A Stamp on the Passport: Basking in the Sun at Sunlight

Submitted by Lori Mayfield on Thu, 11/29/2018 - 10:10

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My son, Ames in one of Sunlight’s gorgeous aspen groves

“It’s not what it has, but what it doesn’t have” that sets Sunlight Mountain Resort apart from other places in Colorado, according to their Marketing Director, Troy Hawks. There are no parking fees, for starters. In fact, we rolled in about an hour after the lifts opened and parked just steps from the Segundo lift. This provided the convenience of our car as our day locker. After just a few runs in spring sun we needed to shed layers, making access to the car to store them hassle free.

We didn’t find lift lines either. What we did find were lifties who were chatty and personable. “How was your run?” one asked at the bottom of Primo lift with a smile. 

“Awesome!” I responded, knowing most ski resorts over spring break were likely packed. Sunlight is among Colorado Ski Country USA’s family-friendly Gems ski areas. While technically a resort, you won’t find steep resort prices. Your ski dollar stretches further— from lift tickets and lunch to lodging, where you’ll find a number of partners offering ski, swim stay packages.

You’re unlikely to see visitors strutting the latest designer ski fashion trends, but rather something cobbled together from seasons’ past - insulated, camo hunting pants doubling as “ski pants” and yes, even jeans, without a hint of self-consciousness.

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Our visit to Sunlight was on a day where the namesake rays created spring-snow conditions at the base. But mid mountain and above the snow was perfect, and temperatures that welcomed T-shirts and just glove liners. Sunlight’s three lifts, offering access to 680 acres, funnel down to the base, making getting lost near impossible. You’ll find stunning views atop Primo lift and a nice spread of beginner to advanced terrain including a 2.5-mile run (The Ute) and a 52-degree steep run called the Heathen which gives pause to even the most daring speedsters.

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We soaked in all 16 pools of Iron Mountain Hot Springs until our fingers were pruned

Care for a dip?

One of the things we loved most about Sunlight Mountain Resort was its proximity to Glenwood Springs (just 12 miles away), offering plenty to do including the ideal antidote to tired skier legs— hot springs. At Glenwood Hot Springs, we lucked out visiting on opening day of the waterslide for the spring season.  The resort boasts the world’s largest hot springs pool and has a colorful history dating back to 1888 when it opened.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs allows you to dip yourself into 16 separate small mineral pools, ranging in temperatures between 98 and 108 degrees plus a larger swimming pool.

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A rush of adrenaline on Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park Alpine Slide

Après grins and giggles

While we were in Glenwood Springs visiting Sunlight, we decided to take a couple days to check out the town. We had Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park practically to ourselves when we arrived for our day of fun. 

The morning storm turned to bluebird skies by afternoon. We’d finish a ride and with no lines on the coaster, they’d ask if we wanted to go again.  The park’s newest ride is The Mine Drop. Strapped to our seats, I told my son to look up (where it was pitch black and cavernous looking) adding, “Are you ready to blast up through that hole?” just as the ride plunged instead down 110 feet.  Expecting the ride to go in the opposite direction, my son was rendered scream-less. Ghosts awaited us at the bottom of the mine for an added scare. We condensed what typically takes a full day to explore the park into just a few hours including a cave tour.

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Stick a Fork in It

A few standout restaurants in Glenwood Springs included The Riviera Supper Club featuring live piano music by former Phantom of the Opera Musical Director, Jonathan Gorst. The Colorado-inspired menu is designed around seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients. We completely mooed out at Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse on the absolute best steak I’ve had in recent memory.

For the ultimate ski sugar buzz, Sweet Coloradough donut shop is a must stop. They serve a full range of breakfast, but we left with a box of ooey, gooey, glazed heaven including a bear claw and the signature 11-layer croughnut.

After our weekend in Glenwood Springs and our days skiing at Sunlight Mountain Resort, we couldn't wait to explore more Passport ski areas. 

Follow along with Lori's Passport journey here.

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