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Jazz Aspen Labor Day: Zac Brown Band’s Jimmy De Martini on this summer’s big stadium tour

Summer stadium tours are the stomping grounds of rock and pop star giants — an increasingly rare breed who can fill these huge outdoor sportsplexes with tens of thousands of fans in dozens of cities. The Zac Brown Band now walks among those platinum-selling, Grammy-winning mammoths of summertime.

Only a handful of acts can pull off a stadium tour these days — this summer, the other major ones in the U.S. were Jay-Z and Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift.

Playing mostly baseball stadiums over the past three months, the Zac Brown Band has spent the summer on one of the season’s biggest and most popular tours. Their “Down the Rabbit Hole” run has the band headlining Safeco Field — home of the Seattle Mariners — on Friday before coming to headline the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience in Snowmass Village on Sunday night.

The Labor Day music festival, with a sell-out crowd of about 10,000 expected Sunday, is actually a smaller gig for the band these days when it mostly plays to crowds two and three times as big.

“I love playing baseball fields,” fiddle player Jimmy De Martini said in a phone interview from Atlanta during a recent tour break. “The atmosphere is amazing and our crowds really get into it when we play outside.”

They’ve set out to smash the perception of stadium shows as impersonal, cookie-cutter affairs. These big stages, De Martini believes, have had a positive effect on the band’s performances, inspiring them to make each night a unique and major event with a freshly crafted set list, surprise covers and new interpretations of their country rock catalog.

“Sometimes when you play amphitheaters, things look the same and feel the same when you go up there night after night,” he said. “But when you’re playing a baseball stadium there’s such a unique culture to each city that they put into the construction and the culture of baseball that you can feel you’re in a different spot every time you get onstage.”

The band last headlined Labor Day here in 2011 — a sellout that capped a major rebound event for Jazz Aspen, doubling the attendance from 2010 and launching its continuing partnership with concert promoter AEG. (The 2018 lineup actually includes all three main stage acts from 2011’s closing Sunday: Zac Brown Band; Fitz and the Tantrums, who play Saturday evening; and Michael Franti, who opens the festival today.) The dramatic mountainscapes surrounding the Jazz Aspen festival grounds in Snowmass Town Park — and the oxygen tanks backstage — made for a memorable experience for De Martini and his bandmates, he said.

“It’s an amazing landscape and great inspiration all around,” he said. “Everybody seems to be in good spirits and happy to be there.”

As musical tastes have splintered in the streaming era, Zac Brown Band is one of the dwindling number of pop acts pulling off a big-tent approach — making a bid to be the country band that non-country fans like, with a reputation for astonishing live show’s that anybody will love.

Ten years on from the band’s 2008 breakout hit, “Chicken Fried,” the Zac Brown Band’s sound is a country music that’s broadly defined and probably would have been called “rock” a generation ago. The Georgia-based, eight-man band ignores the traditional confines of the country label and is unafraid to experiment with the genre, digging into Allman Brothers-styled Southern rock jams and more far-flung territory. The band’s most recent album, “Welcome Home,” released last year, is a largely acoustic and straightforward rootsy record that followed 2015’s “Jekyll and Hyde,” which saw the band experimenting with the sounds of dance, pop and jazz.

De Martini, an Atlanta native, met Brown in 2004 when each of them were making the rounds on the local live music scene. After one gig, the bartender — Wyatt Durette, who has become one of Brown’s songwriting partners, including penning lyrics for “Colder Weather” — put De Martini in touch with Brown. De Martini sat in with Brown at a sports bar the following night, and after this unassuming gig Brown asked De Martini to join what would become Zac Brown Band.

“I knew there was something special the first time I played with Zac,” De Martini recalled.

Bar bands in Atlanta — like most everywhere — rely on cover songs to keep crowds engaged. Brown, for the most part, did not. That signaled to De Martini that Brown was on to something with his sound, his songwriting and his burly, bearded stage charm.

“With your originals, people don’t usually care too much,” he recalled. “The opposite was true of Zac. … I knew it was special. I don’t think I knew it would get quite to this level, because this is a dream come true.”

Ironically, now that the band is at the pinnacle of American pop music, cover songs are a staple of its vaunted live show.

On this summer tour, the band’s eclectic and unexpected choices of covers have drawn fans’ notice and sparked social media buzz. Sets have included inspired arrangements of selections far from Zac Brown Band’s country rock wheelhouse, like the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Living Color’s “Cult of Personality.”

