Telluride Brewing Company’s new Brewpub and Taqueria. Photo Credit: Marybeth O'Connor.
Telluride Brewing Company’s new Brewpub and Taqueria is set to open on Friday, December 11th, 2020, at the base of the Telluride Ski Resort. Photo Credit: Marybeth O'Connor.
There's a new brewpub and taqueria coming to Colorado's ski country this winter and we've got the scoop about what's on tap for hungry slope-goers.
Carve up an appetite for the new Telluride Brewing Company Brewpub and Taqueria set to open on Friday, December 11th, 2020 at the base of the Telluride Ski Resort. Rack up your skis and boards at the bottom of Lift Four and refuel between runs at this ski-in/ski-out brewpub with grab-n-go authentic street-style tacos and beers served on 20 taps.
“What better way to enhance the apres ski scene in Telluride than through experimental beers and tasty tacos,” stated Tommy Thacher, Co-Owner and President of Telluride Brewing Co.
Menu items include cochinitas, barbacoa, seafood, and vegetarian tacos wrapped in handmade white and blue corn tortillas. Crowlers and six-packs will also be available for to-go.
Bar seating, high tops, a standing bar, and an outside gathering area allow for up to forty guests at the brewpub.
The Telluride Brewing Co. Brew Pub, located at 168 Mountain Village Boulevard, Unit 136, will be open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM. Food will be served until 9 PM. For more details, please visit telluridebrewingco.com/brew-pub.
Special thanks to Bria Light, Telluride Daily Planet Staff Reporter
There is a lot about Thanksgiving weekend that is not the same this year, but one important tradition for snow enthusiasts remains in place. Thursday, Telski will officially open for the ski season, with select lifts ferrying skiers and snowboarders uphill across the sparkling slopes. In keeping with tradition, Wednesday will provide early access to the slopes for Donation Day, the annual fundraiser for the Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club (TSSC). For a $25 ticket, participants can hit the slopes around Lift 4 a day early, with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to the club by Telski.
“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said TSSC Executive Director Justin Chandler, noting that due to the pandemic the club has not been able to hold any other fundraisers this year. “It all goes directly to local kids.”
The funds raised on Donation Day are used to waive dues for eligible families, as well as purchase the requisite gear to provide to kids who need it. Approximately 450 children are enrolled in the club this year, and while skiing and snowboarding are the most popular disciplines, the club also offers Nordic skiing and figure skating.
“Our philosophy is one of inclusiveness,” said Chandler. “We want as many kids as possible to join in whatever discipline they choose to join. As kids get older, they can choose to get more into competition and get to whatever level they dream to be at. But we value commitment, dedication, sportsmanship, attendance above results. But it turns out when you have those values, you get better results.”
Those wishing to support TSSC on Donation Day can purchase a $25 ticket at any ticket window or online. Even those who wish to support but don’t want to hit the slopes can purchase a ticket through the ski resort’s website.
Though COVID-19-induced travel restrictions may mean fewer visitors than usual for Thanksgiving weekend, resort officials are expecting a relatively normal opening weekend in terms of numbers. Opening Day is generally popular with locals, while November typically sees fewer tourist visits.
“Lift ticket sales and capacity for this week and weekend’s opening scenario appear traditional in nature,” said Carson Taylor, the ski resort’s director of mountain sales. “Normally the majority of Opening Day and the subsequent weekend’s visits come from local passholders, with a small percentage derived from lift ticket sales,” he said, noting that resort management is carefully monitoring sales numbers and will impose a cap in order to maintain a “comfortable capacity on the slopes” if deemed necessary.
Both government officials and ski resort management are imploring the community to stay home this Thanksgiving weekend, limit gatherings, especially indoors, to protect the ability to remain open for a ski season this winter.
“To save the ski season, we must all immediately limit Thanksgiving and future indoor gatherings to only members of our immediate households,” said Chad Horning, who is the son of majority owner Chuck Horning, in a recent Telski news release.
