Dillon: Your Summer Destination in the High Colorado Mountains

Dillon, in the high Colorado mountains, is a town on the move. Well, more like a town that has moved three times in its history. Three times. The whole town. That means there has been four different locations for Dillon in its 150 year history. And what a colorful history is has been.

This article was written in partnership with the Town of Dillon.

Dillon Co Colorado High Mountains pin

Dillon was established in 1850 as a trading hub on a planned railroad route. The problem was the route was relocated to an alternate canyon to the east. Not to be deterred, the townsfolk decided to simply move the town to the tracks. Then, about a month after re-establishing the town, another railroad announced it would be building another set of tracks to the west. Guess what the townsfolk did? Yup, they moved their town again.

Dillon prospered in its third location for almost 100 years. But in the early 1950s, the City of Denver approached Dillon with a proposition. Denver needed more water and it wanted to build a dam on the Snake River and create a large reservoir to supply water to the city. The only problem was that Dillon sat right in the middle of where the reservoir would be, if the dam was constructed.

Through many negotiations and deals, Denver financed the move and Dillon moved for the third time to its fourth, and current, location.

Don’t worry, Dillon’s not moving again and you can easily access the town, tucked in the scenic enclave along the shores of Dillon Reservoir, via Interstate 70 about 90 miles west of Denver.

Today, Dillon is friendly and unpretentious in one of the most scenic parts of the United States. Visitors can choose between extreme outdoor adventures as well as “adventure-light” activities in both the winter and summer.

The views from the high mountain town of Dillon, Colorado

If you are considering a summertime trip to the high Colorado mountains, Dillon should be your destination.

Here is a suggested three-day itinerary for your time in Dillon:

Day 1: Get In, Get Settled, Get Happy

In the summer, I-70 is easy to navigate and unbelievably scenic. Enjoy the breathtaking views on your way to Exit 205. You really can’t miss it. There’s a huge reservoir there (Lake Dillon).

Get settled in any number of hotels in town. If you are traveling a little more rustic, there are five campgrounds on Lake Dillon that all have trail systems into town. These range from primitive campsites for tents only to full-hookup campgrounds that can accommodate the largest RVs.

Hike into town or in to the high Colorado mountains from your campsite on Lake Dillon

Make your way into town for a meal at one of many restaurants. May we suggest authentic Mexican cuisine for your first meal? Choose either Tacos Tequila or Lili’s Bistro.

Hopefully there is a musical performance going on at the Dillon Amphitheater. More than likely there will be a show, since there are 33 performances scheduled between mid-June and mid-September. Dillon Amphitheater offers amazing acoustics as well as a stunning view of Lake Dillon.

Views of Lake Dillon at the amphitheater in the summer

Dillon Colorado in the high Colorado mountains has an annual beer festival

If you are in town on June 13, you won’t be able to miss the annual Dillon Beer Fest happening throughout town. Finish off the evening with a hike or bike on any of the numerous trails in and around town.

Day 2 – History on the Water

Get up early and fuel up at the Sunshine Cafe, then book a one-hour Pontoon History Tour on Lake Dillon, hosted by the Summit Historical Society. These tours are a perfect way to learn more about the interesting history of Dillon. Plus, the tours offer a majestic 360-degree view of the surrounding Colorado high mountain peaks.

After your history tour, hang out at the Dillon Marina and grab lunch and a Rumrunner at the Lakeside Tiki Bar.

Spend the afternoon browsing the many fresh vegetable and fruit stands, eating free samples from the numerous food vendors, listening to live music, and viewing local art at the Dillon Farmers Market.

Dillon Farmers Market

Grab dinner and a craft beer at one (or both) of the local breweries, Pug Ryan’s Brewery or Dillon Dam Brewery.

A beer and chips at a local brewery in Dillon, Colorado

Day 3 – Angling for More Water

Lake Dillon is renowned for exceptional fishing. The lake supports large populations of arctic char, kokanee salmon and trout.

Rent a pontoon from Dillon Marina and spend the day catching fish, or not catching fish. Whatever – you’re on vacation! If angling isn’t your angle, book some time on a sailboat and spend the day enjoying the water and feeling the refreshing high mountain air through your hair.

Sailing on the high mountain lake in Dillon, Colorado

After on the water, get your sea legs (and your shopping fix) at the local shops in downtown Dillon. Round out those items you’ve been needing in your closet for adventures, and purchase something unique to commemorate your visit.

Dillon definitely has the history, scenic beauty, location, amenities, and adventure almost any traveler would want while exploring the high Colorado mountains.

Don’t Miss these Grand American Adventures in Cody, Wyoming

Grand American adventures and authentic western ranch experiences await on your holiday to Yellowstone if you make sure you spend some time in Cody, Wyoming.

This story was created in partnership with Cody Yellowstone.

