain

At 13,487 feet, Silverton is North America’s highest ski/snowboard area and the only one just for experts. Unpatrolled and ungroomed, it’s a backcountry experience with lifts. Runner Up: Jackson Hole, WY

Best Fly Fishing River
Roaring Fork/Frying Pan

The Roaring Fork. Photo by Tyra Sutak.

Aspen’s two famed fly fishing rivers deliver when it comes to hooking rainbows and browns. Wade them or float them, but be sure to bring mysis patterns and hit the famed Toilet Bowl section right at the dam tailwaters on the Frying Pan. Runner Up: Arkansas River, CO, Madison River, MT

Best Wilderness Area
Collegiate Peaks

Mt Yale from Lake Hartenstein in the Collegiate Peaks. Photo by Doug Schnitzspahn.

Colorado’s Collegiate Peaks Wilderness covers 167,141 acres of high mountains and deep forests between Leadville and Monarch Pass with five fourteeners capping it off. The Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail cross the wilderness and it’s the site of the brutal Nolan’s 14 challenge. Runners Up: Mt. Zirkel, CO; Bridger-Teton, WY

Best Kid-friendly Outdoor Destination
Steamboat Springs, CO

Parents take heed: Steamboat offers family friendly hiking, biking, tubing, fishing, paddling, hot springs and water parks all summer long. Runner Up: Sheridan, WY

Best Dog-friendly Outdoor Destination
Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies

Dog days (and nights). Courtesy Snow Mountain Ranch.

Snow Mountain Ranch understands the importance of bringing the whole family—including pups—on vacay.. Dogs (up to two per family) are welcome here. The adventure destination opened a three-acre, fenced-in dog park in 2016 with playtime, treats, and more. Runners Up: Crested Butte, CO; Sheridan, WY

Best Place for Outdoor Singles to Live

With so much sunshine, plenty of bike lanes, active young professionals, and the mountains just a short drive away, you can see why singles gravitate to the Queen City of the Plains. Runners Up: Fort Collins, CO; Sheridan, WY

Best Adventure Park
AVA Zipline

AVA Cliffside Zipline in Idaho Springs offers the thrilling adventure of gliding through the air close to the Front Range. Making it an ideal day trip. Runner Up: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, CO


Best Running Race
Leadville 100

The annual “Race across the sky” has been held every year since 1983. This year, runners will race 100 miles of extreme Colorado Rockies terrain — from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet. Compete on behalf of one of the race’s official charities and get guaranteed entry into the race. August 18, 2018. Runner Up: Ned Ned, Nederland, CO

Best Road Bike Race
Old Man Winter Rally

Courtesy Old Man Winter.

Brace against the winter cold and run and/or ride Colorado’s best mixed terrain. Riders can choose 50K or 100K of adventurous Boulder County trails; runners can participate in the 5.4-mile run course, a fast, flat “Best of Lyons” race that integrates singletrack trails, the beauty of red rock canyon, and gravel paths. February, 2019 date TBD. oldmanwinterrally.com Runners Up: Triple Bypass, Evergreen to Avon, CO; Ride the Rockies, CO

Best Mountain Bike Race
Colorado High School State Championships

What they didn’t teach you in school. Photo by Tom Vic.

Forget football, track and glee club, teenagers in Colorado get out and hit the singletrack. Held in bike friendly Eagle, this event determines the best of this dedicated bunch with over 1,000 participants taking on the course.  Runners Up: Breck Epic, Breckenridge, CO; Betti Bike Bash, Lakewood, CO

Best Paddling Event
The Golden Games

For eight years this celebration of water and paddling ethos has rocked a town better known for beer. The water park takes center stage with fan friendly kayak and SUP comps. Saturday, October 6, 2018. May 18-20, 2018. Runners Up: Lyons Outdoor Games, Lyons, CO; FiBARK, Salida, CO

Best Climbing Event
Ouray Ice Festival 

Cold climbing the walls. Photo by James Dyzienski.

Founded by the legendary Jeff Lowe, this celebration of picks and front points has set the standard for how a town can embrace an outdoor sport community. Don’t be scared off: You can watch the best of the best but also have a chance to give ice climbing a try if you have never dared to scale frozen water. January TBD, 2019. Runners Up: Shelf Road Craggin’ Classic, Canon City, CO 

Best Triathlon
Ironman Boulder

Boulder, Colorado prides itself on tight pants and people who can hammer you while Snapchatting and selling green tech stocks. Show them up at this the true test of who is the best at exercise. June 10, 2018. Runners Up: Sibley Lake Triathlon, Bighorn Mountains, WY

Best Warrior Mud Race
Dirty Girl Mud Run

Copper Mountain Colorado hosts this fun event meant to get you dirty. And that’s about it. This untimed slosh through the muck is not a race as much as a it’s a celebration of the power of women. It’s also a whole lot of fun. Join in! TBD, June, 2018. Runners Up: Never Summer Adventure Race, Winter Park, CO

Toughest Race
Tour Divide

Tour Divide record holder Mike Hall at the finish in 2016.

Stretching 2,745 miles from Alberta, Canada, to New Mexico, this race is the ultimate test of the endurance mountain biker. And it’s not just that the race traces the backbone of the U.S. that makes it so tough: It’s also just one stage, totally unsupported. Starts June 14, 2018. tourdivide.orgRunners Up: Hardrock 100, CO; Leadville 100, CO; Vapor Trail 125, CO

Best Music Festival
Telluride Blues and Brews

A marvelous mustache and a corn dog—it’s Blues and Brews! Photo courtesy Paddy O’Connell

Telluride’s other big music event is making a big name for itself. Credit that popularity to the crisp vibes of fall, cool craft beer and a lineup that has included giants like Bonnie Raitt, ZZ Top, Taj Mahal, Peter Frampton and the Violent Femmes alongside up-and-comers and chill late night shows. September 14-16, 2018. tellurideblues.com Runner Up: Targhee Fest, Grand Targhee Resort, WY

Best Multisport Festival
Burning Can at Lyons Outdoor Games

Dogs getting it done at Burning Can.

In 2013, Lyons, Colorado lay devastated after a 100-year flood. These days it has grown into the epicenter of the summer’s biggest can’t-miss celebration of outdoor sports and adventure, beer, unbridaled enthusiasm and music.June 2, 2018. Runner Up: GoPro Mountain Games, Vail, CO

Rowdiest Outdoor Event
Burning Can at Lyons Outdoor Games

You didn’t think that Lyons outdoor sport and suds hoedown was going to be satisfied winning just one award in this reader poll did you? That’s right. It’s also the best place to get nuts (along with your beer) this summer. June 2, 2018. Runners Up: Telluride Brews and Blues, Telluride, CO; Tour de Fat, Fort Collins, CO

Best Beer Festival
Taco Fest, Sanitas Brewing Company

This is how tacos roll.

One word: tacos. Another word: beer. Who could say no to that? This wild happening features 20 different beers, 20 different tacos and men in tight pants and masks (a.k.a. lucha libre wrestlers). Runners Up: Upslope Get Down, Boulder, CO; Telluride Blues and Brews, Telluride, CO

Best Costumed Event
Mustache Ride 

Winning for the second year in a row, Steamboat Springs’s costumed pub crawl occurs every October and brings together a wide range of amped-up folks wearing all sorts of mustaches and costumes. This year will celebrate the 12th Annual Mustache Ride. All the proceeds benefit the local Routt County Humane Society. Saturday, October 6th, 2018. Runner Up: Tour de Fat, Fort Collins, CO 

Think you missed out or that we whiffed on a winner? Remember this is a reader poll. You nominate. You vote. See you next year.