First let me apologize for the gap between posts. Whether it was settling in back home, the holidays, getting caught up in the ski season, starting a new job, or just the hustle & bustle that comes with everyday life this blog got pushed to the back burner. But not to worry, Denver and Colorado still have plenty to offer and I have certainly been keeping busy. Speaking of keeping busy, here is just a sampling of some of the stories I’ve written for Vail Resort’s Snow Squad Blog.
- I got to interview a Mountain Ambassador from Breckenridge
- I tested out all sorts of new ski gear, including Helly Hansen outwear, Maui Jim sunglasses, and Smartwool ski socks.
- I enjoyed some wonderful festivities in the high country, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, Fat Tuesday, MLK weekend, and New Year’s.
- I confessed that I’m a chairlift chatterbox and discussed why it’s a good thing.
- I discovered the joys of Beaver Creek Resort for the first time, and continued my love for Summit County ski areas Keystone, Breckenridge, and A-Basin.
- I handed out tips and pointers to deal with Spring skiing conditions, where to relax, and where to watch the sun set over the Rockies.
- I got to see some high-flying action at the Winter Dew Tour, as well as beautiful ice and snow structures at the Ice Castles in Silverthorne.
- I shared some of my favorite EpicMix Pins, as well 10 great outdoor activities perfect for winter.
Now as winter fades away, spring continues in full swing, and summer is coming up on our doorstep, make sure to stay tuned as I’ll have plenty of ideas for events to visit, places to eat, vistas to see, and things to do all around Denver and the surrounding areas. Cheers!
On our final day of traveling we had nothing but time as the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs outside of Buena Vista are a mere two hours away from Dillon in Summit County. Since most of our shoes were still wet from rafting the day before, we decided to kick back and enjoy the hot springs in the warm Colorado sun. Yesterday, afternoon showers had rolled in and provided a cool rinse of light rain to complement the hot springs warm water. Today is much warmer and the Colorado sun is shining bright, so make sure to use that sunblock. After taking a few quick dips, I settled down on a lounge chair and enjoyed my book, “The Ripple Effect” by Alex Prud’homme, which analyzes freshwater usage and supplies in the 21st century. An enjoyable read, I highly recommend it.
Before we pack up and headed back home I took one last dip in the river to cool off. Between the heat of the sun and the heat of the pools, ne of the best way to beat the heat is too lay out in cool Chalk Creek itself. Shortly thereafter we packed up or belongings and enjoyed a picnic lunch before driving north.
Originally our plan was to drive through Fairplay and Alma, eventually reaching Breckenridge before heading over Swan Mountain Road to get home. However, this day was the second to last stage of the epic USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which ended right in the middle of Breckenridge. As much as we would have enjoyed seeing the racers finish in, with more than 50,000 people crammed onto Breckenridge’s streets it would have been a nightmare to drive in and out of the town. So instead we drove the way we came, passing Leadville, Copper, and Frisco along the way. After stocking up for dinner at the local City Market, we arrived home sweet home. Once we unpacked and certainly aired out a week’s worth of dirty laundry, we settled down to enjoy a fine chicken dinner and gaze out at some of the best views this trip. The evening was event topped off with a gorgeous sunset across the High Country Rockies.
Hope you enjoyed this trip as much as I had folks, and if you ever get the chance I highly encourage you to take a trip and explore all of what Colorado has to offer.
This morning we are on the road to Telluride from Palisade. Even though the distance is under 100 miles, the road to get there is only two lane highways filled with rolling hills, valleys, and lots of turns, making the drive time close to three hours. But before we leave Palisade we have two quick stops. The first is Herman’s Peach Stand. Anyone from Colorado knows that Palisade Peaches are some of the sweetest and juiciest you’ll ever have, and they are only available in late August and early September. This delightful stand featured dozens of peaches, as well as pears, watermelons, and other fine fruits. They also showcased a wide variety of jellies, jams, syrups, preserves, and salsa featuring their peaches. If you’re ever passing through Palisades make sure to stop off the highway and drive a couple blocks south of the exit to find the best produce stand in the town.
