Rock on the Rocks....Up from the Ashes, State Bridge is Reborn
By Andy Kennedy
At first glace, the new State Bridge looks like a mirage. Deep red rock formations surround a bright green, tiered, grass amphitheater; it’s an out-of-place lushness in a high tundra desert. Tipis and yurts bring the mirage to life, as if this oasis were an ancient desert stop along the Nile.
Yet this place is oh-so familiar. To the left, the Colorado River winds through a canyon, along the Trough Road that extends from Colorado 131 to Kremmling, where boaters make laps daily to enjoy this region’s gifts.
This is the new State Bridge. A family friendly resort has sprung up where a 2007 fire left a black hole at the former concert and camping venue. Owner Doug Moog purchased the location in 2009, and on Memorial Day this year, a Travel Near destination was born after a season of harsh weather, a small construction team’s blood and sweat, an army of volunteerism, the trials of passing inspections, and of course Moog’s substantial financial stake.
State Bridge is now complete with a huge rock and metal stage – a miniature version of the Red Rocks Amphitheater stage - for an intimate 500-seat audience. But this destination isn’t just for music and camping anymore.
“I envision a place where visitors want to stay for a week with their families, and we want to host their weddings, reunions and corporate events,” says Audrey McCrae, who along with her husband, Matt, and longtime event promoter Scott Stoughton, transformed the mirage into reality.
The team renovated six heated cabins, home-styled 10 yurts, added three Native American tipis, and created an arena that is universally designed for everyone – families with small kids, visitors with disabilities, or a leather-clad pack of bikers. Yet that old State Bridge feeling is still alive.
Within 15 minutes of State Bridge are river and resort activities including paddleboarding, rafting, kayaking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, golfing, cycling, jeep tours, hunting and a brand new zip line over the canyon. Yet the restored property feels like its own little hidden paradise. With a general store and breakfast, lunch and dinner, there’s really no reason to leave.
The activities and renovations are reason enough to take a peek at the new State Bridge, but the music is why people keep coming back. The 2011 calendar has already packed a punch: Reggae on the River with Stephen Marley, Toots and the Maytals, the annual Yarmony Grass Weekend, and headliners like Leftover Salmon, Motet, Karl Denson, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, North Mississippi Allstars and The Wailers. The summer still holds Dark Star Orchestra, Bill Kreutzman of the Grateful Dead and more. They’re only getting warmed up.