Memorial Day events across Colorado

A color guard marches through downtown Denver to honor America's fallen veterans. | Photo by Jeffrey Beall
A color guard marches through downtown Denver to honor America’s fallen veterans. | Photo by Jeffrey Beall

By Sue Deans

Colorado’s Memorial Day events range from the traditional parades honoring veterans to the Bolder Boulder 10K race, the Junior College baseball tournament in Grand Junction and the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Durango.

The holiday also marks the start of summer with the reopening of the Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park and the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, both of which are buried in snow during the winter.


The Glen Close Memorial Day Parade features American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars members carrying an American flag 30 feet wide and 50 feet long, as well as other marchers, antique cars, etc. It starts at 11:15 a.m. on Memorial Day at the American Legion, 6230 W. 60th Ave., and ends at the VFW Post, 5340 Marshall St., where a lunch is served.


The Bolder Boulder, one of the largest road races in the world with more than 50,000 runners and walkers, is a 10K through the happiest, and certainly one of the most beautiful, cities in America. Registration is still possible on race day, or before that if you want to avoid higher fees. The race starts early on Memorial Day, on 30th Street between Walnut and Arapahoe, on the east side of the Twenty Ninth Street shopping area. The dramatic finish takes runners in past crowds in Folsom Stadium at the University of Colorado, and the citizens’ race is followed by the pro runners and a program in the stadium honoring veterans. A Race Day Expo is set up near the stadium. Runners must register and a fee is charged. Details >>

The Boulder Creek Festival in downtown Boulder goes on Saturday through Monday of Memorial Day weekend, focused on the Civic Center Park between Arapahoe and Canyon, from 9th Street to 14th Street. Organizers invite some 500 vendors, including arts and crafts and community-focused organizations. Entertainment includes music, song and dance on five stages, along with carnival rides, food and beverages, and a rubber duck race on Boulder Creek. Admission is free. Details >>

Things to see and do while you’re in Boulder >>


PaddleFest, called the “kickoff to paddling,” is aimed at those interested in water adventure, especially the kayaking and rafting that draw thousands to Chaffee County’s Buena Vista and the Arkansas River. Participants can try out gear, learn on the water or play on the water in several venues. Music, pro competitions and other activities focus on water education, river competitions, races, demonstrations and other events of interest to all ages. The event, Friday through Monday of Memorial Day weekend, also benefits local nonprofits. Fees are charged for some events. Details >>


The Memorial Day Parade in Commerce City claims to be one of the largest in the country, with more than 150 entries following a two-mile route, beginning at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day. An estimated 10,000 spectators bring their kids and lawn chairs to line the route. The parade begins at 64th Avenue and Olive Street and ends at the intersection of Forest Street and Parkway Drive. Details >>


Grand Olde West Days in Craig, in Northwest Colorado’s Moffat County, will definitely bring back the good old days. A carnival, rodeo events, a barn dance and a street dance, a parade, a draft horse show – not to mention plenty of music, and BBQ fare – provide family fun for all. Events are scheduled Friday through Monday of Memorial Day weekend. Fees will be charged for some events. Details >>

Things to see and do while you’re in Craig >>


Veterans are the focus of the City & County of Denver’s Memorial Day Parade, co-sponsored by the Denver United Veterans Council. It starts at 14th and Court Place at 10 a.m. near Civic Center Park and winds around the downtown area to 14th and Broadway, followed by a Memorial Day tribute in the park in front of the state Capitol. A wreath-laying ceremony before the parade honors fallen heroes from all the wars the United States has taken part in. Bands, floats, drill teams, and military vehicles parade down the streets. The Tribute afterward honors servicemen and women from the past and present. Details >>

The Downtown Denver Arts Festival takes place Friday afternoon through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, at the Denver Performing Arts Complex at Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street. More than 100 artists and artisans, many from Colorado, and a select group of national artists, will exhibit their wares. Free admission. Details >>

