’Tis the season for "twirling hippies." It’s time to camp and hear live music. Or be awesome and do both at the same time.
'Tis the season for "twirling hippies." It's time to camp and hear live music. Or be awesome and do both at the same time. (Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera)

Summer is here. I know because today I experienced the first true ass burn of the season from getting into my new (to me) car with its mercilessly hot black seats.

In winter they were nice. But in the sweaty death-grip of summer, I'm starting to picture serious in-town bike riding in my future.

We did a camping trip last weekend, which was the first with my little 7-month-old daughter. Summer is so nice in the mountains, even a baby can go camping.

What I'm predictably excited about this time of year is the merging of one of my favorite pastimes, camping, with another, more all-encompassing love: music.

That's right, camp-out music festivals are here again.


The obvious first choice, and one of the best out there is Arise, which happens in August in Loveland. If you're into folk and bluegrass music, there is, of course, RockyGrass, Yarmony Grass and the Folk Festival in Lyons.

You could plan for a go-to a festival if you like. In theory I love the mash-up, but one thing I'm not so hot on is dealing with the masses. I prefer a little solitude in my camping experience, but I also love stumbling across good music. If that sounds enticing, I've got the venue for you.

State Bridge is an outdoors performance venue in Bond, Colo., right next to the river. It features a new, huge, beautiful wooden stage — it's an amphitheater located literally in the middle of nowhere. Off the Wolcott (What's a Wolcott?) exit of I-70, it's another 15 miles north to get there.


Once you're there, it's hard not to have a reaction to the spectacle of the place, especially since the scenery up to that point consisted of hills, winding roads and wild sagebrush. Inside the perimeter of the amphitheater is a wonderfully spread-out sandy area with enough room for food and trinket kiosks, beer tents galore and twirling hippies for days.

State Bridge amphitheater has seen a growing lineup of shows and festivals since the stage was installed. The coolest moment for me was discovering that a band I knew was playing right as my wife Erin and I got out of our kayaks after finishing a run down the river last year. Our plan consisted of camping and playing in the river — live music was a total windfall. And maybe that's why the memory is so sweet.

The whole area is great for camping, and we usually go all the way to Radium to camp near the hot spring there. Rancho del Rio is an option as well, especially if you're looking for a true river-rat environment where the beer flows like the water, and the people don't talk about the world outside.

But you don't need to be a camping recluse like me to enjoy both activities. State Bridge has camping areas just above the amphitheater, and caters specifically to the camp-and-music minded.

Shit's about to get real fun, real soon.

Read more Taylor: coloradodaily.com/columnists.