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Winter Sports Venues

Published on: December 2nd, 2014

BEAVER CREEK

// skiing & snowboarding

It’s no mystery why Beaver Creek has been voted the best overall skiing in Colorado. This luxury ski resort West of Vail combines a world-class resort experience with the relaxed feel of a mountain village. The resort’s slogan, “not exactly roughing it,” is exemplified by the warm, chocolate chip cookies they pass out daily at 3 p.m.. With mixed terrain to satisfy both beginners and experts, this is a great place to hit the slopes with the whole family. For an exciting free event, check out the World Cup Men’s Downhill Race, the 2014 Birds of Prey, on Beaver Creek Mountain on December 5 at 11 a.m. This exciting downhill ski race features some of the best racers in the world flying down the course at speeds of 80 mph.

Stay: The Ritz-Carlton Club & Residences, the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, The Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas for convenient access to the ski mountain.

Eat: Spruce Saddle Café, Coyote Café

Getting There: Take I-70 west to the Avon exit 167. At the roundabout, continue left (south) under I-70. Continue straight through four more roundabouts until you see the welcome gate for Beaver Creek.

ELDORA

// skiing & snowboarding

Eldora is by far one of the most accessible of Ski Mountains for Boulderites. Located just up Boulder Canyon, many are drawn to Eldora as a way to avoid the traffic of I-70. As one of Colorado’s smaller mountains, Eldora is ideal for families and beginners looking to hone their skills. Since Eldora is such a family friendly resort, much of the focus is on affordable instruction for first-timers. This is a great spot to teach children the ropes on Little Hawk Mountain. That being said, Eldora also offers challenging terrain, like the Corona Bowl. For an affordable day on the slopes, try skate skiing, a popular activity at the well-maintained Nordic Center. Enjoy free music at the Corona Bar almost weekly, as well special prizes and giveaways on retro days, March 14th and 15th.

Stay: Best Western, Sundance Lodge and Café

Eat: Salto Coffeeworks, Kathmanadu

Getting There: Take Canyon Blvd (Hwy 119) up Boulder Canyon to Nederland. Turn left at the roundabout. Continue south on 119 for one mile. Take a right on HWY 130 and follow the signs to Eldora.

CRESTED BUTTE

// skiing & snowboarding

Despite the world-renowned terrain, Crusted Butte boasts a humble, small-town feel reminiscent of the old west. Dubbed the “last great ski town” not only for the superb alpine skiing, but also for the unique small shops and restaurants and friendly locals. A trip to Crested Butte truly feels like a getaway. As an added bonus, it’s not located on I-70—meaning that you’ll avoid highway traffic, as well as crowded slopes. The ski terrain, which encompasses 1500 acres, has been rated best all mountain terrain. CB is known in particular for some steep and extreme terrain that will satisfy those looking for a challenge.
For some affordable family fun, head to Crested Butte’s Nordic Center. Check out the free sledding hill located at the warming house. Bonus: the Nordic Center provides sleds available for check out at no charge. There is also a naturally cooled ice-skating rink in operation from December through March. Public skating is free, and shoe rentals are only five dollars. Don’t feel like skating? Come and watch one of the Crested Butte’s Town League hockey games at the ice rink.

Stay: Purple Mountain Bed and Breakfast, Elk Mountain lodge, Elevation Hotel and Spa.

Eat: The Sunflower, Teocalli Tamale

Getting There: Take Highway 285 south to Fairplay and then poncho Springs, Highway 50 west to Gunnison, then Highway 135 north into Crested Butte.

ASPEN/SNOWMASS

// skiing & snowboarding

Aspen is known as a winter playground for the rich and famous, but many winter activities here are actually quite affordable. Aspen is host to the annual Winter X Games, and admission for spectators is completely free. See the most extreme skiers and snowboarders at this season’s X Games on January 22-25 at the base of Buttermilk mountain. As an added perk, you can even park for free at the Brush Creek Intercept lot and take the free shuttle up to the event.
The Aspen/Snowmass area offers no shortage of skiing terrain for you to practice your own extreme sports. With Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk, there’s something to satisfy every skill level. Once you’re off the mountain, pay a free visit to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, where you can learn about the areas ecosystems, view an indoor trout stream, and meet a golden eagle.

Stay: The Innsbruck, The Gnat, The Limelight Hotel

Eat: Butcher Block Deli, Poppycock’s

Getting There: Take I-70 West to Glenwood Springs, connecting to Highway 82 at exit 116.

BREKENRIDGE

// skiing & snowboarding

As one of the most heavily visited ski resorts in the Western Hemisphere, perennially-popular Breckenridge always has something fun going on. With five peaks and the highest chairlift in North America, it’s easy to see why so many flock to Breckenridge. Originally founded as a mining town, Breckenridge has been voted Best Resort Nightlife in Colorado. The seemingly endless selection of bars, lounges, and nightclubs provide gathering spaces for the diverse clientele of locals and tourists to unwind after a day on the slopes.