Denver Day of Rock, at Skyline Park along Arapahoe Street and other downtown venues, is just what it sounds like, music all day, with some 25 concerts on five different stages. The event on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend benefits Concerts for Kids, a nonprofit that supports dozens of child-focused organizations. Free admission. Details >>

More music, arts, and fun can be found at the Old South Gaylord Memorial Day Weekend Festival, centered in the 1000 block of Gaylord Street between Tennessee and Mississippi streets in the Wash Park area. Vendors of fine art, handmade pottery, jewelry, clothing and other products, along with food and beverages, activities for kids, and live music, will be available Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. Admission is free. Details >>

Water World, a 64-acre water park just north of Denver, usually opens for the season the last weekend of May, weather permitting. Dozens of aquatic attractions are available for all levels of swimmers and non-swimmers, of all ages, including slides, water coasters, wave pools and areas to just relax in the sun or shade. An admission fee is charged. Details >>

Things to see and do while you’re in Denver >>


The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, which includes races from Durango to Silverton and Purgatory in competition with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge train, is held Friday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend as the train begins its summer season. The race, begun in 1972, has become a classic bicycle event in the West. Riders try to get to Silverton before the train beats them there – its route is shorter but its speed is limited. Other events during the weekend include criteriums, circuit races, road races, tours, team trail rides and mountain bike races. Registration fees will be charged for the races. Details >>

Things to see and do while you’re in Durango >>


Antique and art festivals kick off the summer season on Memorial Day weekend in Estes Park. Saturday through Monday, nearly 100 artisans take part in the Bond Park art market downtown. And at the Fairgrounds at Stanley Park, antiques fans will find the Western Heritage Antiques Show, which attracts several thousand people to see jewelry, rare glass, books, furniture and other items. Details >>

Trail Ridge Road, west of Estes Park, the highest continuous paved road in the United States, usually opens by Memorial Day, weather permitting. The stretch of U.S. 34 goes through Rocky Mountain National Park between Estes Park and Grand Lake. The road is closed for the winter and plows usually work feverishly in May to clear many feet of snow. Poles along the road that guide the plows indicate the level the snowpack may reach. The road crosses the Continental Divide and reaches a high point of 12,183 feet. Admission to Rocky Mountain National Park is required to access the road. Details >>

Things to see and do while you’re in Estes Park >>


The Junior College World Series has been played in Grand Junction for more than 50 years, starting on the Friday before Memorial Day and continuing until the Saturday after Memorial Day. Junior college players may not have the scholarships and facilities that big colleges offer but competition is fierce for the championship trophy and gold medals. Jucos from all across the country are represented. The World Series begins on Friday night of Memorial Day weekend with a banquet for players and coaches, as well as local residents and team supporters. Approximately 19 games are played at Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, with the championship on the Saturday after Memorial Day. Admission is charged for the games. Details >>

Things to see and do while you’re in Grand Junction >>


Like Trail Ridge Road, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway and Wilderness also tries to be open by Memorial Day Weekend. The road, also one of the highest paved roads in the country, goes from 8,700 feet at Idaho Springs where it’s accessed from Interstate 70 to 14,240 feet at the summit. Mountain goats and bighorn sheep live alongside “the top of the world,” as locals call it. Details >>

Things to see and do while you’re in Idaho Springs >>


The Mesa Verde Country Indian Arts & Culture Festival on Memorial Day weekend honors the archeological and historical heritage of the Ancestral Puebloan People, as well as others who settled the area as ranchers, miners, farmers and railroaders. Events take place at the national park and in conjunction with the communities of Cortez, Dolores, Mancos and Towaoc. Included are a juried Indian Art Market, Indian dances, a Navajo rug auction, archeological tours and a Native American concert. The setting of cliff dwellings and dramatic land formations is unforgettable. Details >>

Things to see and do while you’re in Mesa Verde National Park >>