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Top Five Memorable Reasons to Spend Spring Break in Steamboat Springs

Once upon a time when I was a Utah-based travel writer, I fell in love with a foreign land of steaming hot springs, world-class mountains, a charming rodeo and 7 miles of multi-use paved trails that wind through downtown along the roaring Yampa River.

That was summer in Steamboat Springs and though I’ve lived in Colorado for 10 years, I had yet to visit during the winter. We finally made it happen this week during Spring Break.

Five Great Reasons to Spend Spring Break in Steamboat Springs

5) Hot springs.

Old Town Hot Springs

Old Town Hot Springs

Steamboat isn’t Steamboat without soaking in one of their two natural springs. Strawberry Park Hot Springs’s stone-walled pools 9 miles north of town are in an idyllic forest range and water temperatures range from 102 to 104 degrees. But be warned: clothing is optional after dark.

On our recent visit, we had a grand time at the more family-friendly Old Town Hot Springs with their eight hot spring-fed pools, a 25-yard lap pool, a fitness center, exercise classes and massage services. A huge hit was the climbing wall where attempt after attempt was made to climb to the top, ring the bell and jump back into the water. There are two 230-foot water slides for kids over 44 inches that are open seasonally (winter and summer). I screamed in trepidation the whole way down while both my kids laughed, which means the slides are actually really fun for those who don’t need a pacemaker.

4) Horseback riding with Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch.

Steamboat Springs is renowned for its Western charm so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go horseback riding with one of Colorado’s oldest licensed outfitters, Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch, which offers hourly horseback rides (kids need to be at least 6 years old) and summer pack trips. The half-hour shuttle ride from town to their 6,000-acre ranch in the Elk River Valley was my favorite part of the trek as fourth generation Steamboat native, Olympian and cowboy Ray Heid delighted us with stories of his family’s colorful history in the valley.

horsebackThere are around 40 horses housed at the ranch. My husband rode Kirby, Bode teamed up with Music, I was on Boots, while Hadley rode Bode, which made my son humorously uncomfortable to think of his sister riding his namesake. For our winter horseback ride, we wore our ski clothing but turned out we didn’t need them. Though the snow sparkled around us, the spring temperatures were toasty as we rode through the aspen forest with staggering views of Hahn’s Peak and the knees of the Sleeping Giant (a.k.a. Elk Mountain) bowing before us.

There were moments of excitement. When Bode’s horse lagged behind, Music kicked it into gear with a full-fledged canter. “Was it totally fun?” I asked overly-cautious Bode. “Not really,” he dryly retorted (read: understatement). Later in the ride, another horse bit my horse Boots’ behind, to which he responded with a swift kick to the horse’s face, freaking out Jamie’s ride. Lesson learned: don’t nip my butt. Kissing is just fine.

3) Steamboat Sleigh Ride Dinner at the Haymaker Golf Course

Put this one on your bucket list for next year because the final day of Steamboat’s Sleigh Ride Dinner is March 29, 2014 and the 8 km of cross-country ski and skate tracks and 3 km of snowshoe trails will close April 1.

sleighI’ve been to a few sleigh ride dinners and usually the drill is to ride to dinner in the sleigh, eat and return. However, we took a shuttle bus from the Steamboat Grand to the Haymaker, warmed up with hot beverages and appetizers (I’m still salivating over the fried artichokes) and placed our dinner order. We then journeyed back in time as we snuggled up under a blanket in our 20-person sled as a pair of draft horses kicked up plumes of snow while they pranced through the Yampa Valley’s dazzling white dreamscape.

Upon our return, a gourmet three-course dinner was promptly served and the lineup included choices like a sultry roasted red pepper and tomato soup, beef tenderloin (my daughter’s “most favorite steak ever”), Macadamia nut crusted halibut and warm molten chocolate lava cake with raspberry sauce. While my kids played cards by the fire, my husband and I watched the sunset, wishing this Frozen evening could last forever. Just call me Elsa.

2) The others.

Photo: Howelsen Ice Arena

Photo: Howelsen Ice Arena

There so many things to do in Steamboat Springs that we couldn’t fit everything into our two-day visit. An absolute must is F.M. Light & Sons. If City Slickers want a real pair of cowboy boots, this is the place to find ‘em with literally hundreds of choices, as well as stylish western wear and novelties the kids will love. Be sure to pop into Lyon Drug & Soda Fountain next door for awesome gifts, cards, lotions, potions and spring for an old-fashioned soda. Another local’s favorite is Freshies Restaurant. Their breakfasts are legendary but this time we did lunch, which was equally delicious. Dear Freshies’ specialty salads, sandwiches and onion rings: I’ll be back.

