Six More Weeks of Winter: Six Awesome Frozen Adventures
posted by: Julie Bielenberg
The Groundhog had some misinformed sources, seems to be six more weeks of winter for Coloradans! The snow keeps blanketing the mountain slopes and Front Range, and temperatures are certainly polar-esque. Embrace the abundance of Colorado winter activity with the family; here’s a bucket list to do before the white stuff melts.
Estes Park: Snowcat
Estes Park Outfitters
Winter is the perfect opportunity to explore Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park crowds die down come winter and new activity abounds, such as snowcat with the family! Tim Resch has a brand new snowcat for 2019, and this is the only operation in all the area. The ride will climb several thousand feet of elevation and through miles of remote mountain trails with views of incredible mountain vistas, Denver and Estes Park Valley. Then arrive at a remote luxury off the grid mountain lodge located at 9200 feet elevation and sit by the fire and relax, taking in the sweeping vistas of Twin Sisters mountains, enjoy your favorite food and drinks or cross country ski or snowshoe over 7 miles of groomed mountain trails from 9000 to 10,000 feet elevation.
Each snowcat can fit up to 8 people and the rides go out from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm daily. It’s $550/ a tour no matter how many people you book. Runs December 1-March 31, weather dependent. estesparkoutfitters.com
Vail Valley: Snowmobile
Sage Outdoor Adventures
If there’s ever a winter to try that bucket list snow sport, it’s 2019! The powder provides for some of the best in snow sport and Vail Valley has a cache of national forest and snowmobiles! Sage Outdoor Adventures has miles and miles of outdoor trails and a variety of different packages, only 30 minutes from Vail and Beaver Creek. There are many tour options, so it really depends on the age of your crew. Bring warm-weather clothes for under snowsuits that they provide. Feel free to bring your own snow pants or boots, or bring your own. Remember, the wind will be blowing, so be prepared. Goggles and helmets are provided, but not gloves. Tours are usually two hours in length with short breaks for scenic overlooks, practice or wildlife spotting. sageoutdooradventures.com/snowmobiling
P,S…. Where to stay? The Antler’s “Chill Out” deal, April 1-21, subject to availability and restrictions, and requires a four-night minimum stay is one of the best values for learn to ski at Vail. Kids stay free in an additional bunkroom and receive free gear rentals for skis or snowboards with every paid adult rental. Families also receive a free home cooked meal prepared by Antlers Chef Barry Robinson, which can be enjoyed in the condominium suites, which feature full kitchens, dining and living areas. And, the kids get a special seasonal toy to play with in the Antlers outdoor year-round pool. antlersvail.com
P.P.S. . . Where to après ski? Just steps away from the base of Riva Bahn Express Lift at Golden Peak, Larkspur is an easy stop off the slopes at the beginning or middle of the ski day. Lunch and après- ski menus offer a wide range of dishes for kids and adults. From the grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup to the famous lobster club, there is something for every member of the family. Lunch: Open daily from 12pm – 2:30pm. Apres: Open daily from 2:30pm – 4:30pm.
Frisco: Sleigh Rides
2 Below Zero
We did this when my youngest was not even three months old, what a blast! My older children still beg each winter to return; well, if ever there was a winter with great snow, it’s 2019! Your evening at 2 Below Zero begins with a quiet sleigh ride amidst snow-capped mountain views and starry night skies. The drivers welcome you and fellow guests aboard draft mule-team-driven sleighs and provide heavy blankets to warm you for the 20-minute ride. Upon arrival at the back country camp, fun continues inside a cozy lantern-lit, heated tent with a hearty three-course, home-cooked meal with show featuring musical entertainment from David Peel.
For a memorable end to the evening, you’ll enjoy a return sleigh ride to the Frisco Nordic Center. For prices, times, dates, group discounts, etc. visit dinnersleighrides.com.
Denver: Dior—From Paris to the World
Denver Art Museum
Yes, we know this is not an outdoor activity, however there is urgency for this activity as this is certainly one of the most incredible and child-engaging exhibitions to land at the DAM. Dior is only at the Denver Art Museum until March 17th and it’s certainly worth the visit.
