W I N T E R C A M P I N G | C O L D - W E AT H E R C O C K TA I L S | 2 4 H O U R S I N P A G O S A S P R I N G S
WEST OF 1O5
THE BEST OF COLORADO
WINTER 2020 - 2021
THE WEST OF 105
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ELLO, and welcome to the winter 2020-21 issue of West of 105 magazine. While we genuinely think every season here west of 105 has its merits, winter brings with it unique opportunities for outdoor activities as well as deliciously warming drinks and rich and filling winter dishes. This winter is no doubt going to be different to previous years thanks to the coronavirus, however, ski resorts are open and will stay open unless they are ordered to close. There will, of course, be measures in place at the resorts aimed at eliminating the transmission of the virus, and so après drinks might not be as rowdy as normal, but with what really amounts to a small effort on our part, there is no reason this winter can’t be almost as much fun as a normal winter. In this issue, Breckenridge is our main destination story. One of our favorite mountain towns, Breck has everything you expect from a Colorado ski town - and then some. From 10th Mountain Distillery to Arum restaurant, a worldclass ski resort and a giant troll.
CO-PUBLISHERS BRITTANY PANTER & ROB MCGOVERN
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We also spent a day in Pagosa Springs, and we headed on a road trip to Rio Blanco County where we found solitude and a seriously good cheese shop among other things! Elsewhere in the magazine, we did some winter camping - and stayed toasty thanks to some great gear; explored Great Sand Dunes National Park; suggested some ways to stay warm and get little tipsy; and profiled Sakaba, the sushi restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. And be sure to check out a selection of hot springs where you can defrost in this winter after some outdoor adventuring. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you in the spring! The West of 105 team
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OUTDOORS SKI THE SLOPES Ski resorts are taking all kinds of precautions this year to ensure they do their part when it comes to preventing the spread of the COVID-19. Check out some of them from page 12. If you don’t want to risk visiting a resort or aren’t a skier or snowboarder, head out into the wilderness for a spot of winter camping. We have some great spots in our winter camping story on page 16. +Seasonal gear guide, and winter at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
DESTINATION BRECKENRIDGE Breckenridge is the archetypal Colorado mountain town. While it’s great year round, like most ski towns, it really comes into its own in winter. Read about the town, what’s on offer this winter as well as a few great places to eat and drink on page 26. +We also spent 24 hours in Pagosa Springs, and we took a road trip up to Rio Blanco County
DRINKING & DINING WINTER-WORTHY TREATS Après ski sessions are going to be a little bit more intimate this year to say the least, but that doesn’t they mean they have to be less indulgent. We packed a basket with all kinds of delicious Colorado goodies, and we suggest you do the same. Check our basket out on page 52 +Sakaba at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch; and we tried some barrel-series brews from Oskar Blues
LIFESTYLE HAVEN: VISTA VERDE RANCH For a luxurious getaway, Vista Verde up near Steamboat Springs is hard to beat. While those looking to defrost after a day out in the wild might like to consider thawing themselves out in a natural hot spring. We picked five that are close to some of the major ski resorts so you don’t have to travel too far.
Photos (top to bottom): Dan Bayer / Aspen Snowmass; Andrew Maguire / Visit Breckenridge; Sakaba, Vista Verde Ranch
@WESTOF105 | #CrosstheMeridian
+Winter fashion ideas, and a tincture to help you get a sound night of sleep from wellness brand Ned
WINT ER BUCKET LIST OUR TOP WINTER BUCKET LIST ITEMS TO TICK OFF YOUR ITINERARY THIS SEASON 1 SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE
2. HOT TO TROT
Essentially a snowboard which splits into two halves, splitboards essentially become skis for traveling uphill or touring.
Stay warm this winter by pouring yourself one of our favorite winter cocktails. Page 46. 3. POLAR PICNIC
Once you get where you’re going, put the halves back together and ride on. We tried it in Breck (where Colorado Adventure Guides offers full day courses check them out on page 28).
Fill a basket with all kinds of delicious Colorado goodies for your personal après parties. Page 54.
4. PASSAGE TO THE NORTHWEST Rio Blanco County offers a different Colorado experience. From the wide expanses of Rangely to the history of Meeker, RBC offers an escape from the norm. Page 40. 5. CAMP IN THE SNOW While it may seem pretty daunting to sleep outside in subzero temperatures, winter camping offers solitude and breathtaking landscapes, all you need is the right gear. Page 18. 6. YURT LIFE Arum in Breckenridge is hosting a series of dinners this winter in heated yurts, although you should dress for the season! Page 28. 7. WINTER WONDERLAND With more staff than guests, Vista Verde Guest Ranch near Steamboat Springs will leave you wanting for nothing. Page 65.
8. SUSHI IN THE MOUNTAINS Sakaba at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch is serving up sublime sashimi, clever cocktails, and an outstanding omakase. Page 52. 9. MASK UP Wearing a mask has been proven to help reduce the spread of the virus, and so wearing one is a no brainer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look good while being good. We like the soft and silky ones from Silken Pure. Check it out in our gift guide here.
Photos (this(clockwise page top tofrom bottom): Vista Verde Ranch; 4 Photos top): Zapata Ranch, Cake,Sakaba Period(opposite Comms page top to bottom): Ned; The Springs Resort & Spa, Pagosa Springs, CO
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#10 10. HIT THE HAY Increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep with Sleep Blend from Ned, a tincture that blends CBD and CBN with several other botanicals. Page 64. 11. DINE IN A GONDOLA Like many restaurants across the state, pivoting to meet guidelines is quickly becoming an art form. Locals and visitors to Telluride this winter have the option to enjoy dinner in converted gondolas. Grab takeout from a local restaurant and head to a gondola to enjoy your feast!
12. SET IN STONE Colorado’s northwest has a lot of petroglyphs, so make time to go and see them after we inspire you to go on a road trip there. Page 40. 13. SLED THE DUNES Why wouldn’t you want to sled down the tallest sand dunes in North America when they’re covered in snow? Page 22. 14. BHANG AND BLING Dalwhinnie Farms has a boutique dispensary in Aspen that caters to those who like weed with their jewels. Page 10. 15. HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES Eso Terra in Dolores is a new Colorado cidery that wants to put Colorado cider back on the map. Page 10.
16. BACKCOUNTRY 101
19. BARREL BEERS
Thinking of getting away from the crowds by heading into the wilderness this winter? Get some tips from the pros first. Page 28.
Oskar Blues recently released the last beer in their series of barrelaged beers. Check them out on page 56.
17. BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY
20. SOAK IT IN
Take some time this winter to pamper yourself at The Spa at Beaver Run in Breckenridge. You deserve it. Page 28.
At over 1,000 feet deep, the Mother Spring aquifer is the world’s deepest aquifer and it fills the baths at The Springs Resort & Spa, The Overlook Hot Springs, and Healing Waters Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs. Page 36.
18. LIVING HISTORY The Meeker Hotel & Cafe dates back to the late nineteenth century and is the perfect place to stay in this quaint little town. Page 40.