Bucket list: Bump-n-Skate. Bumper cars on ice? You betcha! These bumper cars have four tiny wheels and are propelled by a small motor with hand controls that will have you bumping, sliding and laughing at Howelsen Ice Arena. Be sure to check their website for their bumper cars on ice schedule as well as public skate sessions.

1) Steamboat Springs, The Mountain.

skiingThe thing that keeps everyone coming back is Steamboat Springs’ 2,965-acres of champagne-powder bliss. Steamboat is actually a complete mountain range: Mount Werner, Sunshine Peak, Storm Peak, Thunderhead Peak, Pioneer Ridge and Christie Peak. Despite the vastness of the terrain, what I loved most about Steamboat was they have only one base area, making it easy to navigate.

When we dropped the kids off at ski school, they were each outfitted with a Flaik GPS device and we were later able to track their whereabouts. Jamie and I took a private lesson with 27-year Steamboat veteran Dave Hartley who did a phenomenal job teaching us the secret to skiing (ski uphill fast), had a gray jay eating out of my hand (literally), and pushed us to our limits by having me conquer my worst nemesis: trees (his advice was don’t ski the trees, ski the open space!)

At the end of an exhilarating day, we picked up Hadley and Bode. Hadley was thrilled to graduate to a Level 6 skier with Bode hot on her trail for next season. We skied as a family until last chair and they were eager to show off their refined skills. We hit one of Steamboat’s four terrain parks, Lil’ Rodeo Terrain Park, which is more challenging than it sounds with small boxes, jumps and a mini half pipe.

familyMy kids loved the mini-half pipe (or rather, a quarter pipe a.k.a. a half-pipe for wussies). My first time through the terrain park, I inadvertently caught about three feet of air on a jump, swore, somehow landed on my feet and regrouped.

I later concluded that learning to fly at Steamboat Springs wasn’t so bad after all.

Steamboat Springs closes on April 13, 2014 with plenty of fun events in the line-up including the 34th Annual Cardboard Classic, where costumes and themes go a lot further than engineering and craftsmanship for these corrugated creations. On closing day, the Splashdown Pond Skim tests the mettle of those who dare brave the freezing water at the base of the mountain. Thanks to Steamboat for hosting!

Colorado Spring Break 2014: Copper Mountain

Believe it or not, Spring Break is right around the corner! And why go anywhere when the world comes to destinations like Copper Mountain?

Mile High Mamas is pleased to team up with popchips, an official partner of Copper Mountain, to give your family the chance to “pop to the top” and win their Secret Passes. Think: Disneyland’s fast passes where you are able to skip the lift lines. Only this is one of Colorado’s Happiest Place on Snow!

Spring Break is a fantastic time to road-trip to the mountains but the drive can sometimes be tedious (think: I-70 traffic snares). Sure, you could stuff the kids with sugar but watch out for when they crash and you’re still in the car. popchips are a family of delicious potato, tortilla, popcorn, and veggie chips popped crispy and full of flavor that aren’t fried (too greasy), not baked (too cardboard-y). They just add a little heat and pressure top ingredients and pop! It’s a chip.

popchips wants to offer you a chance to win a 4-pack of lift tickets to Copper Mountain (good through April 30, 2014), plus 1-month supply of popchips ski snacks.

Copper Mountain is For Families

Skating West Lake

Skating West Lake

If you’ve never been to Copper Mountain, here are a few highlights  of this resort that is just 75 miles west of Denver.

  • Ski/ride as a family. With over 150 trails across 2,465 acres, we fell in love with Copper Mountain’s varied terrain. P.S. March is Colorado’s snowiest month so be prepared for great conditions in what has already been an epic year.
  • Woodward at Copper. If you’re looking for something that sets Copper Mountain apart from all the others, this is it. Touted as “the raddest place on the planet,” the Barn is a 19,400-square foot indoor playground. Read about our extreme adventure here.
  • Skating. I don’t use the term “idyllic” too often but skating on Copper’s West Lake in the heart of the Village Copper is pretty darn memorable. Skating is free if you bring your own skates or you can rent them for $10 from The Woodward Cage.
  • Get a rush on the Alpine Rush Zip Line. For just $10, this family-friendly zip line soars 30 feet above West Lake skating rink. You’ll travel 300 feet across the lake and reach speeds of 30 mph!
  • Go tubing.  Copper Mountain’s four-laned banked curves and long run-out are a fantastic time for families. No slogging up the hill here—just hop on “The Stinger,” a surface lift that whisks you to the top.  Tubing is run by the hour (prices start at $26).
  • Critterland. Do you have little ones under 36” in tow? They’ll love this interactive snow-play area located adjacent to the Tubing Hill in East Village. with  fun snow characters, the Bearilla Snow Den’s tunnels, ropes to scale, a snowfort, mini-tubing heal and the Ducktopus Tubing Carousel.

