Wax your skis for these adrenaline-inspired mountain adventures.
DAY TRIP: KEYSTONE
Short on time but looking for your mountain fix this winter? Keystone’s easy access from Boulder makes it an ideal choice for a quick day trip to the mountains. Nestled just off I-70, Summit County’s largest ski resort boasts more skiable acres than you could ever cover in a day trip– plus 20 lifts, two gondolas, five back bowls and an award-winning terrain park. Whether you’re looking for mellow cruisers or more advanced hike-to terrain, you’ll find it here.
Early Season Turns
Don’t wait too long to dust the mothballs off your winter gear– Keystone opens for the 2015 season on November 6th. Join the party starting at 9 a.m. with DJs, contests, giveaways, and more.
Stop at Inxpot on your way to the gondola, the centrally located cafe is a local’s favorite for morning caffeine fixes (and afternoon beer fixes). Grab a Popeye breakfast burrito to go so you don’t risk missing first chair.
Save Your Legs
Hop on Keystone’s cat for easy access to advanced terrain in back bowls. Reservations aren’t needed, but a wallet is– the trip costs $10 cash.
Make turns under a star-filled sky this winter at the largest night skiing venue in Colorado. Crisp mountain air, shooting stars, you, and the snow– a match made in heaven.
WEEKEND GETAWAY: ASPEN
What happens in Aspen, stays in Aspen, so bring your dancing shoes and pack your snow pants– there are memories waiting to be made. A short four-hour drive from Boulder, Aspen is the perfect weekend getaway. Just far enough off the beaten path known as I-70, crowds are smaller, lift lines are shorter, and four mountains offer something for everyone.
Aspen is known for great parties, and they start at Aspen Highland’s Cloud Nine. The European-inspired, mid-mountain restaurant is not your average lunch spot– they’re known for fondue and raclette, not to mention daytime dance parties. You’re likely to see A-List celebrities here popping bottles of bubbly in the afternoon. Just don’t be surprised if they end up dancing on your table. Tip: Hit it at around 2 p.m. for the peak of the party.
Obligatory Photo Break
You’ve just worked your butt off hiking Highland’s Bowl, now what? Obligatory selfie, obviously. From the top of Lodge Peak lift, hike about 45 minutes to access the bowl. Opinions vary on the best time to hike and ski the bowl–a powder day means you’ll want to get there early–but afternoons on sunny days can be great. Take in the views (they’re worth the hike in itself), make some turns, and head straight to après at the Highlands Alehouse for a beer or three– you’ve earned it.
Live in the Lap of Luxury
Aspen’s premier hotel offers all the luxurious amenities you’d expect, with some pretty amazing ski-focused perks. Forget mints on your pillow, we’re talking first tracks here!
Guests staying at the Limelight can sign up for first tracks every Friday (first come, first serve for up to five guests), getting dibs on freshly groomed corduroy, or even the holy grail of snow– untouched pow. Not a morning person? Try last tracks (sweep the mountain at closing with ski patrol) or inside tracks (cruise the mountain with a mountain pro) instead. Bonus: Start your day off right with expanded continental breakfast. You won’t find junky cereals here (this is Aspen, after all)– homemade granola, smoothies, and frittatas will give you enough fuel to make turns all day.
WINTER VACATION: BANFF
With a little more time to spare, a trip to Canada’s Banff National Park is the ultimate winter getaway. Take a direct two-hour flight from Denver to Calgary, then make the easy–and breathtaking–drive to the park. The town of Banff is situated within the park’s limits and makes a great basecamp to explore the region. Locals love an active, healthy lifestyle but that doesn’t mean you won’t find great food and cocktails.
Stay in a Castle
A stay at the Fairmont banff springs, built in 1888, is as close to living in a castle as most of us will get. Sit on a hillside overlooking town, the high-end hotel takes service as seriously as it does a good spa day. The Willow Streams Spa (rated as No.1 Hotel Spa by Travel + Leisure) has three waterfall treatment whirlpools and a European mineral pool to relax and rejuvenate you after a long day in the mountains.
Powder or Bust
Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise Ski Resorts are all located within the park’s boundary, which means vistas are jaw-dropping. For quick afternoon turns, Mt. Norquay is your best bet– hourly lift tickets start at $43 for two hours. Hop on a shuttle to spend the day at Sunshine Village where you can ski along the Continental Divide from early November through late May, or make turns on Lake Louise’s 4,200 acres of terrain. Hint: Use your Mountain Collective pass at both Sunshine and Lake Louise.
Mix up your ski vacation with a day spent ice climbing on world-renowned ice. Yamnuska Mountain Adventures has all the gear and expertise you’ll need for a solid day (or half-day) of climbing whether you’re in the market for a beginner crag or more serious multi-pitch route.
Mount Engadine Lodge offers the best of a backcountry ski lodge experience without the trouble of having to haul 50-pounds worth of gear in on your back. Accessed via high, winding roads that pass quintessential Canadian Rockies landscapes, the full-service lodge has everything you need to relax – except your favorite TV shows.
Get ready to fill your powder quota for the season. Rent a car and drive west into British Columbia to spend four days at CMH K2 Rotor Lodge where you’ll be served powder for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The terrain is known for being a tree-skiers dream with plenty of pillow lines and no shortage of face shots. Vert is guaranteed, so you don’t waste money on days when weather keeps the heli grounded. Best perk of all– a trip to CMH K2 Rotor lodge means you’re getting a free pair of K2 skis.
FOR THE NON SKIER: GLENWOOD HOT SPRINGS
Apres Without the Ski
Pumping more than three and a half million gallons of mineral rich water out of the earth per day, Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is truly the gift that keeps on giving. If being on a cold mountain all day is not your fancy, then perhaps soaking in the warm, soothing waters are up your alley. Since 1888, Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge is still the most desirable overnight option in town. Aside from being steps from the hot springs, unlimited pool access and a full hot breakfast included are very enticing. To top it all off, the luxurious Spa of the Rockies is also located on the resort grounds. Yes, everything you need for a weekend of theraputic bliss is ready for you at the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool & Lodge.
Nordic Does a Body Good
While Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort might not be on the Epic Pass, this little mountain that could offers some stellar options if you are looking for a break from downhill skiing. Sunlight’s Nordic area offers 29 kilometers of groomed cross country and snowshoe trails. Beginning, intermediate and advanced trails wind their way through a gorgeous high valley called Babbish Gulch, flanked by Sunlight Mountain and the 10,300 foot Williams Peak. Cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals are available at the Sunlight Mountain Ski and Bike Shop, downtown at 309 9th St.
Get Caved In
The Hot Springs Vapor Caves at the Yampah Spa utilizes the hot mineral waters, naturally high in sulphur, nitrate, zinc and potassium and 30 other therapeutic minerals to enhance a World-Class Day Spa with all of the comforts you would expect. Body treatments combined with a steam in the caves or a Natural Geothermal Thermal Mineral Bath have long been a favorite activity for couples and friends visiting Glenwood Springs. The Spa provides the perfect compliment to outdoor recreation any season of the year. YampahSpa.com
Where To Eat – The Pullman
A sophisticated, yet unpretentious farm-to-table venture from chef Mark Fischer hits spot. Fischer, who owns Six89 and Phat Thai in Carbondale, was able to pull off the often-missed feat of creative food and wine parking, while still comfortable and relaxed.
If you don’t take our word for it, Fischer’s new restaurant just landed on Esquire magazine’s 2011 Best New Restaurants in America list. ThePullmanGWS.com
Follow @tomgirlphoto for more winter adventures this season.