Photos (this page and opposite page bottom): Period Communications (opposite page top): Cohabit
GEAR ANATOMY LIFA FIBER FROM HELLY HANSEN Every winter there is always a lot of talk about developments and breakthroughs when it comes to technical gear, but this year Helly Hansen is promising to challenge the industry norm. With a history dating back to 1877, the Norwegian brand has always worked with
Photos: Helly Hansen
professionals to ensure gear meets the most demanding situations. This winter, the company is introducing a new fabric made from a proprietary fiber called LIFA. The new LIFA INFINITY PRO technology will be featured in the company’s ULLR and Odin collections.
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Solution Dyed Reducing water consumption by up to 80 percent and eliminating harmful wastewater, solution-dyed materials are dyed through the entire thread (versus stock-dyed material which is only dyed on the outside) and so colors stay fresher for longer.
Hydrophobic Traditionally outdoor garments are treated with a durable water repellent treatment that contains long chain PFCs which are harmful to the environment. The LIFA fiber has an inherent everlasting and durable water repellency without using any chemical treatments.
Energy saving DWR garments need to spend at least 20 minutes in a dryer to reactivate the waterrepellent treatment on the outer fabric. LIFA Infinity Pro garments don’t use DWR and so save energy.
Microporous polypropylene membrane Highly breathable, the membrane consists of nearly 75% air by volume and weighs just 4g per square meter.
@WESTOF105 | #CrosstheMeridian
NEW & NOTEWORTHY
SHOP DALWHINNIE FARMS
Dalwhinnie Farms is a purveyor of fine cannabis and fine goods, and the company recently opened a boutique dispensary in the heart of downtown Aspen, with the aim of paving the way for a new era of cannabis retail by blending cannabis and luxury living.
Slope Threads is a new service that saves you the hassle of having to pack up your bulky winter gear and get it to the slopes. Mailing gear directly to customers’ hotels or mountain rentals (and providing a pre-paid package to send it back) starting at $35 a day. Good for tourists who don’t want to schlep stuff across the county, the service is also a good option for those that are just getting into skiing and don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on new gear for their first time as well as for parents who have rapidly growing kids.
SNOWMASS LUMINESCENCE When the lifts stop at Snowmass this winter, things really light up thanks to Snowmass Luminescence, an interactive art and light display. Skip the Skittles Gondola ride between the Snowmass Mall and Base Village and instead stroll through The Tunnel, an interactive series of LED illuminated walkways and arches. There will also be two large-scale interactive LED installations this winter: “Submergence” by Squidsoup (December 18 – February 28) and Prismatica by Creos and Raw Design (February 1 – February 28).
< Photos (top to bottom): Dalwhinnie Farms; Slope Threads; Jeremy Swanson; Olivia Bauso
From small batches produced in their Fort Collins garage to the banks of the Dolores River, EsoTerra is aiming to bring cider back to its former glory as the drink of choice for rural America. Using feral trees and historic orchards, EsoTerra is making ciders that are unique to the southwest. The 2020 Slippery Sipper caught our eye!
OUTDOORS Stay up-to -date on the pandemic precautions from Colorado’s ski resorts Page 14
SKI TOWNS USA
Yes, there are a few additional rules and regulations this year, but it’s ski season, so let’s just be thankful we have one at all.
All the gear is a great idea. Sometimes looking at the same thing from a different perspective changes perceptions. That’s definitely the case with winter camping.
One of our four national parks presents a beautiful and unique opportunity during winter to see something that seems somewhat incongruous.
Photo: Snowmass / Tamara Susa
1 & 2 Smith | Vida Helmet $150.00 - $180.00 and Squad Mag Goggles $220.00 - $250.00 The Vida ski and snowboard helmet has Koroyd crumple zones (welded tubes that crumple instantly on impact) as well as the MIPS system. It’s also lightweight and has venting that can be adjusted on the go. Designed to work seamlessly with Smith helmets, the Squad MAG goggles come in nine different colors with six different colors ChromaPop lenses. Lenses can be quickly changed thanks to the Smith magnetic lens change system.
3. Koala | Hangtime Gear $25
This simple smartphone leash is an investment that could save you from having to buy a new phone! Everyone gets their phone out on the slopes and lifts, and so it makes sense to tether it to you. And the compact camera-friendly design slips over any phone with or without a case. 4. BioLite | HeadLamp 750 $99.95 A headlamp is an essential piece of kit for camping at any time of the year, but one that pumps out 750 lumens and is rechargeable via a micro USB port sounds good to us. The 750 has five light modes and will run 150 hours on low and seven hours on high. 5. Norrona’s | Tamok Gore-Tex Pro Bib $549 Made from recycled Gore-Tex Pro fabric, the Tamok is about as tough as bibs come. The left zip runs the length of the bib which makes it easy to take them off and put them on, while the Vectran-reinforced lower leg is slightly wider than you might expect to make room for ski and snowboard boots without having to use a zip.
6. Gordini | Cache Gauntlet Mitt $80.99 This new mitt from Gordini has all the features you would expect and need in a winter mitt. It’s both waterproof and breathable and rugged enough to last several seasons. It also has a gauntlet cuff with a drawcord and cuff pull tabs to get them on and off easily. Made from canvas and synthetic leather, it is actually a finger mitt - mitt on the outside with fingers on the inside - and has Primaloft insulation and a moisture-wicking lining.
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7. Kari Traa | Perle Half-Zip $75.00 This base layer will perform admirable on chilly autumn days, but it’s the perfect base layer for winter. The fabric is quick-drying and wicks moisture away when things heat up. Raglan sleeves and a high collar combined with a jacquard-knit design make this a fashion piece, too. 8. Nocs | Provisions Binoculars $89.95 These standard issue binoculars from Nocs are compact and are therefore great for keeping in the car or throwing in your backpack whenever you go on an adventure of any kind. Waterproof (they’re submersible for up to 30 minutes) and fogproof (thanks to nitrogenfilled internal chambers) they also have 8x magnification. The makers also say you can use them as a 400mm camera lens with your camera phone.
9. Obermeyer | Katze Suit $699 The Katze Suit is a new one-piece that brings function and fashion together. It uses schoeller stretch fabrics and responsibly-sourced insulation and uses faux fur, and is available in four colors: red (which Obermeyer calls Finish Line), navy, black and white. It is also available in regular, short and long lengths and size 0. 10. Helly Hansen | Pinnacle Jacket $700 This fully seam sealed four-way stretch jacket has Helly Hansen’s new H2Flow Air Force Vent System which the company says keeps you cool thanks to strategically placed ventilation. It’s obviously waterproof and windproof, and it looks great, too.
11. Tread Labs | Pace Insoles $85
From the founder of Chaco, Pace Insoles from Tread Labs give firm support to limit pronation, reduce stress on your plantar fascia, and promote proper body alignment. The two-part system consists of a molded arch support and a replaceable, interchangeable foam top cover. The Pace Kit includes the arch supports and one set each of Pace, Pace Short, and Pace Thin top covers.
