Apr. 26: Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive In, Minturn CO

It’s Day 116 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took a little almost three hours to drive down from Fort Collins through the Denver area, across the continental divide in the Eisenhower Tunnel, then on to the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive In in Minturn CO.

Minturn, in the Vail Valley, is a pretty small town, but its Little Beach Park got lit up last summer for the latest outpost of the Austin TX-area Blue Starlite franchise. A long, belated article in The Denver Post described owner Josh Frank’s search for a place in Colorado to show movies and Minturn’s economic development director’s response. “This really fits Minturn’s brand,” said Michelle Metteer, “I mean, our mission statement includes the words ‘funky’ and ‘eclectic’ and we want to stay that way. This just worked perfectly.”

They call this the highest drive-in in America, but as I noted a few days ago, the Comanche in Buena Vista is surprisingly about 100 feet higher. Still, both of these places are elevated enough to remind flatland visitors to drink plenty of water to help fight altitude sickness.

The Colorado Blue Starlite is scheduled to open for its 2017 season on June 22. It should be a lot of fun then, but not now, in April.

Miles Today / Total:  165 / 12672 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 53

Nearby Restaurant: The Sticky Fingers Cafe and Bakery is a lovely little place for breakfast and lunch. I think they named the place after folks who eat the cinnamon hot bun without utensils.

Where I Virtually Stayed: It’s sort of an apartment hotel, but the Hotel Minturn fits the bill of being convenient and nice enough to visit. There’s a kitchenette and coffee in every room, and if you didn’t bring any food to cook, it’s not that hard to find breakfast nearby.

Only in Minturn: About halfway between Minturn and Leadville are the ruins of Camp Hale, the training facility for the 10th Mountain Division in World War II. The camp, which housed 15,000 soldiers at its peak, included mess halls, infirmaries, a ski shop, administrative offices, a movie theater, and stables for livestock. From 1959 to 1965, Tibetan guerrillas were secretly trained at Camp Hale by the CIA. In 1965, Camp Hale was dismantled and the land was deeded to the U.S. Forest Service. Since 1974, the area has become a youth development training center.

Next stop: Echo Drive-In, Roosevelt UT.