Silverthorne: Local Summer Escape

Situated at the junction of I-70 and Colorado State Highway 9, the town of Silverthorne is often considered a place to merely pass through. Grab a burrito from Chipotle or a sub from Which Wich and be on your way north to Steamboat Springs, east to Denver or back home to the Vail Valley.

Yet, with nearly 20 restaurants added to its roster in the past couple years, plenty of outdoor adventure opportunities nearby and a burgeoning art scene, this up-and-coming mountain town — one of the fastest-growing incorporated areas in Summit County — is well worth an extended weekend visit. Here’s what to do and where to stay when you go.


Start your time in Silverthorne with an exploration of the local flora, fauna and falls with a 7.1-mile, out-and-back hike to South Willow Creek Falls. This intermediate outing includes wooden bridge crossings, its namesake waterfall and a chance to see patches of columbine, mountain bluebells and other wildflowers heralding spring’s transition to summer. Keep your eye out for moose, which are commonly seen in the area. Just be sure to stay a safe distance away from them — and any other wildlife you encounter.

silverthorne - pad hotel

The Pad Hotel

You’re probably hungry after all those miles, so swing into Kúcu Tequila Bistro ( for some Cactus Fries (made with real cactus!) and a marg. Just don’t ruin your dinner.

A little after 4 p.m., check into your room at The Pad (, the new-in-2022 boutique hostel/hotel combo. Be sure to ask one of the friendly front desk folks about the roster of PADHAPS — community events like yoga, dance and speed dating that happen regularly at the hotel — to see what’s available during your stay. Once you’ve dropped your bags in your room, relax with a dip in the hot tub or wander over to one of the many common areas to take a minute to review work emails or upload those hiking pics to Instagram.

By 6:30 p.m., your stomach will be rumbling, so head across the street to dinner at Eclectic Bar & Grill ( It’s less than a half-mile walk, so skip the car if your legs can handle it. Order their spicy cauliflower appetizer, a perfect pairing to their barnyard burger, which comes with a fried egg.


Yesterday you got a feel for some of Silverthorne’s new additions. Now, it’s time to enjoy one of its old favorites: Red Buffalo Coffee & Tea ( Their wood tables and welcoming atmosphere might entice you to linger, but resist the urge and order that avocado toast (served on locally baked sourdough) or bacon and egg burrito to-go.

Via FerrataArapahoe Basin

Via Ferrata Arapahoe Basin

The 20-ish-minute car trip over to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area ( will fly by as you munch breakfast, sip your latte and blast pump-up music. When you arrive, it’s time to ascend the resort’s via ferrata, a series of iron rungs (used as hand and footholds) permanently bolted into the rock. Choose the full-day tour, and you’ll ascend 1,200 feet to the 13,000-foot summit of Little Lenawee Peak where 360-degree views of the Continental Divide, Lake Dillon and two 14ers (Grays and Torreys) await. As you take in the scenery, enjoy the enlightened state achieved by conquering the highest elevation via ferrata in North America.

Once down, it’s time to eat your way through a progressive dinner at Bluebird Market Hall ( Begin with an old fashioned from Mighty Bar before moving onto shared appetizers from Lucky Bird (go for the fresh farmhouse salad) and Tilford’s Wood-Fired Pizza (where else can you get brussels sprout pizza?) For the main course, tacos from Baja Chimayo or empanadas from Lazo Empanadas? That is the question. Dessert is a scoop of salty Oreo or cookie monster ice cream from Don’t Call me Charlie’s.

Eat on the early side, and you can catch a show at Theatre Silco (, formerly Lake Dillon Theatre Company. The Pad’s bar scene will likely still be hopping when you return after the play, so grab a drink (maybe hand-crafted lavender sage gin + tonic?) and join the fun; after all, you’re not driving home.


Take a step back in time at the House of Vibes Coffee + Curio ( where etiquette manuals are stapled to the wall and a 1970s-era TV welcomes those looking for their morning caffeine fix. After digesting a bit, escape for some restorative me-time with a run along the Blue River Trail or some retail therapy at the Outlets at Silverthorne ( Meanwhile, your partner can take the kids over to Rainbow Park to expend some energy.



Next up, experience Silverthorne’s burgeoning art scene by joining a Sunday Art Stroll (offered on select dates throughout the summer) or taking your crew on a self-guided tour. Don’t miss the Angler Mountain Bridge Mural, found along the Blue River Trail, and the “Water Is Life” mural, created by Lakota artist Danielle SeeWalker along with local high school students, at Rainbow Park. Before heading home, salute the two owl sculptures by Eric Kircher, situated outside the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center. One raptor represents wisdom, the other a soaring spirit, and your weekend trip to Silverthorne is sure to leave you with both.