A handful of the stadium shows have also included their spin on the Dave Matthews Band’s “Ants Marching,” with which De Martini has a long personal history. He first made a living in music as the fiddler for the popular early 2000s Georgia-based outfit Dave Matthews Cover Band, playing the Boyd Tinsley parts.

“It’s cool, it’s a full-circle thing,” De Martini said.

When Zac Brown Band first played stadiums years later, it was opening for Dave Matthews. As they’ve returned to those venues this summer for the first time, they’ve honored those old days with “Ants Marching.”

“We were talking about it, like, ‘Remember the last time we played here we played with Dave Matthews Band? Let’s play ‘Ants Marching!'” recalled De Martini.

That spontaneity has been a cornerstone of the cover-heavy summer tour. The band spends an hour or so warming up in the tour bus before they take the stage and working on some surprises for each show.

“Sometimes we’ll have never played a song before and we’ll just run through it two times on the bus and then go play it in front of 20,000 people,” De Martini said. “It’s cool that we can do that.”

You can’t do that with some songs, though, he noted. Perfecting the mini rock opera movements and harmonies of their barn-burning take on Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for instance, required dedicated rehearsal time before the tour kicked off.

Meeting that challenge has impressed fellow musicians on tour. Nahko, the front man for Nahko and Medicine for the People, who opened for Zac Brown Band on three nights of the summer tour, recalled the first time he Brown and band attempt “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“He started playing Queen — anytime somebody starts playing Queen, you’re crossing your fingers that they don’t f— it up,” Nahko recalled this summer with a laugh. “And he slayed it. … That’s when you know a band can really play: when they can do a Queen cover really well.”

Sometimes nearly half the Zac Brown Band’s show is made up of covers, alongside older hits like “Knee Deep” and “Keep Me in Mind,” mixed in with a handful of songs from “Welcome Home” each night like the nostalgic trip to the band’s early days “Roots” and the father-son tearjerker “My Old Man.” They’ve been using the stadium spectacle to ratchet up the poignancy of “My Old Man,” shooting live video of fathers and sons in the crowd and playing it on the jumbo screens at stadiums along with old photos of the band members and their dads.

“It’s pretty emotional,” De Martini said.

The band has tour dates booked through October. After that, De Martini said, they plan to dig into their next album. They’ve already made progress on some songs — grabbing studio time between shows this summer. He is hopeful they’ll get a new record out in 2019.

“We’re definitely in that creative process now,” he said.

atravers@aspentimes.com

Plan your weekend in and around Glenwood Springs, Colorado, 11/3/17

Visit tinyurl.com/postevents to see even more events and list your own.

Margaret Uribe

Friday, 5-7 p.m. Midland Arts Gallery showcases Silt-based pastels artist Margaret Uribe for the month of November. Her work is inspired by Colorado’s beauty. Her hand-carved stoneware tiles will also be available.

Midland Arts Gallery, 101 E. 3rd St., Rifle | Free | 625-3068 | midlandartscompany.com

Holiday Invitational at Carbondale Clay Center

Friday, 6-8 p.m. More than 30 local and national artists will display and sell functional pottery, small ceramic sculptures and jewelry. The show opens this week, but continues through Dec. 22, so you’ve got lots of time to shop.

Carbondale Clay Center, 135 Main St. | Free | 963-2529 | carbondaleclaycenter.org

Ten Thousand Villages Gift Festival

Friday to Sunday Get a jump on your holiday shopping while benefiting craftspeople around the world. This 31st-annual event offers home décor, jewelry, accessories, toys and more, all made by artisans in third-world countries.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1630 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs | Free | 945-6848

Bow Wow Film Festival

Saturday, 6 p.m. Hey dog fans—we know there are a lot of you out there. This Saturday film fest is for you. Celebrate the bond between you and your canine with a series of short, dog-themed films. Beverages and snacks will be available, and your pup is welcome. Proceeds benefit Colorado Animal Rescue.

Third Street Center, 520 S. Third St., Carbondale | $12, $7 children 12 and younger | bowwowfilmfest.com

Line of Totality

Friday, 6-8 p.m. Join the closing reception of this exhibit during First Friday. Chris Hassig’s drawings have taken on an abstract tone and suggest the landscape around us. Metal sculptor Elliot Norquist’s work explores shapes and how they relate to one another. The two exhibit their distinctive art in this Carbondale Arts exhibit. Through Nov. 8.