Easter Weekend. Another great time to visit Copper Mountain is is on Easter Sunday (April 20, 2014). The resort hosts the largest Easter Egg Hunt in Colorado and over 50,000 eggs will be up for grabs in Center Village. Be sure to make a weekend of it by participating in The Color Run’s first 5k snow run on Saturday, April 19, 2014.

 Feel even better about healthy snacking! If you purchase popchips at Whole Foods Market. $0.05 of every bag sold between March 12 and April 1, 2014 will go to the Whole Foods Whole Planet foundation.

 Contests (yes, as in plural!)

popchips wants to help you “pop to the top” of the lift line by offering highly-coveted Secret Passes. They are valued at  $30 each, and they are awarding two winners each week who will receive a pair of tickets ($60 per pair!). Be sure to enter at http://www.popchips.com/copper/.

 Mile High Mamas also wants to help you get to the slopes and popchips has offered us a family four-pack of tickets and a month’s supply of popchips to give away. Be sure to enter below as many as five times.

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A special thanks to popchips for partnering with us on this promotion.

Woodward at Copper: This Mom’s Ascent (or Descent?) Into Extreme Sports

I live a pretty adventurous life. Last week I went to Costco and tried the spicy jalapeno dip. On another day, I blazed pass those annoying lingering parents in the carpool lane despite the threat of death.

Let’s just say the introductory class at the newly renovated 19,400-square foot indoor playground Woodward at Copper Barn at Copper Mountain, Colo. took me to the next level.

If you’ve never been to “The Barn,” it is a sight to behold. Offering year-round Snowboard, Ski, Skateboard, Bike and Digital Media programs, it recently underwent a half-million renovation project that opened up their adventure alley beyond snowboards and skis to include skateboards, BMX and style-style mountain bike. There’s a new beginner foam pit with 2-foot and 4-foot jumps and a pump track designed for the development of park skills.

Hanging with the big boys.

Hanging with the big boys.

The staffer I chatted up before our class proudly said many of the Olympians and hopefuls at Sochi had, at one time or another, trained at The Barn. My daughter Hadley and I were in esteemed company.

I was Maui-bound the following week. My initial goal walking in there was to play it safe and not break my neck. But when my Hadley and I realized our class consisted of hip 20-somethings? All bets were off as I had something to prove. Surely I wouldn’t be the first to go to Hawaii in a body cast, right?

The minimum age for the intro class is 8. At archaic 9 years old, Hadley looked at all the big boys and appropriately said, “We’re doomed!” We were quite the pair as I calmly joked, “I’ll have to make sure to go to the bathroom first, otherwise I’ll pee my pants.”

Let’s file that one under said no extreme athlete ever at The Barn.

I’m not sure what I was expecting out of the 1 hour and 45-minute class. Maybe we’d jump on the trampoline. If things got really crazy, we’d launch into the foam pit.

Doing a frontside triple cork. #YeahRight

Doing a frontside triple cork. #YeahRight

What we got: Skatelite jumps into foam pits. Sick moves on the Olympic fly-bed trampolines and a Super Tramp. Tumbling practice with back rolls and rodeo progressions on the spring floor and tumble trak. And the more adventurous in our group ended the lesson by trying Woodward’s exclusive new Parkboards™ and Parkskis™ and launching off the ramps into the foam pits.

I wasn’t too disappointed when Hadley begged us to skip that last one.

Our instructor Greg was everything you’d expect and so much more. He was a veritable “dude” but an excellent instructor with a hyper-vigilance to safety and who spotted our every move. “Yell ‘PIT’ when you jump into the foam pit,” he coached. “And make sure you land on your back with your legs spread apart in a tuck position.”