Town governments, area medical providers and the ski resort provided a unified message to residents in an open letter on Monday, urging community members to cancel plans and stay home. Recent data from the state of Colorado has shown that gatherings of friends and family indoors have been one of the leading causes of COVID-19 transmission, according to the letter. Hospitals across the state have issued warnings of limited capacity as hospitalizations have risen, a reality that officials warned could lead to the closing of the ski resort if not controlled.
“Our actions as individuals today will help our economy survive this winter, keep our schools and day care centers open and could save the life of a family member or friend,” the letter stated.
Special Thanks to Bria Light, Telluride Daily Planet Staff Reporter
It’s that time of year again when photos abound on social media featuring fat pillows of snow on deck chairs or, better yet for ski town powder hounds, the season’s first ski turns. While those with backcountry ski gear and skills are heading for the snow-covered hills after last weekend’s storm, Telski management reminded early-season enthusiasts that resort terrain is currently closed for safety reasons as workers prepare the mountain for opening day.
“The mountain is not a safe place to be unless you're working right now,” said Scott Pittenger, director of mountain operations. “We have patrol out there, setting off and triggering slides all over the mountain. We really want people to recreate elsewhere right now.”
Jeff Proteau, Vice President of mountain operations and planning, noted that skiers cannot currently access Bear Creek terrain via the resort, and the presence of recent snowfall along with explosives and power lines for snowmaking machines are among the dangers that could lead to unwanted consequences for skiers using resort terrain to recreate.
This year, along with the usual hive of activity to ready the resort for ski season, Telski management is busy restructuring operations and procedures to reduce the risk of COVID-19. While the actual act of skiing remains very low risk concerning the virus, waiting in lift lines, enjoying lunch or snacks at resort restaurants and warming up during the ski day all require new protocols.
“Skiing will be the same as it ever was,” observed Proteau, “but when you're on lifts and in public places, it’ll be different.”
Ski lifts will offer group seating for people in the same party, while a space will be left open between unrelated parties. Those who prefer to ride the lift solo will have the option to do so. Masks and extra space between lift lines will be required to avoid the risk of crowds at the lifts.
Skiers and riders will also notice changes when dining at on-mountain restaurants: QR codes will be posted outside for diners to scan with their smartphones to facilitate choosing and ordering food items outside while maintaining social distance. Additional outdoor seating and outdoor shelters will offer places for skiers to warm up, eat and rest while minimizing indoor congregations.
“Be prepared for some things to be different,” advised Proteau. “There may be inconveniences in terms of riding the lifts, there may be delays. We ask people to be patient and kind to employees.”
He encouraged skiers to dress warmly and plan ahead, such as by purchasing lift tickets online in advance to load onto their passes, thus shortening lines and minimizing interactions at the ticket windows.
The resort plans to open as is traditional on Thanksgiving Day, with Donation Day taking place Wednesday, Nov. 25. For $25, skiers and snowboarders can access Lift 4 for their first resort turns of the season, with all proceeds from the day benefitting the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club.
“We encourage people to buy their tickets online in advance for Donation Day,” said Proteau, noting that online lift ticket purchases will help reduce the inconvenience of waiting in lines, and purchases can be loaded onto last year’s pass. Those needing a paper ticket will have access to outdoor ticket windows, as indoor ticket offices will remain closed to the public due to the pandemic.
“We need everyone to really comply with the COVID restrictions that we have and stick to the five commitments of containment that we’ve talked about throughout the pandemic,” said Proteau. “We’re really going to enforce and stress that. The more we get everyone on board and complying the better it’ll be when guests start to arrive because then they’ll see everyone and feel obligated to comply as well.”
The outdoor recreation economy is booming, with the Bureau of Economic Analysis reporting outdoor business and participants creating a $788 billion economic impact in 2019. (Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun)
Special Thanks to Jason Blevins - The Colorado Sun
In Colorado, about 3.2% of the economy is derived from recreation. Growth this year indicates the role of recreation as critical to national recovery during the pandemic.
Outdoor recreation is emerging as a critical element in the economic recovery from COVID-19 as the recreation economy delivers a larger share of U.S. economic output for the second consecutive year.
