By Rebecca Treon
Colorado’s ski country has been blessed with unusually good early-season snowfall this year, a trend resorts hope continues into the spring. Every winter, ski resorts bring back favorite annual traditions — think the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge going 29 years strong — but it also gives them the chance to roll out new and exciting things to draw people in. This year is no exception. As resorts prepare for the season, they’ve added new runs, lifts, restaurants, packages, and activities. Read on for a few of the additions we’re most excited about.
The Park Hyatt has partnered with Walking Mountains Science Center to offer a unique snowshoeing package for nature lovers – the Cats of Colorado Snowshoe Package, offered on the first Monday of every month from December to April. Certified Interpretive Guides take participants on four-hour snowshoe tours through US Forest Service trails looking for scats, tracks, and furs from cats found in the Colorado wilderness. Guests may also see moose, fox, elk, deer, and more wildlife native to the area. Connect with the unique natural elements of the area near Beaver Creek on an unforgettable excursion.
The long-awaited opening of the luxurious Hotel Talisa (formerly Vail Cascade) has finally arrived. The $65-million renovation revamped the hotel’s 285 rooms, 58,000-square-foot athletic club, three dining options and spa, featuring unique locally inspired treatments using wildflowers and other botanicals. The hotel is Vail’s only true ski-in/ski-out resort; it has Chair 20 directly on the property, giving guests easy access to the mountain. Don’t miss Hotel Talisa’s apres ski, featuring champagne and a fancy hot chocolate bar.
Steamboat resort is launching Timber & Torch, its new centerpiece restaurant in the heart of Gondola Square at the base of the mountain. It has both a pair of indoor bars and a pair of outdoor bars; the outdoor heated patio area also features a fireplace. T & T serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, plus (of course) apres, happy hour, and late night — it stays open until midnight with live music. The menu is made up of bistro-style favorites like fish and chips and its natural partner, beer — the bar serves 24 craft beers on tap along with a menu of bespoke cocktails.
While you’re on the mountain, keep an eye out for Taco Beast, a roaming snowcat serving ‘trail tacos’—a high country riff on street style tacos. The snowcat, nicknamed the Beast, was in use on the mountain for years before it was repurposed this year to serve food. The tacos are Colorado-inspired (think elk chorizo) and topped with cilantro, shredded cabbage, pickled red onion, and queso fresco. Also on the menu: Mexican-style corn on the cob and Mexican sodas.
Spend an idyllic night on the slopes at the once-monthly Moonlight Dine + Ski at Copper Mountain. The evening kicks off with guests riding the new American Eagle combination chairlift to Solitude Station, where a gourmet meal awaits. (Three of the four events include one hour of private skiing beforehand.) Inside, there will be live acoustic music, drinks, dinner and dessert. Enjoy a post-dinner corduroy lap to Center Village by moonlight to top off this magical experience.
Enjoy everything the mountains have to offer without straying from the foothills. At Echo Mountain, two new packages make a mountain weekend a no-brainer. For families, the Over the Hills package includes up to four tubing passes and a two-night stay at the new Origin at Red Rocks Hotel, complete with a hot chocolate and s’mores kit to enjoy at the Nomad Taqueria + Beer Garden fire pit. For night owls, the Echo Mountain Ski Package includes a two-night stay at Origin Red Rocks, two night-skiing passes, and a hot chocolate and s’mores kit to have fireside at Nomad.
The Colorado Gems is a collection of off-the-beaten-path ski resorts (hello, shorter lift lines!) offering a way to enjoy plenty of days spent hitting the slopes without breaking the bank. $25 will get guests 2-for-1 adult lift tickets or two 30% off adult lift tickets at any of the 11 participating Colorado Gems Resorts, most of which are affordable anyway (lift tickets at Cooper start at $56 a day, Sunlight at $55 a day, and Loveland $65 a day). The discounts provide up to 22 days of powder at any of the resorts: A-Basin, Cooper, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Grandby Ranch, Hesperus, Kendall Mountain, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn, and Sunlight.
There’s a trend across skiing — women tend to drop out of the sport once they have kids and life gets in the way of downhill fun. At Telluride, the Women’s Ski and Wellness Week offers expert ski instruction to bring skills up along with yoga and meditation classes, wellness speakers, and après fun for the ultimate ladies’ getaway.
Reel in the Big One
From quiet, snow-covered landscapes to early-morning animal sightings, anglers are rewarded now through late February, when conditions are just right for ice fishing. Unless you already know how to judge ice and cut a hole, it’s a good idea to hire a guide. Bernie Keefe – owner of Fishing with Bernie – offers ice fishing trips on Grand Lake ($400) and Granby Lake ($350), the latter welcoming amateur ice fishermen with 7,250 acres of frozen water and over 40 miles of shoreline. Trout (rainbow, lake and brown) bite at both lakes, and if you’re lucky you might even hook a Kokanee salmon. In addition to bringing a drill, ice skimmer and ice fishing rods, which are different than regular fishing rods, Keefe also provides a warm shelter with heaters. Just make sure you show up with warm clothes, boots and a sack lunch. January 25 to 27, Keefe helps host the annual 3 Lakes Ice Fishing Tournament. Even if you aren’t fishing, it’s still fun to peruse the weigh station at Indian Peaks Marina. Safety is paramount. On all lakes, be aware of conditions, especially if you’re fishing below 8,000 feet. Always inquire about conditions before walking on the ice.
Build a Snow Cave
Fine-tune winter survival skills by snowshoeing into a remote corner of Rocky Mountain National Park with REI’s survival experts on Saturday, February 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. During this unique class, you’ll learn everything you never thought to ask about emergency snow shelters as snow sculpting experts provide hands-on tutelage. By the end of the day, you’ll know how to dig an entrance, excavate the interior and poke ventilation holes into your very own snowy shelter. Gear – gaiters, snowshoes and trekking poles – is included with the class ($119 for non-members). Participants should arrive in warm, weather-appropriate clothes with at least two liters of water.