The other stop we made was at the Meadery of the Rockies. Mead is a drink quite similar to wine, except it is honey based and the fermentation process is a little different. Most meads are much sweeter than wines and typically have a higher alcohol content by volume. While at the meadery my father and I sampled five of their dozen or so meads, starting with driest to sweetest. The first was Lancelot, a dry mead that gives a honey aroma but packs the punch of smoke and beeswax flavor to the palate. The flavor certainly lingers and is a little much to be served with dinner. It’s too dry for dessert, and much to bitter to enjoy with dinner, so you might as well buy a nice white wine instead. However, the Camelot mead, which isn’t quite a dessert beverage features caramel and butterscotch aroma while maintaining its light body and taste of honey with hints of jasmine, a much better buy in my opinion. The next two meads are from their Fruit n’ Honey Collection, pairing wonderful Palisade fruits with honey based mead. The obvious first choice is Peaches n’ Honey, which tastes exactly as it sounds. It comes on sweet but ends with a lingering taste of peachy cream. Next up is the Cherries n’ Honey, which starts off tart like a dark cherry, but soon transitions to the sweetness of the honey while providing a clean finish. This rose bodied drink was my overall favorite from the five I sampled. Finally, this meadery features three dessert meads that truly feel like your drinking dessert. I sampled the Raspberry Chocolate Satin, which begins sweet and fruity, but has the undertones of a rich, almost bitter chocolate. The two complement each other well without overpowering your tongue.
Well, with that behind us my family and I hit the road South towards Telluride. The drive was simple enough, but very plain as I watched vineyards and orchards give way to desert and mesas which eventually gave way to aspens and mountains in no time. There are several small towns we passed through, such as Delta, Montrose and Ridgeway, each boasting their own claims to fame. However, the real fun came as we creeped up on the backside of Telluride, getting a gorgeous view of its mountain range. Telluride is an interesting town as it sits at the very end of a long box canyon, essentially nature’s cul-de-sac. In order to drive in from the north we had to drive around this mountain range and back up through the canyon valley. Things were going well until halfway up the valley when a freak torrential downpour occurred! It created standing pools of water on the road and a fierce thundering of rain on the roof of the car. But, in the blink of an eye we were on the other side with dry pavement and sunny skies. (Gotta love that Colorado weather)
The town of Telluride really harkens back to a simpler time. The town is quite small and prominently features the shops and restaurants along their main street. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Telluride to take advantage of their ample hiking, mountain biking, and 4×4 trails. (Not to mention their skiing). After stopping for lunch at Smuggler’s Brewpub, (try the Wildcat Wheat, especially if you’re a fan of Boulder Beer’s Pale Ale), my family and I suited up to trek up to Bridal Veil Falls.
The most iconic of all trail routes in Telluride, this hike features two massive cascading waterfalls that help run a generator for the town during the summer. The road up to the falls is well maintained and can be traversed so long as you have a high clearance vehicle, 4×4 drive, and a steady hand. Since we didn’t have that at our disposal we opted to hike the 1.2 miles up to the base of the falls. Vehicles and hikers alike can continue up to the power house above the falls where several other trailheads begin. However, with the spectacular views of Telluride and the canyon walls from the road below there was no need to hike any higher. The waterfalls are a sight to behold, towering down from the rock face. After a warm hike in the sun the cool breeze and light mist that comes from the water rushing over the rocks is a welcome relief. All of us were delighted to scamper across the rocks to get as close to the falls as we could, taking memorable photos and making memories scaling loose rocks along the way.
After coming back down we decided to get an eagle eye view of the town by making our way to the Telluride Ski Resort and Mountain Village. Though the ski resort and mountain village is based on the other side of the ridge from the town, there is a handy FREE gondola that connects the two. This gondola whisks you up and over the main peak of Telluride, offering a one of a kind view down the valley. Once in the mountain village you’ll be met by a European themed master plan of towering hotels, restaurants, and shops. All are connected through massive squares and plazas, all brick paved and populated by outdoor furniture. In the winter this seems like a vacationing skier’s paradise with the amount of offerings all at the base of the mountain. That being said, it does give off the Disney vibe for ski resorts, featuring over the top sized hotels with a uniform European theme, all featuring fo-stone and timber work. If you want to really get the authentic mountain experience it’s time to head back over to the town of Telluride.
