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Colorado

By Matt Payne, Examiner.com 

One of my favorite parts of living in Colorado is the fall colors that come each September and October. Over the years, I’ve come to note in my mind the best areas to view fall colors around the state, and I thought I’d share my top five areas with you!

1. Dallas Divide

Not only is the Dallas Divide home to some of my favorite mountains to climb, it is also home to some of the most breathtaking areas for fall foliage. Start in the town of Ridgway, which is located south of Montrose. You will see the mighty 14er, Mount Sneffels as you enter Ridgway. Mount Sneffels is one of my favorite mountains to climb. From there, head west on Colorado Highway 62 over the Dallas Divide. You will be afforded incredible, classic views of the Sneffels Wilderness Area and a bounty of color will explode before your eyes from the aspen trees. At Placerville, drive southeast toward Telluride on Colorado Highway 145. From here, you will head towards Lizard Head Pass and see incredible views of Wilson Peak, which I climbed back in July. Did you also know that Wilson Peak is featured on the Coors Beer can?

2. West Elks and Kebler Pass

I’ve not had the chance to visit this area yet, but through my admiration of one of Colorado’s best photographers, Kane Engelbert, I feel like this is one of the best areas for viewing fall colors in the country. To get there, head west out of Crested Butte on Gunnison County Road 12. You will be immediately pleased by the fall colors in this area. The aptly named Ruby Range add contrast and more color as you continue. This would be a great area to stop and hike in. At Colorado Highway 133, you should drive north toward McClure Pass for more incredible colors and opportunities for incredible fall hiking.

3. Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness Area

The Maroon Bells are quite possibly the most photographed mountains in the world, and it is really no wonder as to why. The fall colors, as seen in this area, are quite splendid indeed. I feel that this area needs no further introduction, and examples can be found in the slideshow. According to the Colorado Tourism website, on weekends in September, access to the Maroon Bells is limited to shuttle buses that leave Aspen on a regular basis. But if you reserve a campsite along Maroon Creek Road, you can drive your vehicle all the way to the scenic Maroon Lake. This whole area is incredible – I visited it twice this year, once to backpack to Snowmass Lake, and another time to climb Snowmass Mountain and Hagerman Peak.

4. Cottonwood Pass

The mighty Sawatch Mountain Range is home to several 14ers and 13ers, including some of the best fall colors around. When driving in from the east on Highway 285, the majestic Mount Princeton greets you with huge groves of aspen at its base. Driving up to Cottonwood Pass places you between both Princeton and Mount Yale, another huge 14er. As you pass beneath the 14ers, you’ll find yourself in a valley full of aspen trees ranging from green to gold. Last year, I was able to view all of this from the summit of six 13ers, all in one day!

5. Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway

To reach this superb area, drive south out of the historic town of Georgetown to the summit of 11,699 ft. Guanella Pass. The changing aspen are pretty amazing, especially on the south side of the pass. Turn right on US Highway 285 and take the highway for 15 minutes to the top of Kenosha Pass, where you will be afforded more incredible views of aspen trees near South Park.

By Matt Payne, Examiner.com 

I read far too many stories of beginner and experienced hikers alike getting lost or dying in the mountains. Usually the circumstances are all the same: the hiker was not fully prepared. These guides will give you the basic knowledge to prevent this from happening to you. Staying with the same format, this article will highlight three important tips to hiking in Colorado.

1. Wear layers!

Dressing in multiple layers is very important, regardless of the season. Your clothing should be made of a synthetic material, never cotton. If you’re like me and go for very long hikes, you may start hiking very early in the day and finish in the afternoon. Having a nice warm pair of gloves or mittens and a stocking hat becomes even more important if you’re planning on hiking at higher altitudes, irregardless of the season. Even in July and August, the temperatures above 12,000 ft. can be life-threatening due to the wind chill. Wearing layers and coming prepared can prevent and / or mitigate this.

2. Know your location!

Anyone interested in survival (which should be everyone) should make sure that they have the appropriate maps of where they will be hiking, especially if you are hiking in the wilderness, at high elevations, or far away from a large metropolitan area. My personal preference is to carry a GPS with me that has TOPO! maps loaded on it. I also would highly recommend that you learn how to use a compass and how to apply it to a Topo map.

3. Tell people where you are going to hike at!

It may sound simple, but letting your friends and loved ones know where you are going to be hiking and sticking to that plan is very important in the event that you get lost or injured. If people know where you are at and you do not come home on time, they can properly notify search and rescue teams of your general location. A friend of mine even goes so far as to send those people a full page email on his blood-type, allergies, medications, expected date of return, and search and rescue contact information for where he is hiking in case he does not return when he says he will. These steps will hopefully ensure that if you were to become lost or injured that you will be found and rescued in a timely fashion.

By Mary Glass, Examiner.com 

Local author Charlie Nuttelman has won the 2012 Writers Digest Self-Publishing Award for his book Colorado Adventure Guide (published by Jagged Mountain Publishing), and rightly so. This photo-rich guidebook has over 500 trail descriptions for al fresco explorers looking to enjoy the Colorado wilderness in any or all seasons by foot, bike, ski or snowshoe. The 88 maps along with detailed information about gear and first-hand tips make this book educational and entertaining. The book covers northern Colorado including Golden, Boulder, Mount Evans, RMNP, Summit County, Grand County and more. (The author will hopefully have a guidebook for Southern Colorado in the coming years.) If you’re looking for a great last minute holiday gift for the Colorado outdoor enthusiast, copies of Colorado Adventure Guide can be purchased at selected book stores in northern Colorado.

By Deb Stanley, Examiner.com

Need a trail? Pick one of these! I have them organized first by area – Jefferson County, Douglas County, Boulder County, Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks & James Peak Wilderness, State Parks, Colorado Springs, Pike National Forest, Summit County, Holy Cross Wilderness, Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Northern Colorado, Grand Junction, urban areas and others.

Then I have the hikes in different categories – waterfalls, homesteads, arches, fire lookouts, snowshoes and odd/interesting hikes.

Let’s go!

Jefferson County Open Space & nearby area:

Douglas County:

Boulder County:

Rocky Mountain National Park:

Indian Peaks Wilderness & James Peak Wilderness:

State Parks:

Colorado Springs:

Pike National Forest:

Summit County (incl. Leadville):

Holy Cross Wilderness:

Glenwood Springs area:

Aspen area:

Northern Colorado including Steamboat Springs & Fort Collins:

Southern Colorado, near Silverton:

Grand Junction/Fruita:

Urban trails:

Other areas:

Waterfalls:

Homesteads:

Arches:

Fire lookouts:

Snowshoes:

Odd/Interesting hikes you have to check out:

By Matt Payne, Examiner.com

In my travels, I’ve noticed that many people are unprepared for the rigors and particulars of hiking in Colorado. Having led many backpacking trips at Colvig Silver Camps, I taught the importance of what I call “the big three.”

1. Water!

Make sure you bring enough water for your hike. People often take far too little water on their hikes. I typically bring about 10 oz / mile of hiking. So if you are hiking 10 miles total, 100 oz. should be good. My preference is to bring a 100 oz. Camelbak and keep another 32 oz. Nalgene of Gatorade. If you are planning on hiking for longer distances or over multiple days, it is essential to bring a high-quality water filter. I used to rely on the emergency iodine water tablets, but I’ve learned that they do not properly kill Cryptosporidium, a parasite that can live in the intestine of humans and animals which is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as “Crytpo.” It is also possible to drink too much water, known as water intoxication. As a general rule of thumb, the human body can typically only process about 8 oz. of water every 15 minutes. Additionally, if you are hiking at high altitudes and are not acclimated to that altitude, you will want to drink even more water than normal in order to prevent Acute Mountain Sickness or “AMS.”

