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Glide, Slide and Ride: Alternative Ways to Go Through the Snow

Fat Biking at Steamboat

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Cross Country Skiing at Eldora 

I have a dirty little secret. As much as I love downhill skiing, and as much as I’ve written about the sport during the past 25-odd years, a part of me often pines for shimmying through the forest on a pair of cross-country skis. My 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter, meanwhile, have taken a liking to tubing, and my husband’s fallen in love with fat biking.

So every once in a while, we sneak off to participate in some of these off-piste activities at Colorado Ski Country resorts. Downhill skiing will always be there, but sometimes, it’s fun to enjoy an alternative affair.

Cross-country skiing: Closest to our home in Louisville, we have what Eldora Mountain Resort calls “40 Kilometers of Freedom” at the Nordic Center, where beginner trails such as Dixie and Snowcat give way to more advanced terrain on Gandy Dancer and Woodcutter. Day tickets are $25 for adults and $16 for kids at non-peak times, and lessons and rental gear are available, too. A bit farther afield, you’ll find 90 kilometers of trails weaving among Aspen, Snowmass and Basalt—all for free. Both the Aspen and Snowmass Cross Country Centers offer rentals, lessons and tours.

Tubing at Winter Park 

Tubing: Some of the biggest belly laughs (and belly flops) my family and I have shared have happened on the tubing hills, where we fly, bump and spin into the night. At Winter Park, three separate lanes with banked curves, plus a conveyer belt to take tubers to the tap, create a killer après-ski option—as does the warming hut with hot chocolate for the kids and something stronger for the adults. Copper, meanwhile, offers 1-hour tubing sessions on the hour, every hour, most days from

Fat Biking at Steamboat Resort 

Biking: Who says you have to stash your bike when winter arrives? Around Steamboat Springs, fat biking options abound for powderhounds sniffing a new way to explore such runs as Right-O-Way and BC Ski Way; find rentals at Wheels Bike Shop. Or head to Granby Ranch to whiz downhill on an outrigger-equipped ski bike. It’s a wheelie good time.


Sarah Tuff Dunn

Sarah Tuff Dunn recently moved to Louisville, Colorado, with her husband, Carlton, and their two children, Dillon, 12, and Harper, 10. They’re looking forward to exploring the world-class skiing in Colorado, aided by the Colorado Ski Country 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program. Sarah has been writing professionally for nearly 25 years and her work has appeared in The New York Times, SKI, Skiing and Powder, among other publications. Read more of Sarah’s stories here and follow along with her Colorado skiing journey here

Night Moves: Where to ski and ride after dark in Colorado

Night skiing at Steamboat Resort

Night Skiing
Night skiing at Steamboat Resort 

By Sarah Tuff Dunn

Last chair, 2:30. Last chair: 3:15. Last chair: 4pm. Sigh. Signs that another ski day is about to come to a close in Colorado Ski Country.

Or are they? Because there’s no such thing as last chair (or one in the afternoon, anyway) when you can click back into your skis or strap into your snowboard at one of these ski areas for much less than the cost of a regular lift ticket once the rest of the world has retreated into their cars, the bars and their condos.

Steamboat Springs: Starting at 5:30 p.m., head to the Christie Peak Express to climb to 8,000 feet and hit Sitz, See Me, Vogue, Stampede and L’il. tickets from $29.

Granby Ranch: Twenty miles from Winter Park, Granby Ranch features four special nights of skiing from 5 to 8 p.m.—December 28, January 15, February 15 and March 14. Just $15 gets you free hot chocolate and cookies, too.

Night Skiing at Echo Mountain 

Echo Mountain: This newly revitalized resort now offers skiing and riding Wednesday through Saturday nights from 4:30 to 9 p.m.; rip intermediate trails for $30 when you buy tickets in advance online.