Grand American Adventures in Cody Yellowstone

When the famous old west buffalo hunter, tracker, scout and showman, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was asked to guide a group of Washington DC politicians to Yellowstone National Park in 1890, he spotted an opportunity.

Buffalo Bill noted that there was a need for a “gateway” to the east entrance to the Park. Being an unconscionable opportunist (some say “gambler”), Cody set his sights on creating a hospitality center for Park visitors arriving from the east. With his gamble, Cody, Wyoming was born.

Main Street Cody, Wyoming for grand American adventures

Today, Cody still serves as a major hospitality center and the last stop before the East Entrance to Yellowstone.

From authentic western ranch experiences, world class museums, historic buildings and amazing feats of engineering, Cody is a must-stop on for grand American adventures.

There is much to do in the Cody Yellowstone area, and here are some ideas for packing as much as possible into three days on your holiday.

Day 1: Grand American Adventure, Culture, and History

One of the first stops you will need to make is at the historic Irma Hotel. Built by Buffalo Bill and named after his daughter Irma, the hotel immediately transports you back to the early 1900s. Grab a hearty western style lunch at any restaurant before climbing aboard a local trolley-style bus for a Cody history tour. This tour will give you perspective on the town and its history, which will enhance the rest of your stay in Cody.

Cody Trolly Tours: Part of grand American adventures

Spend the afternoon strolling along Main Street and visiting the local shops. This is when you might want to finally buy that cowboy hat you’ve always wanted.

Shops on Main Street in Cody Wyoming part of a grand American adventure

In the early evening, gather back at the Irma Hotel for the nightly old west gun fight (not real bullets!) before enjoying a chuckwagon dinner and cowboy music show hosted by the Cody Cattle Company.

Downtown Cody Wyoming experiences for grand American adventures

Top off the evening at the Cody Nite Rodeo, a Cody tradition that happens every night between June 1 and August 31.

Cody Nite Rodeo

Day 2: Your Grand American Adventures Continue

Spend the day at two of the most interesting museums in the world: The Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Cody Firearms Experience.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is an expansive, award-winning museum specializing in American West culture and history, Native American history, the animals native to the area, the history of guns, and so much more. You could conceivably spend your entire three-day holiday in the Museum of the West, if you didn’t have many other adventures to experience.

Buffalo Bill Center of the west cody wyoming

But one of the other stops you don’t want to miss is the Cody Firearms Experience. This exhibit explores the importance and history of how the gun helped shape western expansion. The highlight of the Cody Firearms Experience is the opportunity for visitors to actually shoot a gun under the tutelage of an experienced firearms instructor.

Cody Firearms Experience

After your day of learning and shooting, experience a Cody original. The Dan Miller Cowboy Music Revue is a fun and entertaining live music show that happens every night but Sunday during the summer in the Buffalo Bill Music Hall. Dan and his friends sing and play their instruments while peppering the show with funny stories and amusing historical references. It is a family friendly night of pure western entertainment.

Day 3: Time for some Outdoor Adventure and even more History

It’s time to experience the unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities in and around Cody. Without playing hard in the great outdoors, your great American adventure will not be complete! So start the morning with a guided float of the Shoshone River. The float is not technical, but there are a few rapids, so plan on getting your “seat and feet” wet.

rafting shoshoe river near cody wyoming

After the float, break out the fly rod for some world-class trout fishing for a few hours before heading back into town to visit two very interesting places.

Old Trail Town is stocked with original buildings from the late 1800s that were saved and moved into town. Also, if you have time left in the day, visit the Cody Dug Up Museum. This free museum is exactly what its name implies: a wonderful collection of various artifacts a local historian and amateur archeologist dug up in and around Cody.

old trail town cody wyoming

If you are moving on to Yellowstone National Park as part of your grand American adventure, be sure to stop along the route at the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center on the way. The dam was built by, you guessed it, Buffalo Bill to provide a reliable water supply to Cody and generate some of Cody’s electrical power. It is truly an engineering marvel and well worth the stop.

buffalo bill dam visitor center

To get the most out of your grand American adventure and your holiday to Yellowstone, do not miss the opportunity Buffalo Bill gambled on and won in beautiful Cody, Wyoming.

Things to Do in Colorado: Adventures in Silverthorne

Silverthorne, in the high Colorado mountains, is the perfect base camp to enjoy all the region has to offer. Silverthorne is nestled at the base of the Gore Range, about an hour’s drive (70 miles/112 km) west of Denver. If high mountain peaks, valleys, meadows, rivers, creeks, lakes, reservoirs, shopping and fine arts are your idea of a wonderful family vacation or mountain getaway, consider Silverthorne.

This article was created in partnership with the Town of Silverthorne.

