Nestled just 20 minutes northwest of Boulder, Colo. is the outdoorsy, wholesome and gritty town of Lyons. With its annual Outdoor Games in the summer, beer festivals and Oskar Blues Brewery as mainstays, it's not difficult to see why Lyons is a favorite stop on the way to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.
And, for music lovers, Lyons doesn't fall short either. RockyGrass, of Planet Bluegrass, is an annual three-day festival in the summer (typically held in late July) when pickers from all over the country some together to play for Lyons locals and all who will travel there to see them.
The Planet Bluegrass stage in Lyons — Photo courtesy of Hope Gately
Truly an experience, there is no seating assigned at RockyGrass. Instead, people line up early in the morning with tarps, chairs and blankets, ready to snag their seats when the gates open. Most locals ride their bikes to the beautiful Planet Bluegrass property, through which flows the St. Vrain River.
A massive, wooded stage towers above a large field, where attendees can sit, dance, eat and enjoy. As the artists play throughout the day, festival goers splash and children frolic in the river to cool down from the heat. At sunset, the scenery truly speaks for itself. The mesas and monolith rock of Lyons provide the perfect backdrop for the lighted stage.
Sunset over RockyGrass — Photo courtesy of Hope Gately
Some famous bluegrass musicians who have graced the RockyGrass stage include Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers, The SteelDrivers, Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss and Union Station and Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby, as well as a slew of lesser-known but no less talented artists.
In addition to music and the beautiful outdoor venue, RockyGrass also offers food from local restaurants, beer from local breweries and a kids' area where face painting and crafts take place so that you and the entire family stay fed and entertained all day long.
Also, in the spirit of true bang dueling, there is a separate stage where artists pick and "compete" against one another while acts are playing on the main stage. Attendees are encouraged to watch and clap along.
Campgrounds are available on the Planet Bluegrass property, and you'll often find campers sitting amidst their tents, picking and singing late into the evening.
As RockyGrass grows in exposure and popularity, expect three-day passes to go fast. Look for tickets as early as October. Visit BlueGrass.com for more info.
Oh, and while you're adventuring around the quaint town of Lyons, be sure to stop into Fork for a delicious breakfast, mountain bike the epic Picture Rock Trail or head to Hall Ranch for some of the best mountain biking in the country.