The federal government’s latest tally of the outdoor recreation economy showed a $787.6 billion economic impact from businesses supporting 5.2 million jobs. The report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis issued this week showed outdoor recreation’s businesses and participants supported 2.1% of the nation’s economic output, or gross domestic product.
This is the third annual report on the U.S. recreation economy. The 2017 report was the first to quantify the growing role of recreation in the national economy. Each year since, the recreation economy has grown, often at a faster rate than the national economy.
The 2019 report from the BEA showed the recreation economy providing $459.8 billion in “nominal value” — spending minus the costs of goods and services — to the gross domestic product, which the bureau counted as $21.4 trillion in 2019. The bureau’s 2019 study showed the recreation economy’s “real gross output,” which covers consumer and business spending as well as wages, reached $787.6 billion, up from $776.8 billion in 2018 and $759.6 billion in 2017.
The outdoor recreation economy in the U.S. is “bigger than mining and bigger than agriculture and on par with broadcasting and telecommunications,” said bureau economist Dirk van Duym in a presentation early Tuesday after the report was released.
Not surprisingly, winter activities in Colorado delivered more than any other state with a $1.7 billion contribution to the state’s economy. At a national level, winter sports was the sixth largest economic contributor in the outdoor recreation industry with a $6.3 billion impact.
Boating and fishing — the most popular outdoor activity in 30 states — led the outdoor recreation economy with a $23.6 billion contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product.
Touring in recreational vehicles — or RVing — was next, with an $18.6 billion contribution, followed by hunting and motorcycling.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis said the outdoor recreation economy was led by the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services industries. Other industries driving the recreation economy include retail and manufacturing.
In Colorado, accommodation and food services led the state’s recreation economy — which is driven largely by private businesses — followed by arts, entertainment, recreation and retail shops. (The bureau analysis considers attendance at festivals and concerts as outdoor recreation.)
All the industries that drive the country’s recreation economy are the ones that have suffered most during the pandemic, which settled hard on the West during the busy spring ski season and saw resorts, hotels and restaurants shuttered from mid-March into May.
Outdoor recreation was ranked nationally among impacted industries in the pandemic, alongside food, lodging and hospitality. Recreation industry losses came not only from closures of outdoor areas, shops and manufacturing plants but also impacts to domestic and international supply chains.
But as shutdowns lifted this spring, outdoor recreation boomed “like never before,” said Jessica Turner, the head of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, a coalition of 33 outdoor recreation organizations representing more than 110,000 businesses.
Participation in outdoor activities has hovered around 48% to 50% of the population in the last 15 years of tracking by the Outdoor Industry Association. Surveys of participation from this summer and fall suggest participation has climbed to all-time highs near 69%, the association’s executive director Lise Aangeenbrug said, pointing to health and wellness contributions beyond dollars that are tied to people getting outside to play.
Erik Pritchard, the head of the Motorcycle Industry Council, said sales of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and side-by-side, off-highway vehicles during the pandemic are setting records with double-digit percentage growth in 2020 over 2018 and 2019.
Outdoor recreation is “one of the few sectors holding up the economy during COVID,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, noting “a remarkable shift in how consumers are spending” during the pandemic.
Between March and June this year, the boating industry sold 44,000 boats, a 10% increase over the same period of 2019, Hugelmeyer said. In Colorado, sales of rafts, paddleboards and kayaks boomed in the spring as rivers and lakes swelled with socially-distanced paddlers.
The campground industry is on trajectory to surpass 2019’s record traffic, even after the spring shutdown, said Paul Bambei, the head of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which represents about 3,000 privately-owned RV parks.
Bambei said the campground industry saw a 185% increase in cancellations through April. But the industry has rebounded, with tens of thousands of first-time campers, Bambei said, noting a 19% increase in campground reservations in September and a 20% increase in deposits on RV and camper purchases for 2021.
“This was a break-out year to get behind the wheel,” he said.
BY ANGELA CARAWAY-CARLTON PHOTOS BY VISIT TELLURIDE/ RYAN BONNEAU AND VISIT TELLURIDE/ TONY DEMIN.