IT’S SKI SEASON ...BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT
Photo: 12 Jeremy Swanson / Aspen Mountain
WEST OF 105 | OUTDOORS
Ski season is the lifeblood of the Colorado tourism industry, and maybe this year more than any other it could give many of us a boost when it comes to our emotional and physical wellbeing after a diabolical 2020! While this season is going to look different to previous years, an abundance of precautions mean that resorts are open. Having said that, we all need to play a part in keeping each other safe, so check with the resorts and the counties they’re in for the latest guidelines. Here are some of the measures resorts around the state are taking this ski season. Oh, and if you don’t follow the guidelines, you will almost certainly be escorted off every mountain! @WESTOF105 | #CrosstheMeridian
A Basin In addition to wearing a face covering when inside any buildings, in the base area, and riding lifts; and maintaining your physical distance, A Basin will be monitoring tailgating and any other large group gatherings in the parking lots. And, you’ll also have to suit and boot up at your car and leave everything behind that you don’t need to ski or ride, so no bringing lunch or bags or anything for that matter.
Winter Park Another common feature this year across resorts is going to be the requirement to book lift tickets and equipment rentals in advance (many will simply not be offering walk-up purchases this season - and winter park is one of them). Resorts are also going to be asking everyone to avoid peak times where possible, so try and avoid holidays and weekends if you have that luxury so those who don’t have a choice have an opportunity to ski. .
Eldora ‘Operation Stay Safe’ includes a new parking reservation system to help manage the number of guests on the mountain, new lift loading and maze operations as well as touchless transactions. Physical distancing in lift queues pretty much occurs organically thanks to the length of skis, but there will be additional spacing measures, including extended maze designs, more lateral spacing and increased signage. Guests will be expected to group and load themselves within their traveling party, and dining spaces have been reconfigured for those who want to dine-in, but there is also an expanded grab-and-go menu. You can also bring your own lunch.
Aspen Skiing Company
Loveland is in Clear Creek County and at the time of writing is at Red Level: Severe Risk which means the resort will no longer be offering indoor dining or bar service at either the Loveland Basin or Valley lodges. This also applies to picnic style and brown bag meals, which will not be allowed into the lodges. Loveland also requires gloves or mittens on all chairlifts.
Operating four resorts, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, and Buttermilk, the company has developed a companywide list of new procedures and policies that will be in effect across the company’s entire winter operations, from parking to ski schools. The company is steadfast in its belief that while they will do everything possible to provide a safe experience, each individual has a responsibility to do the same. Both the City of Aspen and the Town of Snowmass Village have mandatory face mask zones in place and social distancing will be a big part of this ski season.
With all the common sense precautions, Steamboat is not only insisting that tickets must be purchased in advance, but they are not offering single-day lift tickets at all between Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, the busiest period of the season. And even outside those dates, single-day tickets are only available as part of a lift and lodging package..
Operating Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Crested Butte, Vail Resorts is the state’s other behemoth ski resort operator. The company’s 2020-21 winter operation plan focuses on three things this season: the safety of our guests, employees and communities; having a successful season start to finish; and prioritizing our pass holders. Guests at all resorts will be required to wear face coverings in all parts of all resorts, including in lift lines and riding in lifts. Chairlifts will be seat only related parties or two singles on opposite sides of a four-person lift, mountain access will be managed through a reservation system and lift ticket sales will be limited in order to prioritize pass holders.
Loveland Ski Area
Wolf Creek Ski Area At Wolf Creek, pre-purchasing lift tickets is preferred, but they can also be purchased the morning of the day you want to ski at the ticket office, but cash will not be accepted. The resort’s Upper Lodge is currently open albeit with a limited menu and all seating will
be outdoors from 8:30am – 4pm. Skiers and riders are encouraged to bring their own water, snacks and lunch.
Telluride Telluride Ski Resort has come up with a Commitment to Containment that means every employee will wear a mask when interacting with guests face to face and within six feet, and work schedules have been managed to support social distancing efforts. Employees are also given frequent breaks to wash or sanitize hands and health screenings are conducted every day.
Kendall Mountain A few notable things at Kendall in addition to the regular requirements include the closure of the Base Lodge except for restrooms and rentals, which are by appointment only, and daily capacity is being capped at 250 participants daily. Ski and snowboard rentals are available by online reservation and advance payment only; scheduled appointments can be forfeited if you don’t turn up within five minutes of your slot, so don’t be tardy.
Monarch Mountain Monarch is looking for Weekday Warriors to help prevent crowding at the resort this winter. While taking time during the week to go skiing isn’t an option for everyone, if you can ski during the week, you’ll be helping those who can’t get away. Avoiding historically busy days is also another good idea. Typically, that is Dec. 26 through Jan. 3, MLK weekend, and Presidents Day weekend. Other regulations include not bringing food or beverages that have not been prepared by Monarch Mountain into the lodge, and changing clothes at home, in your hotel room, or in your vehicle.
Copper Mountain A new parking reservations system is in place at Copper to manage the number of people on property. Part of Copper’s “Operation Stay Safe” parking spaces must be reserved to ensure availability; spots can be booked up to seven days in advance. Same day reservations can be made, but that will depend on availability. Operation Stay Safe is informed by local and state guidelines and follows the National Ski Areas Association’s Ski Well, Be Well best and also includes requirements such as staff and guests wearing facial coverings at all times (except when seated to eat or drink), new protocols for lift queueing and
WEST OF 105 | OUTDOORS riding, and guests being prepared to dine in their vehicles when lodges reach capacity.
Purgatory Resort Lift tickets will be sold online and in advance only, and there will be inevitable changes in the base area including new skier drop off areas, a general admission area in the Plaza where guests will get scanned once instead of each time in the lift line. Purg is also offering an online food ordering option, extra outdoor seating will also be available as will contactless payment methods at all restaurants. As with all other resorts, all guests and employees must wear a mask and physically distance in all public places except when eating or drinking at a designated dining location or when actively engaged in skiing, riding, or other distanced outdoor activities.
Echo Mountain At the time of writing, Echo isn’t planning on requiring season pass holders to make a reservation regardless of which pass product you have, and at the same time they have introduced new pass options. The resort will also only allow those actually skiing or snowboarding in the lodge and restaurant. Additional staff have also been brought in to facilitate more frequent cleaning and sanitization of facilities.
Cooper With many of the same regulations and precautions as everywhere else, Cooper will require all passes to be purchased in advance and online via SkiCooper.com. Cooper will offer ski lessons, but only for individuals, families, or groups traveling together and only for those aged seven and over. There will be no children’s programs or daycare services this season. Passes will need to be scanned just once at the “Port of Entry Gate” and only items that you can keep on your person while skiing/riding will be allowed through the gate, so leave coolers, food, drinks (unless you can fit them in your pocket) and the like in your car.
Photo: Bluebird Backcountry / Scott Cody
Sunlight Mountain Resort Sunlight will add more food stations this season, but they still ask that inside spaces be reserved for children and older guests during the busy periods. If you can walk to your car after skiing, try and do that. And that is of course in conjunction with the normal mask wearing and general hygiene practices that everyone is familiar with by now.
Powderhorn Mountain Resort In addition to requiring face coverings and making changes to allow for physical distancing, Powderhorn will closely monitor its employees to ensure they are staying healthy. Season pass holders will be allowed to ski any day the resort is open without reservations or other requirements which will mean capacity limits will be met by limiting the sale of daily lift tickets. An online advance reservation system and requirements for reservations will be implemented if a need to control the number of skiers, including pass holders, if terrain is limited. The ski school will operate under a revised format that will accommodate either small groups or individuals, while children’s on-snow programs will be the subject of particular emphasis with small class sizes and minimal exposure to larger group settings. Advance reservations will be required for all lessons and programs. There will
@WESTOF105 | #CrosstheMeridian
be additional precautions related to the ski school, rental equipment, food and beverage, and general hospitality.