For dinner we strolled the main street, enjoying the sunset down the box canyon walls and taking in the beautiful simplicity of a small town’s turnout on main street. As opposed to Aspen there were fewer cars on the road and the people were very social as they went from shop to shop. Of the many dinner options available we ended up at La Cocina de Luz. This mexican restaurant is laid back and relaxed with order service and plenty of seat your self space, both indoors and out. But don’t be fooled, the service is top-notch and the food was to die for. Clearly they have passion for Mexican cuisine as there were many entrees and beverages unique to the restaurant. Everything from their daily specials, to the limeade and hibiscus ice tea, to the salsas and margaritas available. Even though I ordered a traditional dish of carne asada enchiladas, the rice and roasted vegetables sides were something I didn’t see coming. Perfectly seasoned and just the right balance for the red chili salsa, this plate was a great cap to dinner.
So after waking up and having a lazy Saturday morning breakfast, my family and I packed up our stuff and loaded the car. With a full truck and leaving a little later than planned, we were on the road. On the road indeed! After getting some gas outside of Golden we were surprised to see that we weren’t allowed back on the highway. Apparently Fastracks was working on their light rail line and half the on-ramps to I-70 were un available…oh well. We eventually make it back to the highway and ready to head to the high country. But what do you know! We get diverted again, except this time a big rig got wedged under an overpass and the state troopers shut diverted the highway to C-470. Oh boy, well it ended up being a nice little detour around North Dinosaur Park which is the ridge just east of Red Rocks. After passing through the quite scenic town of Morrison, the drive got us back to the highway and out of any traffic for the rest of the drive. The rest of the drive, past Idaho Springs and Georgetown, was uneventful until we reached Dillon, ready to raise the sails and cast off with the wind in our hair.
Once in Dillon, my father and I were ready to do some sailing. Most people know that Dillon is a hot spot for skiers in the winter as there are four world-class ski areas all within 15 minutes. But what many don’t realize is the wonderful summer escape that is Dillon Reservoir. Created in the mid 1960s, the reservoir is one of the largest in the Rocky Mountains, supplying much of Denver with its water supply. Though the water is too cold to swim in, there are plenty of opportunities for fun with fishing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and boating. If you’re thinking about stopping by and paying Dillon a visit, make sure to stop by either the Arapahoe Cafe or Dillon Marina’s Tiki Bar, both Grade-A places to grab some delicious high country burgers and beer, all while enjoying the pristine body of water. These restaurants have two of the best outdoor decks in Summit County, and I highly advise eating outside. Interesting side note, the Arapahoe Cafe building was one of the original structures of Old Dillon, which was located right at the bottom of the valley. When Denver Water decided to create the dam the whole town was either moved up the hill or demolished. Now only one other commercial structure from Old Dillon still stands, as a Historical Museum a few blocks away.
Once on the water everything sincerely slowed down and relaxed for vacation. The wind was here and there, but with full sails up, Whirlwind cut through the glassy water with the breeze. The racers were out and about, shuttling from buoy to buoy. Despite the inconsistent wind there was a consistent breeze off of the Dillon Dam that allowed for the racers to utilize their large Spinaker sails, typically only used when sailing downwind. It was a pleasant mountain reminder about all the fun one can have in the high country as I watched the J boats sail with Keystone‘s mountain trails in the background. Well after soaking up some sun, playing with the breeze, and watching the J boats race around the lake it was time to head back in.
The night winded down quietly, enjoying an evening at our home away from home in Summit Cove. After enjoying a delicious steak and salad dinner, paired with an equally delicious Boulevard Brewery Amber Ale, we all settled in and watched the Denver Broncos stomp the Buffalo Bills in preseason. Here’s to a wonderful vacation ahead (and to a great football season) Go Broncos!