Skiing and riding, my family and I have found—first in New England and now in Colorado—take on a new dimension after dark. Conversations become a bit deeper as we ride the lift, peering down below at the lights’ spellbinding glow. We count the stars as they begin to pinprick the indigo sky, and sip from a tiny Thermos of hot chocolate tucked into my parka. And then we slide off into the night, simultaneously enveloped by darkness and illuminated by light. The only last chair seems to be the one dancing in our heads as we finally head home and drift off to sleep.


Sarah Tuff Dunn

Sarah Tuff Dunn recently moved to Louisville, Colorado, with her husband, Carlton, and their two children, Dillon, 12, and Harper, 10. They’re looking forward to exploring the world-class skiing in Colorado, aided by the Colorado Ski Country 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program. Sarah has been writing professionally for nearly 25 years and her work has appeared in The New York Times, SKI, Skiing and Powder, among other publications. Read more of Sarah’s stories here and follow along with her Colorado skiing journey here

Mug Shots: Where to get the best hot drinks at Colorado ski resorts

Coffee Cowboy - Telluride

The Coffee Cowboy in Telluride 

By Sarah Tuff Dunn

One of the best things about being a ski parent is reverting back to childhood behavior—not so much the dragging of skis across the parking lot or throwing a temper tantrum face down in the snow, but more playing in the powder and, at the end of the day (or, heck, any time of day), sipping a mug of steaming, marshmallow-topped hot chocolate.

These days, Colorado Ski Country resorts brew up way more than the standard pre-mixed stuff poured from a spigot. Here are a few of our favorite winter warmers, straight up and spiked alike, served with a twist at unique ski-area spots.

camphaleoutfitters website
Camp Hale – Copper Mountain 

Camp Hale Coffee Company, Copper Mountain: Smack dab at the base of Copper, Camp Hale has lips smacking with such adult beverages as the Coppercino, made with St. Brendan’s Irish cream, Michael Collins Irish whiskey, and Kahlua coffee liqueur with a shot of espresso. Designated drivers and kids can enjoy a white hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and caramel syrup, among other offerings.

Steamboat Covered Wagon, Steamboat: The only thing better than hot chocolate is free hot chocolate, and the only thing better than free hot chocolate is free donut holes for dipping. Steamboat gets it right with complimentary “Champagne Powder Day” donut holes and cocoa at the covered wagon (across from the Steamboat Stage) daily at 3 p.m.

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Snoasis in Winter Park 

Snoasis, Winter Park: At the bottom of the Eskimo and Prospector ski lifts, this throwback escape from the wintry weather brews specialty drinks while also serving up bluebird-sky views. Or, for a real afternoon pick-me-up, venture to The Perk around 4:20 for the 420—four shots of espresso and 20 ounces of steamed hemp milk.

Coffee Cowboy, Telluride: A converted horse trailer in downtown Telluride, the Coffee Cowboy offers such aromatic après drinks as Lone Ranger (mocha with caramel) and Butch Cassidy (mocha with Irish cream). They’re on the high-end, at $5.25 apiece for a 16-ounce, but playing cowboys like a kid? That’s priceless.


Sarah Tuff Dunn

Sarah Tuff Dunn recently moved to Louisville, Colorado, with her husband, Carlton, and their two children, Dillon, 12, and Harper, 10. They’re looking forward to exploring the world-class skiing in Colorado, aided by the Colorado Ski Country 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program. Sarah has been writing professionally for nearly 25 years and her work has appeared in The New York Times, SKI, Skiing and Powder, among other publications. Read more of Sarah’s stories here and follow along with her Colorado skiing journey here

Skiing Aspen Highlands and Finding the Hidden ‘Après Ski Club’

Loge Peak from Aspen Highlands

Loge Peak – Alec Stowell 

By Alec Stowell

Shortly before the new year, I got the opportunity to ski at Aspen Highlands – one of the four Aspen Snowmass ski areas. Some locals say it’s their favorite due to the abundance of powder they tend to get by mid-season. I had grown up skiing at Snowmass and Buttermilk, but this was my first go-round at this location, and it was absolutely gorgeous.