Locals in Telluride like to throw around the catchphrase, “People go to Aspen to be seen. People come to Telluride to escape the scene and hangout.” Every time someone said some version of the phrase during my visit to the remote town in southwestern Colorado, it resonated with me. Not because of the vastly different personalities of the two mountain towns, but because after five months of being grounded, I had finally escaped the suffocating scene of South Florida. Healthy, and searching for the same promises of an off-the-grid, one-with-the-great-outdoors experience that lure people to Telluride year-round, I braved two plane rides — hardly recognizable in a face mask and a plastic face shield that your nail tech hopefully wears, while executing more glove changes than a surgeon — to Montrose Airport and drove the hour to Telluride.
I’ll admit the rugged, small mountain town wasn’t on my radar, until one of my close friends in Miami returned from spending much of the pandemic in her new vacation home there. She was hooked on the peaceful isolation and desperate to go back to the place that excelled at social distancing activities before that was ever a mandate. As quickly as I ripped off my clothes from the plane, my mood swung from anxious to relaxed. Maybe, it was due to the fresh alpine air, crystalline blue skies, and jaw-dropping scenery filled with mountain peaks and impromptu elk and deer sightings. Or, maybe it’s that while everyone is following tight safety protocols, the heaviness of the pandemic seems much lighter there. Whatever it was, my mountain reset had begun.
Stepping foot into downtown Telluride, breathtakingly hugged on all sides by the San Juan Mountains, it’s like you’ve been dropped in the middle of an Old West postcard. Only instead of horses, everyone is walking a cute dog, or three. The historic town has managed to preserve its former mining town aesthetic, while lodging modern-day shops and restaurants run by entrepreneurs who had former big careers somewhere else but found totally new pursuits in order to permanently live there. The result is a mix of on-trend and mountain apparel boutiques, eclectic jewelry makers, handcrafted home goods, and art galleries, one run by a photographer mentored by Ansel Adams. Yet, the understated vibe shifts with a swoosh of the gondola up the hill to European-style Mountain Village, where lavish dwellings and upscale ski-in, ski-out resorts prevail. Even there, no one is hyper-focused on how you’re dressed — there’s no shame in sipping expensive Champagne while wearing Patagonia — as everyone is in their own blissed-out world, caught up in the scenery or chatting about the day’s adventures. That special balance of natural ruggedness, laidback luxury and privacy seems to be the reason that celebs like Oprah, Hilary Swank and Ralph Lauren own homes on the outskirts of town. Fun fact: the hour-drive from Montrose Airport to Telluride spans about 20-minutes past Lauren’s sprawling ranch. (Yes, I timed it.)
While my first few days were spent breathlessly hiking up Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado’s tallest waterfall, paddle boarding on pristine Trout Lake dramatically edged by towering pine trees and mountain peaks, I was lucky enough to experience the town’s first, unexpected snowfall of the not-yet season in September. However, my wallet wasn’t as fortunate, when I had to go on a cold-weather clothing shopping spree. As fluffy flakes somersaulted from the sky, my attention focused on yet another one of Telluride’s biggest draws — the enchantment of winter. Formerly green trees were now dressed in thick winter-white coats, the gondola felt more like a fairytale journey instead of mere transportation, and restaurant fire pits were cranked up for roasting s’mores and sipping warm drinks. I had come for the tail-end of summer, but Telluride began building a case for a winter visit.
There’s a reason that Telluride is gaining attention as a top ski destination in North America. It’s a powder lovers’ paradise with near-perfect terrain and softly packed snow; dependable sunny days that often cut the bitter chill; and with 148 runs, plenty of skiing for everyone on slopes that never feel crowded. Whether you’re a never-ever skier, or an adrenaline junkie who wants to be dropped by helicopter on an exhilarating summit to swish down deep bowls, there’s an adventure for every skill set. Rookies (let’s face it, we’re from Miami and we relate more to après ski than the actual sport) aren’t banished to the bottom of the mountain on monotonous runs with gaggles of ski school kids — beginner skiers can access the third-highest lift for a long green run, which affords the opportunity to soak up those stellar views for which Telluride is famous. Telluride Ski Resort is forging ahead with their traditional opening on Thanksgiving Day, but expect to be appropriately spaced out on chairlift lines and to ride with your group. There are sanitization stations everywhere from the gondolas to the lifts, you’ll be covered in ski gear from head to toe, so think of it as organic PPE.
