Frequently Asked Questions

These are frequently asked questions we've gathered over the years. If you have a question that isn't posted, please email these to:

Camp breakfast (photo Benko Photographics)
Camp breakfast
(photo Benko Photographics)
What does it cost?
Instrument instruction is $600; Kids Camp is $385; mandolin and mandola instrument building classes are $820; guitar building classes are $1050. Classes are sold through our online lottery - open from November 5-14, 2018. A $150 deposit is required to hold your space. The balance is due by April 1, 2019.
How will the Academy be structured?
Each day at the Academy is divided into four sessions that run from 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM. Each morning, you'll be treated to instructor jams. Elective sessions follow, including instrument instruction, mentoring sessions, and song session groups to work on ensemble material, with coaching by instructor teams. After a lunch break, you will have an instrument instruction session followed by an elective session (10-12 electives) to end your day. Some examples of elective topics are: songwriting, harmony vocals, music theory, and specific instrument styles and topics. After a dinner break, there will be evening activities offered including a band scramble, open stage time and campfire jamming.
When are full payments due? Can I get a refund?
Full payments for the Academy are due by April 1, 2019. Your $150 deposit is non-refundable, but your remainder payment is fully refundable before May 1, 2019. There will be no refunds after May 1, 2019.
2007 Academy basses (photo: Russell Bramlett)
Academy bass jam
(photo Benko Photographics)
What about ability levels? Which class should I sign up for?
The Academy offers different levels of instruction for various bluegrass instruments. Please note that there are no beginner classes. Do not sign up for a class if you have never played the instrument! To be considered a novice you must at least be able to strum, pick or bow, as well as change basic chords in time and play simple melodies. Intermediate level participants should be able to play lead and rhythm parts and be comfortable with slow jamming. Advanced level participants are expected to play well with others, be competent at faster rhythms and complex lead parts, and cover material quickly. Classes with only two levels will divide the intermediate students into upper and lower levels. It is usually not a problem to switch levels within your instrument class once the Academy has started. However, you will not be permitted to switch to a different instrument.
Will any meals be served?
During the Academy, we offer two evening BBQs on Monday and Thursday evenings; included in the tuition. Friends and family of participants may attend only if they have purchased a guest pass (see below). Every morning we offer complimentary coffee, tea and muffins to start your day. Additionally, we plan to again have a local vendor on site for those wishing to purchase lunch and snacks.
2016 Guitar class with Bryan Sutton (photo Benko Photographics)
2016 Guitar class with Bryan Sutton
(photo Benko Photographics)
Can I bring friends or family along to the Academy?

Because we have limited space and aim to provide an intimate learning environment for all Academy students, we have to put limits on the number of non-students who are on our property during the RockyGrass Academy.

Guest passes are required for anyone on the property -- ages 13 and over -- who is not enrolled in the Academy. We only sell guest passes to immediate family members of students. Since we limit the total number of guest passes available, each student can purchase a maximum of one guest pass until we are sold out.

Children 12 and under not attending the Academy do not have to purchase a guest pass, but they must be supervised during class hours. Children may attend the evening BBQs, but they must pay for their meal.

Guests and Children must observe the following rules during the Academy:
  1. Guests/Children must share a tent with their student host.
  2. Guests may not bring any additional vehicles on-site.
  3. Guests/Children must avoid the classroom areas during class time.

The Lavern Johnson (Meadow) Park Campground is an excellent alternative for groups or families who are not all attending the Academy. Your Festival camping pass will be valid the entire Academy week through the Festival. Lavern Johnsin (Meadow) Park is easy walking distance the Festival grounds. 