Aspen Highlands – Alec Stowell 

Being that it was right after Christmas and I was spending time with family, I went with my brother and uncle. We went up on a morning that at first looked like we were in for a low visibility and frigidly cold day, so we were prepared as such. We ended up being extremely overprepared. The sun was out and encapsulated the entire mountain by the time we got there, and it was by far the best visibility I had gotten skiing all season, at any of the ski areas.

Alec and his family at Aspen Highlands – Alec Stowell 

Normally, when new to a ski area, I tend to take my time exploring the mountain and lifts to see what runs and trails I like best. My uncle had only one day in Colorado to ski, however, so we had to just get after it. We considered doing the Highland Bowl, which was recommended to us by the liftees, but again we wanted to get the most runs in possible so we decided to hit the runs that we wouldn’t have to hike to.

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Aspen HIghlands – Alec Stowell 

From Highlands Village, we took the Exhibition and Loge Peak lifts to gain as much elevation as possible. The views going up Loge Peak to the top are absolutely breathtaking. It helped that we went on such a sunny and clear day but wow, I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s like you’re looking at a painting on both sides.

Loge Peak – Aspen Highlands – Alec Stowell 

From there, our best bet outside of the Highland Bowl was to hit Temerity and Steeplechase – two runs that’ll be sure to get your heart pumping and legs burning, especially if that’s what you’re going to start out with. In retrospect, I wish we had warmed up a little bit first, but it definitely felt like we were getting our workout in. It’s a steep stretch of terrain with almost strictly moguls all the way down the mountain until you get to the Deep Temerity lift, which is your only way back to the top. So, if that type of terrain isn’t for you, I would just steer clear of it. If it is, it’s a ton of fun with some great snow conditions, tree run opportunities, and some beautiful views that are exclusive to these runs.

Aspen Highlands – Alec Stowell 

After really wearing ourselves out for a few hours on these runs we had to refuel. After looking at the trail map, we were drawn to the Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro which you can get to from Loge Peak by taking the Broadway run, as long as you keep far left. We didn’t know what to expect but they had big sundeck with gorgeous views of the mountain range off to the right, so we opted to sit out there.

Had it not been such a beautiful day, we also had the option to sit inside where the décor was that of a five-star restaurant. We were promptly greeted and given a menu to which we discovered they were going for a swiss-esque culinary style. The price was a little costly, but the all the food we saw getting delivered to tables looked outstanding with their specialty being fondue dishes. We settled on the Steak Tartare to make sure we could eat quickly and still get as many runs in as possible. Between the food, the service, and the views, we couldn’t ask for a much better lunch experience.

Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro – Aspen Highlands – Alec Stowell 

Prior to leaving, our server mentioned that their restaurant completely transforms into what he called an ‘Après Ski Club’ after 2 PM. He said it’s an experience not to miss as people of all ages (over 21) come together to make the most of their après ski adventure. He also let us know that due to the gorgeous weather, we came on a perfect day to enjoy the sundeck in all its glory. We were convinced at that point.

We set out for the second half of our day which consisted of more of the same from the morning but also some blues here and there to give our legs a little rest. We wanted to give ourselves time to check out the Après Ski Club but still wanted to make sure skiing was our priority. We skied up until the Deep Temerity lift closed which was at 3, so after that, we made our way towards Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro once more.

Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro – Apres Club – Aspen Highlands – Alec Stowell

We didn’t even need to know the route by memory this time around, the music was so loud that it guided us.  We arrived to a packed house. People were on the tables dancing, popping champagne, having drinks and chatting with one another. The bar on the sundeck is easy to spot as it hosts massive bottles of champagne and wine to lure in après ski guests. It is 21+, so if you’re interested in attending, make sure you have your ID if you look like you may be underage, or you will not be let in.

We spent about 45 minutes there having a couple of drinks and dancing while basking in the remainder of that beautiful day’s sunlight. We peeked inside, just to see what that was like and that was even crazier. A similar environment to that outside, but with the close proximity of things everything was ramped up and the music was even louder.