2. Sunscreen!

Even in the winter months, the sun’s UV rays are extremely damaging to your skin. These UV rays can result in severe sunburns and possibly skin cancer, otherwise known as melanoma. It is therefore very important to ensure that you are properly applying a high quality sunscreen (SPF 30) at regular intervals during your hike.

3. Raincoat!

It is vitally important to make sure you bring a very nice nylon “shell.” A nice lightweight shell can stop the wind, keep you dry, and keep you warm, or even be used as a shelter during an emergency. Staying dry is one of the most important components to survival in the wilderness. My personal brand preference is North Face, Marmot, or Columbia. I also like to wear a shell that allows for a fleece lining to be zipped into it.

By Deb Stanley, Examiner.com

It may just be one of the best problems to have, how do I find a good hiking trail? Colorado is a beautiful state with breathtaking places, but how do you pick a hike that’s not a dud? Here are some of the best places and hikes to consider:

Rocky Mountain National Park. There aren’t many dud hikes in the park. Mills Lake, Calypso Cascades & Ouzel Falls,  Flattop Mountain, Gem Lake, Bridal Veil Falls,  Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes,  Fern Falls & Fern Lake,  Finch Lake, Mount Ida,Spectacle Lakes, Ypsilon & Chipmunk Lakes, Shelf & Solitude Lakes, Jewel Lake, Timber Lake,  Arch Rocks/The Pool,  Spruce Lake, Alberta Falls, MacGregor Falls.

There are two wilderness areas just south of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Indian Peaks Wilderness and James Peak Wilderness. Both are filled with dozens of trails to scenic lakes and mountain peaks. Two of the easiest hikes to get you started in this area are Lost Lake and Diamond Lake. Or hike to Isabelle Lake, Mitchell/Blue Lakes, Crater Lakes, Forest Lakes,Arapahoe Lakes and Woodland Lake & Skyscraper Reservoir.

Want to try something different, how about hiking to an arch? There’s Harmonica Arch in the Pike National Forest, Royal Arch in Boulder and the Rattlesnake Arches near Grand Juction.

Interested in history? Then don’t miss the chance to see several homesteads from the late 1880’s and early 1900’s. Homestead Meadows is in Larimer County, just about 10 miles south of Estes park. There’s also the Shafthouse hike (a failed reservoir project) in the Pike National Forest.

Want something even more unique? Check out the dinosaur tracks at Dakota Ridge in Golden. There’s a castle at Lair O The Bear that you can see from the trail, especially in the winter when the trees lose their leaves. And there are the castle ruins at Mount Falcon. You can even hike to an old fire lookout tower on Squaw Peak near Evergreen or at Devil’s Head in the Pike National Forest . Or try a “hike” underground by exploring Fulford Cave.

Dreaming of climbing a 14er? One of the best for first timers is actually two peaks, Grays & Torreys.

Traveling to the high country? Don’t miss South Willow Falls in Summit County. Or visit Hells Hole in the Mount Evans Wilderness. In Glenwood Springs, there’s the very popular hike to Hanging Lake or try the trial at the next exit at Grizzly Creek. You can also hike to Doc Holliday’s grave and the Storm King Memorial.

While in town hikes may not be as exciting as mountain hikes, two of the best areas to hike on the front range are the Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks and the Jefferson County Open Space parks in Golden, Morrison and Evergreen. Boulder and JeffCo have informative Web sites with good maps and easy to use information on their trails. Hikers often choose Jefferson County hiking trails because they are so well marked, with easy to find and read signs.

Like waterfalls? Here are my favorite waterfall hikes and my favorite waterfalls to visit with little to no hiking. Here are some waterfall hikes: Bridal Veil Falls (RMNP), Alberta Falls,  Lost Lake (Indian Peaks Wilderness),  Maxwell Falls (Evergreen), Horsetooth Falls (Ft. Collins),Boulder Falls.

County Web sites: Boulder open space trailsJefferson County open space trailsLarimer County parks & open landsDenver parksDouglas County parks & trailsSummit County open space & trailsEl Paso County parks & trails

Federal government Web sites: Rocky Mountain National ParkIndian Peaks WildernessBrainard Lake Recreation AreaArapahoe & Roosevelt National ForestsPike & San Isabel National Forests.

State Web sites: Colorado State Parks Web site

By Deb Stanley, Examiner.com

Driving between Aspen and Leadville on Independence Pass, don’t miss the short hike to scenic Weller Lake. The hike starts at a small, signed parking lot 0.3 miles east of mile marker 49. One end of the parking lot has marked parking spaces, the trailhead is on the other end of the parking lot.

At the Weller Lake sign, walk down a few steps to the bank of the Roaring Fork River. Turn left and follow one of the social trails to a bridge over the river.

Cross the bridge, climb up ten steps and look for a trail split. Turn right. About a quarter mile from the trailhead, you’ll find a sign marking the entrance to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.

It’s around that spot that the switchbacks begin. Switchbacks are back and forth trails that crisscross a mountain, making it easier to gain elevation than going straight up.

Cross another bridge over the Weller Lake outlet stream at 0.43 miles and then it’s just an 8th of a mile to Weller Lake. You can take nice shots of the lake from here, or do some boulder hopping to get a little closer to the shore.

Details: The hike to Weller Lake and back to your car in the parking lot is about 1.25 miles round-trip with 250 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: From Aspen, drive 0.3 miles past the mile marker 49 sign. In 2012, there was a sign before the parking lot letting drivers know Weller Lake was next. The parking lot is paved and has about 10 spaces.

In the area, don’t miss the ghost town of Independence about 5 miles away. Click here for more great hikes in Colorado and throughout the west.


By Jennifer Baldwin, Examiner.com

If you’ve walked down Main Street in Breckenridge, Colorado in the past four years then you’ve walked right by the Welcome Center. A wonderful resource for tourists and locals alike. The staff at the front counter is full of helpful information, and can point you to numerous resources, including maps, brochures, dining guides and more.

Did you stop, though, to look in the back? A museum hides in the building, rarely visited by residents, and is one of Main Street’s true hidden gems.

Once known as the “Bailey Building” during renovation to make it what it is today, construction crews found an old cabin, and walls from the 19th century are now visible and part of the structure – and atmosphere – of the museum.

Providing a general overview of the town’s history, the museum is home to several wonderful collections, including the horseshoes of blacksmith William “Billy” Boyd, the books of “The Ladies of French Street” and pieces from the original railroad into Breckenridge, over Boreas Pass from Como.

The children’s loft on the second floor will keep the little ones busy while you explore dredge boat mining history, the story of the ski resort, and even read about the current-day community. The theater plays several films continuously, including personal interviews and an overview of the cemetery, Valley Brook. Don’t miss the information in the far corner showing the restoration of the Blue River!

Also inside the space is an information counter for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, which is staffed five days a week, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. by knowledgeable representatives in period costume.

You can access the site at 203 S Main Street. The building is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.


By Claudia Carbone, Examiner.com

Lots of restaurants in Colorado boast inspired cuisine, international wine lists and impeccable service. But when you get it all above 10,000 feet in the midst of the magnificent Rocky Mountains, dining out just doesn’t get any better than this.

Whether you ski in for a sit-down lunch or ride a snowcat, gondola or horse-drawn sleigh up for a romantic dinner, you’ll find dining at these mountaintop eateries to be an unforgettable and unique experience and, yes, even an adventure. On-mountain restaurants feed you the most spectacular eye candy in the state. They are the ultimate treat for a holiday vacation or special occasion. Night time is the best time, when fires glow in the fireplace, candles flicker on the table and lights of the resort twinkle far below against a black sky. Plan to spend some bucks and be sure to make reservations well in advance.

Game Creek Club at Vail
www.gamecreekclub.com

Mountain clubs are ski resorts’ answer to golf clubs. At Vail, Game Creek Club is such a place. But non-members can taste the good life – or shall we say the good food – at the club’s Game Creek Restaurant, for dinner at least. In the richly appointed main dining room with upholstered chairs, savor wild game and fresh seafood dishes served with award-winning wines. The restaurant is hidden in Game Creek Bowl. From Lionshead, ride the gondola to Eagle’s Nest from where you’ll be shuttled by snowcat to the glowing lights of the lodge.