Though Hadley has minimal gymnastics experience, she was bouncing and tumbling along with everyone else. As for me? I shocked the 20-somethings (and myself) by busting out several moves I haven’t done since my days in gymnastics and backyard trampoline glory.

Soarin' at Woodward

Soarin’ at Woodward

I don’t wanna brag but I did have the best cartwheel in the group.

After an hour of practice, most of the guys took to the ramps with their Parkboards while the girls stayed behind to test out our new moves on the Super Tramp and five Fly Beds. After a while, Hadley complained, “My back hurts.”

“So take a break.”

“I. Can’t. Stop.” And she soldiered on with her ninja kicks against the padded wall.

By the end of our session, we were both limping a bit but proud and esctatic at what we’d accomplished. Hadley looked at her old mom in a new light.

“Hey Mom, you did some flips and didn’t even break your neck,” she marveled.

I’m counting that one as a win.

Woodward at Copper has various options for adventure including our Intro Session ($49) or a Tramp Only Session ($35), Drop-in Session ($35) or various daily and weekly camps. They are also famous for the “raddest summer camps on the planet.” Go here for more info. Special thanks to Woodward for hosting and teaching us how to not break our necks.

Colorado Travel: Breckenridge’s Best Winter Activities for Families and My Adventure of a Lifetime!

My husband and I dream of owning a cabin someday and Breckenridge has long been at the top of our list.  Only a 1.5-hour drive from Denver (I-70 traffic snares notwithstanding) this authentic mining town has everything I love: a world-class ski resort, the Blue River (a tributary of the raging Colorado River), an idyllic Main Street, gourmet dining, glittering boutiques, endless hiking possibilities and it is part of an 80-mile network of paved, motorized bike paths that connect other Summit County resorts like Dillon, Keystone, Copper Mountain and Vail.

We have spent long, languid summer and fall days in Breck but here’s my confession: we have never been there once the snow flies. And if you love winter like I do, you know that Breckenridge is one of Colorado’s best family vacations.

When you have young kids, no vacation is perfect but we were fortunate to have a nearly perfect trip with huge winds (the downside), huge snow totals (the upside) and knocking off an activity has been on my bucket list since I was born. Maybe I started dreaming about it in the womb because this trip was what dreams are made of.

If you’re looking for a fantastic getaway in Colorado’s mountains, these are my top recommended activities.

family travel ColoradoIce Castles

Only in Breck for the 2013/14 season, the giant 1-acre Ice Castles are a cut right out of Disney’s musical fantasy Frozen where you’ll swear you’ve been swept away in an eternal winter with magic at every turn. Each ice castle takes thousands of man-hours to make. More than 5,000 icicles are “grown” each day to be harvested and sculpted together. Newly placed icicles are then regularly drenched in freezing water. By day the Ice Castles are beautiful with glacial tones of blue. By night they stun with a kaleidoscope of lights that are actually frozen inside of the ice.

My kids’ favorite part was a tunnel that cut through a wall of ice. They convinced me to slither through it with them and after a slow downhill slide, we were ejected onto the snowy floor. Think: Winnie the Pooh. But even though my landing wasn’t pretty, the rest of it sure was. General Admission, age 12 and up:  $10. Children 4 to 11: $8. Young Children under 4 years old:  Free.  We’re giving away four family four-packs of tickets so be sure to enter here.

skiBreckenridgeBreckenridge Ski Resort

I can’t talk about Breckenridge without mentioning the mountain that makes the town. I’d obviously never skied it and initially the 2,908-acre resort overwhelmed. But I’m a quick learner and getting schooled on this mountain is my kind of education. After dropping our kids off at ski school, my husband and I did the “freedom” shout. For the first hour, the wind was unrelenting but with 45 inches of snow in the last seven days we took a course in Sucking It Up and it paid off. We hunkered down and sought refuge by skiing under the cossetted C Chair and when the winds died down a bit, we had the best powder day we’ve had in a year. We particularly loved skiing Peak 6, Breck’s new 543-acre addition that features high-alpine, intermediate bowl skiing (a true rarity).

At the end of an exhausting day, we picked the kids up and were later able to track their progress via EpicMix’s newest feature, EpicMix Academy. Though the wind kept us from the Golden Runner Alpine Coaster and spending much time on Peak 6, the kids are already begging to take us back to their favorite haunts that included Trygve’s small terrain park with moderate jumps and boxes. There’s no parking at the base of Peak 8 but a free shuttle runs throughout town and delivered us right in front of Pine Ridge Condos where we proceeded to soak in the hot tub and then burrow up to a fire and a movie while a storm raged outside. That, my friends, is what a ski vacation is all about.