Bluebird Backcountry Colorado’s newest ski resort, and the only one without lifts, is moving its backcountry ski area four miles northwest of the original location to Bear Mountain which is on the Continental Divide near Rabbit Ears Pass. Welcoming a maximum of 200 guests a day and spread across 1,200 acres of in-bounds terrain, Bluebird would seem to be naturally COVID friendly, especially as there are no lifts, which means no lift lines. There will be a limit to the number of people inside the warming huts and base building, and there is plenty of parking slope side which will make maintaining your distance from other skiers easy. And of course, local and state guidelines will be followed as will other common sense precautions. PLAY IT SAFE Remember that these resorts are at high altitude and area hospitals have limited facilities, so stay home if you are sick, at risk, or unwilling to follow guidelines around mask wearing, hygiene, and distancing. Also, remember that per state and local orders, individuals who test positive for or have been exposed to COVID-19 while in Colorado may be required to extend their stay at their own expense to complete isolation or quarantine requirements.
WINTER CAMPING An introduction on braving the elements in the Centennial State this season + some gear you’ll need to make it an enjoyable outing
Photo: Eddie Lawhead
WEST OF 105 | OUTDOORS For most people in Colorado, camping season ends when it becomes too difficult to get out of your snug sleeping bag in the morning, but with some good gear and an adventurous attitude, winter camping can be incredibly rewarding. Landscapes take on an other-worldy quality, campfires are warmer and hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps tastes better than ever.
water and over slick boulders to get there, however, but the frozen falls are worth it. Access in winter can be difficult, so a quick call to ask about conditions is a good idea.
Colorado has no shortage of places to pitch a tent or park your car no matter the conditions, but we picked a few spots with some added benefits.
Just outside Gunnison, Curecanti is made up of three reservoirs (including Blue Mesa Reservoir which is the largest body of water in the state) along the Gunnison River. A year-round destination for water-based fun, it is well-known for salmon and trout fishing, but it is also popular for hiking, boating, and bird watching. The NRA has 10 campgrounds spread along the river, although not all are open year round. Curecanti is a great place for ice fishing with Iola Basin of Blue Mesa Reservoir offering the best conditions. You must have a valid Colorado State fishing license and obviously obey bag and possession limits.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park The South Rim Campground in the park is open year round, but if you want something more a bit more rustic, grab yourself a free wilderness permit and head along South Rim Drive beyond Pulpit Rock Overlook and find yourself a spot in the wilderness. Wilderness, however, doesn’t mean no rules so be sure to take note of wilderness regulations, like no wood fires. And fido will have to stay home if you do head out into the wilderness as dogs are not allowed along South Rim Drive in winter. The added benefit here, of course, is the fact your in “the Black,” so get out and see the magnificent canyon.
Valley View Hot Springs Operated by the non-profit Orient Land Trust, Valley View Hot Springs sits in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Salida and Crestone. There are twenty-four tent sites scattered around with some near parking and facilities and others a short hike into the woods. The OLT preserves this delicate ecosystem through a quota system for both day and overnight use, and while camping spots are allocated on a first come first serve basis, reservations are currently mandatory for both camping and the hot springs. As for the added benefit, well you can thaw yourself out in the hot springs.
Zapata Falls Campground On BLM land and just seven miles southwest of the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Zapata Falls Campground has 23 single campsites and one group site. At 9,000 feet and at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the views of the San Luis Valley, the San Juan Mountains and Sand Dunes are pretty great. The night sky is amazing, too, as are sunrises and sunsets. The North Fork South Zapata Trail is a pretty easy half-mile hike from the campground that leads to the falls that give the campground its name. You will have to wade through the ice-cold
Curecanti National Recreation Area
Basecamp Palisade On the Colorado River in lovely Palisade, Basecamp Palisade has primitive campsites that offer tall trees that create a canopy and so offer somewhat of an escape from the snow while offering great views of orchards and vineyards. Even though sites are said to be primitive, they still have electricity and wifi. There is also a portable restroom and the shower building is close by. The added benefit is simply being in Palisade. With wine tasting rooms nearby, a day of tasting is a good option. The closest tasting room is Colterris which is a five-minute walk away and is open year round between 10am-5pm.
Tips If you’re new to winter camping, chose a spot where you can be close to your car just in case you need to take shelter in the middle of the night Have a bottle for middle of the night bathroom trips so you don’t have to get out of your warm sleeping bag. Ladies can use a cup. If in doubt, over pack. It’s far better to haul too much warm gear and not need it than not be warm enough. Definitely take hats and gloves. Stay sober. Drinking dilates blood vessels and makes you think you are warmer than you are which can lead to prolonged exposure to cold and that can lead to hypothermia. . @WESTOF105 | #CrosstheMeridian
Photos (top to bottom): Period Comms, NPS, Ren N via Yelp / Valley View Hot Springs
1 1. Thermarest Saros sleeping bag With a rating for as low as 0F/-18C, the Saros uses a prooperiaty quick-drying and weather resistant insulation which makes it good for wet conditions. The Saros was designed With Additional Room for Multiple positions (or WARM) to allow for multiple sleep positions without compromising thermal efficiency. $169.95
2. NeoAir XTherm Extreme insulation yet ultralight, the XTherm has something called a Triangular Core Matrix that is said to offer the best warmthto-weight ratio of any air sleeping pad 18
construction. The 2.5 inch pad has a breathsaving pump sack, compact stuff sack, and field repair kit. $214.95
3. Napsack from Poler A wearable sleeping bag that is great for sitting around a campfire, throwing on after skiing or snowboarding, and of course for winter camping. Zips at the shoulders allow you to poke your arms out while a cinch at the bottom lets you walk around. You can cinch it at the waist to create a makeshift jacket, too, before dropping it down and cinching at the bottom to turn it back into a traditional sleeping bag. $130
4. Luno Air Mattress 2.0 Convert your SUV into a comfortable camping bed. Available for over 1,800 vehicles it comfortably accommodates two people up to 6’2”. It comes with a carrying Case and a repair patch. $224.99
5. Operator and Responder from MSR Lightweight shovels are a good idea for any camping trip, but they can be invaluable if an overnight snowfall buries your car. Both the Operator and the Responder have hardanodized aluminum blades with flat chopping faces and serrated edges to break up snow and ice. $69.95 & $59.95
6. Tundra Aerogel Socks from Outdoor Research
Feet will stay nice and toasty thanks to a compression-resistant PrimaLoft Aerogel insert, insulation that offers superior warmth-to-weight ratio that works even when wet. $65
7. Convert 2 tent from Sierra Designs This four-season tent is one of the lightest tents of its type on the market. Improvements from its predecessors include a fully removable fly and a larger vestibule. $499.95
8. MSR Reactor Stove System This 1.7-liter system can boil a liter of water in just three minutes but it is also great for one-pot meals on the trail or at a campsite. The system also regulates fuel pressure to create a consistent flame and efficient use of fuel while an Integrated heat exchanger fused to the pot encloses the burner and so blocks wind extremely effectively. $239.95
9. Cot One Convertible from Helinox A relatively simple piece of gear that is easy to pack and sets up in seconds, the cot, with it’s insulated pad, could make a huge difference to your winter camping experience by keeping you off the ground! $449.95
GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE WINTER GUIDE
Sand Dunes is a popular spot for a lot of reasons, including sand surfing down the highest dunes in North America and for its unique landscape and all the creatures and critters that call it home. Winter brings a slightly different experience with fewer visitors and the addition of sledding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing being added to the list of activities on offer as well as spotting wildlife such as elk and pronghorn
Photo: 20 NPS / Patrick Meyers
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four-wheel-drive vehicle to make it there.