The Outpost atop North Peak, Keystone
www.keystoneresort.com

This gastronomic escapade begins with two gondola rides over the slopes of Keystone to The Outpost atop North Peak, the massive timber home of Alpenglow Stube at 11,444 feet. Inside North America’s highest fine dining restaurant, trade your boots for comfy slippers before entering the Swiss-style dining room. Under the eye of Executive Chef Skip McCarthy, award-winning chefs prepare exquisite (and expensive) seven-course prix fixe dinners. Or choose from the a la carte menu of the chefs’ favorite creations. Finish it off with cognac or port in front of a roaring fireplace.

Allred’s at Telluride
www.tellurideskiresort.com/allreds

The timber and stone building housing Allred’s perches on a cliff 1,800 feet above Telluride. To reach it, board the gondola, the historic town’s umbilical cord to chi-chi Mountain Village. As you rise upward on your ride to the midway station, the twinkling lights of the tiny town become distant as the snowy 13,000-foot San Juan Mountains engulf you. Inside, cozy up for the night with small plates and cocktails or enjoy fine dining from the à la carte menu. More than 250 wines from around the world complement the gourmet food.

Zach’s Cabin at Beaver Creek
www.beavercreek.com/zachs-cabin

Zach’s joins Beano’s and Allie’s Cabins at Beaver Creek as elegant yet rustic romantic sleigh-ride dinner destinations. This one is named for Zach Allen, father of Beaver Creek’s first female resident Allie Townsend, for whom Allie’s is named. With vaulted ceilings, a massive stone fireplace and huge windows for dazzling views of the Gore Range, 13,000-square-foot Zach’s is hardly a cabin. But its secluded location in an Aspen grove between Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch give it a cozy cabin feel. Sleighs leave from the Ritz-Carlton for dinner Thursday-Saturday.

Hazie’s at Steamboat
www.steamboat-dining.com/Hazies

The Werner family brought fame to Steamboat with three Werner kids sharing Olympic glory. It is fitting, then, that their mother Hazie is immortalized with a restaurant named in her honor. The alpine bistro sits halfway up Mount Werner in the Thunderhead Lodge. Ride the gondola, watching the twinkling lights of the Yampa Valley grow smaller as you reach the top. The dreamy ambiance temporarily fades walking through the terminal building—until you sit down for dinner. The set-priced Continental meal is as romantic as the ride.



By Deb Stanley, Examiner.com

When you think volcanoes, you probably don’t think Colorado. However, we have a volcano crater in Dotsero, a town on Interstate 70 between Eagle and Glenwood Springs. Dotsero got its name when it was listed as “Dot Zero” as a reference point on survey maps created in the late 1800s.

Dotsero Volcano erupted about 4,000 years ago creating a crater about a half-mile across and 1,300 feet deep, according to the Smithsonian. Over the years, sediment has filled the crater. Now visitors will see a crater that is about 600 feet deep.

Visitors can drive up to the lip of the crater (directions below). Hiking the area will give you a better appreciation for this place.

Park next to the sign for Castle Peak and take a look around. You’re standing at about 7,100 feet in elevation. The bottom of the crater is about 6,800 feet. The top is 7,300. Hikers can trek up the road toward the top of the crater and an old mining structure. You may also want to take a social trail closer to the lip of the crater. Adventurous hikers can pick their way down the slope of the crater to explore the bottom. However, this is not an easy trek and is not recommended for children. Just remember, if you go down, you have to hike back up the steep slope.

At the bottom, hikers will find the remnants of car wrecks and trash. Exploring through the vegetation we found numerous tires, wheels and even a car engine. You may also find a diamond. A BLM geologist told me to look for dark Basalt rocks, crack them open and if there is something sparkling inside, it’s likely a diamond. The only problem with that? Basalt rocks are hard and diamonds are even harder. We think we spotted a rock with two diamond chips, but we left it behind in case you want to look yourself.

When you’re done exploring, return to your vehicle and return the way you came.

Details: Hiking to the top of the crater, to the bottom and back to the parking area is about 1.25 miles with 650 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: From Interstate 70, take exit 133 and turn right on U.S. 6. Go a couple hundred feet and turn right on the frontage road for the highway going east. Just before the entrance to the trailer park, go left around the north side of the trailer park. This road continues east for a short distance, then turns uphill. It’s about 2.3 miles from the highway to the crater. The BLM says to park carefully because work trucks use this road and they need plenty of space.

For more information, call the BLM Colorado River field office at 970-876-9000. For more hikes in the Glenwood Springs area, visit Hanging Lake, Doc Holliday’s graveStorm King Mountain or Grizzly Creek. For more hikes in Colorado and throughout the west, click here.

 

 

 

 


By Billie Frank, Examiner.com

Family dining should be a good experience for all involved. In our family we look for a casual place with good food and a decent kids menu. Favorites of the younger generation include chicken fingers, mac and cheese, pizza and quesadillas. We look for a place where the noise-level is high enough that we don’t have to worry about interfering with people’s dinner enjoyment if we get loud. It’s sometimes challenging going into a new town where you don’t know the ropes. How do you find the places that fit the bill? We did very well in Breckenridge armed with restaurant recommendations from a few locals who knew the dining scene.

By the time we arrived in town our first night it was late, we were all starved and a bit cranky. After choosing the wrong restaurant (it was not on the list of family dining recommendations) we split up. Steve and I ended up at Bubba Gumps, a Cajun restaurant, part of a chain we’d never heard of. Not fans of chains we would have steered clear and missed a good meal. Besides Bubba’s, there are only a few other chains in Breck. The ubiquitous Starbucks, Daylight Donuts, Subway and the popular ice cream chain, Cold Stone Creamery; a refreshing change. We shared peel ‘em and eat ‘em shrimp and a tasty order of ribs. They hit the spot. The kids (that loving nickname encompasses two generations) found Downstairs at Eric’s, a casual place with an arcade. The casual menu offering soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers pizza and more had something for everyone. The adults could enjoy a relaxing drink while the kids played games.

We also tried these recommended places with good results.

Breakfast:

The Blue Moose, serving breakfast all day is a fun choice. Popular with both locals and visitors, they are known for their pancakes, omelets and breakfast burritos. Unless you like washing dishes, bring cash. They don’t take plastic. Open weekdays from 7am to noon and 7am to 1pm Saturdays and Sundays. They are at 540 S. Main St Breckenridge.

Columbine Café is another venue popular with locals. Tucked in the back of a building on Main Street, it is easy to miss if you are not looking for it. They have an extensive breakfast menu, including pancakes, waffles omelets and Eggs Benedict. For warm-weather dining there is a great outdoor patio if you don’t mind waiting. Actually, you have to wait for indoor seating at peak dining times. They also serve lunch. Breakfast is served from 7:00 am to closing (1:30pm), lunch begins at 11am. They are located at 109 S. Main Street (on top of Downstairs at Eric’s).

Daylight Donuts, a locally owned franchise of the 900-store chain is a busy place at breakfast time. The kids ate there twice, we tried on out last day, but there was a 40-minute wait, so we tried a few donuts and their famous sausage rolls. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves in the packed place and it recommended by a few locals. They serve breakfast from 6am to noon and close at 12:30pm. You can find them at 305 N. Main Street.

Lunch and dinner:

The great thing about casual, family restaurants is you can usually rely on them for lunch or dinner (and often breakfast). Often the menu is the same for both meals.

The local outpost of Breckenridge Brewery, a small Colorado chain of brewpubs, is a great choice for lunch or dinner. The children’s menu pleased our two and the adults were able to sample the local micro-brews. Choose from Agave Wheat, Oatmeal Stout, Avalanche Ale and more. The beer experts in the family pronounced it good brew; the guys left with Tee shirts as souvenirs. The pub-style food was good.