The Launchpad, 76 S. Fourth St., Carbondale | Free | 963-1680 | carbondalearts.com

PLAN AHEAD

Nikki Boxer

Monday, 7:30 p.m. Thunder River Theatre Company’s Diva Cabaret series continues with Nikki Boxer’s one-woman show, “Colored Lights: A Night of Music and Memories.” Riviera Supper Club and Piano Bar owner Jonathan Gorst will accompany on piano. Each previous show in the series has sold out, so plan ahead!

Thunder River Theatre Company, 67 Promenade, Carbondale | $25-$35 | 963-8200 | thunderrivertheatre.com

Gateway Canyons: The best kept secret in Colorado?

Where in Colorado can you see a one-of-a-kind 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 concept car, take a fast sports car out for a drive, see the canyons from a helicopter, play outdoor laser tag, take a horseback ride amongst spectacular scenery, relax at the spa, mountain bike, hike or learn the history of the area from a Curator of Curiosity?

Most of the guests we spoke to during our visit felt as though they had also just happened to stumble upon this special place. One of the best kept secrets in Colorado, Gateway Canyons Resort is a luxury oasis in the middle-of-nowhere, Colorado.

Surrounded by canyons on all sides, this resort is an interesting blend of New Mexican design style and enchanting vistas mixed with Colorado colors and locale. Created by the founder of the Discovery Channel, this resort has unearthed the history of the area to make it an interesting place to visit.

Gateway Canyons Resort Located in Beautiful Colorado

The drive to Gateway Canyons Resort is spectacular. It is different from the many other beautiful resort and Front Range landscapes. This area south of Grand Junction feels like the middle of nowhere, on a winding road sandwiched between canyons. The area to the north of Gateway Canyons Resort has some of the most vibrant orange and red colors of fall in Colorado. The many rock formations are ancient. During the summer months Gateway Canyons is actually a short hour drive from Moab on a dirt road.

Gateway Canyons Resort Lodging

Gateway Canyons is a beautifully landscaped walking resort. Buildings built in an adobe Santa Fe style are scattered throughout the property. Its design maximizes outdoor living and the spectacular canyon views.

There are several different room types at Gateway Canyons Resort. They are all as beautiful as the exterior of the resort with thought to every detail. Some rooms even boast a private hot tub on the balcony. The casitas are set further back on the property for more privacy, spectacular views and are spacious. The outdoor showers in the casitas are a really lovely touch.

Things to Do at Gateway Canyons Resort

Don’t be fooled into thinking there won’t be much to do at Gateway Canyons Resort just because it is in the middle of nowhere. The resort was created by John Hendricks, the founder of the Discovery Channel. It seems he has designed it to share his interests and story with those who visit.

Gateway Canyons Resort Adventure Center

The Adventure Center is where you can arrange almost any type of group activity that you can imagine: off road touring in UTVs or Jeeps, sport shooting, high tech outdoor laser tag, archery, air tours in the resort helicopter and more.

On our brief visit, we only had time to take advantage of Palisade Ranch horseback riding, which we loved. After speaking to Mandy, the manager at the activities center, we were most disappointed that we didn’t get to try the outdoor laser tag. It does require a minimum of 10 people. Mandy excitedly showed us the high tech equipment while describing the experience as “freaking sweet.”

Gateway Canyons Auto Museum

An auto museum wouldn’t typically be on my to-do list, but without knowing much about it, I did know it was something my husband would love. As we were checking in we browsed around the lobby. A coffee table book immediately grabbed my husband’s attention — “The Performing Art of the American Automobile: The Hendricks Collection on Exhibit at the Gateway Colorado Auto Museum.” The auto museum is John Hendrick’s personal collection on display for resort guests. The highlight is the one-of-a-kind 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 concept car.

Hiking, Biking & Climbing Gateway Canyons Resort

Gateway Canyons offers many different guided hiking, biking and climbing excursions. Or, depending on your ability level you could explore on your own. The morning after a full moon I managed to get out prior to sunrise and hike a trail starting right on the resort property. The sunrise and full moon both at the same time was quite a sight.

Enrichment at Gateway Canyons Resort

It was fascinating to take in a talk from the resort’s Curator of Curiosity, Zebulon Miracle. He is a wealth of information about the area. The oldest rock layer on the resort’s signature landmark, “The Palisade” is 290 million years old. People lived in the area 1,200 years ago. One of the West’s most famous outlaws may have committed one of his first bank robberies in the area. As fascinating as Zebulon’s talk was, I can only imagine what a treat it would be to take one of his excursions.