Sand Dunes is a popular day trip year round with many people just wanting to see the amazing dunes, although winter is understandably quieter than other times of the year, although there can be spikes in visitation during the holidays. Snow typically falls on the dunes about once per week in winter, but it tends to only last a couple of days, but fresh snow brings with it opportunities for snow sledding and cross-country skiing. The sand is firmer, too, which makes climbing up the dunes easier. Elk and pronghorn are often seen during early morning or evening in the grasslands.
For a day hike and to take home some bragging rights, consider tackling Star Dune, the tallest dune in North America. At 750 feet from base to summit, it can take as much as 9 hours to hike round trip, especially if you aren’t acclimated to the high altitude and lower oxygen level.
Even though Medano Pass Primitive Road closes for the season, the closure begins at the Castle Creek Picnic Area, which is a nice spot for lunch, although you will likely need a high-clearance,
Backcountry The park covers just over 100,000 acres (just under 20,000 acres of that is the dunefield), while the preserve protects almost 42,000 additional acres, meaning there is a lot more to explore beyond the dunefield. As winter progresses, higher mountain trails are increasingly under deeper snow and so you’ll require gaiters and snowshoes in
22 Photos (this page): NPS / Debra Miller (opposite page): NPS / Patrick Meyers
winter. The deeper we get into winter, the greater the chance of blizzards and temperatures continue to drop with average highs rarely reaching above the low thirties, although most days are sunny and calm, so make sure you take appropriate gear and clothing whether you are heading there for a few hours or a few days, it will be the difference between a great time and a miserable and potentially dangerous time. There are plenty of options for backpacking and camping in park and preserve, from a short hike into the dunefield to long and difficult hikes that require route-finding skills. Camping overnight in the dunefield is a unique experience you seldom find anywhere else in the country. Online backpacking permits for Great Sand Dunes National Park are only available through the Recreation.gov online permit system, so be sure to plan ahead.
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Stargazing Certified in 2019 as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, Sand Dunes is one of the best places in the state and region to see the stars. For an awesome astrological experience, visit on a moonless night. Alternatively, take a surreal tour of the dunes on a full moon and you won’t need a flashlight! Be sure to keep an eye out for camel crickets, kangaroo rats, toads, salamanders, coyotes, bobcats, and owls. And remember, nocturnal eyes are highly sensitive to light so take a headlamp or flashlight with a red light! Visit www.nps.gov/grsa for the most upto-date information.
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DESTINATIONS Road Trip through Rio Blanco County - where winters are quieter and the wilderness is more rugged Pg 40
24 HOURS IN PAGOSA SPRINGS
ROADTRIP: RIO BLANCO COUNTY
One of the big names when it comes to ski towns, Breckenridge is simply wonderful with plenty to do for non-skiers as well as gourmands!
Lovely Pagosa is as quaint as it is charming. The main draw is, understandably, the natural hot springs, but there are other reasons to visit, too.
Colorado’s northwest is a relatively undiscovered part of the state that has a small town charm that you can no longer find along I-70 making it perfect for a road trip.
Photo: Period Communications
Photo: Photo: 26 WilliamDave Woody Kozlowski/Crested / Visit Montrose Butte Mountain Photo: TourismDistrict Office/Alex Neuschaefer Photos:Breckenridge Vail Local Marketing / Jack Affleck
N AT I O N NRIDGE
Barely kissing the west side of the continental divide, the town of Breckenridge (or Breck as locals affectionately call it) is under 30 miles from I-70, which is far enough to not hear or see it yet convenient enough to just be a hop and a skip from Denver. Yet another picturesque Colorado mountain town, Breck sits pretty at 9,600 feet on the side of the Ten Mile Range.
OUTDOORS While the obvious choice for outdoor activities is the ski resort, the pandemic has caused many locals and tourists to turn to more rugged pursuits in the backcountry. While the backcountry is dangerous for the inexperienced and unprepared, with a little know-how and the right gear, going off piste is the perfect way to avoid crowds and make some pretty stellar memories this winter. Your first stop before heading into the backcountry should be Colorado Adventure Guides (located inside new hotel, Gravity Haus). Offering backcountry 101 courses along with private guides, CAG will get powder hounds set up, educated, and on their way to sniffing out their own fresh tracks. They also offer splitboarding 101 courses. Other options for those not inclined to brave shredding the backcountry include snowshoeing and Nordic skiing. Blair Witch Trail, located just down the road from our hotel pick, LOGE (read on for more details) is a 4.1-mile moderately trafficked loop that is great for snowshoeing well into March. Or you could strap on the skinny skis and explore the 50 plus kilometers of groomed cross-country trails between the town’s two Nordic centers. If you’re up for breaking your own trail, there are hundreds of miles of to explore in the greater region. The two Nordic ski operations in town (Gold Run and Breckenridge Nordic Center) will set you up for all the info and gear rentals you’ll need.
Gold Run Nordic Center has doubled its fat bike rental fleet for this winter, so if you haven’t tried it, now is the perfect time. ? You’ll burn an insane amount of calories which can then be replenished at a number of Breck’s amazing eateries. See below for our favorite picks to refuel.
all kinds. Be sure to check out Mountain Goat for outdoor gear and apparel and the quirky used book shop Ole Man Berkins. At some point during your spree, be sure to stop at Prospector Park to see ‘Tom’s
Baby,’ a statue that immortalizes the discovery of a 13 pound, seven ounce gold nugget back in 1887. It’s the largest nugget ever found in the state, and those who rub the nugget on the statue are said to get good luck.
For a fun, free activity try the sledding hills at Carter Park and Airport Road. Another activity kids will love is scenic sleigh rides. There are a few outfitters in the area offering them, including Breckenridge Stables, Two Below Zero, and Golden Horseshoe Sleigh Rides. If you do plan on skiing at the resort, be aware of the restrictions in place due to Covid, including the need for reservations to ski, social distancing, masking up in public spaces and in lines, and the limited dining options.
SHOPPING A stroll down Breck’s historic drag is a must during your visit. With a history that harks back to as late as the 1800’s, Main Street has a wide range of shops offering knick knacks and trinkets of
Photos (opposite page top to bottom) Breckenridge Tourism Office/Cohen Cheers; Breckenridge Tourism Office/Liam Doran (this page): Breckenridge Tourism Office/ Rachel Lawlis; Breckenridge Tourism Office
ART & CULTURE For a dose of art, take a self-guided public art tour. Organized by Breckenridge Creative Arts, there are three different routes that will offer you the opportunity to see more than 30 pieces of public art including Isak Heartstone, the famed wooden troll sculpture. Read more on page 66. Pick up maps at the welcome center.
