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THE ROCKIES WI N T E R 2017

Hit the Slopes 15

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AMAZING WINTER GETAWAYS

BEST GEAR OF THE YEAR

OFF-THEPOWDER ADVENTURES


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IDAHO

CARVE THROUGH HISTORY SUN VALLEY

IDAHO

Idaho’s Sun Valley mixes vintage with new By Adrienne Jordan

H

ISTORY AND HOLLYWOOD HAVE given Idaho’s Sun Valley — the first destination ski resort in the United States — a special flavor, one that’s tasty for skiers and snow fanatics of all stripes. But the legendary ski resort and its hometown are working to keep the experience modern as well. First, take a trip via the past. The world’s first chair lifts — created by James Curran in 1936 under the direction of W. Averell Harriman, the chairman

of the Union Pacific Railroad who developed Sun Valley — were installed at the top of Sun Valley’s mountains. That innovation expanded to fill the ski area. A dozen chair lifts along Bald Mountain alone cover more than 3,400 vertical feet and more than 2,100 acres of varied terrain. The lifts on “Baldy” can move more than 23,000 skiers and riders per hour up the mountain to its 100 runs. With Dollar Mountain, that’s an average of 3,000 actual skiers

per day. The smaller Dollar Mountain — with a 628-foot vertical drop, 22 runs and 76 rails — is home to Sun Valley’s 22-foot superpipe and family cross course. The mountain itself is the perfect introduction to downhill sports with many new features, including an easy-to-navigate Accelerator moving carpet that takes you uphill. To keep the kids occupied, send CO N T I N U E D

KELLEY FITZPATRICK


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IDAHO

Sunrise over Bald Mountain

Y ALLE SUN V

Rd.; Valley 1 Sun 86-8259; 7 800- valley. sun com

them down adventure trails (available at both mountains) configured just for shorter legs with jumps, bumps and hairpin turns. The new rage in Sun Valley is fat biking: riding a bike with super-fat tires on the snow. Hop on one of these bikes and follow the groomed Nordic trails at Sun Valley Nordic Center or Bigwood Golf Club (bigwoodsportspark.com), both perfect for hard-core athletes, beginners and families. Off the slopes, developments continue to keep Sun Valley a fresh destination. The

COURTESY OF SUN VALLEY RESORT

pet-friendly Limelight Hotel (limelighthotel. com) is a modern accommodation featuring 105 guest rooms. The Sun Valley Nordic Festival (nordictownusa.com), which begins Feb. 2, features three days of activities, races, clinics and fun events culminating in the world-famous Boulder Mountain Tour (bouldermountaintour.com), a cross-country ski race that’s part of the 16-marathon American Ski Marathon Series. And capture that Hollywood spirit next year at the Sun Valley Film Festival March 15-19 (sunvalleyfilmfestival.org). The CON T I N U E D

KEVIN SYMS


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IDAHO EAT. PLAY. SKI. ▶ Awesome attractions The Spa at Sun Valley offers 15 treatment rooms, a selection of wellness treatments, including acupuncture, and a beauty salon with six manipedi stations. There is also a two-story reception area, a 2,300-square-foot fitness center that includes a yoga room, a year-round heated outdoor pool and hot tub. 1 Sun Valley Rd.; 208-6222160; sunvalley.com/the-spa ▶ One-of-a-kind offering There’s no previous experience necessary to paraglide with the help of Fly Sun Valley. Tandem flights are offered with professional, certified paragliding instructors from the top of Bald Mountain. 160 W. 4th St., Ketchum; 208-726-3332; flysunvalley.com

Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink PHOTOS BY KEVIN SYMS

6-year-old festival is a showcase for my favorite. It’s housed in a historic independent movies and a place to 1885 Ketchum home,” she says. “It network with industry insiders. lives and breathes the history of this As the sun sets, take a sleigh ride place with old Western movie posters to Trail Creek from films that Cabin on the were shot here.” resort’s grounds for Rusch recom“(Ketchum Grill) dinner, a romantic mends Ketchum enclave in a rustic, Grill’s juicy burgers. lives and breathes early-Western “The Grill has the the history of this atmosphere. Trail best $10 grass-fed Creek Cabin serves beef burgers place with old up Rocky Mountain with homemade elk, northwest condiments you can Western movie steelhead and bison get anywhere in posters from films short ribs dishes Sun Valley.” inside the circa There’s also The that were shot 1937 mountainGrill at Knob Hill, a here.” style log cabin, hot spot for dining which sits along and socializing — Rebecca Rusch, Trail Creek with in Sun Valley. Its Sun Valley resident sweeping views of private Fireplace Bald Mountain. Room is suitable Visitors can also for large parties, follow the dining advice of Sun Valley boasting a communal table made of resident Rebecca Rusch, a world-class reclaimed wood, and access to an mountain biker with titles in whiteoutdoor patio. Specialties include water rafting, adventure racing and Idaho rainbow trout, roasted natural more. “Ketchum Grill has always been chicken and pizza.

▶ Mountain munchies Enoteca, from the Italian for “wine library,” is located in the historic Lane Mercantile Building. The restaurant features a diverse menu with ingredients such as housemade prosciutto and salami as well as grape-and-gorgonzola wood-fired pizzas. 300 N. Main St., Ketchum; 208-928-6280; ketchum-enoteca.com ▶ Family-friendly activities The Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink, offers some of the most impressive views of the valley, is open for skating year round. Guests can watch Olympic and world-class skaters, as well as take a lesson with them and score an autograph. 1 Sun Valley Rd.; 208-6222194; sunvalley.com/thingsto-do/ice-skating ▶ Inspiring accommodations The Sun Valley Lodge, where Ernest Hemingway wrote his classic For Whom the Bell Tolls, just unveiled a major renovation that includes upgraded and refurbished guest rooms with enlarged bathroom featuring large showers, baths and vanity areas. 1 Sun Valley Rd.; 800-786-8259; sunvalley. com/lodging


THE ROCKIES WI N T E R 2017

Hit the Slopes 15

$4.95

AMAZING WINTER GETAWAYS

BEST GEAR OF THE YEAR

OFF-THEPOWDER ADVENTURES


16

USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

COLORADO

ASPEN HIGHLANDS

ASPEN MOUNTAIN

BUTTERMILK

SNOWMASS

COURTESY OF ASPEN SKIING COMPANY; JORDAN CURET; CATHERINE AEPPEL; JEREMY SWANSON

FROSTY FOURSOME Aspen Snowmass: four mountains, one ski destination By Adrienne Jordan

W

E ALL LOVE OPTIONS, and Aspen Snowmass doesn’t disappoint. The complex is comprised of four different, distinct mountain resorts, a total of 5,547 acres. One ski pass grants visitors access to the Colorado quartet: Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk and Snowmass. “We have a portfolio of more than 120 resorts worldwide, and Aspen Snowmass is always a top seller year after year,” says Michelle Otero, a mountain vacation specialist with Ski.com, a site that assists travelers with booking ski and snowboarding vacations. “I think a lot of its popularity has to do with the diversity offered via four mountains, each with a unique personality, more than 100 different bars and restaurants and big-city culture found in an authentic mountain town environment.” A point of pride this season for Aspen is being the

host of the 2017 Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals in March, marking the first time the finals event has been held in the U.S. in nearly 20 years. Spectators can expect the usual competitions — downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom — plus the introduction of a nations team event. The free competitions take place on Snowmass Mountain. But if you’re just coming to ski for fun, here’s the low-down: Aspen Highlands is the quietest of the four mountains, appreciated by locals for its minimal crowds. Aspen Mountain is notoriously difficult, offering no beginner runs. Novices can head for Buttermilk, where more than one-third of the runs are ranked “easiest.” Snowmass, the largest of the four, boasts 4,406 feet of vertical rise, 94 ski trails over 150 miles and 23 lifts across 3,332 skiable acres of terrain. Don’t get lost. CO N T I N U E D