The season also brings more adrenaline-pumping action like snowmobiling with Telluride Outfitters, where tour guides whisk riders to Alta Lakes, a trio of stunning turquoise lakes, to cut loose on snow-packed trailheads and explore the remains of the well-preserved ghost town of Alta. In summer, Telluride is a mountain biking mecca where scads of adventurers howl as they barrel down white-knuckle hills; but in winter, you can hop on a fat-tire bike from Boot Doctors to plow through well-groomed or tougher trails for a picturesque workout through frosted trees. People who simply want to soak up the dreamy scenery should make a reservation with Telluride Sleighs and Wagons, where you’ll take a horse-drawn sleigh or wagon ride to a fifth-generation sheep ranch for dinner in a whimsical yurt that comes with killer views of the twinkling towns below.
Indulge in the ski-in, ski-out lifestyle at the Madeline Hotel & Residences, a posh Auberge property primely planted in the middle of Mountain Village and boasting large, cushy suites that will tempt you to stay indoors by the fireplace. After a full day of alpine activities, head straight to their rooftop for a dip in the heated pool and bubbling hot tub that offers a top-notch vantage point of 14,000-foot Wilson Peak, which gleams blue and icy white when it snows and is famously featured on a Coors beer can.
Gather around one of the flickering fire tables or firepits at Black Iron Kitchen & Bar for their creative cocktails (like a smoking drink made of Mezcal infused with mushrooms), order a s’mores kit to roast marshmallows, and then take a spin on the property’s ice skating rink as live musicians play. By December, the hotel’s lobby and guest rooms will have a new look, transformed from a heavy and dark mountain-lodge aesthetic to a lighter, contemporary-chic look that better jives with the Auberge brand.
The high-energy dining scene solidifies Telluride’s spot as the whole-package vacation. Lunch at always-packed The Butcher & the Baker for decadent pastries, piping-hot homemade soups, and artisanal breads layered with organic goodness; join the line at Taco del Gnar to load up on chef-driven tacos stuffed with everything from tempura avocado to Korean short ribs; and at least one dinner should be had at 221 South Oak bistro. Chef Eliza Gavin, a former contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef”, prioritizes fresh ingredients and a hearty vegetable menu with items like pillowy ravioli bursting with surprising ingredients such as pickled peppers and strawberry, or beets and horseradish — all just as delicious as her Colorado meat dishes from elk T-bones to bison short ribs with edamame and corn succotash.
It’s easy to alternate après ski dates between Downtown Telluride and Mountain Village thanks to the free gondola that generously runs until midnight every day. (At the San Sophia Station, you can’t miss the now-famous print entitled “Gondogula” by local artist Mary Kenez, featuring adorable dogs riding the gondola – her gallery filled with cheeky, fun art is also a must-stop.) For an elevated experience with a cozy atmosphere and breathtaking views, especially at sunset, stop at Allred’s, where expansive windows present the chance to watch the snow fall while staying nice and toasty. For a blast into Telluride’s past, head to the Historic Bar at the New Sheridan Hotel in downtown; it’s been around since the 1890s and offers the feel of a saloon where a mix of locals and visitors mingle while sipping $5 Jack Daniel’s.
When it was time to head back home, I was already planning a return visit in winter. This time, armed with a suitcase filled with clothes fitting of a snow bunny — in high-low fashion, of course — just the way Telluride likes it.
There are around 500 ski resorts in the U.S. and more than 5,000 around the world. While no day spent on the powder is a day wasted, some ski resorts fully captured our hearts and left us craving more turns. Here are seven of our favorite ski resorts that we can’t wait to return to again — and again.