Silverthorne Things to Do in Colorado Pin

Short History, Big Fun

Silverthorne doesn’t have a long history—it was established in 1967 —but its history is interesting. It was originally a work camp for the people constructing the Dillon Dam, which is a major water source for Denver. It was such a beautiful location that many of the workers stayed and established the township.

Live, free concert in Silverthorne, Colorado

Today it serves as the playground, heart and hub of Summit County with abundant year-round outdoor recreation, outlet malls, and a thriving arts and culture scene.

A summertime trip to Silverthorne guarantees a memorable and satisfying experience for young and not-so-young alike. Start with the following itinerary, but be sure to research the area to find even more of the best things to do in Colorado.

Day 1 in Silverthorne:

Take exit 205 off of Interstate 70 and pitch your tent at the Blue River Campground, which is located next to the famed gold-medal trout stream. Or stop in town and book a hotel room or rental home as your home base.

Fishing in Silverthorne of high Colorado region

Once you are settled in, grab your fly rod and hit the river. “The Blue” boasts trophy rainbow and brown trout in its endless pools and eddies. You can fish on your own, or book a guided fly-fishing trip with one of the local fly shops: Cutthroat Angler or The Colorado Angler. No matter how you approach the river, don’t miss out on one of the best things to do in Colorado.

A group enjoys a hike in high Colorado country

Once the inevitable hunger sets in, load up the troop to enjoy one of the many restaurants. Sauce on the Blue Restaurant is one of the most popular. In addition to the incredible Italian food, it also boasts one of the best views in town.

After dinner, have a nightcap  at either of the two craft breweries in town: Angry James Brewery or Baker’s Brewery.

Day 2 in Silverthorne:

After a well-deserved good night’s sleep, get up early and spend the day hiking. There are a number of gorgeous hikes to  explore, and we recommend climbing to the summit of Ptarmigan Mountain, the wildflower-dotted Willow Falls trail, or the short hike to Lily Pad Lake. Slow down and enjoy the solitude of pure, unspoiled nature and amazing scenery.

After a wonderful day on and in the water, head back to town to eat a hearty dinner at Timberline Craft Kitchen. Then catch a play at the state-of-the-art Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, home of the Lake Dillon Theater Company.

If it happens to be the first Friday of the month, you’ll get taste of what is so special about Silverthorne’s mountain community. Throughout the year, the monthly First Friday events celebrate local music, art, and food. 

Day 3 in Silverthorne:

No matter what you decide to do in Silverthorne, Colorado today, make sure you fuel up with a big breakfast. The Sunshine Cafe serves up large portions of traditional American breakfasts, along with a cozy small-town feel.

If you’re looking for another day of adventure, head to the water again. But this time, the water will be moving rapidly. Whether you prefer whitewater or flat water, visit KODI Rafting to set up a half-day or full-day catered trip.

If shopping is more your thing, hit up the Outlets at Silverthorne for tons of name-brand stores. Browse the popular retail options for authentic merchandise at discount prices.

After your morning adventure, spend your afternoon and evening downtown. Take a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the Blue River Trail in town, or relax in one of the many parks. Be sure to dine at Argentos Empanadas & More. Yes, order the empanadas —they’re delicious.

Silverthorne is a fun and affordable alternative to its high-priced neighbors, but gives you access to all of the best things to do in Colorado. You can even build it into a larger Colorado itinerary.

Re-Energize Between National Parks in Gillette, Wyoming

There’s energy in Gillette, Wyoming. In fact, Gillette is known as the “Energy Capital of the Nation” because 35 percent of the nation’s coal is mined in and around Gillette. But, among the locals, the energy comes across as pride, self-sufficiency, hard work, and a desire to share their place with the world.

Story written in cooperation with Visit Gillette & Wright, Wyoming.

About Gillette, Wyoming

Ranching, then coal, oil and gas allowed Gillette to prosper, grow and diversify. Gillette has come into its own as the third largest city in Wyoming and has become a one- or two-night must-stop for Yellowstone to Devils Tower to Mount Rushmore visitors, gastro tourists, history buffs, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts alike.

Gillette is located on Interstate 90 in northeast Wyoming, in the Powder River Basin between the Black Hills and the Bighorn Mountains. It is a modern, growing city nestled among rolling grassy hills. It’s perfect buffalo habitat, so naturally you’ll want to check out one of the world’s oldest and largest buffalo ranches, Durham Buffalo Ranch. It is just 35 miles south of Gillette, near Gillette’s in-county neighbor, Wright. Group tours of the ranch are available through Visit Gillette.

The star of the area’s geological features is the vast deposit of low-sulphur coal just below the topsoil. The coal is highly sought after because of its low sulfur content, which allows it to burn cleaner. Some of the world’s largest surface coal mines are near Gillette and Wright. Just east of Gillette, the Wyo-Dak Coal Mine can be easily seen from Interstate 90.

