The holiday weekend is right around the corner, and watching fireworks in Denver is crowded, hot, and not a nature lover’s best option! Get away from the tall buildings and watch the fiery explosions from the top of a mountain, the bottom of a ski resort, or the side street of a tiny mountain town. If you live in a van (or a car, or a tent) the options are endless.
Your closest bet in the front range is Frisco, Colorado. The town invites you to celebrate the whole weekend. Start the big day with pancakes at the old community center, enjoy the block party and parade, then settle in for a fireworks display over Dillon Reservoir. The small-town feel, interactive drum circle, and proximity to adventure make this a good pick for a quick get away. Plus there’s a great trailhead right out of town. Park your van at Meadow Creek Trailhead and you can hike over Eccles Pass, or even back east all the way to Silverthorne. Hike up the pass to get a view of a couple fireworks displays across the valley, and some solitude.
If you’re down for a journey, you should make a road trip out to Durango for America’s birthday. They’re closing down Main Street for a full twelve hours and dedicating three locations in town to celebrate. If you’re feeling extra festive, you can even enter a float (van) in the parade for five buckaroos. Durango is nestled just south of the San Juan National Forest. If you’re out that way, the options are endless. Maybe try your luck at the three fourteeners in close proximity—Wisdom Peak, Sunlight Peak, or Mount Eolus. By July, 14ers are usually clear of snow and ready for bagging. Always check trip reports and conditions before climbing to make sure you can summit safely. Celebrate the 4th, and 14ers, in one long rewarding weekend in Durango, Colorado.
If you fancy the northern side of the state, Steamboat, Colorado is a good option for a viewing party. With energetic city pride, Steamboat boasts that their “western roots are alive and well.” Steamboat doesn’t just celebrate the day, it celebrates the whole weekend. There are events every day starting Friday with a Pro Rodeo Series. Saturday is full of community exercise, healthy eats and a bunch of tunes. On Sunday head over to Steamboat Resort to enjoy art and scope out the perfect viewing location (though the top of your vehicle is always a good option). If you are up that way, please, please, don’t miss the Roller Ski Race on Tuesday morning. Think cross country skiing meets roller skates down Main Street (Lincoln Avenue). If you are in town, be sure to stop by Sunpies Bistro for a few drinks, and Salt & Lime for a killer Mexican brunch.
For something smack dab in the middle of the western side of the state, try Crested Butte for a celebration. Once again, the day starts with patriotic pancakes. CB has got all the fixins’ for a grand celebration. Run in the 1/2 marathon that ends in the middle of town, watch the parade, and enjoy the carnival. That bouncy castle is good for all ages (maybe). Listen to some live music and enjoy the fireworks put off at the base of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. There are plenty of side roads running away from the resort, so pick one, grab your blankets, and climb on top of the van for an exciting show. Grab some bagged wine or a flask of whiskey and you’ve got a celebration on your hands.
This is in no way an exhaustive list, and plenty of towns in Colorado have their own celebrations (comment with your favorite)! If you want to stick close to home, might I suggest scurrying up a Flatiron, or a high point in Thornton, to view multiple firework displays at once. If you do go for a hike to see the explosions from a better vantage point, always remember to bring a headlamp, wear sturdy shoes, and consume alcohol responsibly. There, I said it, now go party.