You may think that this is strictly a young person’s vibe, but we took note of people old and young enjoying this unique après ski experience. We were glad we stopped at that location for lunch because had we not, it’s pretty unlikely that we would’ve made it back for the afternoon hoorah. Our server told us it’s pretty well known by locals but a hidden gem for those visiting from out of town, so I’d recommend it to anyone interested – it really was a great time and the fact that you’re up on the mountain makes it that much better.

Aspen Highlands – Alec Stowell

At 4 PM they make sure that the party is over and send everyone back down the mountain in the best interest of everyone’s safety. That was the conclusion of our day at Aspen Highlands but will definitely not be my last day there this season. You can’t go wrong with any of the Aspen Snowmass ski areas and depending on what you are looking for, some mountains will suit you better than others. But if you’re going out on a limb and want to have a unique après ski experience, consider making Aspen Highlands your next Aspen Snowmass destination.



Alec Stowell

Alec Stowell is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is majoring in Journalism and minoring in Business with a focus in entrepreneurship. He was born in Glenwood Springs and grew up skiing in the roaring fork valley. Being active and exploring the outdoors has always been a huge priority to him – everything from skiing, basketball, mountain biking, hiking, and more have all been hobbies of his for as long as he can remember. Early in his education, he discovered a passion for writing and so when the opportunity came along to both ski and write, he was ecstatic. After graduation, he hopes to still be able to pursue a career in which he can combine his passion for writing and the outdoors, but is still figuring out what the future holds. For now, he is looking forward to making the most out of his ski season with Colorado Ski Country.

Learning To Ski In Your Twenties or Thirties

Echo Mountain

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Echo Mountain 

By Kathryn Robinson

There’s no right or wrong age to become a skier or snowboarder. No magic time period where you can learn with no effort, and no milestone at which you’re “too old” to get started. But for 20- and 30-somethings who are ready to take to the slopes for the first time, you might have a slightly different first-day experience than the 8-year-olds you’ll see in your beginner lesson. Here’s what you should know.

January is the best time to learn

Once you’re through the stress, travel and expenses of the holidays and settled back into your routine, you can turn your attention to your New Year’s resolution – learning to ski or ride. January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, which is your best bet for a smooth introduction to the sport. You’ll find amazing deals and discounts on lessons, lift tickets and rentals so you can start your season off on a high note. You can even find some lessons and professional instruction that are completely free, like Echo Mountain’s ambassador program that offers coaching, tips and suggestions free of charge in the beginner area.

For young adults who are strapping in for the first time, be sure to pick a lesson program meant for beginners. If you’ve got a few friends who are eager to learn with you, consider a private lesson, which usually accommodates up to four skiers or riders.

Packing for your first day on the slopes

Now that you’ve picked a ski area for your first trip and booked a lesson, you’ll be wondering what you need to bring with you. For an adult first-timer, I recommend renting your gear instead of purchasing before your first day. But if you’re determined to stick with the sport, consider a season rental – In addition to keeping your gear until the mountains close in the spring, it also includes swapping out gear mid-season if you want to try out different options.

Try to avoid the common mistake that I made – In my early twenties, before I’d ever stepped foot on a snowboard, I went ahead and bought a board, boots, bindings, goggles, helmet, ski clothing, and a ski pass – in total, more than $1,000 invested before I knew if I even enjoyed it. Luckily for me, I fell in love with snowboarding, but in hindsight, I would have rented some of that gear and learned more before I went all in.

In addition to the gear itself, you’ll need to bring winter clothing – water-resistant pants and jacket, plus a warm hat. If you don’t own these things, some mountains will let you rent them – be sure to call ahead to ask. They’re also available for purchase at the base of most ski areas. Don’t forget the sunscreen, chapstick, thick wool socks, lunch, and a few dollars for afternoon après ski at the bar in celebration of your triumph. 

What to expect from your time on the mountain

You will be cold. You will be tired. You will be more exhilarated and feel more alive than you’ve felt in years. Learning to ski or snowboard is an amazing experience at any age, and you’ll feel a sense of adventure and accomplishment when you think back on your first-day skiing or riding.