Giampietro Pasta and Pizza scored big with the whole family. Everything we tried in this tiny eatery was delicious. From bruschetta (the deal of the day, you can make a meal out of it) to thin crust pizzas to pasta, sandwiches, meat dishes and specials; it’s all good Our daughter-in-law enjoyed the cauliflower soup special so much she went back and had it again. Not only was it tasty, the garnished bowl was lovely to look at. A local told us she buys Giampietro’s  pizza dough (a deal at $3 for a large pizza) and makes her own. The lunch menu is available from 11am to 4pm daily and the dinner menu from 4 to 9:30. The pizza menu and the specials are available all day.

Those same savvy folks who own Giampietro’s also run the popular and packed Empire Burger. Specializing in 100% natural Harris Ranch choice Black Angus beef ground daily, they also offer turkey, buffalo and Boca burgers. The menu offers a selection of starters, sandwiches and salads. Want a late-night snack? Empire is open daily from 11am to 1am.

We had dinner without the rest of the family a few nights.

Mountain Flying Fish offering fresh sushi attracts both locals and visitors. We ran into the one person we had met in Break there. The sushi was delicious. We tried a wide assortment and enjoyed it all. Located on the top floor of 500 South Main Street, they are open daily from 5pm to 10pm.

Mi Casa serves its own take on Mexican food in several large dining rooms overlooking the Blue River. I wasn’t very hungry and ordered the delectable-sounding Avocado Frito, a batter-dipped and fried whole avocado “stuffed” with chicken or spiced shrimp. The avocado was incredible; anything battered and fried pretty much is a slam-dunk. Steve ordered the Chile and Nut Crusted Ruby Trout, he loved it.

Our one big dining regret; we didn’t get to is the Crepes a la Cart stand making lunch, dinner and dessert crepes on the west-side of South Main Street. This popular street-food vendor was busy every time we drove by. There are other places on the list that we didn’t get to either, but there’s always next time.

Author’s note: In some cases The Santa Fe Insider Travel Examiner has been provided with complimentary accommodations, meals, admissions etc. while traveling. This has not influenced this article in any way.

 

 


By Karen Rubin, Examiner.com

“Waltz with the mountain,” Allan Lawrence, my Keystone, Colorado, ski instructor says to me, as he banishes me from the blue-trails to spend an hour on the bunny hill to try to find the rhythm and flow in my skiing that has always eluded me.

The phrase comes to mind, as well, when I think about choreographing our stay. A ski holiday is never easy – there are so many moving parts – and Keystone Mountain Resort offers so much for families, on and off the slopes, that advance planning is key to choreographing your holiday

Keystone is as perfect a destination mountain resort there is – and not just because when we visited this month we had a daily freshening of powder snow and blue-bird skies for which Colorado is duly famous, and the cold dry air make 30 degrees feel like spring.

Few places have the quality of skiing and riding, the depth of family and children’s programs, the range of activities, the high level of service (with a smile!), the superb quality of dining, the variety of accommodations, the value in pricing (not cheap, but value for dollar), logistics of getting around (really important for a ski resort) and the convenience to reach, all bundled together in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable. Resorts excel at one or more, but few excel in all these categories that make for an exceptional visitor experience.

All of this comes home to me on Keystone’s shuttle bus.

Yes, the shuttle bus. It is the evening, and we have just returned from a fabulous day of skiing just in time to get to our massage at the Keystone Lodge & Spa. We call the shuttle bus, and he comes in five minutes so we get to our appointment on time. Then, when we want to return to our lodge in Ski Tip townhomes, the bus is there within minutes again.

That morning, we had a bit of an emergency – to get to the mountain even before the regular shuttle service started in order to get our rentals and get to the KAT Adventure ski tour in time. We called, and though the bus is usually engaged picking up employees, they made a special trip so we could get there on time. Another time, they made a special trip and waited so we could drop something off.

Keystone is really a series of lodging complexes lining the road at the base of its mountain, with a main base at River Run and a secondary base at Mountain House. But you don’t need a car at all. The shuttle bus connects everything like a tidy bow.

Ski holidays are usually a logistical nightmare – getting everybody their rental equipment, getting to lessons and programs, a myriad of activities and reservations on time. Keystone manages to ease this so that after less than a day of getting acclimated (not just to the altitude, but to the layout), you really can settle in to a luxurious vacation.

It’s like the grandest of choreography worthy of a Tony-Award winning Broadway musical or a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers film – and it happens because there is so much you can pre-plan and pre-arrange, and because the resort is designed with all of this in mind.

Keystone has a long and storied history going back to the 1970s, and has been a perennial favorite for Front Range Coloradans – largely because it is so convenient to Denver. Since Vail Resorts acquired Keystone, it has added the upscale amenities and service for which Vail Resorts – Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge, Heavenly and the newest addition, Northstar-at-Tahoe – are justifiably renowned. This has made Keystone tops, in my mind, as a long-haul ski destination.

Keystone affords the absolute best of everything imaginable, from the lessons and children’s camps, to the adult programs, to topnotch guided snow cat skiing adventure (KAT) that takes experts to the pristine powder of the back bowls, to the fact that Keystone is the only major Colorado ski resort to offer night skiing (600 of Keystone’s 3000 skiable acres open, the equivalent of an entire Vermont ski resort open for night skiing!).

And when you have had enough of down hilling or if skiing/riding is not your thing, there is still so much to enjoy at the resort such as adventure tubing, the most fun a family could have speeding madly, uncontrollably down a hill (disco lights and music at night!), a 45-minute scenic tour on a snow cat that takes you from the top of Dercum Mountain into Erickson and Bergman Bowls to the same stunning view of the Continental Divide, Gore Range, Ten Mile Range that the expert skiers get to experience; snowmobiling, snow biking; a world-class spa; two outdoor skating rinks (free skating, skate rentals available), a Nordic ski area, moonlight snowshoeing; a horse drawn sleigh or wagon ride dinner (with entertainment); extraordinary and varied dining experiences (three 4-star restaurants!).

Logistics, Logistics

But logistics are important to me (I’m the designated trip planner in my family; everyone else takes the smooth flow for granted) – and is why, as a long-haul mountain resort, you get so much more out of your trip.

To begin with, Keystone Resort is one of the closest major resorts to Denver International Airport – reached in about 1 1/2 hours (allow two for traffic) off of I-70- and you go through the Eisenhower Tunnel instead of having to go over one of the mountain passes, which can be hairy in a snowstorm.

Colorado Mountain Express, which operates the shuttle service from DIA (and is now owned by Vail Resorts which also owns Keystone), is marvelously efficient and children’s rates make it a reasonable alternative to renting a car for families. This is something to consider since once you arrive at Keystone, you don’t need a car at all because of the superb free shuttle system (actually, all the buses in Summit County are free, so you can even travel to Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge, where the Keystone lift ticket is valid). New this year is free Wi-Fi in the vans, though frankly, the 1 1/2 hour ride is so pleasant – you get to see a herd of buffalo, owned by the city of Denver, just outside the city; keep on the lookout for elk and bighorn sheep, and the historic gold mines and old mining towns like Idaho Springs and Georgetown are really interesting.

But the convenience of reaching Keystone means that you can leave New York at 10 am, be at the mountain by 5, pick up your rental equipment (you can pre-order from rentskis.com, also owned by Vail), and enjoy night skiing until 8 pm (Thursday-Saturday, Sundays until 6, but check the calendar) – actually getting a free half-day, since you don’t pay for rentals after 4 pm. Regardless of whether you ski that first night or not, pick up your rental equipment and lift tickets the night before, if possible.

Here’s another huge benefit that eliminates much of the hassle associated with skiing: if you rent at one of the Keystone shops, you can store the equipment overnight at no charge. They are absolutely terrific in taking it quickly and letting you pick it up quickly the next day.