Here’s what you need to know. Curated by Florence Müller, the DAM’s Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion, this was designed with children and multiple-generations at the forefront for ultimate engagement. Dior: From Paris to the World surveys 70 years of the house of Dior’s enduring legacy and its global influence. A selection of more than 200 couture dresses, as well as accessories, costume jewelry, photographs, drawings, runway videos, and other archival material made up the exhibition.
Kids and families are invited! There’s a free, special audio guide (in Spanish as well) for families and a fun activity for youngsters. The “fun activity” is a free takeaway for kids (or adults, if they want one) after they have gone through the exhibition—a paper fold-up bag with a paper jacket puzzle. Children 5 and under receive free admission, and those age 6 to 18 see the exhibition for $5. (Youth tickets are free with Family level membership and above.) DAM wil be busy with this exhibition, so they highly recommend people buy their tickets online in advance.
DAM is open 7 days a week, and is free for kids 18 and under every day. In addition to Dior, a fun activity for families and kids would be a visit to the free Print Studio on level 1.
YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch
Try a go at Nordic skiing if the downhill slopes get too crowded with the epic snow. YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch (SMR) has a package that includes classic equipment rental, trail pass and a one-hour group lesson for $50 for adult and $40 for child. Single-Day Cross-Country Skiing Trail Passes are complimentary to YMCA of the Rockies members and SMR overnight guests. Don’t forget snowshoe is an option with both adult and child rentals. Or try a ride on a Fat Bike across any of the 10 km of groomed trails reserved exclusively for this new obsession sweeping the outdoor world and winter sports nation. The bikes come in 3 different adult sizes and are available for rent at the Nordic Center. Rental includes helmets.
Located next to the Nordic Center, the family friendly ice-skating rink and tubing hill are open every day—now with a snow-making machine, just in case the white stuff lets up. Both activities are included at no additional cost for overnight guests and day pass holders. Strap on some skates and visit SMR’s very own ice skating pavilion. Skate under a covered pavilion with the continental divide as your backdrop. Ice skates are available at the ice skating pavilion. snowmountainranch.org
Boulder: Winter Hikes
From our dear friends at the Boulder CVB, here are some suggestions on winter hikes that avoid the crowds and maximize the solitude and peacefulness of snow in one of the Front Ranges’ most popular spots. The white stuffs keep the masses at home, get out and enjoy some easy, family-friendly hikes. bouldercoloradousa.com/
Canyon Loop at Betasso Preserve
Distance: 3.3-mile loop
Dogs allowed: Yes, leashed
A diverse, 3.3-mile loop has mountain views, sprawling meadows, tightly forested areas, panoramic overlooks and a fair amount of wildlife spotting. It’s a popular mountain biking destination, so going in wintertime means you are less likely to have to step aside for bikers. And if you want to avoid that altogether, plan your hike for a Wednesday or Saturday, when the trail is closed to bikes. The trail is a long, meandering loop that only gets really challenging in the last mile (or first mile, depending on which direction you start).
Distance: 2.1 miles, one-way
Dogs allowed: Yes, except at Teller Lake No. 5 (closer to the North trailhead)
If the mountains are socked in (pretty rare!) or you want a more expansive view, head for the plains. Start at the South Teller Lake Trailhead and take the East Boulder Trail, which ambles north past Teller Lake No. 1 and past an active farm, with cattle and horses (and bee keeping in warmer months). You’ll finish at Teller Lake No. 5, a peaceful spot for bird watching. If you prefer to start at the north trailhead, just be aware that dogs are not allowed around Teller Lake No. 5.
First and Second Flatiron
Distance: 1.3 miles, one way
Dogs allowed: Yes, but see regulations
Boulder’s most recognizable Flatirons — the large, slanting, rock formations that are visible from much of town — bring a steady stream of visitors in the summer. You’ll see plenty of other hikers in winter, too, especially on warm days, but it’s a good time to get out on these popular trails while there are fewer crowds. Plus there’s nothing prettier than the Flatirons with a dusting of snow on their ridges. The First and Second Flatiron Trail takes you right up to the two most prominent Flatirons. Start out on the Chautauqua Trail and then follow signs for “1st/2ndFlatiron.” You’ll end at the saddle between the First Flatiron and Sunset Rock.