 Shop, Eat, Play, Repeat.

“I wish Denver had places like this,” sighed my daughter Hadley. “Like what?” I countered. “Like this,” she said pointing to Main Street’s charming Historic District dotted with boutiques, eateries and galleries. Even at 9 years old, she gets what makes a great shopping district and Breckenridge has it all. My kids are huge fans of the unique Peak a Boo Toys (and the big indoor play area is a bonus on cold days). The town’s Arts District continues to expand and Ready Paint Fire offers a nice respite where you can paint functional pottery like holiday platters to commemorate your trip. Indulge at Mary’s Mountain Cookies and if you stop at the Welcome Center head upstairs for some cool old ski exhibits and a great view of the slopes. If you want a parent’s night out, check-out the Mountain Top Children’s Museum or the 69,000-square-foot Breckenridge Recreation Center which also has indoor tennis courts, lap and leisure pools, a water slide, a racquetball court, basketball courts, indoor rock-climbing wall and more.
crepesalacarte

Our favorite tradition is grabbing crepes from Crepes a la Carte , a longtime fixture on Main Street. Choices range from breakfast to savory to sweet to ice cream crepes and our favorites are the German Apple Strudel or Cheesecake Crepes. All crepes are made-to-order, which is a nice way of saying they are fresh, delicious and take a while so be sure to hunker down by the fire pit in the outdoor seating area. During our half-hour wait, my daughter and I discovered our new favorite shop across the street, Magical Scraps Boutique and Studio. It’s Etsy comes to life with disarmingly darling crafts, fabrics and whimsical accessories like handmade belts, hats, scarves and jewelry.  We could have (and would have) spent a fortune had my husband not plucked us out of our chick reverie to inform us our crepes were ready. But Magical Scaps, we will be back to feel more magic.

Dog Sledding

dogsledwonderlandLast but certainly not least is Dog Sledding. The sport has recently received a bad wrap from the controversial practices of its Aspen counterpart but I was thrilled to Good Times Adventures runs the highest quality of practices as the only snowmobile and dog sledding tour operator in Summit County. Trip Adviser ranks it the No. 1 activity in Breckenridge and you’d better believe it was that good.

Dog sledding has been on my bucket list for years (read: borderline obsession) so I was like a kid in a very whitewashed candy store when we booked our outing. We opted to keep it a secret from our children and they were both ecstatic when we pulled up to the lodge, particularly my dog-loving daughter who repeatedly raved, “I never thought we’d get to do something like this in a hundred years!” It was the adventure of a lifetime,which begs the question: what more do I have to live for?

After signing our waivers and getting outfitted in our snow suits and boots, we met our guide Wes and team of Siberian Huskies. With a dog yard that is home to 140 dogs (with five litters to be delivered around Valentine’s Day), this huge operation allows dogs adequate recovery time as they are rotated in and out of their runs.  We quickly learned their names and personalities. Rocky and Bullwinkle were our lead dogs, next in line were the “swing dogs” Gimly (who had a crush on Hadley) and Red had a squirrel-chasing fetish. Blizzard was grumpy but when paired with Savage he performed like a champ and the “wheel dogs” (in the back) were Scarlet and Maverick who, at 9 years old, is in his last year of sledding and trunky for retirement.dogpet

Wes explained that the dogs are attached to the sled with a series of lines called rigging that includes the tow line (or gang line), tug lines and neck lines. Each sled had a basket where gear or a passenger was carried and were outfitted with a braking device. I volunteered to drive first (this was, after all, my dream) with Hadley in the basket. Wes, Jamie and Bode rode ahead of us in a snowmobile-pulled sleigh.

Before I knew it, the dogs enthusiastically surged forward upon command and I effortlessly balanced on the back tracks of the sled as we raced past old rough-and-tumble mining camps on the 50 acres that bordered a National Forest wonderland. “I’m mushing!!!” I squealed. It started lightly snowing as we soared across the endless snowfields and I was certain we’d been plunked right into an idyllic snow globe in the aptly named Swan River Valley.