To purchase a guest pass (once you have confirmed your Academy registration), please contact our Academy Administrator -
Song session (photo Benko Photographics)
Learning new tunes in the song sessions
(photo Benko Photographics)
How do I get to the Planet Bluegrass Ranch?
If you are planning to fly into Denver International Airport, you have several options to get from Denver to Lyons. The Denver metro bus system, RTD, stops about 1/2 mile from the Planet Bluegrass Ranch gate. Another private service, the Estes Park Shuttle, makes four daily runs from DIA to Estes Park, dropping you off at the Planet Bluegrass Ranch on the way. The North Denver Airport Shuttle and Superior Shuttle both serve Lyons. For more details, contact these services directly:
  • RTD: 800-366-7433
  • Estes Park Shuttle: 970-586-5151
  • North Denver Airport Shuttle: 303-457-4646
  • Superior Shuttle: 303-399-2812
Can I line-up to gain entry on-site?
Yes. Because Planet Bluegrass is located on a highway and the line has grown in the past few years beyond what can safely be accommodated by the shoulder, vehicles must line-up off-site. As with last year (2018), we expect this lineup will be held at the new Planet Bluegrass Farm. Vehicles may not begin lining up until Sunday, July 21 (opening day of the Academy campground). To give you an idea of the process, check out last year's 2018 vehicle line-up procedure.
What about the Kids Camp?
If you've been thinking about introducing your children to bluegrass, or bringing the family to the Academy this program will provide excellent instruction for ages 7-14. Classes will run at the same time as the Academy. Additional information is available at the Kids Camp page.
Directions to Lyons From DIA:
Check out our interactive map.
Tubing through the campground (photo Benko Photographics)
Tubing through the campground
(photo Benko Photographics)
What accommodations should I expect to find?
Planet Bluegrass offers convenient on-site camping during the RockyGrass Academy and during RockyGrass. Our Ranch is situated on 14 beautiful acres of private property. It's nestled along the St. Vrain River; tucked beneath a rim of 75 foot high red sandstone cliffs. We also have a bathhouse, which offers indoor toilets, sinks and showers.
Can I bring my RV?
Yes, you may bring an RV with you to Academy and the Festival, but vehicles over 21 feet may not park in the on-site campground. In order to protect the natural environment of the Planet Bluegrass Ranch, we will not be allowing any large RVs on-site during any of our events. If you purchase a Lavern Johnson (Meadow) Park RV pass for the festival, you may stay there during the Academy. You will need to purchase a separate RV pass at Lavern Johnson (Meadow) Park or the Planet Bluegrass Farm to park your RV during the Festival.
Lavern Johnsin (Meadow) Park Camping?
We also offer camping at Lavern Johnson (Meadow) Park across the street from our Ranch. This campground is operated by the town of Lyons and there is a fee per night until Sunday at 11am when Planet Bluegrass takes over. If you display a Lavern Johnson (Meadow) Park camping and vehicle pass for the festival, you may stay for the Academy for no additional charge.
Afternoon instrument class (photo Benko Photographics)
Afternoon instrument class
(photo Benko Photographics)
What about other vehicles and tents on site?
You may camp in a tent or vehicle (up to 21 feet) free of charge while attending the Academy in the designated Academy camping area. To stay on-site during the festival you will need to purchase a three-day festival pass with on-site camping privileges. Vehicles require additional passes during the festival, separate from the per-person camping pass. On-site camping was sold through a special random online lottery. You may also choose to purchase an on-site camping pass through the Academy lottery. If you are not staying for the festival you may have your vehicle with you in the camping area or a tent - NOT BOTH. If you choose to have your tent in the camping area, you will be able to park your vehicle on-site in a designated area as space permits. Overflow vehicles must be parked off site.
Can I set up and stay in the same campsite for the Academy and the Festival? What about my vehicle?
Academy campers who have festival and on-site camping passes can set up and stay in the same campsite once the Academy has ended. Buy your festival, camping, and vehicle passes ASAP before they sell out. Camping during the Academy occurs in a designated area on the Festival grounds. If you don't have a vehicle pass for the Festival, you may have either a vehicle or a tent in the camping area - but not both. If you chose to have your tent in the camping area, you may park your car in the designated Academy parking area on the grounds as space permits. You will be required to move your vehicle and campsite on Friday morning by 9:00 am if you do not have festival camping passes. If you are not camping with your vehicle for the festival, you may park it in a secured lot for the weekend.
2007 mandolin class (photo: Laura Klein)
Morning session in the Wildflower
(photo Benko Photographics)
What can I buy in Lyons?
Lyons is a small town where you can get the basics. Within a mile or less from the Ranch gate, you can get to the post office, a health food store, a small grocery, a pharmacy, a half dozen restaurants, several liquor stores, and several coffee shops. Within a two-mile radius you can find a dozen restaurants, several gas stations, two banks, and several antique dealers.
What should I bring with me?
The classrooms are outdoors under shade tents, so bring rain gear and warm clothing as well as shorts, a swimming suit and sunscreen. Also bring picks, rosin, extra strings, watch, audio recorder and plenty of extra batteries, a flashlight, tarp, folding chairs, camera, and snack food.
Are there phones available? Will my cell phone work?
We do not have a pay phone on the Planet Bluegrass Ranch. Pay phones may be found nearby in the town of Lyons. Cell phones users have experienced trouble with reception on the Ranch, though Verizon users tend to have the most success. Service improves once you are a mile or so away or closer to Boulder and Longmont.
How soon can I set up camp and check in for the Academy?
The Academy campground opens mid-day (exact time TBA) on Sunday, July 21, 2019. You may check in and pick up Academy materials from 2:00 PM - 5:30 PM on Sunday and on Monday morning starting at 8:00 AM.
Dobro class (photo Benko Photographics)
Dobro class
(photo Benko Photographics)
What's the weather like?
Usually Colorado is sunny and warm with an occasional afternoon thunderstorm - but not always. The phrase "if you don't like the weather just wait fifteen minutes" is truly appropriate in Colorado. It's good to be prepared for a little rain, wind, and cool evenings. Daytime temperatures usually are in the 80s and 90s and at night you can expect 60s and 70s.
When will instrument building classes begin? What do I need to bring?
The initial class for the Mandolin and Mandola building classes will run from 3:00-5:30pm on Sunday, July 21. The first item of business is to select your instrument kits and receive an overview of the entire building process. Everything will be provided for you, so come on time ready to start! You can set up your camp after class if necessary.
Can I bring my pet?
Sorry, no pets are allowed on site. Call us for a list of local kennels if necessary. Here is a list of some local kennels:
Hotels and other places to stay
There are a number of lodges and motels in the surrounding area, which offer a wide range of accommodations. Visit our lodging page for more information.