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Fat biking around Breckenridge to a distillery or brewery is fun no matter how much snow is on the ground. Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Bike Tours by Ridden

How To Enjoy The Mountains Now—Snow Or No Snow

The less-than-stellar start to the ski season has us thinking about other ways we can enjoy the high country, without having to rely on fickle Mother Nature.

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Despite a weekend snow storm that dumped up to 15 inches in some areas across the Front Range, Colorado ski resorts are experiencing a slow start this winter. As of Monday, Vail had opened 87 percent of its terrain; 73 percent of Crested Butte Mountain Resort‘s trails are open; and just 47 of Telluride Ski Resort‘s 149 trails are available to skiers. In fact, most of Colorado is currently experiencing drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Even if your plans to hit the slopes have been spoiled by less-than-stellar snowfall, that doesn’t mean you should avoid a trip to the high country. There are still plenty of ways to entertain yourself and your family in the mountains this winter—sans skis or snowboards. We’ve rounded up nine ideas, from active outings to ahhh-inducing spa services. (But while you’re basking in all that fun, don’t forget to ask Ullr for just a little more snow—pretty please.)

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Relax

Spa Day. Looking for an excuse to skip out of work for a day? Vail Village’s Sonnenalp Hotel has one: Its new Daycation package ($275) includes a 50-minute spa treatment, 10 minutes at the oxygen bar, lunch at the Bully Ranch (alcohol not included), and a day pass to the spa’s indoor/outdoor pool, steam rooms, sauna, and more. For reservations, call 970-479-5404 or email spa@sonnenalp.com.

Sleep aids. If you’re all about the “new year, new you” mantra, head to the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. Its Spa Anjali offers four chakra blessings (chakras are points of spiritual or physical energy in the body), which are designed to reduce energy blocks and generally increase your well-being and feelings of wholeness. The sessions ($225 to $235) range from 90 to 100 minutes and include a variety of treatments, such as foot rubs, massages, or mud wraps.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort believes zip lining is a year-round activity, so suit up for some winter fun. Photo courtesy of Nathan Bilow/CBMR

Get Stoked

Fat Bike Adventure. Enjoy a workout and the requisite celebratory drink afterward with Breckenridge Bike Tours‘ year-round fat bike tours ($60; they run daily at 1 p.m.). The three-hour excursion takes you along the Blue River Recpath to either Broken Compass Brewing or Breckenridge Distillery for a tour and tasting before you and your bikes are shuttled back to the Ridden gear shop. In the winter, the trip is for intermediate to advanced cyclists only; kid bikes are available. If the snowpack is looking decent, sign up for the new Trek to Tap snowshoe tour ($60, leaves at 10 a.m.), which follows a similar route but is beginner-friendly.

Fly High. Marble Distilling Co. isn’t just a great place to stop for a cocktail. The Carbondale spirits purveyor also runs a farm and distillery helicopter tour. The daylong outing takes participants high above the Crystal Valley (keep an eye out for Mt. Sopris!), over the Crystal Mill and the Marble Quarry, where the distillery sources the marble through which it distills its spirits. You’ll visit the Nieslanik Beef farm and Flying Dog Ranch to see firsthand how the distillery’s grains are grown, harvested, and, eventually, returned to the farm as livestock feed, before heading to the distillery for a tour, tasting, and lunch. The heli-tour is only available by request. Contact the distillery for more details. 

Soar Above the Trails. Crested Butte thinks zip lining should be a year-round pursuit—and we agree. Over two hours, you’ll clip in and fly along five zip lines, ranging in length from 120 to 400 feet. Tours ($66) are offered daily, and reservations are recommended (and earn you a small discount if you book at least five days in advance). For reservations, call 970-349-2211 or swing by the Adventure Center.

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Lynn Britt Cabin
At least once a year, we should all indulge in a meal at one of the charming cabins (like Lynn Britt Cabin at Snowmass) dotting our ski hills. Photo courtesy of Dan Bayer

Eat, Drink, And Be Merry

Drink and Learn. Elkins Distilling, which opened in Estes Park in 2016, hosts a weekly speaker series called Wilderness & Whisky focused on ecology and conservation. The next one, on January 28, features ultra runner and environmental activist Clare Gallagher chatting about her coral research and protecting public lands. Bonus: You get to avoid I-70!

Opening Alerts. A number of new restaurants debuted in the mountains this winter, so you can adventure with a full belly. We’re looking forward to checking out Toro Kitchen & Lounge (Snowmass) from well-known restaurateur Richard Sandoval; savory breakfast and midday cocktails at Toast & Co. (Copper Mountain); and the global eats on offer at Artisan 206 (Breckenridge).

Dinner on the Mountain. One of our favorite winter treats is indulging in a meal at one of the charming log cabins that pepper our ski hills. This year, we have our sights set on Lynn Britt Cabin, located mid-mountain at Snowmass, which is hosting three new gourmet dinners. The first, on February 3, requires a one-mile snowshoe; the other two (February 19 and March 10) send diners via snowcat. Price ranges from $100 to $185 per person; for reservations, call 970-923-8715 or email ascconcierge@aspensnowmass.com.

Fun for the Whole Family. Keystone is hosting the inaugural Kidtopia Culinary Festival, February 9 to 17. There’s a gumbo cook-off, Cupcakes & Canvas, and afternoon showing of Ratatouille, and even fireworks and kids’ yoga—and most events are free.

For more on what’s new in the mountains this year, check out this story from our November 2017 issue.

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