Keystone has a charming village, with lovely shops, a delightful array of restaurants, cafes – several that have live entertainment and are great for apres-ski – and a general store. Stock up the night before on snacks and breakfast things, so you are ready to go in the morning.

Despite its upscale amenities, the atmosphere at Keystone is comfortable, folksy, unpretentious atmosphere – probably because it gets so many regulars, and of Vail’s Colorado mountain resorts, offers the best value.

Topnotch Skiing

Keystone is home to three magnificent mountain playgrounds—Dercum Mountain, North Peak, and The Outback.  There are more than 3,000 vertical feet and over 3,000 acres of bowls, bumps, glades, steeps and groomers. There’s enough for skiers of every ability. What I love best is that even green trail skiers, and especially blue-trail skiers, have gorgeous, long, cruising runs.

My sons have long ago left me in the proverbial “dust” on the slopes – so while they headed off to a full-day KAT (Keystone Adventure Tour), where a snow cat takes them up to the pristine powder of the back bowls (more on that to follow), I met up with the free Mountain Tour offered by the Ambassadors, absolutely lovely people who take you around the mountain. This is a fabulous thing to do, especially when you are on your own and new to the mountain, and may be a little nervous to try some trails. The Ambassadors take you to where you are comfortable skiing, and give you the confidence you need to try new areas. Thanks to John Koobs and Marci McCleneghan (who has a business as a concierge for destination weddings), I made it to the highest lift-served peak, the Outback at 11,980, and had a really superb tour of Keystone’s blue (intermediate) trails. (Offered twice daily, 10:30 and 1:30 pm).

Keystone also offers a free naturalist tour with a Ranger (Fridays at 11 am).

The next day, while the boys take advantage of a $5 ride on a CAT back up to the back bowls, I polish up my skiing with a private lesson. Private lessons are like taking 3 or 4 group lessons – you really make progress. My goal has always been to get a rhythm and flow to my skiing, to get to that Zen place where you don’t really think about your skiing, you just flow down the mountain. My instructor, Allan Lawrence, basically took me back to the basics – actually spending an hour on the bunny hill helping me undo bad habits and create a foundation for good skiing – and don’t you know, by the end, I accomplished my goal of finding my flow. Alan calls it “waltzing with the mountain.”

Keystone has an outstanding lift system – something that ranks high on my list of what makes a mountain resort. Skiers and non-skiers alike can ride the gondola to the top of Dercum mountain, at 11, 640 feet (named for Keystone’s founder, Max Dercum who died in 2011 at the age of 98) where there is the Adventure Center, snow fort and scenic cat tour.

Dercum Mountain has some of the best green trails (Schoolmarm, Silver Spoon) and easiest blues (Spring Dipper, Frenchman, Paymaster) – names that all are based on the gold mining heritage, as I learn from the Mountain Ambassador. The runs are all long, gorgeous cruisers with breathtaking views of the Gore Range and Lake Dillon below. You don’t have to go all the way down to the bottom – you can cut off to take the Gondola at mid-mountain, or the Montezuma lift, so you have that much more skiing time. And, if you wind up being too tired because you have pushed yourself to ski until the lights come on, or decide to eat dinner or enjoy tubing on the mountain, you can ride down the gondola.

From the top of Dercum, you connect to the Outpost Gondola, one of the best rides in all skiing – as you follow the contours of the two mountain peaks, dipping then rising again, to get to  North Peak, and its 11,660 summit.  When you ride The Outpost Gondola back after dining (two of Keystone’s fabulous restaurants are there, Alpenglow Stube and Der Fondue Chessel), it is absolutely magical – complete quiet and the black of night punctuated by stars and the lights of Breckenridge off in the distance. If you are coming up for dinner, you check in at the Mountain Service Center, located at the base of the River Run Gondola, at least 40 minutes prior to your reservation time to allow for travel time.

Family Programs

Keystone’s family programs are unsurpassed – there are a variety of full-day camps (skiing for 3-14, snowboarding for 7-14), day care and camps for non-skiers from two months to 6 years; Mom, Dad and Me programs, Women’s programs.

One of the most distinctive experiences is coming upon an entire snow fort, big enough to climb on and over – it brings a smile to your face. It is a centerpiece of Kidtopia, a kids festival that is offered during family holiday periods with special activities, but the snow fort is there like this fantastical playground.

Also exceptionally popular is the A-51 terrain park and learning areas.

Interactive Experience

Two years ago, Vail Resorts introduced Epic Mix (www.epicmix.com) – a way of integrating technology with the mountain experience through the lift pass. This year, Epic Mix has been further enhanced with Action Photo – a photographer stands down the mountain and gets you skiing or riding down, then you can see the photos later, post to your Twitter or Facebook page at no charge (there is only a charge if you download a high res photo). You also use Epic Mix to keep track of where you have skied and your vertical feet (one ambassador said he had accumulated 500,000 vertical feet in the first 50 days of the season).

Dining at Keystone

One of the most remarkable aspects of Keystone is how fine the dining is, and how special each of the venues are to create a total experience.

Our first evening together, we enjoy Ski Tip Lodge, which is not just an extraordinarily fine dining restaurant (four-star) with the most charming ambiance of a cozy European inn, but is Keystone’s heritage. This former 1800s stagecoach stop was transformed by Keystone’s founder Max Dercum and remains the quaintest of country bed-and-breakfast inns. It is the oldest running ski lodge in United States.

But the dining experience is legendary and as elegant as can be – a fire in the fireplace, candlelight, and pewter napkin holders. There are two settings each evening for the four-course, prix-fixe meal, and the menu changes frequently

Ski Tip is so extraordinary, it has its own sommelier who gives us a tour of the substantial and creative wine list and, like solving an intricate puzzle, helps us pick just the right bottle to satisfy everyone’s dining choices and tastes.

I start with a soup of butternut squash puree, sweetened with molasses; followed by pan seared diver sea scallop served with caramelized Brussel sprouts, parmiagiano reggiano chip pancetta and lobster cream; a smoky garlic salt grilled Colorado lamb chop (raised locally, the sweetest, thickest, most tender  lamb you will ever have) served with hedgehog mushrooms, charred onion, whipped potatoes and a garlic sauce.

The fellows order a Rosemary Balsamic glazed Muscovy duck breast, served with caramelized salsify, french brie risotta and pistacchio beurre blanc and shallot marinated grilled swordfish and bacon lardons served with roasted cauliflower and golden baby beet cous cous, tossed machine and mushroom fennel cream – we all share each other’s selections.

Dessert selections are only “revealed” at the end of the meal, when you have moved over to the lounge, where a crackling fire is in the fireplace. Utterly incredible: a cobbler of blueberry, cake and ice cream served piping hot from the oven; a coffee cake; a lemon meringue with all sorts of interesting features. (($69/adult, $40 for children’s three-course meal; reservations are a must, call 800-354-4386.)

The next evening, after having a rollicking time adventure tubing, we hop the Outpost Gondola to enjoy another signature Keystone dining experience, the most fun that a family can have eating on a mountaintop: Der Fondue Chessel.

By day, this is the Outpost Lodge, but by night, you think you have been teleported to Bavaria.

The room is decorated with European flags; a roaring fire in the stone fireplace, you look out to the trees and snow-covered mountains, the wait staff are in traditional Alpine dress.

The best part are the strolling musicians – accordion, tuba, two guitars – who sing and yodel and throw in at least one Chicken Dance each evening. It makes for a marvelously festive and fun evening.

The prix-fixe, four-course dinner (expect to stay two hours) starts with a Traditional Swiss Cheese fondue, a  savory blend of Gruyère and Emmentaler Cheeses imported from Switzerland mixed with white wine and kirschwasser. You choose what you would like to swirl in the fondue from a plate of assorted vegetables, bread cubes and crisp apples.

