From dancing farmers and hand-crafted local bitters to swimming snow geese and mushroom hunts, there are at least 12 reasons to revel in this holiday season in Colorado. Give the gift of a memorable experience in Colorado’s countryside to your true love with these agriculturally inspired 12 days of Christmas.
12 Drinkers Drinking – Colorado has paved the way for craft brewers, distillers and vintners to celebrate high-quality, local ingredients, often producing and controlling all products from grain to glass. From Woody Creek Distillers’ seed to sip potato vodka and Jack Rabbit Hill’s organic and biodynamic wines to Twisted Pine Brewing Company’s Farm to Foam series, Colorado embraces and highlights its local ingredients in its beer, wine and spirits.
11 Bitters Biting – The newly opened Bread Bar in Silver Plume has dual identities: during the week, the historic building that once housed Sopp & Truscott bakery operates as Dram Apothecary, and on the weekends it transforms into a hipster mountain bar. Dram Apothecary is committed to handcrafted teas and bitters using local wild herbs found in the nearby Rocky Mountain terrain.
10 Llamas Leaping – The Golden Fiber Arts Studio offers novices and experts alike a wide selection of fiber arts instructional classes, including traditional quilting, felting, sewing, silk and wool fusion, art quilting, fabric painting and more. The studio offers seasonal workshops and recurring classes year round, as well as classes and camps just for kids.
9 Farmers Dancing – Ring in the holiday season at May Farms’ Annual Christmas at the Farm on Dec. 13 in Byers. Guests will enjoy live Christmas music, dinner and dancing that all kicks off at 5 p.m. and lasts well into the night.
8 Maids a-Milking – During a stay at the Mountain Goat Lodge in Salida, guests can learn how to make their own cheese. The cheese making courses take participants through everything from how to milk a goat to how to make simple cheeses using fresh milk. The two-hour classes include instruction on goat husbandry and a hands-on workshop to make two of the following: chevre, fresh mozzarella, feta, paneer, or Greek-style yogurt.
7 Snow Geese Swimming – Celebrate birds, watchable wildlife and heritage in southeastern Colorado during the 12th Annual High Plains Snow Goose Festival, Feb. 20-23 in Lamar. Attendees can expand their birding knowledge with the many seminars and workshops that are offered, as well as witness the more than 70 bird species during the guided birding tours and bird walks.
6 Chickens Laying – The fourth generation farmers on the 33-acre Dayspring Farm on Colorado’s Western Slope are devoted to sustainable, natural and organic farming practices that result in healthy eggs, meats, body care products and essential oils. Visitors will find truly charming body care items such as rose-infused honey, lavender essential oils, baby bum balm and more.
5 Hand-made Goods – Crestone will feature its local artists and craftsmen during Winterfest Dec. 6 – 8. Wooden toys, special ornaments, handmade soaps, beadwork and antler jewelry, fine fibers and more can be found during the traditional Gift Bazaar at the Crestone Charter School.
4 Mushroom Hunts – Mushroom foraging excursions and experiences are on the rise in Colorado because of its abundant number of species and accessible season of mushrooms and fungi. The state is home to 2,000 to 3,000 varieties of mushrooms, which is the second largest concentration of mushrooms in the U.S. Mycotours offers group themed hunts and individually-tailored mushroom forays with experts who guide foragers to explore Colorado’s varied terrain and fungi offerings.
3 Sandhill Cranes – The Monte Vista Crane Festival, March 7-9, celebrates the San Luis Valley’s oldest visitors, who begin their annual journey from south to north by visiting the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge to energize before their trek. The 20,000 greater sandhill cranes put on a spectacle for the crane watchers who attend the festival, which also features wildlife experts, local naturalists and biologists who host educational workshops.
2 Rainbow Trout – The tail waters of Stagecoach Reservoir and Lake Catamount near Steamboat Springs offer stretches of river that run flush with trout 365 days a year. Visitors can snowshoe, snowbike or snowmobile the short distance to the public stretches of water below Stagecoach Reservoir. Rainbow, brown, brookie, whitefish and Cutthroat trout are known to feed midday during the winter months. No matter how much snow blankets the Yampa Valley, it’s still an angler’s paradise.
And a Chicken Mating on a Lek – Arena Dust Tours in Granada hosts private seasonal lesser prairie-chicken tours during peak mating season (March-May), offering birdwatchers the chance to see an age-old mating ritual. The lesser prairie-chicken has a natural habitat of sandy grassland areas, making southeast Colorado an ideal location, and has been listed as a threatened species since 1973. Arena Dust Tours also offers traditional chuck wagon meals and historic tours of the southeast region of Colorado.