The first question people usually ask me when I tell them I live in Denver, Colorado, is, "Do you ski or snowboard?" This is generally followed by a bewildered look when I tell them that I don't do either. But just because I'm one of the few Denverites who doesn't have plastic crates of bindings, boards, and out-grown snow pants in my garage, doesn't mean that I don't enjoy visiting ski towns and taking advantage of all they have to offer. With ski season quickly approaching, here are my favorite ways to pass the time when visiting some of Colorado's most popular mountain-resort towns, for those of you who prefer to skip the lift lines.
Channel Your Inner Child
Tubing is a fantastic way to hit the slopes, okay, hills, without asserting any athletic ability. On a recent trip to Breckenridge, I decided to try out the Frisco Adventure Park tubing hill. I had a blast screaming down the 1,200-foot tubing lanes. A magic carpet takes you back to the top of the hill so you can repeat the fun. Tubing is offered at most Colorado ski resorts and is generally open to all ages.
Snowmobiling gets you onto the snow while allowing you to control your speed and direction, my two biggest issues with skiing. On a trip to Steamboat Springs last year, I visited Saddleback Ranch for a guided snowmobile tour. This was my first time snowmobiling, so I chose a guided tour through Steamboat's 8,000 acres of private land on groomed trails and through untouched open meadows. It was a perfect Steamboat day... it had snowed 18 inches the night before, but that day I saw bluebird skies, amazing views, and even a few elk on the adventure. Snowmobile tours and rentals are available at most Colorado ski resorts.
Hit the Trails
Snowshoeing is a lot of fun, but it's also serious exercise. I like to refer to it as extreme hiking. The Rocky Mountains of Colorado are breathtaking in the winter. Even though they're covered in snow, you can still hit some beautiful trails with the help of snowshoes. Snowshoes are designed to distribute your weight so you don't sink too far into the snow as you walk. Almost every major ski town in Colorado, including Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Steamboat Springs, and Aspen, has a Nordic center with information on shoe rentals and the best trails for every skill level.
If there's one thing all Colorado ski resorts have to offer, aside from skiing, it's spa treatments. Just because you didn't spend the day beating yourself up on the slopes doesn't mean you're not in need of rejuvenation. This is one of my favorite mountain past times, and I have visited spas in Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain, Steamboat, and Vail and enjoyed endless hours of pampering. If I had to pick a favorite experience, it would be the 75 minutes of pure bliss I experienced with the River Stones Therapy Massage at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colorado. No matter which spa you choose, you are sure to experience pure relaxation.
One Word: Apres
Après-ski is possibly my favorite mountain activity. The literal meaning of this French term is "after-skiing." Après-ski is sort of like happy hour, it involves going out, drinking, and socializing after a day of skiing, generally straight from the slopes in your ski gear. Now I know this doesn't really apply to me since I didn't hit the slopes in the first place, but it is my favorite part of the day as I am reunited with my friends to hear tales of their epic powder days—which for me, is as close to careening down 10,000 feet of snow-packed terrain I wish to get.
Kristin Lee is a city girl at heart. Although she loves to travel, she considers herself not very outdoorsy or adventurous. Kristin currently resides in Denver, Colorado, where she enjoys everything the city has to offer, including great restaurants, microbrews, local sports, and quick trips to the mountains. Kristin works as a business analyst at Away.com.
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