If you’re on a budget, ride the free “BreckConnect” gondola for a stunning view of the wildlife habitat area called cucumber gulch. Breckenridge is also host to the Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships. Watch international sculptors create stunning works from 12-foot tall blocks of snow on January 27th-31st outside the River Walk Center.

Stay: Wedgewood Lodge, One Ski Hill Place, A RockResort, Mountain Thunder Lodge

Eat: Amazing Grace, The Hearthstone

Getting There: Take I-70 West to exit 203. Continue South on HWY 9 until you reach Breckenridge.

KEYSTONE

// skiing & snowboarding

Keystone is a great choice for a ski trip, not only for its innovative, award-winning terrain park, but also because of its close proximity to the Front Range. If you like to ride by the light of the moon, Keystone is the destination for you, as it offers more night skiing terrain than any other resort in Colorado. For an unbeatable deal, check out Get to Know Keystone Days, when the resort offers adult lift tickets for only $59.00. The family-friendly event on December 13th and 14th features daily activities for the little ones, as well as free one hour ski & ride school clinics at the top of Dercum Mountain from 11-3 pm.
For a classic winter outing, the scenic horse drawn sleigh rides will take you on a dreamy tour of the village’s mountain scenery. If you’re looking for action, try snow tubing at adventure point— the highest elevation tubing in the world!

Stay: Keystone Lodge and Spa

Eat: Haywood Café, Wolf Rock Steakhouse

Getting There: Take I-70 West to the Silverthorne/Dillon Exit No 205. Turn left (East) onto Highway 6.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

// skiing & snowboarding

With Steamboat’s trademark “Champagne Powder®,” you might think the town would be snobby. Luckily, Steamboat offers some of the best powder in the state as well as relaxed locals and a lively downtown. While ski deals can be difficult to come by at Steamboat, tubing offers a more affordable family-friendly way to enjoy the snow. Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat is a popular tubing spot, as is Saddleback Ranch. For the perfect end to a day outside, visit the Strawberry Hot Springs for a rejuvenating soak in the geothermal mineral waters. The natural pools set in a remote hillside just outside of town provide welcome relief for soar and tired muscles.

Stay: Hotel Bristol, Sheraton Steamboat Resort, The Steamboat Grand

Eat: Mahogany Ridge, Low Country Kitchen

Getting There: Take I-70 West through the Eisenhower tunnel, to Silverthorne Exit 205. Take CO-9 North to Kremmling, then West on US 40 for 53 miles to Steamboat Springs.

LOST LAKE

// snowshow & cross country

Lost Lake is located near Eldora Ski Resort, just outside of the Indian Peaks Wilderness area. This alpine lake is accessed from the Hessie Trailhead, and while the trek is all-uphill, it’s relatively short (2.7 miles round trip). Note that this area is quite popular year round, and parking can be a challenge. Once you’ve completed the trek to Lost Lake, you can try your hand at another one of the area’s trails. Trails are laced throughout, so there’s no shortage of remote areas to explore.

Rent Gear: Eldora Nordic Center, ?303-440-8700

Getting There: From Downtown Nederland, take Highway 72 south for .5 miles to Country Road 130.

BRAINARD LAKE

// snowshoe & cross country

This picturesque recreation area near Ward is one of the most popular for skiing and snowshoeing in the Front Range, and for good reason. Set in a glacially carved valley, the vast peaks of the continental divide loom over the great variety of trails. Various snowshoeing and cross country skiing trails will take you past Brainard Lake to other bodies of water, like Mitchell and Blue Lakes. Entering the recreation area is free, but be aware that due to the high elevation of the road, you must park further away from the access point than you can in the summer months.

Rent Gear: Crystal Ski Shop, Boulder, 303-449-7669

Getting There: From Boulder, follow Highway 119 through Boulder Canyon to Nederland. Go North on Highway 72, and just after Ward take a left onto County Road 102.

CHINN’S LAKE

// snowshoe & cross country

Chinn’s Lake is located just outside of Idaho Springs in the shadow of the continental divide. Despite it’s close proximity to Denver and Boulder, this area remains a relatively uncrowded destination. The Chinn’s Lake trail is moderate, though the last 1.5 miles are extremely steep. Go after fresh snowfall for the most enjoyable snowshoeing/cross country skiing experience.

Rent Gear: Idaho Springs Maison de Ski, 303-567-2044

Getting There: From I-70 West, take exit 238 for Fall River Road. Drive approximately 6 miles and take a left on the dirt road, Rainbow Road. Continue until you see the sign for Chinn’s Lake, to the left.

PEAKS TRAIL

// snowshoe & cross country

Peaks Trail connects Breckenridge to Frisco, so you can start the trail from either town. Many choose to do the trail as an out and back, though others prefer to start in Breckenridge and take the free shuttle from Frisco back to their cars. This trail is not for the faint of heart—if you do choose to do the trail as an out and back, you’re looking at a 16 mile round-trip. Peaks Trail offers varied terrain, including climbs, falls, and narrow sections, but all the hard work is well worth it for the beautiful scenery and epic views.