Foodies Welcome

Gillette’s growth has allowed it to ride out the boom-and-bust cycles of the energy industry a little easier through increased diversification. Many miners also own businesses that they operate during their off hours and seven-on, seven-off shift schedules. This resilience has spurred a renaissance of sorts and created a vibrant community with some truly unique tourist attractions, modern amenities and an incredible culinary and art scene that belies Gillette’s former reputation as a rough-and-tumble mining town.

With two craft breweries, Wyoming’s first meadery and over 70 restaurants, Gillette has become a regional foodie haven—to the delight of visitors and locals alike. From a wood-fired pizza place that has been named Best Pizza in Wyoming by time.com, Money Magazine and Yelp to a South American rotisserie chicken restaurant located in a former gas station, the locally-sourced culinary fare in Gillette and Wright is as good as you will find in the region.

Other Gillette Must-Sees

After you have toured the buffalo ranch and coal mine—and enjoyed wonderful food—make some time to check out the museums in Gillette and Wright. The Rockpile Historical Museum in Gillette tells the story of Campbell County through artifacts, displays, and presentations. The Frontier Auto Museum & Frontier Relics Antiques is right across the street from the Rockpile Museum—and it is also well worth your time. The sprawling space is the private collection of the Wandler family and includes many restored automobiles, wagons, petroleum signs and vintage gas pumps. Then, travel south 40 miles to Wright and experience the Wright Centennial Museum —the historical museum of the Wright area.

So, when traveling between the iconic western national parks this summer, be sure to devote some time in Gillette. It will energize your great western vacation.

Gillette Wyoming Pin

Idaho Falls: Your Jumping Off Point to National Parks

Although the words “falls” and “jumping off” are normally a dangerous combination, that’s not the case in Idaho Falls, Idaho. It’s the perfect “jumping off” point to national parks and other unique sites and experiences. 

This article was created in partnership with the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce. All photos courtesy of Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are only 90 minutes away while other must-see attractions are much closer – many are in town.

Here is a suggested three-day itinerary for a family looking for things to do in the Idaho Falls area:

Day 1: En Route to Idaho Falls

If traveling from the west, stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, about an hour from Idaho Falls on Hwy. 20/26. This is an ancient, other-worldly lava bed – as well as an impressive park. After being amazed, head to Idaho Falls.

The Snake River waterfall in Idaho Falls, Idaho

You’ll be hungry when you arrive, so head downtown and take advantage of the foodie scene. Unique, multicultural restaurants and craft breweries abound. The Snake River runs right through the heart of downtown, so you won’t be far from the River Walk. Take a post lunch stroll along the river before heading to the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park. Known as the “best little zoo in the west,” this zoo houses animals from every continent including Patagonia, Africa, Asia, and Australia. After a fun afternoon, head back downtown for dinner. A comfy bed in one of the area’s 30+ hotels will sound good after a busy day like like you just had.

Day 2: Hot Springs and National Parks

Get up and at ‘em early with a hearty breakfast, then take a day trip into the parks. There are multiple loop tour drive options from Idaho Falls, through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and back, but one of the coolest is taking Hwy. 26 to Heise Hot Springs just 15 miles outside of Idaho Falls. Stop and take a dip in one of two pools fed by a natural hot spring. Swim and relax for a while, then continue on to Jackson, Wyoming for lunch.

Now you’re ready to head north on Hwy. 191 to Grand Teton National Park. But even before you get to the entrance, you will stop and marvel at the grandeur of the Tetons. They are absolutely breathtaking. After being made to feel thoroughly insignificant by the magnificent spires, continue north into Grand Teton National Park. This begins one of the most beautiful drives you will ever take as you continue north out of Grand Teton and into Yellowstone. Work your way north past the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, Old Faithful Geyser, Madison, and then to West Yellowstone. Stop along the way and appreciate the natural beauty and wild animals.

Once you leave the park, stay on Hwy. 20 back to Idaho Falls. If you have time, get some evening fishing in. Then grab some dinner and get some sleep for another day of adventure …

man fishing the shore of the Snake River in Idaho Falls

Day 3: Explore Around Town

After breakfast, visit the Museum of Idaho. The largest art museum in Idaho, the Museum of Idaho has expanded over the years from an original Carnegie Library building to a sprawling modern art museum. Exhibits include Native American History, Exploration & Migration, and even Atomic Advances. Take in the museum for the rest of the morning, then grab some lunch.

educational displays

Then head back out of town on Hwy. 20 to Yellowstone Bear World. This is a privately-owned, drive-through wildlife park about 24 miles from Idaho Falls. See eight different species from the Yellowstone ecosystem up close and personal—on the other side of your car windows, of course.

Make this area your home base, your jumping-off point, for your National Parks vacation.

idaho falls, national parks, teton valley, jackson hole