Sitting in the San Juan Mountains in Southwest Colorado is the historic former mining town of Telluride. While this place was almost a ghost town in the 1950s and 1960s after mining operations shut down, the area found a new life as a ski town beginning in the 1970s. Ever since then, the town of Telluride and the newer addition of Mountain Village have only become a hotter ski and festival destination ever since.
What makes it special
Telluride sits in a box canyon in what feels like an otherwise untouched spot of rugged, breathtaking land. It’s not the easiest spot to get to as flying right into Telluride (TEX) is often pricey and can be extremely spotty with any wind or weather. The next closest airport is Montrose (MTJ), and that is still about a 90-minute drive, assuming decent driving conditions.
You also won’t come across any chain hotels in or around Telluride. Instead, you’ll find charming spots such as the five-bedroom charming Dunton Town House that I can’t recommend highly enough.
The payoff for the extra effort it takes to get to town is that Telluride rarely feels overrun. You’re almost sure to get a slice of this wintery heaven all to yourself.
The intermediate trail, See Forever, is not to be missed. It’s far from the most challenging run on the mountain, but the views are epic and you can still get a mix of turns in while you check out the scenery. While you’re up there, you might as well stop in for a ski-in and ski-out lunch and glass of wine at Alpino Vino, which is dubbed the highest elevation fine-dining location in North America.
While lunch is a la carte and ski-in and out, dinner is by a pricier multicourse chef’s menu available by reservation only and accessible via ski coach. Here are most tips for a perfect ski day in Telluride.
Where to stay
Two blocks from the base of the Telluride gondola is the previously mentioned Dunton Town House. These five bedrooms in this townhouse are well-appointed and there’s an on-site concierge, an included breakfast spread each morning and a well-stocked fridge at your disposal. If you want to earn or use rewards nights in the Hotels.com program, Dunton is often available for booking via that method.
Alternatively, you could stay in the heart of town at the New Sheridan Hotel for a bit of history. Another option is to rent a condo, or even one of the dozens of Victorian-styled homes that dot the streets of Telluride, through a program such as Airbnb or Marriott Homes & Villas.
Keystone, in Colorado’s famous Summit County, is home to several of the state’s top mountains. The roughly 100-mile drive from the Denver International Airport along I-70 can be a bit slow or challenging during winter weather, but it is the most common way to get to Keystone. Alternatively, the Vail-Eagle Airport (EGE) is about 40 miles in the opposite direction.
What makes it special
Keystone is a family-focused resort in that they make the little things easier with thoughtful touches, such as the red gear wagons to haul ski gear. However, while Keystone is beginner-friendly, there’s plenty for more advanced skiers, too. The mountain’s ski and ride school (complete with dog mascot) is one of the best in the country, and the mountain has a very welcoming attitude for all. In a normal year, the Kidtopia ice fort on the mountain is unique and fun (though word is that will be suspended for this season).
Open both during the day, and even in the evening for night skiing, an iconic run at Keystone has to be the 3.5-mile long and wide-open Schoolmarm run.
There are tons of things to do when you go to Keystone other than just skiing, so make some other reservations in advance. While things may be different this season, normally, on-mountain snow tubing, a horse-drawn sleigh ride to dinner and a four-course fondue dinner only accessible via two gondola rides that will make you feel transported to the Alps, are all worthy additions to your ski time.
Whistler and Blackcomb are technically two mountains, but since they are now connected with the Peak-to-Peak gondola, this iconic ski destination in British Columbia offers a staggering amount of terrain for any type of skier or rider. Whistler-Blackcomb is a part of the Epic Pass program, so even if you live and ski mostly in the U.S., you can use that pass to have a Whistler vacation, too. (Of course, Canada remains closed to U.S. visitors for now, so file this one away for when things change.)
What makes it special
First, there’s the fact that skiing in Canada can actually be cheaper than in the U.S. both due to the exchange rate and simply based on how skiing is priced a little more moderately north of the border. But beyond that, Whistler just gets a ton of really nice snow virtually every year. Some seasons bring 40 feet of snow to the region.