Rent Gear: In Breckenridge: Alpine Sports, 970-453-8100. In Frisco: Rebel Sports Rentals, 970-668-2759.

Getting There: To start the trail in Frisco: Take I-70 West, to exit 203, go South on Route 9. Take a right on Main Street, and go South (left) on Second Avenue. Until you see the parking lot for Peaks Trail and Rainbow Lake.

BEAR LAKE

// snowshoe & cross country

Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake offers a scenic winter destination for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The lake is sandwiched between the East side of the Continental Divide and Hallett Peak. There are a plethora of trails starting at the lake, from easy strolls to long, strenuous treks. For a short jaunt, many choose to loop around Bear Lake for the views, and to take the trail to nearby Nymph Lake, which boasts a moderate and steady climb. This is a relatively easy trek that most skill levels should find achievable due to the manageably short length.

Rent Gear: Estes Park Mountain Shop, 970-586-6548.

Getting There: Take Highway 36 to Estes Park, and use the Beaver Meadows entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Turn left onto Bear Lake Road until it dead-ends at the trailhead area.

WOLF CREEK/PAGOSA SPRINGS

// snowmobiling

If you’re looking a true backcountry wilderness snowmobiling experience, Wolf Creek will surpass all of your wildest dreams. This ski area gets more snow than any other mountain in Colorado, making it a winter sports paradise. Guides (through Wolf Creek Snowmobile Tours) are recommended for all snowmobilers, as the trails go deep into the remotest parts of the San Juan Mountains. Guides here are thoroughly trained to provide not only safety, but also unparalleled knowledge of the wild area. Try the Jackson Mountain Valley ride, where you are likely to catch glimpses of the resident elk herd, turkeys, coyotes, or even a mountain Lion.

Rent Snowmobiles: Wolf Creek Snowmobile Tours, 970-731-4141

Getting There: Take US 285 South, turn right on CO 112 West, and turn right onto US 160 W.

SUNLIGHT MTN. to POWDERHORN

// snowmobiling

This guided snowmobiling adventure begins at the Sunlight Mountain Inn and takes you on a backcountry journey through a winter wonderland in the White River National Forest. One draw is the stop at Tri-County Point for breathtaking vistas and photos. Baylor Park provides a wide, undulating meadow of snow for everyone to let loose on the snowmobile. The ride is approximately 30 miles, and takes around 2.5 hours.

Rent Snowmobiles: Sunlight Mountain Resort offers the snowmobiles as well as guided tours, 970-945-7491

Getting There: Take I-70 west to Exit 116. Take Highway 82 South, turn right on 27th Street to Midland Avenue, and take a right on County Road 117.

VAIL PASS

// snowmobiling

This massive recreation area does require an entrance fee, in large part to pay for the maintenance of the routes, the 80 miles of groomed trails, and the backcountry monitoring. Many of the snowmobile routes on the world-renowned terrain are shared with skiers and snowboarders, so extra caution is advised. That shouldn’t deter you from finding plenty of remote backcountry terrain—the selection of snowmobiling trails is extensive. You could easily spend a few days here, with routes suitable for beginners and experts alike. One of the draws for snowmobilers are the powder fields at the top of the continental divide.

Rent Snowmobiles: Vail Snowmobile Rentals, 970-455-4040

Getting There: From Westbound I-70, take exit 190 at Vail Pass.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

// snowmobiling

Steamboat’s trademarked “champagne powder®” is a dream for snowmobilers, who enjoy the area for the large stretches of treeless terrain. While guides aren’t absolutely necessary in many parts of Steamboat, getting a guide can provide an experience tailored to your needs (expert vs. beginner/family friendly). Popular areas for snowmobiling include Rabbit Ear Pass, and the Elk River Valley, where large amounts of powdery snow grace the hills and meadows.

Rent Snowmobiles: Steamboat Snowmobile Tours, 970-879-6500

Getting There:Take I-70 west through the Eisenhower tunnel, to Silverthorne Exit 205. Take CO-9 North to Kremmling, then west on US 40 for 53 miles to Steamboat Springs.

MEEKER

// snowmobiling

Meeker has nearly 180 miles of groomed and un-groomed terrain; challenging snowmobiling trails maintained by the White River Snowmobile Club.
Snowmobiling is a popular winter activity in Meeker, where miles and miles of trails extend into the White River National Forest. Located on the Western Slope North of Glenwood Springs, Meeker offers an uncrowded gateway into the wild. With 78 groomed miles, and 100 un-groomed miles, there is more than enough terrain for endless snowmobiling adventure. Much of the terrain is quite challenging, but most snowmobiling trails are well marked.

Rent Snowmobiles: Glenwood Adventure Company, 970-945-7529

Getting There:Take I-70 West to CO-13 North (exit 90) in Rifle.

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