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ASPEN HIGHLANDS ▶ Awesome attractions Aspen Highlands is best known for the Highland Bowl, providing some of the most intense skiing in Colorado. Skiers and boarders hike about 30 to 45 minutes to the top, where they’ll find descents of more than 3,600 vertical feet and pitches as steep as 48 degrees. Locals love the longest run on Highlands, which tops 3.5 miles, and they can spend all day exploring the 1,040 acres of skiable terrain. ▶ One-of-a-kind offering Enjoy a 30-minute snowcat ride before dinner at the Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, which recently underwent a $1.1 million renovation. First, there’s the 5:30 p.m. rendezvous at the Aspen Highlands base area, where mugs of spiced Glühwein, a German/ Australian mulled red wine drink served warm or chilled during holidays, are available. The snowcat departs at 6 p.m., arriving approximately at 6:30 p.m. For the return trip, the snowcat departs the bistro at approximately 10 p.m. (earlier if requested for private functions) and arrives back at the base at approximately 10:30 p.m. The service is available to all Aspen Snowmass guests dining at Cloud Nine. Take in the views of iconic snowcapped peaks while dining on Colorado lamb sirloin, striped bass and other tasty entrees. It’s a popular locale, so it’s suggested that would-be diners make reservations. ▶ Mountain munchies Take off that helmet and socialize at Aspen Highlands’ mid-mountain Merry-Go-Round Restaurant. Sit by the fire and enjoy a hot bowl of soup, or grab a cocktail to warm your bones s you mix, mingle and enjoy the breathtaking views. ▶ Family-friendly activities Aspen Highlands is the favorite of locals who want to just strap on their skis and dive into

JEREMY SWANSON

the snow; skiing should keep families occupied. If you’re new to the sport, there are lessons available for all age groups. ▶ Inspiring accommodations The 4.5-star Ritz-Carlton Club is less than a mile from Aspen Highlands, and you might opt to use your skis, since it offers ski-in/ski-out access. After a long day on the slopes, guests can dine in the hotel’s Willow Creek Bistro, take a dip in the pool and then head to the spa. Wine tastings are available in the Members’ Lounge and the on-site restaurant offers three meals and après-ski specials. 730 E. Durant Ave.; 970920-2000; friasproperties. com/aspen-condo-rentals/ ritz-carlton-club aspensnowmass.com/ our-mountains/aspenhighlands

ASPEN MOUNTAIN ▶ Awesome attractions The Aspen Art Museum, housed inside a contemporary building that resembles a large wicker box, isn’t filled with nostalgic treasures of days gone by. Instead, since its first incarnation in 1977 (then, the Aspen Center for Visual Arts), it focuses on “innovative” and “timely” artwork of the day, according to the website. 637 E. Hyman Ave.; 970-9258050; aspenartmuseum.org ▶ One-of-a-kind offering The après-ski activities at Aspen Mountain are almost as alluring as the slopes. The location has been recognized by Conde Nast Traveler, Thrillist.com and Travel + Leisure for knowing how to present guests with a great

time. For example, it’s the home of the roving Oasis, a mobile champagne bar that pops up unpredictably on a snowcat to quench skiers’ thirst. Look for the Oasis on weekends beginning in mid-February. ▶ Mountain munchies Element 47 serves hearty alpine cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Awarded a five-star rating by Forbes Travel Guide, the restaurant also offers ski-in/ ski-out accessibility. Order small but satisfying bites like oysters on the half shell at the bar and Colorado lamb meatballs in the main dining area. This is also an opportunity to try what the servers will tell you is the best Moscow mule in town. 675 E. Durant Ave.; 970-920-6330; thelittlenell.com/dining/ element-47

▶ Family-friendly activities Aspen Powder Tours offers luxury snowcat rides taking you to prime, untracked stashes on the backside of Aspen Mountain. Fresh tracks are guaranteed and gourmet lunch in a cabin is included. ▶ Inspiring accommodations The Little Nell, a five-star, five-diamond hotel, offers ski-in/ski-out access to Aspen Mountain. The 27-year-old venue was recently revamped by award-winning designer Holly Hunt. The locale provides ski concierges to warm your boots or offer you a tasty pastry. 675 E. Durant Ave.; 855-920-4600; thelittlenell.com/the-hotel aspensnowmass.com/ our-mountains/aspenmountain


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COLORADO BUTTERMILK

or just looking for a refresher before sliding down the slopes, S3 Park’s 20 beginner- and intermediate-level features should accommodate you. S3 is home to the mountain’s Ski & Snowboard School. There are table-top jumps, jibs, flat rails and more. Don’t worry about embarassing yourself in front of highly experienced skiers; the park is tucked away from the lifts, so you can practice with some privacy.