Gateway Canyons Resort Spa

Our visit was a short one so we did not take time to experience a luxurious spa service ourselves. All of the treatments sound wonderful. We did manage to find time to enjoy the state-of-the-art steam room, sauna and outdoor spa all of which are accessible to all resort guests at no additional charge. It was the perfect way to relax after any of the active adventures the resort offers.

Driven Experience

For the car lover, Gateway Canyons offers a fleet of luxury and sports cars available for rent. You can rent a Porche 911, Bentley Continental, Tesla Roadster and explore the windy mountain roads in a fast sports car.

Truly anyone would be hard pressed not to enjoy this oasis in the middle of beautiful Colorado. John Hendricks has managed to create luxury and every possible attention to detail in a magical place in the American West that otherwise people would never think or know to visit. I am very glad to know that most of the property acreage is under a conservation easement and that the resort is committed to energy conservation, protecting scenic landscapes and critical wildlife habitats.

For those who haven’t yet made Thanksgiving plans, it could be the perfect time to check out the resort. The chef is offering a special Thanksgiving dinner and there is a schedule full of special events available including a wine tour and complimentary excursions with Curator of Curiosity, Zebulon Miracle.

Liana Moore is Chief Mama Blogger at Insider Families and marketing director at Antlers at Vail. She can be reached at www.insiderfamilies.com, www.facebook.com/InsiderFamilies or liana@insiderfamilies.com.

Take a virtual look inside Garfield County historical societies

Western history is filled with lessons: The people involved in Western expansion were determined and tenacious. We can also learn from the Native Americans who were removed. Those lessons come not only in relationship to their removal by white settlers, but also in the Native Americans’ relationship to the land.

“A lot of people think of history and think of being trapped in a classroom. But to me, history is the story of people.”

Mt. Sopris Historical Society Executive Director Beth White is passionate about the history her organization preserves, and she’s in good company. Societies throughout the county share the area’s stories, and they often turn to one another for insight and encouragement.

“Our present is informed by the past and our future has yet to be authored,” White said.

Seven county historical societies stand to benefit financially if ballot measure 1A is passed on Nov. 7. Take a look at the work each offers.

Related story: Tax is considered the last chance for some historical societies

Glenwood Springs Historical Society and Frontier Museum

1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs (Frontier Museum) and 732 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs (Doc Holliday Museum) | $10, both museums; separately, $7 adults; $5 seniors; free for children 12 and younger and society members | Frontier Museum Mon., Thurs.-Sat., 1-4 p.m.; Doc Holliday Museum daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. | 945-4448 | glenwoodhistory.com

It began life as the home of Dr. and Mrs. Marshall Dean, but today it houses artifacts of Glenwood Springs’ history. The Frontier Museum, located just blocks from the downtown business core, invites guests to walk through the past. The home is filled with items that belonged to its former owners that show how they lived. But walk through the two-story home and you’ll learn about the city’s infamous residents — Kid Curry and Doc Holliday, among others — and its most prominent landmarks. A display tells of the Utes who originally inhabited the land, and photos in another area show Hanging Lake long before it was an Instagram favorite.

The historical society has long sought space outside this building, and its prayers were partly answered with the August opening of the Doc Holliday Museum. The satellite museum is the society’s first, and is located in the basement of Bullock’s in downtown Glenwood Springs. It includes items related to gunslinger Holliday and his era, with a number of firearms of the varieties he owned.

In addition to the two museums, the society hosts annual Ghost Walks to Doc Holliday’s grave. Volunteers dress in character as some of the town’s notorious past residents and share their stories.

Glenwood Railroad Museum

413 Seventh St., Glenwood Springs | $2; children 12 and younger free | Fri.-Mon., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | 945-7044 | glenwoodrailroadmuseumbulletins.org

The race was on. Colorado Midland Railway and the Denver and Rio Grande railroads were determined to make their way to Glenwood Springs, and each company was determined to be first. Crossing the Continental Divide by train was an expensive, difficult endeavor, but on Oct. 5, 1887, Denver and Rio Grande Railroad saw its first train arrive in town, 68 days ahead of Midland. Glenwood was set to boom.

The collection at Glenwood Railroad Museum recounts this and other area railroad history. The artifacts, gathered in the Ladies’ Waiting Room of what is now the Amtrak station, offer insight into the trains’ effect on the city, the passenger experience and more. A model of Glenwood Canyon takes the transportation history beyond the railway and into automobiles; the model showed how the four-lane I-70 would progress through the canyon upon its completion in the 1980s.