You might find the learning curve requires a few days on the mountain before you get the hang of it, or you might be ready to tackle a green run before lunch on your first day. You will undoubtedly find that elementary-age children zoom past you while you master the basics. Any with any luck, you’ll also find a lifelong passion that will keep you active and happy for many years to come.


Kathryn Robinson is a native Floridian who transplanted to Colorado for graduate school and never looked back. She learned to ski for the first time in her early twenties and now she counts down the days until winter. When she’s not on the slopes, she’s working full-time in Denver, hiking, kayaking, or playing with her dog Riley.

Where Do Teens and Kids Love to Ski?

Woodward Copper

Woodward Copper

By Nancy Coulter-Parker 

Planning a snow day or weekend with older kids? I asked some of my favorite young skiers about which mountains they like to go to and why. Here’s what they had to say: 

Kai Parker – Eldora & Steamboat Springs

“I spend a lot of time at Eldora because it’s easy to get to and I train there for ski racing. But my favorite run to ski at Eldora is Moose Glades when there is powder. It’s right against the ski area boundary past Corona and West Ridge. It’s in the trees, but they are relatively open. There are some cliffs and it’s steep. And normally the line for the lift on Corona isn’t bad.”

“We go to Steamboat each year to ski. I love it just because it has everything terrain wise. Tree skiing is super fun because it’s primarily through Aspen trees, so it’s not too tight and the snow is usually super light. On one of my favorite days at Steamboat, we skied No Names at the end of the day, which is about a 10 or 15-minute hike from the Morningside Lift. It is at the high point of the resort. It’s steep and has tighter trees, but the snow was good. When we got back out to the main run, we discovered we were the last ones on the mountain. It was a bit of a long flat run from there getting off the mountain, but it was super cool skiing with no one else around.”

Marco Vogel – Eldora

“I like Eldora because it’s convenient and I can take the bus up from Boulder with all my friends and it’s a mountain that I know very well. I like to be in the park when the snow isn’t that good. But when the snow’s good, I don’t even step in the park.”

Jack Vincent – Winter Park

“I would definitely say the best runs at Winter Park and certainly the most enjoyable are on the Mary Jane side. These runs maybe a little more difficult but are definitely worth it in their diversity. Some of these runs are like Outrigger or Hole in the Wall. Mary Jane is more of a mogul and steep area. The best run to go fast on is Cranmer, which is a groomed steep run on the front side of the mountain. Dark Territory is the terrain park that you have to sign a waiver to do the jumps. It is known for the biggest jumps in Colorado. It’s very fun, it really gets your heart racing!”

Sienna Swann – Copper Mountain

My favorite runs at Copper are Polar Bear, Back Bowles and American Flyer. I like Polar Bear because it is not too tight in the trees and there are fun slopes you can ski down. I like the Back Bowles because there is powder and it is steeper than the other runs. I like American Flyer because it’s an easy blue and you can speed down it. I like Copper overall because it has Woodward, so there are fun runs and parks. At Copper, they don’t just groom their runs, they make fun little jumps. Copper’s chairlifts are fast so you don’t spend all your time on the chairlift, and the mountain keeps the runs and chairlifts clean. I like the ski school because you learn cool tricks and the ski instructors make it fun and show you places on the mountain that I didn’t even know existed.”

Curtis Zanni– Steamboat Springs

“My favorite runs at Steamboat have to be either East Face off Morningside lift or Nelson’s run off of Four Points! On a great powder day both of the runs are amazing and have lots of fun terrain to catch air off of. Some things that I love about Steamboat are the proximity from town to the mountain and the amazing snow quality throughout the season.”

Eldora: Why It’s Worth It


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Eldora Mountain Resort 

By Nancy Coulter-Parker

I know. If you’re rolling your eyes just seeing the headline Eldora, that’s okay. Don’t bother reading on, this mountain is not for you and that’s okay—that’s another free parking spot for me and my friends.

