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Why Autumn Is an Amazing Time to Visit Dillon

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by Kerstin10/02/2019 3:02 PM
Updated: 10/02/2019

There’s never a wrong time to visit the scenic mountain town of Dillon in Summit County, Colorado, but fall is particularly stunning. While it’s better known for its lake life in the summer and skiing in the winter, Dillon features plenty to do after Labor Day but before the snow arrives, from hiking to sailing to digging into its local food and beer scene. Another bonus: Visitors will enjoy the relative quiet, as the summer crowds are gone and the ski season hasn’t ramped up yet. Ready for a convenient, relaxing getaway? Here’s just a sampling of what you can do on a memorable fall trip to Dillon.

Take a Hike

Fall is the ideal season for getting outside and enjoying nature in quiet and solitude. Perhaps the mountains have received their first dusting of snow, or maybe it’s 70 degrees—that’s the joy of Colorado. But chances are you’ll have comfortable weather for exploring area trails, which range from easy jaunts you can do with the whole family (check out the Dillon Nature Reserve or the Old Dillon Reservoir) to moderate treks that will make you earn your views (the Oro Grande Loop is a favorite among hikers and, when the weather gets colder, Nordic skiers). No matter which one you choose, you’re almost guaranteed to see some spectacular blue skies.

Get Out on the Water

In Dillon, you get the best of both worlds: the water and the mountains, thanks to Lake Dillon and the Ten Mile and Gore Mountain Ranges in the backdrop. For active types who love to enjoy time on the water, Lake Dillon provides plenty of options well into fall. Learn how to sail at Dillon Marina. Rent a canoe or kayak. Or take your downward dog and other poses to a whole new level with yoga on stand-up paddleboards.

Looking for something a little more relaxing? Several boat tours are still available through September. One recommended favorite is the Women and Wine on the Water, a women’s only outing in which guests bring their favorite bottle of vino and organizers provide tasty appetizers highlighting a different region of the world—an excellent reason to raise a glass to Dillon.

Get Pedaling

The roadies in the group can choose from several ways to explore Dillon on two wheels. One convenient option is the 18-mile bike path that circumnavigates Lake Dillon. With 1,200 feet of climbing, it’s a great way to get the quads pumping while soaking up beautiful views. If you’re looking to bump up the mileage, continue on the path across the dam and grab lunch in Frisco, 13 miles away and 330 rolling feet up. For a longer excursion, you can even make a round trip to Breckenridge—31 miles and 1,600 feet of climbing.

On the knobby side, there are hundreds of miles of trail in Summit County, and Dillon is smack dab in the middle of it all. One local favorite is Cirque du Summit, a 47-mile loop with 3,700 feet of climbing that links Dillon, Breckenridge, Frisco, Silverthorne, and Keystone Resort, with gorgeous fall colors on display throughout the route.

Cast a Fly

The lake hasn’t frozen over yet, so this is your last chance to catch some rainbow trout without having to drill a hole. Better yet, the river below the dam features Gold Medal fishing for brookies and large rainbows.

Grab a Bite

Dillon’s abundant outdoor options can leave intrepid explorers hungry. Luckily, the local food scene delivers, no matter which meal you’re digging into. Start your day with a beloved local breakfast at White Boots Restaurant—its breakfast burritos and chilaquiles are legendary. If it’s more of a grab-a-quick-coffee-and-go kind of day, The Pour House is a great choice, and you can even enjoy a mimosa if you’re in the mood (you’re on vacation, right?).

For dinner, sink your teeth into the absurdly good green chili burger at the funky Arapahoe Café, a Summit County institution that’s brimming with local charm. For pizza, you can’t go wrong with Jersey Boys or Dillon Tavern and Pizza. At the Cala Pub, try the Rueben fritters: a creative take on the classic favorite; the poutine is equally heavenly.

All that snow on top of the mountains brings clear, clean spring water to Colorado. Maybe that’s why it’s become such a well-known hub for some of the world’s best craft beers, and Dillon fits right in. Two solid options are the Dillon Dam or Pug Ryan’s breweries, both beloved for their local brews and laid-back vibe.

With crisp mornings, aspens turning golden, and abundant outdoor offerings, Dillon is just the spot for a fall getaway. If you’ve only visited in the summer and winter before, see for yourself what you’ve been missing.

Written by Shaine Smith for Matcha in partnership with Town of Dillon.