While you wait for the cheese to bubble, you enjoy a classic Caesar salad.

You get to be the cook for the Raclette course. Everyone gets to select two options from meat and seafood selections to grill on tabletop Raclette grills. (A vegetarian option of assorted vegetables, tofu and polenta is available.) Roasted potatoes, assorted dipping sauces, bread and a special plate of Raclette cheese accompany the grilling items.

The regular menu offers chicken breast and natural pork loin as the selections, but you can also substitute or add from a long list – lamb, lobster tail (amazing), beef, shrimp, scallops (at additional cost). The waiter gives us instructions on the best way to prepare.

Everyone becomes a kid again for dessert: a chocolate fondue. You can choose from a Classic Dark Chocolate Fondue, Milk Chocolate Fondue or upgrade to its Signature Flaming Turtle (they add flaming rum) or Oreos and Cream, served with a tray of choices for dipping includes fresh fruit, banana bread, pound cake, marshmallows and wafer cookies.($58 pp; call 800-354-4386 for more information or reservations).

When we leave to take our “chariot” – the Outpost Gondola – we are provided  with blankets.

The ultimate dining experience at Keystone is also on top of North Peak: Alpenglow Stube, which boasts being the highest four-star dining experience in North America, at 11,444 feet. (They claim that Alpenglow Stube would have been a five-star, except they don’t provide valet parking – they are the top of a mountain, after all!).

We get to enjoy the famous Sunday brunch, an utterly elegant repast.  When you arrive, they offer you warm, fuzzy slippers in exchange for your ski boots.

Alpenglow Stube is famous for its Signature Champagne Sunday Brunch, a feast that begins with a complimentary Mimosa and continues with selections of massive oysters, and green lip mussels (so big you have to cut them and impossibly sweet), shrimp and king crab legs from a raw seafood bar, fresh fruit, charcuterie, smoked seafood, salads and cheeses from around the world.

The Champagne brunch also includes your choice of two soups (the cream of chicken masala with an amazing blend of herbs and spices is scrumptious), continues with a choice of  five brunch entrées (I enjoy a spinach and cheese omelet; Eric has the House Cured Canadian Bacon Benedict, prepared with Spinach & Grilled Tomato, Sauce Béarnaise, Red Breakfast Potatoes) and finishes with your choice from a scrumptious dessert buffet.

This gourmet restaurant was named after the optical phenomenon “alpenglow” where a horizontal red glowing band can be seen on the opposite horizon after the sun sets, easiest observed in the mountains. “Stube” is German for “a cozy, comfortable place.”

Executive Chef David Scott is hovering over the buffet and greeting guests with good humor. Chef Scott tells me he was working at the famous Belvedere Room at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, and was about to accept a position at the Four Seasons Maui, when he got a call from Keystone’s Food & Beverage Director to head up the on-mountain dining. He came for a visit, fell in love with Keystone, and has been here ever since. He also is on the faculty of the Culinary School at Keystone.

The restaurant is open daily for lunch (two-course menu is $23.95; three-course is $28.95).

Dinner is even more spectacular – you can choose from a 4-Course, Signature 6-Course or 7-Course Dégustation Menu.

Alpenglow Stube also hosts special events, like “An Evening with the House of Walker,” a whisky-tasting event.(Reservations are a must; call 800-354-4386 or email [email protected]).

One of the reasons Keystone’s dining experiences are out of this world is that Keystone is actually home to a Culinary Institute, and many of the students staff the restaurants and many graduates have gone on to become chefs, each trying to outdo the others. We are the beneficiaries of their competition.

Apres-Ski

On Sunday afternoon, I am determined to ski until the lights come on. I stick to some of the easier trails in order to practice my “rhythm and flow,” and “waltzing with the mountain” technique. I decide to take a break for an hour and go back up the mountain when it is really dark, and get a taste of Keystone’s apres-ski.

I stop into Inxpot, a delightful mix of coffeehouse, bar, bookshop, filled with plush sofas and easy chairs and a Library-looking setting (that’s where the name comes from, Ink pot), where on a Sunday afternoon, 3-6 pm, Keith Synnestvedt provides the most enchanting folk music rendition of an eclectic songbook. I love that he explains the inspiration for his own songs; such as a song about Colorado’s cowboys, which he said came to him when he was stopped on the road by two cowboys moving cattle herd, that took 1 1/2 hours for the herd to cross the road, and then, coming upon a VFW with an aging sign, “Dance Saturday Night”

It is dreamy, and as I settle in and look outside, the light flurry of snow has turned into a blizzard. I am feeling so satisfied and comfortable as I enjoy the music. Then, just as magically, as Keith finishes his singing, the snow stops, the night is clear, but I get to the Gondola just moments after it has closed. Drat.

Inxpot is one of the marvelous places to go for a light breakfast, as well; . It’s the place that seems most popular with the locals (the ski instructors all gather there).

Where to Stay

One of the reasons Keystone Resort offers excellent value is that it offers a full spectrum of lodging options, from modest to ultra-luxurious.

River Run, which is walking distance of the Gondola and has the best access to the shops, restaurants at in the village base, has marvelous condominium-style accommodations, including Expedition Station.

Our stay at Ski Tip Townhomes, 3/4-mile up the road from River Run (serviced by the bus shuttle but a delightful 15-minute walk if you aren’t wearing ski boots or hauling skis) was ultra-luxurious – a charming and spacious three-bedroom house gorgeously furnished with personal touches (these are owned units which the owners put into a rental pool when they are not using it), with a full kitchen (granite counters), dining area, living room with fireplace and cozy seating, 2 1/2 bathrooms. This is the closest thing to having the mountain home of your dreams.

Keystone Lodge and Spa is a luxury hotel with indoor and outdoor pools as well as the spa, and its fine-dining restaurant, The Bighorn Steakhouse, which has a marvelous view overlooking Keystone Lake and Keystone’s lighted ski trails.

We discovered that it is easy to get around, so you can take advantage of lower rates at various condo units and hotels. There are so many choices, call the Keystone Reservations agent to discuss what would work best for you.

Four-Season Resort

Keystone is very much a four-season resort, with horseback riding stables, mountain biking (you should see the jumps off the trails!), music and concert festivals among the many activities, and is also extremely popular as a wedding destination and as a meeting and conference venue (there is a major conference center in the resort).

There are so many options – and advance planning and reservations are really a must – you are best to go online, check out the specials and deals (when you book online, you are guaranteed the best rates on lodging and lift tickets).  You can call a Reservations agent to discuss your choices.

It’s about logistics, after all.

Call 800-328-1323 for help with lodging & vacation planning or visit www.keystoneresort.com.

 


By Deb Stanley, Examiner.com

Want to have some fun? Don’t miss the Grottos Trail on Independence Pass near Aspen. The “Grottos” are a series of caves carved by the Roaring Fork River, and the same trail leads to a series of cascades. The trailhead is on Independence Pass, about nine miles from Aspen (directions below).

From the parking lot, walk across the bridge and turn left. Just 500 feet from the trailhead, a sign at a trail split points hikers going to the grottos to the left. Hike up the hill just 0.2 miles from the trailhead to the “grottos” in the rock on your left.

In this spot is a series of caves and rock formations. Come early in the summer and you’ll see why these caves have been nicknamed the “ice caves.” No matter what time of year you come, you’ll need some climbing skills to get down into the formations. And remember, it’s always easier to get down into a hole, than to climb back out, so if you decide to climb down to the caves, make sure you have a plan for climbing back out. Once inside, it’s time to explore. There are a couple “rooms” here depending on how wet and muddy you’re willing to get. You won’t need a headlamp though, the sun shines into the grottos just enough.

When you’re done exploring, head back to the trail and continue uphill to a series of signs pointing you toward the “cascades.” When you lose the trail, just keep heading toward the loud sound of water crashing over rocks. You should find the “cascades” — a series of small waterfalls. Even in late summer, in a dry year, the cascades here were still flowing in several places and directions. This spot is like a playground for water.