Good Times offers various levels of dog sledding and we chose the tamer “Disney” experience. I had no expectations going in but was thrilled when Wes announced the kids would get to drive the team during our slow and steady uphill climbs (many dog sledding operators only let their clients sit in the basket). They were in their element; rosy-cheeked, their “MUSH” commands echoing through the trees as the pitter-patter of husky paws on snow distilled Colorado’s wilderness to its purest incarnation.

After my son’s turn, he moved to the basket while I drove him for the first time. Notoriously cautious when faced with new challenges, he lectured me, “Now, Mom.  Lean into your turns and remember…have a good time!”

With Good Times Adventures, it’s tough to do otherwise.

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For more information on visiting Breckenridge this winter, be sure to check-out GoBreck.com. A special thanks to them for hosting this visit; we’re already planning our return.

 

Family Travel: The Magical Ice Castles in Breckenridge

“Mom, so where are we going for our surprise?”
“I’m not telling. Be here’s a hint: the movie, Frozen.”
“Ice castles? Are we going to see ICE CASTLES?”

My kids nailed it on the first guess. And much to our delight, the giant Ice Castles in Breckenridge, Colo. are a cut right out of Disney’s musical fantasy where you’ll swear you’ve been swept away in an eternal winter with magic at every turn. Disclaimer: mangy reindeer named Sven not included.

This is Brent Christensen’s fifth year building Ice Castles and his third go-around in Colorado (previous years were in Silverthorne and Steamboat). Conveniently located at 150 W Adams Ave. in downtown Breck adjacent to Blue River Plaza, the 1-acre frozen kingdom gives you yet another reason to visit this world-class resort town.

So, how do they do it?

Ho, Ho and Snow: Your Guide to the Holidays at Colorado’s Mountain Resorts

You know good ol’ Santa Claus’ HO HO HO? I’m switching it up for SNOW SNOW SNOW, which is all I want for Christmas. For the first time in a few years, we are staying in Colorado for the holidays and hitting the slopes with our family is at the top of our list.

Three years ago, we skied Loveland Ski Area on Christmas Eve day. I thought my husband was crazy for even suggesting a quick trip to the mountains the day before the biggest holiday of the year but it was a great way to decompress and my kids had a blast skiing with Santa. We’re making it an annual tradition whenever we’re in town.

Here are some Christmas happenings at Colorado’s ski areas and these are only the beginning. Many are also offering firework and torchlight parades to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bang. And if you’re planning to venture out beyond Colorado, be sure to check-out Fifty-plus Great Places to See the Holiday Lights or Fun in the snow–your family guide to winter activities in 2012-13 by syndicated columnist Eileen Oginz.

Colorado Holiday Ski Guide

Arapahoe Basin. Christmas is coming a bit early at A-Basin—Dec. 22 to be exact. Santa will be making an appearance around 11 a.m. stopping by the base area before taking a few laps on the mountain (try to keep up—he’s fast!) Complimentary cake and refreshments will be served at the base area at 12:30 p.m.

2011 Ski Guide: Colorado ski resorts take kids to the next level

So your little one can now get off the chairlift without panicking, make a big, curvy path down a gentle slope and stretch out the time between cocoa breaks.

Or maybe your fifth-grader is ready to try out racing and is looking for a team experience.

Or perhaps your teenage snowboarder has been begging to get into the half-pipe for so long you just can’t take it anymore.

If your kids are ready to take their skiing to the proverbial “next level,” whatever that level may be, Colorado resorts offer a variety of intensive, developmental programs designed to do just that.

Here’s what some of them are offering, with highlights of some of the details so that you can compare as you make your choices this season.

Surprising Buttermilk: Powder Perfection, X Games Extremes AND a Learner’s Mountain?

“This had to be the most perfect day ever to ski Buttermilk,” laughed my husband as we walked back to our car at the end of our ski day. “Deep powder and no crowds,” he crowed. “This may have been my best ski day ever!”

I will admit it and just throw it out there: Our expectations for Buttermilk were low. Having driven by Buttermilk countless times, our experience was limited to skinning up Tiehack on our teleskis and then skiing one run down. We thought of Buttermilk as the “beginner” mountain and had really never seen a reason to ski there. Yes, the Buttermilk map shows the entire panoply of runs –green, blue and black — but we just weren’t tempted.

Powder, Powder Everywhere

When we awoke on Sunday, light, dry snow was piling up everywhere. Our boys couldn’t stand it. We were staying only two blocks from the Aspen Mountain gondola and we quickly recognized that in order to preserve parental sanity, we just needed to let them go in search of first tracks. So, off they went to