In fact, there’s usually so much snow, that if you have a little one, the best way to get around the charming village at the base of the mountain is by pulled sled instead of a stroller.
Finally, the view from the Sea to Sky Highway that you will drive on to get from Vancouver to Whistler is worth the trip all by itself.
If you’re an early riser, be sure to wake up early for fresh tracks. It costs an extra $25 or so per adult, but you can board the Whistler Village gondola between 7:15 and 8 a.m., eat breakfast at the Roundhouse Lodge and then be one of the very first to enjoy that day’s powder or groomers.
Where to stay
There are many solid lodging options using points all around the very walkable Whistler Village. Options include the Westin Whistler (Marriott Category 7 – 50,000 – 70,000 points), Delta Suites (Marriott Category 6 – 40,000 – 60,000 points), Hilton Whistler Resort (often around 80k Hilton points in season), or the fancy Fairmont Chateau Whistler, located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain.
Located in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains just 30-minutes from the Vail-Eagle Airport (EGE), Beaver Creek is both easily accessible and offers world-class skiing — with a healthy side of luxury.
What makes it special
Beaver Creek makes it easy to just focus on the fun. The mountain has 150 trails and 23 lifts, but yet it doesn’t feel overwhelming. You can stay right on the mountain, next to the gondola and ski school and still be just steps away from the village, ice rink and restaurants.
Beaver Creek isn’t just a mountain designed for kids by any stretch, but it sure does make teaching kids to ski as easy as it could be. In fact, the mountain actually guarantees that after three consecutive days of lessons your 5 and 6-year-olds will be able to ski or board the beginner Haymeadow Park area and those 7 – 14 years of age will be able to graduate to riding Red Buffalo Park. If that doesn’t happen, the fourth day of lessons is free.
And these areas are a lot of fun. In Red Buffalo Park you’ll find fun tree-runs in Jack Rabbit Alley or even covered-wagon ramps and real teepees you can ski through. What’s especially great about Haymeadow Park is there is a beginner-friendly gondola that can be less intimidating at first than navigating chair lifts.
Then, right at 3 p.m., know that the fresh complimentary cookies come out at the base of the mountain.
It doesn’t get any more convenient in Beaver Creek than staying at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. This true ski-in and ski-out hotel is all about location, location, location as you are just a literal snowball’s throw away from both the gondola and ski school. Right behind the hotel, you’ll find the Beaver Creek Village and ice rink.
Deer Valley, located about 36 miles outside of Salt Lake City, is different — in a good way. One of the very few ski-only resorts in the country, Deer Valley has a market it targets and it goes after it full-force. You come here to ski … and maybe be a tiny bit pampered along the way.
What makes it special
In addition to having a no snowboards allowed approach, Deer Valley does a few other things differently, too. Who knows if this year may be different, but normally there are curbside valets available to assist with guests’ ski gear, free parking-lot shuttles and also an on-location licensed child-care facility.
Deer Valley is a tasty dessert of high-end skiing, located on a world-class mountain, with high-quality children’s programs and genuinely friendly mountain hosts available to help with almost anything.
Let Deer Valley help make your trip better at no extra cost by taking one of the four daily free complimentary mountain tours that depart from the top of Carpenter Express chairlift and are available to skiers of intermediate and expert abilities. Then when the day is done, take advantage of the free overnight ski valet.
Where to stay
If you have Marriott points, this is easy — stay at the ski-in St. Regis Deer Valley. It will cost you 70,000 – 100,000 Marriott points per night (often on the higher end of that scale during ski season), but you get Deer Valley luxury without paying Deer Valley cash price tags.
Geography and science gifted Steamboat with powder that is dry and easy to ski, as opposed to being wet and heavy. This, combined with a lower than average elevation for a major Colorado ski resort, makes Steamboat a uniquely good choice for quality ski time with less risk of major altitude adjustment issues.
The town of Steamboat is also laid back and unpretentious. Folks come here to ski, ride and have a good time in a town with roots dating back to the 1800s.