When you’re done exploring and taking photos, return the way you came.

Details: Walking to the grottos and cascades (along with lots of exploring) was 0.75 miles round-trip with 150 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: From Aspen, take Highway 82, 0.4 miles past the mile marker 50 sign to the signed, Grottos trailhead. Turn right on the dirt road down to the parking lot.

In the area, don’t miss the ghost town of Independence and Weller LakeClick here for more great hikes in Colorado and throughout the west.

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By Deb Stanley, Examiner.com

Red Mountain is the original location of the Glenwood Springs ski area. Now it’s a place where hikers, walkers and bikers like to work out and enjoy the views. The trailhead is in town, so it’s an easy trek for residents. But the trailhead can be tricky to find, making it tough for visitors. (Directions below)

In the parking lot, signs tell visitors that Jeanne Golay trained on this trail in 1992 when she won three gold medals at the National Road Cycling Championships and took sixth in the cycling road race at the Olympics in Barcelona. The Red Mountain Trail was renamed after Golay to honor her cycling accomplishments.

Now you can hike the same trail Golay still rides. After reading the signs, head west up the trail. When you come to a road, you have options. Take the road uphill to the summit. Or stay on the dirt path which will take you up a steep hill.

No matter which option you chose, you will get to choose again. The hiking trail and the road reconnect several times. When the trail dead ends on the road, turn uphill and take the road until you find the next trail sign. Then choose again, you can take the single track dirt trail or stay on the road. Either way, the trek from the parking lot to the lookout where the paragliders launch is about 3.1 miles each way.

Along the road, you will come to a 180-degree turn with a bench in two places. The benches are great spots to enjoy the scenery. Look east into the canyon to see the Colorado River as it snakes its way to Glenwood Springs. Look north to see the Roaring Fork River where it comes from Aspen, until it merges with the Colorado River. Also to the north is the dramatic snow-capped twin peaks of Mount Sopris at 12,965 feet.

At the top of the mountain, you’ll find a lighted cross, a paraglider launch zone with wind socks and an old home of some sort. Enjoy the views and return via the road and/or the trails.

Details: While many articles say the trail is 1-2 miles each way, my GPS registered 3.1 miles to the paraglider launch spot. A sign at the trailhead said the trail was 3.5 miles. Expect at least 1,600 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: From the bridge over the Colorado River, go south, then turn west on 8th. Go one block and turn right to get to 7th Street. Turn left on 7th Street. Turn left on Midland, right on 10th, right on Red Mountain and left on 9th to get to the trailhead.

If you want to do more hiking in Glenwood Springs, try the Hanging LakeStorm King MountainGrizzly CreekDotsero Crater or Doc Holliday’s grave. For an extensive list of hikes in Colorado and throughout the west, click here.

Don’t miss any of my hiking reports. Follow me, HikingDebbie on Twitter or DenverHikingExaminer on Facebook.

 

 

 


Courtesy of www.colorado.com

By Karen Rubin, Examiner.com

The Colorado Rockies beckon those from lower altitudes to experience the adrenalin rush that comes with ascending to heights, not to mention the view and the prospect of laying tracks in fresh powder.

Our visits tend to be short, though, and we may rush out and not prepare our bodies for the extreme altitude – the result can be altitude sickness, which feels like a nauseous headache.

I know, because it happened to me my first day on the slopes at Keystone, and Eric’s first day at Breckenridge (of course, he probably brought on the problem by taking that first day hiking 30 minutes to the summit at nearly 13,000 feet).

Here are some tips gathered from our trips to Vail Resorts in BreckenridgeKeystoneBeaver Creek and Heavenly (there is a sixth resort this year, with the addition of Northstar-at-Tahoe, in California), as to how to prepare for a ski trip so that you get the most out of your adventure:

Preparing for High Altitude:

Proper Clothing

Dress for cooler temperatures but be prepared for sudden weather changes. It’s colder at higher altitudes and layers of clothing are a good idea. It may feel colder or warmer depending on whether it’s windy or cloudy on one hand, or sunny with still air on the other. It’s best to dress in layers and wear breathable clothing, such as smart wool that keeps moisture away from the skin.

Sunburn

Because of the thinner atmosphere and reflection from snow or water, you can sunburn much more easily than most people think. Ultraviolet light is more intense at higher altitudes. Be sure to protect your face and lips with appropriate sunscreen (at least 15 SPF), and protect your eyes with sunglasses or goggles.

Altitude Sickness

Perhaps as many as half the visitors from lower elevations experience some form of altitude illness. The vast majority of cases are self-limited and spontaneously resolve as the body acclimatizes. Symptoms include fatigue, decreased appetite, shortness of breath with minimal exertion, nausea, headache and sleep disturbances. These symptoms are often worse the second day at altitude (but resolve in four to five days). Rest is the key to treating mild forms of altitude sickness.

Avoiding Altitude Sickness:

  • Stay Properly Hydrated: Acclimatization is often accompanied by fluid loss, so you need to drink lots of fluids to remain properly hydrated (at least 3-4 quarts per day).
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol and other depressant drugs during acclimation, which can also lead to dehydration.
  • Light Activity during the day is better than sleeping because respiration decreases during sleep, exacerbating Altitude Sickness symptoms.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise until you acclimate: So, it is best to time your arrival in the afternoon before you ski, spend time getting equipment, doing leisure activities (how about a massage at the spa? or a swim in the pool? or a walking tour of the town), rather than activities that drain you of energy.  Limiting exertion is better than using innumerable medications. Activities like running, hiking, lifting, straining etc can worsen the symptoms of altitude sickness.  Gradually increase your activity, to give yourself time to adjust.

Symptoms of altitude sickness can include headache, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, persistent rapid pulse, general malaise, pins and needles, fatigue, insomnia, and/or diarrhea.

Severe cases may be complicated by breathlessness and chest tightness, which are signs of pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), or by confusion, lethargy, and unsteady gait, which indicate cerebral edema (brain swelling).

The symptoms of altitude sickness develop gradually so that, with proper management, serious complications can usually be prevented, says MDTravelHealth.com.

If you get Altitude Sickness, Remedies include:

  • Drink Water: As your breathing is fast and deep, you tend to dehydrate more. So, drink water in considerable amount to keep yourself hydrated. Be at vigilance and check whether the urine is clear and in proper quantity. Alcohol can add to the dehydration problem and so, it is better to avoid it thoroughly, especially when you are climbing at higher elevations.
  • Acetaminophen: Rather than using drugs like aspirin, which have side effects, it’s advisable to use acetaminophen, a safer drug conferring instant relief from pain at higher elevations.
  • Inhaling pure oxygen is a quick fix. The mountain shops generally sell small portable canisters. Products include Altigen™, Oxia and Alpine Oxygen.

Seema Adnani at OrganicFacts.net also suggests some home remedies including:

  • Herbal Potion: The potions are made from the common ingredients which are easily found at home. Ingredients include basic and normal things like lemonwaterginger garlichoney, etc. Drinking the potion helps in building body stamina, fight cold, cough, fever, headaches, gives energy to combat in high altitude areas etc.
  • Lemon Soda: It can be in taken to prevent vomiting, the colloquial tendency. But home remedies are more useful and easy to get. You can take a glass of fresh sweet lemon soda, digestive capsules made of herbs and natural ingredients like green mango, amlagingermethi, etc.
  • Eat Digestible Food: Avoid eating heavy, oily, junk foods while ascending upwards. You can also eat in small portion. Eat stuff which is easily digestible.
  • Ginger: Christopher Hobbs, the renowned herbalist believes ginger to be very beneficial for treating altitude sickness, as it plays a pivotal role in treating mild levels of altitude sickness. It is advisable to mix 20 drops of ginger liquid with half cup of water in case you suffer from altitude sickness.