▶ Awesome attractions Buttermilk has been host to the winter X Games since 2002, and will be through at least 2019. ESPN’s annual extreme sports competition will bring in the best superpipe specialists, slopestylers and snowmobile freestylers in late January. Spectators can see athletes ranging from promising teenage newcomers to Olympic medalists flipping their stuff. xgames.espn.com/ xgames/aspen

only on-mountain bakery in town.

▶ Inspiring accommodations Located at the base of the mountain, the Inn at Aspen is the only ski-in/ski-out hotel at Buttermilk. There’s a heated outdoor pool, fire pit, hot tub, steam room, health club and complimentary breakfast for guests, who can also dine at McKinney’s at the Inn on-site. 38750 Highway 82; 970-9251500; wyndhamvacationrentals. com/vacation-rentals/ colorado/aspen/aspen/resort/ inn-at-aspen

▶ Family-friendly activities Whether you’re new to skiing

aspensnowmass.com/ourmountains/buttermilk

▶ One-of-a-kind offering The Hideout Children’s Center offers the perfect introduction to the sport of skiing for kids ages 2½ to 4 with gentle training slopes, indoor playrooms and kids’ lunch facilities. ▶ Mountain munchies Cooking can be fun even on vacation, and Cliffhouse Restaurant adds creativity and international flair to the recipe with a make-your-own Mongolian meal wok station. Hike or ski up Buttermilk (you

SNOWMASS ▶ Awesome attractions The recent introduction of ski-in/ski-out spa treatments at the 7,000-square-foot Spa at Viceroy Snowmass are designed for infrequent athletes, to keep them going dawn to dusk. Sea salt baths plus warm hand and foot massages get weary skiers back on the slopes. Amenities include a heated saline pool, catering for apres-ski activities and pet accommodations. 130 Wood Rd.; 970-9238000; viceroyhotel sandresorts.com/en/ snowmass ▶ One-of-a-kind offering Thank the gods for snow each Friday night during

COURTESY OF ASPEN SKIING COMPANY

can’t get there by car) for complimentary hot chocolate around the Cowboy Cauldron. There’s also live music. For an alternative dining option, try Bumps

Snowmass’ weekly Ullr Nights celebration, honoring Ullr, the Norse god of snow. The late-night fun at Elk Camp includes a bonfire, ice-skating, tubing and more. ▶ Mountain munchies Similar to the Oasis Bar at Aspen Mountain, Snowmass’ snowcatpowered Sled Mobile Kitchen brings lunch straight to adventurers having too much fun to stop for a full meal. Find the daily location on Instagram at @mtndining. ▶ Family-friendly activities The tubing facilities at Elk Camp, which open in late December, feature four lanes of lift-served snow tubing perfect for an afternoon of downhill

at the base of Buttermilk. The Mediterranean-inspired locale offers made-to-order pastas and salads, fresh grill selections, house-made soups and the

sliding with the family. Off the slopes, Slopeside Lanes provides eight lanes of bowling fun plus pizzas baked in a woodfired oven. 105 Daly Lane; 970-429-8839; slopesidelanes.com ▶ Inspiring accommodations The Westin Snowmass Resort is located in the heart of Snowmass Village, within walking distance of shops and restaurants at the Snowmall Mall. There is a fitness center, upper pool and lower pool with two spacious hot tubs. 100 Elbert Lane; 970-9238200; westinsnowmass. com aspensnowmass. com/our-mountains/ snowmass AUBREE DALLAS

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