Our favorite summer music festivals offer a mix of unique sounds and high adventure.
Mountain Sports Festival
Asheville, North Carolina, May 25—27
VIBE: This three-day gala pairs hippies and Gore-Tex nerds. The main events are a 10K run up 3,800-foot Choctaw Rock, a run-bike-kayak triathlon, a dodgeball tournament, and an SUP course on the French Broad River. By night, the festival grounds turn into one big grassy dance floor.
TUNES: Sanctum Scully, the Fritz, George Porter Jr. and Runnin’ Pardners
DON'T MISS: The Cyclocross Race, held under the lights during Josh Phillips Folk Festival’s Friday night headline set.
BYO: Kid. Between the Keen Kids Duathlon, night hikes along the river and the kid-friendly bouldering wall, they’ll be plenty occupied.
Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival
Croton-on-Hudson, New York, June 16—17
VIBE: Begun in the 1960s by Pete Seeger, this festival has a good combo of folk and bluegrass and an environmental mission—proceeds go to Hudson River conservation.
TUNES: Martin Sexton, Arlo Guthrie, Béla Fleck, Dawes, Deer Tick
DON'T MISS: A jaunt on Haverstraw Bay aboard the sloop Clearwater or the schooner Mystic Whaler. Or just fish for shad from shore with a seine net alongside a naturalist guide.
BYO: Boat. Kayaks and motorboats set up on the shoreline during sets.
Telluride, Colorado, June 21—24
VIBE: Great bands in a spectacular setting, framed by the rugged San Juan Mountains. Tickets go fast—the past two years sold out by December. (Buy tickets for next year this fall.) Try for a campsite in Town Park.
TUNES: Alison Krauss and Union Station, John Fogerty, Joy Kills Sorrow, John Prine
DON'T MISS: Night Grass shows at intimate venues like the New Sheridan Opera House.
BYO: Mountain bike. Work off the beer on the mellow, seven-mile Prospect Trail, just outside town.
High Sierra Festival
Quincy, California, July 5—8
VIBE: A mix of longhairs from the hills, Silicon Valley techies, and San Francisco couples have returned annually since the cozy (capped at 8,000 people) festival began in the '90s. The performers camp with the people, so you never know when you’ll find yourself next to a late-night jam.
TUNES: Ben Harper, Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass
DON'T MISS: The Feather River’s 600-foot waterfall and numerous swimming holes.
BYO: Costume. Creative garb is competitive here; bear suit sightings are common.