Sitting pretty in the foothills of our fabled range, Lyons is known as the Double Gateway to the Rockies, thanks to the two highways that twist into Rocky Mountain National Park. But make no mistake, this is no drive-by town. Slow down to discover award-winning spirits, playful creeks, a tiny-house resort and an established bluegrass scene.
You’re so Vrain
The St. Vrain Creek earned a bad name when it severely flooded Lyons in 2013. But seven years later, luck has returned to the St. Vrain, tumbling down from 12,000 feet and luring fly fishing enthusiasts from across the state with its trout-teeming waters. North and South join in town, creating playful creeks for not only casting caddis patterns but also swimming and sunbathing.
The North St. Vrain is also where top tubing conditions prevail. One of the access points is located downtown, around the corner from the original Oskar Blues Brewery (Colorado’s birthplace for craft beer in a can), which just so happens to sponsor a fly fishing film tour. We’re partial to a pint of Dale’s Pale Ale and a plate of wings, perfect fuel to help us fly up the mountains surrounding Lyons. Head to Hall Ranch (also a mountain biking mini-mecca) for rolling grasslands and sandstone buttes spread across 3,000 acres. Or to Rabbit Mountain for miles of family-friendly easy and moderate trails. You’ll see why many consider Lyons one of the state’s top adventure towns.
WeeCasa es su casa
Tiny homes are still as trendy as ever, with more than 10,000 around the country and 700 more added each year. For those who want to test the waters before taking the plunge into serious downsizing — or for those who just want a twist on the typical overnight stay — Lyons is home to WeeCasa, the world’s largest tiny-house resort.
Tucked into the River Bend wedding and special event venue, WeeCasa offers 22 creatively themed sleepaway structures, from 165- to 400-square-feet each, and for $149 to $299 a night. The turquoise-touched Judy Blue Eyes, for example, has a 1970s vibe, while the especially tiny Cherry Birch creates a cozy hideaway for two.
WeeCasa emerged from a partnership of community members in the aftermath of the 2013 flood, a testament to the town’s creative resilience. Fans of HGTV, meanwhile, can breathe a sigh of relief that they don’t actually have to pick up a hammer and a nail to enjoy the simplified lifestyle — with some special extra perks from the resort. Think thick, plush bath towels, French press coffeemakers, crisp sheets and property-wide WiFi. But, chances are you’ll be too busy playing corn hole and kicking back around the communal fire pits to even remember what an email is. (weecasa.com)
Ain’t nothing like a Hound, dog
There must be something in the Lyons water that makes it a haven not only for craft beer aficionados but liquor lovers, too. Just look at Spirit Hound Distillers, one of the town’s liveliest gathering spots for live music, libation-oriented lectures, open-mic nights and food pairings. The pooch-named hooch is the draw here, though, thanks to handcrafted spirits with local ingredients.
“We started our distillery with the sobering knowledge that whisky takes time to produce,” Head Distiller Craig Engelhorn says on the company’s website about the multi-award-winning Straight Malt Whisky. “Rather than cave in to the temptation to source our whisky from another distillery, or force a quick age using small barrels or oak chips, we made an early decision to produce a straight malt whisky of our own, from scratch, using 100% Colorado malted barley as the base.”
Other offerings include the Mountain Bum Rum, Colorado Sambuca and White Dog Moonshine, all of which get mixed into creative cocktails at the Spirit Hound tasting room (take-out food is welcome). Find free distillery tours seven days a week — and maybe a designated driver, too. (spirithounds.com).
Starring the Planet
Planet Bluegrass is, quite simply, an out-of-this-world destination for two legendary music festivals on a 14-acre playground tucked beneath a rim of 75-foot-high red sandstone cliffs along the St. Vrain Creek. Every July, a stellar lineup lands on the Planet to pick bluegrass tunes for the RockyGrass Festival. This year’s main stage performers (marking the 48th year of the twanging tradition) include Béla Fleck, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder and Never Come Down, which is about how attendees feel after a day experiencing the hot licks and hyper tempos at the festival. For a slightly mellower vibe, the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in mid-August has featured such artists as Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird, The Wood Brothers and Gillian Welch, among others. Planet Bluegrass also produces the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June.
But why travel to the far corner of Colorado when you can spend a hot day wading in the creek, cracking open a cold beverage and listen to some of the country’s best live music just up the road? Locals can also wander here for the Wildflower Concert Series every spring and fall, attend the RockyGrass Academy in July, and enroll in August’s Song School staged just before the Folks Festival (bluegrass.com).
2020 Lyons Events
Burning Can Fest at the Lyons Outdoor Games: May 30
Lyons Good Old Days Celebration: June 1
Sandstone Summer Concert Series: Thursdays, June 11 through Aug. 13
RockyGrass: July 24-26
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival: Aug. 7-9
Art at River Bend: Sunday. Aug 23
Halloween Spooktacular: October
Holiday Bazaar: December
Parade of Lights: December
…a mocha at the Stone Cup
…truffle fries at the Lyons Fork
…an Old Fashioned at Spirit Hound Distillers
…elotes at Mojo Taqueria
…a Dale’s Pale Ale at Oskar Blues
…the Hoggin Combo at Smokin’ Daves BBQ
…a New York egg cream at the Lyons Soda Fountain
…Pie at the Colorado Cherry Company
…Coconut milk ice cream at Julie’s Thai Kitchen
…Bread and butter at Bella La Crema
…and biscuits for four-legged friends at the Barking Dog Cafe.