WELLNESS In light of Covid, there is no better time to get that immune system in fighting shape than now. The Immunity Boost Spa Treatment at Spa at Beaver Run is designed to do just that. Offered in 50- or 80-minute sessions, the treatment begins with a full-body dry exfoliation which is said to encourage your skin to secrete antibacterial oil while sloughing away dead skin cells which helps to keep pores open. A full-body massage follows using an immune-boosting blend of organic essential oils. As you wind down after your treatment, sip on an immune-activating drink that has vitamin c, astragalus and zinc. Finally, you’re sent home with some immune boosting bath salts and soaking oil to help continue your wellness journey at home.
DRINKING AND DINING When it’s time for breakfast, The Crown is one of our favorites (they are currently offering delivery). Order a coffee (or a breakfast cocktail if you’re really ready to vacation) along with a royal tiger burrito (egg, bacon, cheddar cheese, avocado, tomato, and hash browns served in a grilled flour tortilla) and you’ll be plenty fueled for your day. Clint’s Bakery and Coffeehouse is another stellar choice. For breakfast they offer bagel sandwiches (we loved the Santa Fe which is a tasty combination of egg, tomato, pepper jack and green chili sauce) and pastries along with coffee and tea while lunch offerings include sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Aurum Breckenridge is your best stop for upscale offerings. This winter, they are offering a yurt dining experience that makes outdoor dining something to get excited about. The yurt experience is a multi-course chef’s menu featuring amuse bouche and mignardise with wine pairings and more on
request. There are six-course or threecourse options available with the ability to accommodate up to eight guests (same households only for the time being). For a more laid back vibe, we recommend cozying up to a steaming bowl of ramen alongside a warming cocktail. Open from 11 pm to 8 pm (last seating at 7 pm), Breckenridge Distillery is offering a small but well-executed menu of ramen dishes and Korean appetizers. We recommend the miso ramen and garlic tonkotsu pork ramen, both of which are savory, moreish bowls that will warm you to the core. Pair them with a Miners’ Manhattan, a heady cocktail featuring Breckenridge bourbon, house-made sweet vermouth, bitters, and a brandied cherry. An expanded menu can be ordered from for take out, pickup, and delivery and while tours are currently not on offer, same household parities can still be enjoyed outside. Other takeaway options include Giampietros. In our opinion, you can’t go wrong with anything from the menu, but at the very least
be sure to try the pizza. For something really quick, Soupzon may not have the ambiance (it’s takeaway after all so who cares?), but the soups will warm you to your core. They offer a range of your standard soups (tomato basil, chicken noodle) along with your not so standard offerings (think Reuben and chicken tagine). The Blue River Recreation path between Breckenridge and nearby Frisco happens to run right by Loge and locally-owned Broken Compass Brewery, so we recommend strapping on a pair of cross-country skis and scooting the 1.7 miles to the brewery. After a refreshment or two, your (slightly) downhill ride back to the hotel will be a little easier and very worthwhile. There is also Breckenridge Brewery, located at the south end of town, which offers a variety of brews you’ll never find in stores. Menu items include standard pub fare, think burgers and the like.
Photos (opposite page) Breckenridge Tourism Office (this page): Period Comms
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32 Photos: Breckenridge Tourism Office/Liam Doran
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LODGING As for where to stay, LOGE, located three miles north of downtown, is a hip and fun offering that comes with a ton of perks. The animal-friendly accommodation has great outdoor mingling spaces (keep Covid precautions in mind of course) and features gear stocked in the rooms (which includes a Yeti cooler, Rumpl down blanket and Kammock hammock) which allows guests the opportunity to try before they buy (or just to use during your stay!). On top of that, you can also add on hardwear gear rentals including Nordic skis and snowshoes in the winter. Rooms are keyless and the lobby houses a trendy coffee shop to help fuel your day. A selection of quick bites are also available (all beverages and food must currently be taken to go). The hotel is located right near the Summit Stage bus and the Blue River Rec Path, making it easy to get a ride (or Nordic ski) right into town.
PLAY IT SAFE At the time of writing, Summit County is in the red zone, meaning no indoor drinking or dining, mandatory mask coverings, and more. The most important thing about being a responsible visitor is staying abreast of current regulations. Visit summitcountyco.gov for the most up to date information
TO-GO Takeaway stations allow you to order some local fare and enjoy from the comfort of your hotel room. The Town of Breckenridge has established 12 pick-up locations downtown to support takeout orders this winter. Depending on where you order, reference this map to park and pick up your take out order.
MASK ORDINANCE Mask up when indoors AND outdoors in Breck. This includes strolling the downtown area and when in lift lines.
COME PREPARED Most outfitters in Breck are only accommodating reservations with same-household parties. Think of it as a private tour, whether it’s on a dog sled, or sleigh ride!
KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY Only travel, dine and recreate (unless you can keep six feet of distance at all times) with those in the same household
Pagosa Springs may be known for it’s healing waters and lay claim to having the deepest thermal springs in the world, but it’s location in southwest Colorado, surrounded by the San Juan mountains, makes it a winter wonderland and a perfect destination for escaping the crowds this season
7 AM | BREAKFAST Start your day off at Root House Coffee & Shop. Tucked away down a small walkway just off Main Street, this hip coffee house offers Colorado-roasted beans, small bites, and a shop full of quintessential Colorado-appropriate souvenirs.
8 PM | GET OUTDOORS With a staggering 2.5 million acres of surrounding San Juan National Forest as your winter playground, there are plenty of ways to get active while practicing social distancing. From snowshoeing and cross country skiing to dog sledding and even sunrise hot air balloon rides, options are aplenty. Wolf Creek Ski Area is a 30-minute drive away, and with a slogan that boasts ‘the most snow in Colorado’ it’s a great choice for powder hounds. As with all ski resorts (see more details on page 12) be prepared to take extra precautions this winter. For a unique winter experience, San Juan Sled Dogs is a great choice. You’ll head to a private ranch north of town where you’ll get to be on the trail for approximately an hour. That’s followed by s’mores and hot chocolate and plenty of photo opps with the pups.
Photos: Visit Pagosa Springs
Photos (top four) : Period Comms
12 PM | LUNCH When you’re done braving the elements of the Great Outdoors, a warming and nourishing lunch will be in order. For a downtown option we love Riff Raff Brewing Company. Started back in 2013, the brewery is run on geothermal energy and is located in a Victorian building right on Pagosa Street (the main thoroughfare through town). Warm up with a coffee oatmeal stout or black cherry porter and a side of brined eggs. For a main course, opt for a burger. We recommend the Dude or Hippy burger and subbing in a yak patty. Located in Pagosa Springs’ Uptown District, Rosie’s Pizzeria offers perhaps the most Colorado interior we’ve ever experienced. From the flag-painted walls to the ski-adorned bar, the small, cozy eatery offers tasty, warming food with a range of house cocktails and local beers. Without doubt, start with the house-made artichoke dip, and follow it up with a beet salad with Champagne vinaigrette. As for pizza, we loved the white and the veggie (they even have vegan cheese). Whatever you do, save room for the cast iron skillet cookie.
