USA TODAY - If you're left wondering where the summer went, I have no answers for you. It has left me behind, too.
But, if you ask what to do for Labor Day, we can help you out. Don't worry if you haven't made your plans. There is still time to make the holiday weekend fun, either by exploring in the mountains or visiting downtown Denver.
Here are eight festivals and destinations for your Labor Day travel plans:
Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival
When: Aug. 30 through Sept. 1
Where: Snowmass Village
Admission: $89/single day; $195/three-day pass
Why go: The beautiful high-mountain valley continues to bring big names to the three-day festival, highlighting some of the nation's best jazz, country and R&B musicians. Headlining acts this year include Jason Mraz, Keith Urban, Train, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Little Big Town, Journey, Big Dog & the Midnite Badgers, and Colorado's Paper Bird.
In the area: When you're not rocking out, hike the iconic Maroon Bells (bit.ly/HikeMaroonBells) or bike over 12,095-foot Independence Pass (aspenchamber.org/what-to-do/recreation)
Colorado Balloon Classic
When: Aug. 31 through Sept. 2
Where: Memorial Park in Colorado Springs, east of Interstate 25 on Pikes Peak Avenue
Why go: Billed as Colorado's largest air show, the Colorado Balloon Classic showcases hundreds of bright, beautiful and creative balloons floating across the sky, including Smokey Bear and Fort Collins resident Bob McCluskey's Spirit of Colorado. There is live music and a host of other events in the park, too.
In the area: A free visit to Garden of the Gods is always choice (gardenofgods.com) as is a hike up the infamous Manitou Incline (manitouincline.net)
Steamboat Springs Wild West Air Fest
When: Aug. 31 through Sept. 1
Where: Steamboat Airport
Admission: $6 for adults; $3 for youths
Why go: Check out the vintage warbird aircraft display, classic cars, the Wings Over the Rockies KidSpace and the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy Flight Simulator. You'll be able to climb aboard the classic airplanes, and (for a price) you can even take a ride in some of them, such as the 1944 Beechcraft D-17S or 1945 Grumman Avenger TBM, a WWII Navy bomber.
In the area: Steamboat also hosts the Rocky Mountain Bull Bash PBR on Sunday, featuring some of the country's best bull riders. For a soothing soak, check out Strawberry Hot Springs (strawberryhotsprings.com).
Beaver Creek Oktoberfest
When: Aug. 31 through Sept. 1
Where: Beaver Creek Plaza
Why go: Wear lederhosen and sip on German-style microbrews from Avon's Crazy Mountain Brewing Company, while eating brats and listening to foot stompin' oom-pah-pah music. The Helmut Fricker Band and Who's Bad, a Michael Jackson tribute band, provide the tunes. Sweat off the beer calories in the Oktoberfest Shuffle ($35 to $40), a noncompetitive walk, hike or run on a 5K or 10K trail course. The kids can compete in an alpenhorn contest.
In the area: Anglers, check out Gore Creek Fly Fisherman (gorecreekflyfisherman.com) for a guided trip in the Eagle River, Colorado River, Gore Creek or Roaring Fork River.
When: Aug. 30 through Sept. 1
Where: Copper Mountain Resort
Why go: For those whose scene is more country, Kenny Rogers headlines this tradition "of the American spirit," which features live music throughout the weekend, an arts festival, and arts and crafts activities for the kids. Other musical acts include Savannah Jack, The Long Players, Michael McDonald, Texaco Country Showdown and SHEL.
In the area: Bring your road bike and try tackling several of the long, high-elevation routes, including the Copper Triangle and Winter Park Loop (coppercolorado.com/summer/events_and_activities/cycling).
A Taste of Colorado
When: Aug. 30 through Sept. 2
Where: Denver Civic Center Park
Why go: This end-of-summer festival draws an estimated 500,000-plus people with more than 50 area restaurants, 280 arts and crafts booths, and live music. Now in its 30th year, the festival kicks off Friday night with a fireworks display with synchronized and choreographed lights and classic rock. Musical highlights include Dennis DeYoung of Styx, The Wild Feathers, MC Hammer and Casey James.
In the area: Iconic jam-band Phish returns to Denver, this time playing at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Aug. 30 through Sept. 1 (phish.com); the Rocky Mountain Showdown is 4 p.m. Sept. 1 at Sports Authority Field (rockymountainshowdown.com); or take the Denver Microbrew Tour (denvermicrobrewtour.com)
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Where: 35 miles northeast of Alamosa
Hours: Open daily year-round. Visitor center is open daily in the summer from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: $3 per person or $15 for an annual pass
Camping: Pinyon Flats Campground includes 88 sites, 44 of which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost is $20 per night. The other 44 sites can be reserved by visiting recreation.gov or calling (877) 444-6777.
Why go: Sand dunes pile up 750 feet high and stretch over most of the 150,000 acres of this park in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. A must-do is to hike to the top of the 750-foot Star Dune, the tallest dune in North America. How you come down is up to you: Bring your sled, snowboard, or skis, or simply hike down. Also explore Zapata Falls and Medano Creek. You also can check out nearby San Luis Lakes State Park and Wildlife Area.
Information: nps.gov/grsa or (719) 378-6399
Staunton State Park
Where: About 95 miles southwest of Fort Collins, near Conifer.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Admission: $7 per vehicle per day, or $70 for an annual state parks pass
Why go: Staunton State Park is Colorado's newest state park, and it's a gem. The 3,828-acre park is a habitat for deer, elk, hawks, falcons, bears and mountain lions, and the terrain ranges from high grassy meadows at 8,100 feet to granite cliffs over 10,000 feet. Well-maintained trails meander through the Aspen groves and ponderosa pine forests, and the multiuse trails are a potential mountain biking haven. The Elk Falls Overlook provides stunning views of the 100-foot Elk Creek Falls, which is a must-see on your visit to Colorado's 43rd state park.
Information: parks.state.co.us/parks/staunton or (303) 816-0912.
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