Grand Valley Historical Society

7201 County Road 300, Battlement Mesa | 285-9114 | facebook.com/grandvalleyhistoricalsocietyparachuteco

Lee Hayward attended classes in the Battlement Mesa School House. Judith Hayward came west much later, relocating from Atlanta to Parachute in the early 1980s. But when she met and married Lee, his story became part of her own.

She founded the Grand Valley Historical Society in 1999, motivated by a friend and the memory of her husband, who died a year earlier. The society received the schoolhouse building in 2000, and it now serves as a hub for the organization’s activities.

“My husband just instilled the love of the history here,” Hayward said. “I would hear him tell the stories over and over and over. Nobody got bored.”

Individuals and organizations rent the schoolhouse for events, and it’s the meeting place for the Grand Valley Sew and Sew Quilters, who also host an annual show. The society has also collected history of many of the area’s families, organized in manila folders in the building’s small office space. Oral histories are also part of the organization’s collection. Recording them was one of the society’s earliest acts, thanks to Jimm Seaney, the man who convinced Hayward to launch the group.

The society has also hosted a cemetery walk, in which locals portray some of the area’s early residents and share their history. Quarterly meetings include local and Colorado history programs. An adjacent cabin, donated by the Williams company, offers visitors a glimpse at the way past residents lived.

“We have been lucky. The other historical societies are the ones that are really struggling, some of them more than others,” Hayward said.

Mt. Sopris Historical Society

499 Weant Blvd., Carbondale | 781-632-3326 | mtsoprishistoricalsociety.com

If you’ve spent any time in Carbondale, you’ve likely passed the properties Mt. Sopris Historical Society stewards. But you’re just as likely to have overlooked these historical assets.

Slow down as you cruise along Colorado 133 and you’ll spot the historic jailhouse and log cabin at the corner of Weant Boulevard. Cross the highway and you’ll find the Thompson House Museum tucked into a residential area. Each of these properties tell stories of early Carbondale.

The house isn’t currently open regular hours because of ongoing renovations, but it remains a repository of history. The Thompson family was among the town’s earliest homesteaders, and the items inside are all original to the house and its inhabitants — a rare distinction in house museums. Myron Thompson, for whom Thompson Divide was named, built the home for his daughter Hattie and her second husband, Oscar, in the 1880s. Land along 133 and the Crystal River belonged to the family, which built its wealth through agriculture.

“It’s a time travel in a domestic setting, going back to 1880s up to 1962,” White said.

The historical society uses this and the other two properties it manages as informal learning environments. The log cabin includes a number of artifacts and information about Carbondale’s development, and the adjacent jailhouse houses a resident artist and small programs throughout the year.

New Castle Historical Society

New Castle’s museum is open by appointment only, and the appropriate phone numbers are available from the town and the library. Learn more about the town’s historic assets at newcastlecolorado.org.

“Things without stories are meaningless.”

That’s a phrase LaRue Wentz has encountered many times, and it rings true. Wentz is president of the New Castle Historical Society, an organization she’s been involved with, to varying degrees, for two decades. The society runs the town’s museum on a by-appointment basis. That’s a bit of a misstatement, really; Wentz lives within walking distance of the museum, which is housed in the old town hall and fire station. The building was constructed in 1893 and served as the town’s council chambers for more than 90 years.

Now it’s filled with artifacts, both from the town’s history and from the years in which New Castle formed.

“We’ve been searching for the stories in the museum,” Wentz said. “It’s really fun to go through boxes and see what we have.”

Among those items are paraphernalia from the Clinetop sisters. They were dance hall girls in Leadville who later moved to New Castle; the Clinetop trails are named for them. The museum includes their stockings with hand-embroidered flowers and other costuming.

Although it’s open on a limited basis, the museum remains a popular place for school field trips. Wentz hopes to see interest from schools and individuals continue to rise.

Rifle Heritage Center

Fourth Street and East Avenue, Rifle | 625-4862 | Search Rifle Heritage Center on Facebook

Step into the Rifle Heritage Center and you may be met by a willing tour guide. That’s common of the area’s historical society museums, and if you’re lucky, your guide may be able to share his or her personal recollections of the area’s history, as well.

The society’s museum is two stories and many rooms filled with the area’s history. You’ll stroll through a replica general store, where shelves overflow with products you would have seen in decades gone by. Continue to stroll through the building and take in a number of American flags; can you tell how many stars are in each?

Each of the building’s rooms explores a different aspect of the city’s history, and artifacts from early residents are plentiful. You’ll see Dr. Roy O. Smith’s dentist chair, for example, and uniforms of military men who fought in battles as early as World War I. Another room includes farm implements (did you know how many types of barbed wire exist?). Younger visitors may be especially surprised by a collection of earlier communication devices.

