By R. Scott Rappold
Valentine's Day is nearly here, and by a happy coincidence, it happens to fall in the heart of Colorado's ski season.
Forget flowers, chocolates or dinner at a fancy restaurant. Why not take that special person in your life skiing or snowboarding? What's more romantic than sharing your love of the mountains in all their winter splendor?
In that spirit, here are ten ways go have a romantic experience on the slopes this Valentine's Day.
SKI AND SOAK
We don't know any better way to soothe muscles sore from skiing than soaking in a natural hot springs. Colorado is full of such places, from posh resorts to rustic retreats, where two lovers can cuddle and let the day's exertions drift away. And many have skiing nearby. Here are some suggestions for quiet hot springs near resorts: Ski Sunlight Mountain Resort and soak in Glenwood Hot Springs. Ski Wolf Creek and soak in Pagosa Hot Springs. Ski Monarch and soak in Cottonwood Hot Springs. Ski Steamboat and soak in Strawberry Park Hot Springs (snow tires and four-wheel-drive needed in winter.) Ski Granby Ranch and soak in Hot Sulphur Springs. Ski Telluride and soak in Orvis Hot Springs.
POP THE QUESTION AFTER A GRUELING HIKE
Do you have a ring already but are still looking for a way to propose that will make a memorable story? Leave the ski lift behind and take your significant other on a hike into the sidecountry terrain. It's where the best snow is and who knows, maybe the amazing views, exhaustion and thin air will help guarantee you get a "yes." Great hike-to spots to propose include Alberta Peak at Wolf Creek, Palmyra Peak at Telluride, Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands or Mirkwood Basin at Monarch. Be sure your shaky hands don't drop the ring into the snow and enjoy the first powder turns with your fiancee.
MOONLIGHT DINE AND SKI
Copper Mountain is for lovers after the lifts close for everyone else on Feb. 14. For $125 a person you can ski by moonlight and then enjoy dinner and live music at Solitude Station. After eating, enjoy skiing down to the base area. You'll both need to be at least intermediate skiers/snowboarders, though non-skiers can ride the lift back down the mountain. Dress warm, bring a headlamp and prepare for a memorable holiday. Click here for more information.
SHOW THEM SOMEWHERE THEY'VE NEVER SKIED
Relationships are a journey of taking your loved ones to the places that alone they'd never find. Make that true figuratively and literally by sharing your favorite tree run or powder stash with your ski date, even if it's a spot on the mountain so secret you'd never tell your best friend. After all, what does one extra set of tracks in your snow compare to love?
GET MARRIED ON SKIS
The most famous Valentine's Day event in Ski Country is at Loveland on Feb. 14, when hundreds of people gather to make their vows high in the Rockies. At the Marry Me & Ski For Free Mountaintop Matrimony, now in its 28th year, couples get a 2-for-1 lift ticket, attend a mass wedding ceremony and then ski down to a reception in the lodge. There's no transportation for non-skiers and you'll need to pre-register and obtain a marriage certificate in advance. Click here for more information.
Remember, you can't spell "Loveland" without "love."
READ A POEM ON THE CHAIRLIFT
Ditch the usual chairlift talk about that last run or where the snow is best and surprise your significant other with a poem. You'll get extra points if you write the poem yourself. Just be sure it won't take longer to read than the chairlift ride.
GO NIGHT SKIING FOR CHEAP
"We picked a completely random Thursday in February for our first official Platonic Friends Night at Echo. Completely. Random." That's what ski area Echo Mountain says about their non-celebration, which features 2-for-1 night skiing tickets for skiing from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets must be used for Feb. 14. Says the ski area, "So bring your best friend, or just an acquaintance. We don't care. THERE'S NO PRESSURE BECAUSE WE AREN'T CELEBRATING ANYTHING." Click here for more information.
ATTEND A WINE PAIRING AND FIREWORKS
Wine has a funny way of bringing out the romantic in anyone. At Steamboat Resort's Timber & Torch restaurant this Valentine's Day you can enjoy a four-course meal, with dishes specifically prepared to complement a variety of wines. It's $90 a person and reservations are required. Click here for more information. Stick around an extra day to experience the annual Valentine's Day torchlight parade down the mountain, followed by a fireworks show, at dusk on Feb. 15.
TAKE A SLEIGH RIDE
Dashing through the snow on a one-horse open sleigh - the idea oozes romanticism. Many ski towns have businesses that offer sleigh rides. Huddle together with your valentine while you cruise through the winter wonderland, maybe laughing all the way.
MEET SOMEONE SPECIAL ON THE CHAIRLIFT
So maybe you don't have a significant other this year, but that's no reason to stay home and mope on Valentine's Day. Get up on the hill and start conversations with strangers on the lift. Maybe you'll meet someone special who shares your love of the sport. Don't be too pushy, though. They may just be there to ski, not fall in love.
R. Scott Rappold is a journalist with more than 20 years of experience, including 10 at The Colorado Springs Gazette, where he wrote about skiing, hiking, camping and all the things that make Colorado great. He is now a full-time ski bum who writes when he needs money for beer or lift tickets. He lives in Colorado's beautiful San Luis Valley. Read more of Scott's stories .