It’s pouring autumn

Linda Wold, of Estes Park, takes a picture Wednesday on Grand Mesa. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that high-county color will be at its peak this weekend in western Colorado.

Photos by DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel— Mesa Community Center and Powderhorn Ski Resort are planning fall color celebrations this weekend.

Now that summer’s oppressive heat has ebbed, the time is ripe to revel in autumn’s offerings.

For years, locals have traveled over Grand Mesa for the annual leaf peeping event dubbed Color Weekend, which will be Saturday and Sunday.

A warmer than normal end of summer means that leaves are just starting to change at lower elevations, even at Powderhorn Ski Resort. However, colors on top of Grand Mesa are estimated to be at their peak this weekend, and the following weekend, Oct. 5, according to the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests.

“The colors on the Western Slope are the best they are anywhere, so people should get out,” said Lee Ann Loupe, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman. “The aspen in their fall colors with the mountains in the backdrop are what Colorado is best known for.”

Visitors to Grand Mesa have a number of reasons to get out of the car.

■ On Sunday, Mesa Community Center, 48973 Ke Road, is hosting its annual turkey dinner from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Meals are $10 for adults; $8 for seniors and youths; and children under 4 eat for free. The event also features an arts and crafts fair.

“It’s so fun to watch a lot of the elderly people who make the trip over the mesa,” Kay Orton said. “You see them up here every single year.”

■ A little further up Colorado Highway 65, Powderhorn Ski Resort is hosting its annual party on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors can look forward to lift rides, live music, and discounts on ski passes and gear. Several vendors will be on site. On Sunday, Powderhorn Race Club hosts is annual Thigunawat 10K trail race and a Team Adventure 3K race, “which is kind of like our ‘Tough Mudder’,” in reference to popular mud-filled obstacle race, Powderhorn spokeswoman Gabrielle Michna said. Registration is available on race day for the events.

“The course is supposed to be a secret,” she said of the adventure race. “I did it last year. It was phenomenal. I couldn’t breathe. We were trekking though a beaver pond, there was a wall of mud. People were shooting you with snow guns.”

Powderhorn typically gets between 2,000 to 4,000 visitors for the annual event, Michna said.

Lift rides are $15 for adults and $8 for children. The resort also will have bungee jumping on a trampoline for $5 for one jump and $30 all day.

Anyone who purchases ski passes during Color Weekend receives a free lift ride, Michna said.

“It’s a great place to enjoy the fall foliage and beat the heat in the valley,” she said of the resort. “We don’t always run the lift in the fall or summer. It’s an hour lift ride up and down. It’s a different activity than the community is used to.”

■ Pop out of your vehicle once again at the Grand Mesa Visitor Center, on top of the mesa. Merchandise in the gift shop will be on sale, said Loren Paulson, Forest Service district recreation manager.

“The Rocky Mountain Nature Association has its close-out sale that a lot of folks plan on,” Paulson said. “That’s sort of an added draw to seeing the colors.”


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