The museum closes each year as temperatures drop, as the building is not heated.

Silt Historical Park

707 Orchard Ave., Silt | Tues.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. | 945-5337 | silthistoricalpark.net

The experience begins as soon as you set foot onto Silt Historical Park’s grounds. A railroad car greets visitors, a reminder of the area’s past as a railroad watering town. The collection of buildings comprising the park house a variety of artifacts from years gone by, and volunteers are often available to guide guests through history.

Tom Cochran began volunteering this summer, and said he’s long had a love of history passed down from his father. Some of the older tools on the property are familiar from when he was a child in the 1950s — “not that they were in use then, but they were around the farm,” he said.

The buildings are arranged as though they’re part of a mining town at the turn of the 20th century. An old schoolhouse was relocated from the area that is now the Rifle Gap Reservoir, and it hosts lectures and other events. Nearby, a blacksmith shop offers space for live demonstrations of the craft. A homesteader’s house allows a look at home life in 1914.

Trail Talk: Crystal Mill an all-day adventure worth taking

What’s your favorite trail? Tell us where you like to hike, bike, run, ski or snowboard at tinyurl.com/pitrailtalk.

 

THE EXPERIENCE

When I told photo editor and hiking guru Chelsea Self that I was going to do the hike to Crystal Mill, her response scared me. “I nearly died on that trail,” she said.

It is eight miles to 10 miles (depending where you park) roundtrip of steep uphill, downhill, then uphill again. But it’s absolutely beautiful.

Each turn brings a more breathtaking view than the one before it. There are areas where you get a vast, panoramic view of mountains and endless trees — which are hopefully still in peak this weekend. There’s Lizard Lake, which looks like green glass. There’s the rushing Crystal River. And then, there’s the mill. My hiking partner and I were so excited to see that structure and rest our aching legs.

The hike took up most of our day so I recommend going with a good friend who can take in the views and match your pace pretty well (Thanks for going with me, Sam!)

THE MILL

The mill looks like something straight off a postcard or a Thomas Kinkade painting. Constructed in 1893, the mill powered an air compressor which then powered drills for mining. It sits precariously atop giant rock with mountains in the background and aspens surrounding it.

DON’T CHEAT

OK, OK, it’s not cheating because you still get beautiful views whether you four-wheel or Jeep it the whole way, but something about reaching the mill on your own two feet is so rewarding. Those other options do exist, though, for outdoor lovers of all interests.

REPLENISH

You’re in Marble, so you gotta go to Slow Groovin’ BBQ (slowgroovinbbq.com). Like the leaves, it’s got a limited season, so visit before Oct. 31. It’ll reopen May 1.

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Trail Talk: Mushroom Rock offers a fast, intense workout

What’s your favorite trail? Tell us where you like to hike, bike, run, ski or snowboard at tinyurl.com/pitrailtalk.

The experience

It doesn’t sound so tough. One mile, give or take, round trip? I’ve got this.

That’s what I think each time I approach Mushroom Rock, part of the Red Hill Recreation Area adjacent to Carbondale. Then I get out of the car and begin the hike.

Part of Mushroom Rock’s charm is, indeed, that it’s a quick out-and-back hike, sure to make you break a sweat and feel you’ve done some work. The length is deceptive; if you’re not breathing heavily by the time you reach the pinnacle, I want your trainer’s number.

But that’s half the charm. This is a great exercise hike that can fit into a lunch hour or the beginning or end of your day.

The other half? The scenery.

Regardless of whether you scramble onto the trail’s namesake rock, the summit offers a sweeping view of Carbondale and its surrounding ranchland. It’s the perfect place to pause, reflect and down a liter of water before you begin the quick descent to your waiting car.

Hot spot

Reward yourself post-hike with your favorite food or beverage. Downtown Carbondale is a short drive away, with plenty of places to linger after you’ve squeezed in the day’s workout. Park on Main Street and wander till you find culinary delight, whether that’s organic juice (Tonic Juicery), local beer (Batch and Carbondale Beerworks) or a sit-down dinner (so many choices!).

Keep going

If you’d rather keep your feet in the dirt rather than your butt in the seat, continue to explore the recreation area. It’s popular for hiking and mountain biking alike, with a series of short, connecting trails to choose from. A handful of them close for the winter, so if you’d like to check out Elk Traverse, Northside Loop, Outer Loop or Sage Loop trails, plan accordingly.

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