If you want that powder all to yourself (or, OK, with fewer people around), then buy a First Tracks pass in advance online and load the gondola up at 7:45 a.m. before most of the days’ other skiers and enjoy that fresh mountain air with some freshly groomed trails.
This northern Vermont ski resort is about an hour from Burlington International Airport (BVT) or a three-hour drive from Boston and six hours from New York. It’s located in a part of Vermont filled with New England charm and is one of the most reliable spots for early-season snow on the East Coast, given its elevation and geography.
But Stowe isn’t your typical East Coast mountain. The bulk of 116 trails at the resort are on part of Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont. That helps give Stowe a 2,360-foot vertical drop. And with 314 inches of average annual snowfall, skiers can get some great powder without heading across the country.
Stowe has some great beginner and family runs. But what really makes the ski area stand out for some experts, is a group of trails known as the “Front Four,” These double-black diamond trails on the face of Mansfield – Goat, Liftline, National and Starr – are steep, have little grooming and plenty of rocks and trees to avoid. When covered in ice, with a strong wind coming up the slope, this runs can challenge even the most-expert skier. But on a powder day, there’s nothing quite like flying down these trails. Either way, once you’ve skied them, you can almost anything.
Most ski guides will tell you about the legendary Matterhorn Bar just past the mountain. It’s routinely ranked as one of the best Après Ski locations. What they don’t tell you is that local expert skiers often find their way through the backcountry. There’s an old, abandoned ski run, the Bruce Trail, that leads to the bar. Pop your skis, have a drink or two and figure out a way home.
Make sure to leave time – and room in your stomach – for some food-related stops right after exiting Interstate 89, on the road to Stowe. First, there is a tour of the original Ben & Jerry’s factory, built in 1985. Next, pick up some local cheese at the Cabot farmer’s store. Finally, stock up on some cider donuts at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.
Where to stay
At the base of Stowe’s family-friendly Spruce Peak – and just a short gondola ride away from Mount Mansfield, is the posh Lodge at Spruce Peak. This ski in-ski out hotel offers accommodations to fit small or large groups. It’s also part of Destination Hotels, which was acquired by Hyatt. As a Category 8, it won’t be cheap. Standard rooms will set you back 40,000 points a night.
A short drive away from the mountain is the Topnotch Resort, a longtime favorite of visitors to Stowe.
For those in love with The Sound of Music, check out the Trapp Family Lodge. The European-themed resort bills itself as “A Little of Austria. . . a Lot of Vermont.” And yes you do get that Austrian-themed experience but know you are staying at a hotel founded by the family which inspired the musical and movie. It is still run today by some of the family members.
Each year, a different national forest provides a tree to light up the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol building for the holiday season. The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests, in partnership with nonprofit partner Choose Outdoors and Colorado Tourism, will take this special gift from Colorado to Washington, D.C., for the 2020 holiday season, with special events in 10 communities along the way.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will officially begin its journey to the nation’s capital on Nov. 6.
The tree will be cut in the Uncompahgre National Forest, followed by a short ceremony with remarks by U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service leadership, local elected officials and project partners.
A livestream of the ceremony and tree-cutting will be available to view online on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests Facebook page.
The tree will visit communities for a series of outdoor festivities hosted by local communities at fairgrounds, schools, main streets, visitor centers, convention centers and retailers.
Well-wishers will have a chance to take photos, sign banners on the sides of the truck, and learn more about the GMUG National Forests.
Festivities are free and open to the public.
The tree will stop in Grand Junction on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at the Two Rivers Convention Center.
Beginning Nov. 10, the tree’s journey can be tracked in real time online at capitoltreetracker.com with tour stops.
Western Slope stops include:
On Tuesday, Nov. 10:
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. in Norwood at the San Miguel County Fairgrounds
3:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Montrose Visitor Center
Wednesday, Nov. 11:
9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. Ouray County Courthouse
5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction
Thursday, Nov. 12:
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Downtown Paonia
2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Gunnison Community School
The tree is scheduled to arrive at the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol building on Friday, Nov. 20.