1 PM | SOAK After a hearty lunch head over to Pagosa Hot Springs. Located right on the banks of the San Juan River, winter is the best time of year to soak your well-worked muscles and warm yourself to the core. There are several pool of different temperatures, so you’ll be able to find one that suits you. There are five adult-only pools, but you’ll need to upgrade to access them. Be sure to stay hydrated, and mask up when not in the pools. Photos (this photo and above): The Springs Resort & Spa, Pagosa Springs, CO
5 PM | HAPPY HOUR When you’re ready to resurface to the real world again, Aqua Sol is a great spot for an après ski or post-soak session. This brand new eatery is nestled right next to the river and offers creative cocktails, comfort food, and a relaxed atmosphere. An outdoor tent area has heating lamps to keep you cozy, and if that doesn’t suffice there are a range of hot drinks available to warm you from the inside, including ‘Christmas in your Mouth’, a concoction of hot tea and peppermint schnapps. As for food options, the gumbo is to die for and the animal style fries (or nachos if that’s your jam) hit the spot. In town on a Sunday? Check out the 9am yoga session followed by Bloody Marys and brunch. Colie’s Bloody Mary is made with Ginfuego, a dry gin infused with peppers and spices. Aqua Sol will also be offering to-go breakfast burritos in the mornings which are perfect for a quick grab and go before you hit the snow.
6 PM | DINNER
Photos (this page): Period Comms; (opposite page): 36 Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Photos: Period Communications Photos: Period Comms
Pagosa’s top upscale eatery, The Alley House Grille has a cosmopolitan feel with small town charm. The menu is a well-conceived and perfectly executed combination of steak and poultry options with a few seafood options, too. Start out with the mussels and Thai Cesar salad to whet your appetite. The former is a savory and moreish dish that will have you slurping up the last sip of broth, while the latter a spicy take on the classic salad and is topped with pickled ginger and fried capers. For main courses, we went with our server’s recommendations: the char-grilled filet mignon and the char-grilled ribeye. Both came with fantastic sides, although we particularly loved the sweet and sour roasted brussel sprouts. There are plenty of wines on offer and your server will happily recommend a pairing for you.
8 PM | NIGHTCAP OR MORE SOAKING After dinner you can have a soak at Overlook Hot Springs or a nightcap at The Neon Mallard. Overlook is housed in a beautiful historic property and features numerous tubs across several levels. The rooftop tubs are perfect for stargazing (at time of writing, only outdoor tubs are open and you must make a reservation). If you would prefer to have a nightcap, the The Neon Mallard is a bar located inside The Nightingale Hotel. It’s is a quirky collection of curios and eclectic decor with a sophisticated vibe that would fit in just as easily in NYC or LA. Seasonal cocktails include a winter margarita, made with Hornitos, Naranja, lime juice, coconut milk and agave nectar, or the Mallard Mexican hot chocolate, made with Dulce Vida Anejo Tequila, Chili Chocolate Kahlua, cinnamon, ancho chili powder and house made hot chocolate .
REST YOUR HEAD The Nightingale Motel (shown above) is one of our favorite boutique accommodations in the state. An upgraded motel with a sophisticated vibe, the 17-room property features a clean, sleek design with the chic bar, the Neon Mallard, onsite to boot. Located right in the heart of Pagosa, the updated roadside motel offers keyless entry, bright and airy accommodation and even offers a couple of suites that come complete with a kitchenette. Another newly-rennovated accommodation offering is the nearby Riverwalk Inn (shown right). Well suited for families, the slightly larger operation is located on the river and offers a hot tub, sauna and a free continental breakfast.
Photos: (top to bottom): The Nightingale Motel, Lindsey C via Yelp; The Riverwalk Inn via Yelp
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WINTER ROAD TRIP
RIO BLANCO COUNTY One of the least populated counties west of 105, Rio Blanco County was named for the White River which runs through it. Sparsely populated, it is great for an escape from the crowds, especially in winter as the nearest ski resort is almost two hours from the county seat, Meeker. Heading north from Grand Junction, the road trip gets going almost immediately even though you aren’t even in RBC yet as the road to Rangely is absolutely perfect for those who really enjoy driving. The gently curving and undulating State Highway 139 is part of the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway (a 512mile National Scenic Byway in Colorado and Utah; the Colorado portion is known as the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic and Historic Byway) and takes you over Douglas Pass before arriving in Rangely. An hour west along State Highway 64, past Rio Blanco Lake State Wildlife Area and sitting on the doorstep of the Flat Tops Wilderness and at the entrance to White River national Forest is historic Meeker.
38 Photos Visit Rangely
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RANGELY Do and see Just 20 miles or so outside Rangely on State Highway 139 is the Canyon Pintado National Historic District. Encompassing more than 16,000 acres of public land, the area is famed for its ancient Native American rock art and is well worth a stop. There are 16 designated rock art sites that are well marked with the Carrot Man site, which is estimated to be over 4,000 years old, being one of the most popular. The closest site to town is East Fourmile Site.
For more recent historic artifacts, the Rangely Auto Museum in town is great. Home to classic and very rare cars and motorbikes from the early 1900’s, it’s good even if you’re not particularly into cars as many of them are works of art in their own right. If you like your cars to be a little more responsive, get yourself a 4x4 and head to the only designated natural rock crawling park in the state. Just a few miles southwest of town, the park has more than 560 acres of natural terrain designated by the Bureau of Land Management.
Photo: Danica Bona
Photos: 40 (clockwise from top left): Daniel Fiscus, Period Comms, Period Comms, Visit Rangely (opposite page): Period Comms
For something more sedate, there is always golf. While courses in other parts of the state are temporarily converted into cross country ski tracks in winter, the nine-hole Cedar Ridges course, located on top of a mesa on the outskirts of town, is playable for at least eight months or more each year thanks to the desert sunshine. Call ahead to see if it’s open. Although it is in Moffat County, Rangely is only 19 miles from a Colorado welcome Center in the town of Dinosaur. These centers are sticked with brochures about
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the entire state and the staff are usually local or at regional and so are a wealth of knowledge. Dinosaur National Monument isn’t far away, however, there are no dinosaur fossils in the Colorado portion of the monument. And speaking of dinosaurs, as recently as 2014 the fossilized remains of a hadrosaur dubbed “Walter” were found just outside of Rangely!
Eat and Stay Rangely’s dining scene isn’t extensive, but it’s a small town, so temper your expectations accordingly. However, there are half a dozen or so restaurants to get a good and hearty meal. The newest addition to the town’s dining scene is Dottie’s kitchen. Named after the owner’s grandmother, Dottie’s is a down-to-earth diner serving up hearty portions of classics like pancakes, biscuits and gravy, burgers, and wings. Giovanni’s Italian Grill is a sort of a diner food with an Italian accent. In addition to burgers, sandwiches, and salads they have pizzas, calzones and stromboli. The stromboli was crispy, oozing and delicious. A Caesar side salad made for a
filling meal. There are also Mexican and Chinese restaurants as well as a few food trucks that pop up at different times and in different locations, including a weekend taco truck called Tacos El Toro (check them out on Facebook) as well as The Brunch Truck that is aiming to raise the bar for food trucks in the area by offering, among other things,
Buffalo chicken grilled cheese and zuppa Toscana. For a beer, try the Pub on Main. And for a good night’s rest, the Blue Mountain Inn is a comfortable place that is very conveniently located. They also have a heated pool, which is a nice way to start the day and an outdoor hot tub which is a great way to end the day!
