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Green Mountain Falls

Almost on the Map

Nestled in a valley up Ute Pass, west of Colorado Springs, the little resort town is undergoing a revitalization that includes upscale restaurants, the reopening of a historic lodge, and fun festivals any town would envy.

Mayor Lorrie Worthey, young and energetic, dreams of big things for her little burg, which grows from 800 permanent residents to double that size each summer.

“I can’t help but thinking we’re on the verge of being almost on the map,” she says, laughing. “People are starting to know about us.”

Worthey worries that too few people have seen the falls after which the town is named. “It’s a short but steep climb. I’d like to see Jeeps taking visitors up there someday.”

The town is justifiably proud of its annual Green Box Arts Festival, which includes dance, music, painting, photography and cooking classes. This year, there is an installation from Montreal’s 21 Swings – except there’s only room for 12 swings here. People sit in the swings, which chime different notes according to how high the swingers go. This year’s event will also feature a performance by the American Ballet Theatre of New York.

Summer also brings the annual Thin Air Car show, with everything from antiques to classic and collectible cars, on July 20-21. And the first Saturday in August, catch the 75th annual Bronc Day rodeo, with a pancake breakfast and parade.

Summer guests frequent the cabins, cottages and other rentals, and the 1889 Outlook Lodge reopened in 2012 with both single rooms and family suites. The Little Beaver Inn at the Outlook Lodge, with five additional rooms and a hot tub, will open this summer. The small but beautifully restored property features Victorian furnishings and American art from the owner’s personal collection.

The town’s signature attraction – a small lake with a gazebo on a center island – continues to be the hub of its everyday activities. The white pinnacled gazebo was built in 1888, originally only accessible by boat. Today, a bridge and boardwalk join it with the shore for fishermen (limit four fish a day), duck- and geese-watchers, and those just seeking a cool breeze.

There’s a public pool, a fun playground by the lake, and lots of hiking trails to keep families entertained.

For many years, The Pantry has been a staple of the local dining scene; locals will urge you to try their biscuits and gravy. But upscale dining also has arrived, with the Mucky Duck restaurant (which has escargots on the lunch menu, for goodness’ sake). Stop by Duckie’s Coffee Shop next door if you just want a cuppa coffee or an ice cream cone.

“People from Colorado Springs come up here all the time to spend the day,” Worthey says. ”They fish in the lake, hike, have lunch. It’s a great day trip with the family.”