I was able to get relief after taking Ibuprofin and a generic Pepto-Bismol, but if needed  immediate relief, I could have taken oxygen like Altigen™ or Oxia. By the next day, I was back to myself.

Frostbite & Hypothermia

Frostbite results from cooling of body tissues and subsequent destruction of these tissues. This occurs when skin is exposed to cold and windy conditions. Fingers, ears and noses are especially susceptible. The best cure is prevention. Keep the skin covered and warm up frequently. If blisters, occur or if fingers or toes are involved, seek medical attention immediately. Over exposure to cold, wetness or wind can cause a very low internal body temperature known as hypothermia. Warning signs include shivering, fatigue, slowed pulse and bluish lip color. Hypothermia is life threatening. Victims of hypothermia should get to warmth and shelter, remove wet clothes, warm up in blankets, and drink warm, non-alcoholic beverages. Emergency medical attention should be sought immediately.

Sun

At 9600 feet, the sun is 40% stronger than at sea level. Apply sunscreen several times a day and always wear eye protection. Sunglasses or goggles with UV protection are a must. Lip balm/Chapstick is also a necessity.

Ski apparel

Appropriate dress can make or break your day on the slopes. It is worth investing in a pair of waterproof ski pants as jeans get wet and do not allow enough movement. It is best to dress in layers as temperatures can vary from day to day. A waterproof shell is your best bet for a jacket, with a fleece and under layers for additional warmth. Contrary to popular belief, the thinnest pair of cotton socks is essential in boot comfort, allowing for optimal circulation and boot fit. Additional comfort can be achieved by wearing highly breathable clothing specifically made for winter outdoor activities. Neck gators, hats, facemasks and goggles are also highly recommended.

Lessons

First-time skiers and snowboarders are highly recommended to take a lesson with the Ski & Ride School. It is imperative to learn proper technique in order to prevent injury and make the sport more enjoyable. Whether you want to learn a new sport, improve your skills or just want to find the powder stashes that only the locals know, the mountain’s Ski & Ride School has the program for you. Many mountains also have early morning guided tours with an “ambassador.” Others have guides you can ski/snowboard with. Going out with an instructor or guide or ambassador helps you ski more confidently and also brings you to trails you might not have done on your own. Especially during busy holiday times, it is recommended to book a lesson online, in advance.

Purchase your lift tickets in advance

Breckenridge lets you pre-purchase lift tickets online 7 days in advance and save up to $100 on a 6-day ticket. Plus, you’ll get to skip the ticket window and go straight to the lifts. Purchase Lift Tickets Online.

For those coming from a distance, ski-and-stay packages offer excellent value, as do multi-day tickets, which also can be purchased in advance. Vail Resorts‘ season Epic Pass allows for unlimited skiing at all six resorts (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe) plus Arapahoe Basin. Other ski areas often have collaborative tickets with one or more partner resorts.

How to carry your equipment

Walking in ski boots while carrying your skis and poles is challenging. It is best to keep your boots unbuckled until you have arrived at the base of the chairlift. The best way to carry your equipment is to put your skis over your shoulder and carry both poles in your other hand.

Parking/Transportation

Do a little pre-planning in figuring out how to get around mountain area – it can help you decide which hotel or condo is really a better value, considering the amount of time spent getting to the base area, and its accessibility to a shuttle service. Many resorts have free shuttle systems so you don’t need a car. Check out the time schedule.

For example, at Breckenridge, while a number of properties are within walking distance of historic Main Street or the slopes, Breckenridge is served by the Free Ride Transportation System. The Free Ride travels routes through Breckenridge connecting the resort’s base areas and free parking lots, runs the perimeter of downtown, stops at the Ice Rink, City Market, Recreation Center, Village and Four O’clock Roads, Columbine and Broken Lance Drive and Peak 9.

Keystone also has a superb free shuttle bus system that gets you all around the resort (and after regular hours of scheduled service, you only have to call and the bus comes). The County also offers a free bus to Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge.

Atmosphere

Most mountain resorts these days are casual, so you don’t have to bring extra dress-up clothes and shoes (important considerations when you are trying to keep baggage fees to a minimum). Breckenridge, for example, prides itself in being a laid back, casual mountain town. No need to bring your high-heels or dress clothes. Jeans and a sweater/fleece are the norm around here.


Courtesy of www.colorado.com

By Carri Wilbanks, Examiner.com

Headed to Aspen this summer? Well, after seeing this line-up of cultural events and outdoor activities you will want to head West to the Roaring Fork Valley!

Outdoor Plays by Theatre Aspen

Talk about a unique theater experience – Theatre Aspen’s shows are staged at beautiful Rio Grande Park, just steps off Main Street. Imagine a backdrop of Aspen Mountain and nights dotted with starts, all the while watching Broadway actors as well as local talent put on a tremendous show. Coming up this summer:

Les Misérables: June 21 – Aug 17

Fully Committed July 5 – Aug 15

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown – July 11 – Aug 17

Theatre Aspen
110 E. Hallam St.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-9313

Adrenlaine Rush With Blazing Adventures

Keywords here: Rafting, Inflatable Kayaks, Jeeping and Hiking. Here are three trips offered from this outdoor adventure company.

  • Whiskey River: Get ready to get whisked away on this trip down the Middle Roaring Fork. Take the trip in either a ducky or raft, followed by a stop at the Woody Creek Distillery for a tasting of locally made spirits.

*Available Tuesdays & Fridays.

*Cost: Ducky’s: $112.50 per person. Rafts: $112.50 per person

  • Cathedral Lake Hike: Trek to a stunning spot with a guide to a lake which is named for its unique feature of a cathedral stone wall.

*Round trip distance: 6 miles

*Cost: $98.50 per person, includes lunch.

  • Standup Paddle Board Tours: Learn the latest way to ride the waves. Instructors will teach you skills such as balance, paddling techniques and safety moves. Expect a great core workout! Trip finishes with a riverside BBQ lunch at a private river park near the Glenwood Canyon.

*Cost $158.50 per person. Includes lunch, rentals of wetsuit, booties, helmet and needed gear.

Blazing Adventures
555 E. Durant Ave.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 923-4544

Discover Culture at Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum continuously rotates contemporary art from artists from around the world. Head here to check out a few of the innovative exhibitions of the summer:

  • Lorna Simpson: Works on Paper

July 26 – September 22, 2013

Through drawings and collages, this artist examines ways gender and culture shape the experience of life in our contemporary multiracial society.

Aspen Art Museum
590 N. Mill St.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-8050

Connect with History at Aspen Historical Society

Learn the history of this 1888 Queen Anne style built by Jerome Wheeler. Inside you can find- Seasons of the Nuche: Transitions of the Ute People. The exhibit explores the past and present of Native Americans in the American West. The exhibit journeys through the loss of their culture, territory, language and forced assimilation and their position in the world today.

Open Tues. – Sat. 1 – 5pm. $6 adults, $5 seniors (admission fee also includes the Holden/Marolt Museum) Children under 12 Free.

Aspen Historical Society
620 W Bleeker St.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-3721

Step into Nature with Aces (Aspen Center for Environmental Studies)

Learn about ecology, natural history and stewardship. Here is the line up of ongoing programs:

Starting on June 15- travel along mountain streams, over ridgelines, and through beautiful valleys with ACES’ naturalists. Options include:

  • Aspen Mountain: tours offered daily on the hour from 10 am to 3 pm. Meet at the top

of the Aspen Mountain gondola.

Discovery Center in the Snowmass Village Mall.

the Maroon Lake information center.

This hike has it all: explore the historic silver mining ghost town of Ashcroft and wander up along Castle Creekon this a 3.5 mile round-trip hike. Includes a gourmet lunch at the Pine Creek Cookhouse.. $75 includes tour and lunch. (Unless ordering a la carte for $38).

 

 


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