I admit, when I moved to Boulder, my first trip to Eldora was not love at first sight. I tried all of the other mountains and there are plenty to like. But early on, a few things caught my attention about Eldora—and then it just continued to grow on me. Now I liken it to a reliable best friend. I’ve snowboarded, telemarked and alpine skied this mountain, and I still love it.

Here’s why:

  1. Convenience: Even if parking is tricky at Eldora, it still beats driving I-70 in my mind. I would take a long walk across a muddy parking lot and a free parking spot over sitting in traffic any day. And there are three solutions to fix the parking.  
  • First, get to Eldora early. The sunrises are spectacular, in fact, the new-ish chairlift is called Alpenglow after the mountain’s morning light. And with Alpenglow on the front side of the mountain, you can log some serious laps before the crowds start to roll in.
  • The mountain also serves a pretty good breakfast burrito and coffee from Ozo.

    Okay, not a morning person? Wait until late morning or early afternoon to go up. The parking crunch really comes between about 8 to 10 am, especially on Saturdays when parents are dropping off kids for ski school or ski team practice. New parking spots start to open up later in the morning and by early afternoon you might just have front row access.

  • You don’t want to go up too early or too late? Take the bus. Seriously, catch the 8:10am or 10:10am departures from the Boulder Transit Center at 1400 Walnut Street and you’ll be given a pair of free bus tickets good for a round trip there and back. The bus basically delivers you to the chairlift. You’re practically on the chairlift where the bus drops you off and you can ski right back to where the bus picks you up. In fact, it’s hard to justify not taking the bus.
  1. Alpenglow chairlift: Entering its third season, the high-speed Alpenglow chairlift at the base of the mountain and the foot of the parking lot, carries 6 passengers at a time to the top of the mountain in less than 5 minutes. This means it’s really easy to run up to Eldora any time of day and knock out a good number of laps in just a few hours.

    11:1:19 Eldora's Opening Day

  2. Ample separate beginner terrain: When I was teaching my kids to ski, I appreciated that we could stay on Little Hawk and Bunnyfair and not have to navigate green runs with all levels of skiers on them. This part of the mountain offers a gentle reprieve for those starting out and beginner lessons. And if Sundance chair made your heart skip in the past, you will be happy to know it has new safety bars on it. While I agree it should have had safety bars on it long ago—like when my kids were learning—the fact is that was the previous owner’s decision to not do it. What I love about Powdr Corps, is that since purchasing Eldora in June of 2016, they have been listening to customers and proactively making these kinds of changes.
  3.  Advanced terrain: The runs may not be as long as on some mountains but they aren’t lacking in challenge. If you head over to Corona and West Ridge, you’ll find plenty to make your heart skip in Moose Glades or Salto Glades, and Corona has enough steepness for you to test your speed (in control, of course). And if you go back to #1, if you’re a morning person, you won’t be sad on a powder day on these runs.
  4. Uphill Access: Yes you have to pay, but for me, the $99 Ikon Pass Add-on is worth it. Eldora offers uphill access Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm. You can buy a day ticket to do so, but if you buy a season’s uphill pass or the Ikon Add-on you get early access from 6 am-9 am, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday as of January 7, 2020. What a great way to start your day!

And there’s more.

  • The Woodward Mountain Parks scattered around the front side of the mountain are fun for kids of all ages and offer a range of variety for all levels of park goers.
  • There are plenty of places to eat lunch and no one is going to hassle you if you choose to bring your own and sit with friends in the on-mountain dining areas.
  • If you’re waiting for someone or trying to connect with friends, there’s free wifi. Notable primarily because pre-Powdr Corps it wasn’t free.
  • From early on, I have been comfortable with my kids doing their own thing at Eldora. They were never going to get lost.
  • I love the views, especially from the top of Alpenglow and Muleshoe. 

Yup, it can still get a little windy, but at least you can check online or on the app and find out just how windy it is and if the mountain is closed or the parking lot is full. Powdr Corps is taking feedback seriously, and communicating to its mountain users while also understanding that locals like a lot about Eldora just the way it is. With that said, I have to ask—where did the lattes go?