MEEKER Do and See A pleasant one-hour drive from Rangely, Meeker is the county seat of Rio Blanco County. With a comparable population to Rangely at just under 2,500, Meeker has a different feel, mainly because it is historic (Rangely was incorporated in 1946, while Meeker dates back to 1883). The White River Museum is a good place to start to get the lie of the land in terms of what makes Meeker famous - or should that be infamous? The museum is split into two parts, the first is a general overview of Meeker through history with artifacts of all kinds, while the second part is the garrison where the US military were stationed after the Meeker massacre. There’s a really cool sand diagram of the battle site as well as all kinds of military paraphernalia. Being so close to White River National Forest and Flat Tops, there are a few more winter activities in Meeker to partake in,
including snowshoeing and cross country skiing. The 2.2-mile Marvine trail is about 30 miles from Meeker and leads to a warming hut where you can relax before heading back. Created and groomed by the White River Nordic Council, the club also plans special events including a moonlight ski during the full moon each month. For snowmobilers, there are 178 miles of trails in Rio Blanco County maintained by the White River Snowmobile Club, 100 of which are left natural to challenge even advanced riders. Also this winter, the second annual Meeker skijoring event is scheduled to take place between Feb.19-21 at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds.
Eat and Stay Back in town, the Meeker Café is inside the Meeker Hotel. With genuine art decostyle booths, countertop and bar back that arrived sometime in the 1930s, the cafe
serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu is fairly extensive with sandwiches, burgers, salads and steaks. Another place that comes very highly recommended is the Fork. Raising the bar for food in Meeker, the Fork is a farmto-table bistro serving everything from charbroiled burgers and elk sloppy joes with arugula to lamb tacos with green zhug and a pear and tomatillo salsa. A truly amazing find in meeker is Blanco Cellars & The Little Cheese Shop. The frankly remarkable shop has cheese and wine from around the world and would fit in effortlessly (and be a smash hit) in Aspen or any ski town. Not likely to be open this winter but worth a mention is the Meeker Drug Store. An actual pharmacy, it is also home to a fantastic old school soda fountain, coffee and bake shop, and Red Rooster Sandwich Shop. The building is also home to a coworking space. 41
As for where to stay, the Meeker Hotel is a great historic hotel. The current Meeker Hotel was constructed in 1896 and while it has inevitably had to undergo renovations, it has a real air of history to it. The lobby is perhaps not for the faint of heart as it is loaded with mounted heads from local hunts. The rooms are very comfortable with modern amenities blending well with the history nature of the room and property. With the ever changing restrictions caused by Covid, be sure to call ahead to make sure places are open.
The rest of the year Rio Blanco County is definitely more sedate most of the year, but sedate plus the dreaded Covid 19 means we thought it pertinent and fair to include a few of the sights and activities that occur the rest of the year. The Tank Center for Sonic Arts is a converted railroad water-treatment facility from the 1940s. Moved to Rangely in the mid-1960s for use as part of a fire-suppression system, it became a secret performance and recording space for a group of sound artists and musicians after sound artist Bruce Odland discovered its potential in the 1970s. “I’d never heard anything like it,” he said. In 2013, the Tank’s existence was threatened and so a group called Friends of The TANK launched a campaign to save it. Today, the Tank is one of the most unique venues performance and recording venues in the state and possibly the country. Kenney Reservoir is just outside town and is very popular for wakeboarding, water skiing, and even cliff diving in summer. It is one of only two bodies of water in the state that allows seaplanes to land, so expect to see that regularly throughout the year. Rangely is also popular throughout the year with ATVs, which can be used on the streets of the town (excluding Main Street) WHEN, and Rangely is home to Rally Colorado that typically sees more than 100 rally cars tackle more than 100 miles of dirt road traversing mountains, plains, canyons, and mesas. Just outside Meeker, Sombrero Ranches has a stable and offers horses and riding equipment for rent by the day or week for your backcountry trips as well as guided scenic trail rides in the summer. While in autumn, the famed Meeker Classic Sheepdog trials take place in autumn.
Photos Visit Rangely
DRINKING & DINING Warm your cockles this season with our favorite winter cocktails Page 46
Photo: Edward Howell
RESTAURANT PROFILE: SAKABA
Whether you’re doing a tailgate après session or you’re curling up in front of a roaring fire, this picnic basket of Colorado goodies is the perfect culinary companion.
Superb sushi is now on offer at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch courtesy of Chef Yoshikazu “Kazu” Ebina. Try the omakase for the ultimate experience.
Stay nice and toasty this winter with one of these deliciously intoxicating warm cocktails, from a piping hot mug of mulled wine to warm egg nog.
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HUG IN A MUG
Turn up the Heat Cozy up this winter with five spirituous salutes to the season
Hot Chocolate A cold-weather classic, hot chocolate lends itself very nicely to peppermint schnapps. We like slightly thicker hot chocolate so we add some corn flour or masa when heating the milk so it thickens lightly. Good chocolate is a must, but get the best you can afford. Splash in some schnapps and you’re good to go. What’s that? You want a controversial alternative? Why not bring the classic combination of red wine and chocolate together in one glass. Adding mulled wine to hot chocolate (or vice versa) is better than it sounds.
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Photo: Karla Avesenik
Photo: Gaby Dyson
Mulled Wine The king of winter warmers in our opinion, there are classic interpretations of mulled wine and then there are wild variations, but mull whatever you like. If anyone kicks up a fuss, call it glögg or glühwein and say it’s from an obscure part of Finland or Germany. More traditional recipes call for oranges, brandy, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in addition to the wine. Cardamom is good, too. Very dry wines aren’t ideal, but do what you like and experiment. And if you want to use white, and you feel as if you have to explain yourself to anyone (you don’t) call it winter sangria!
Egg Nog Mulled wine might be the seasonal staple, but the nog takes pride of place on Christmas Day. And while many of you may baulk at the thought of warming eggnog up, that’s only because you probably haven’t tried it. Essentially a drinkable creme anglaise or custard, eggnog is a simple yet delicious mix of milk, cream, sugar, and eggs. Throw some brandy or bourbon in there and dust with cinnamon and you have yourself a hell of a drink.
Photo: Jill Wellington
Photo: Anita Jankovic
Hot Toddy The classic hot today is a very simple warmed mix of liquor, water and honey (or some kind of sweetener; the Canadians we hear use maple syrup which sounds as good as it is stereotypical). Traditionally a winter remedy sipped before bed to alleviate cold and flu symptoms, this leaves the door wide open to experimentation. Whiskey (or whisky) is the classic but all of its variants would work as would rum. We think the addition of bitters would make for a very nice drink, too. A warm Manhattan? Why not? Even warmed amaro or the slightly less bitter Aperol sounds very nice to us. Amaretto, too, would be great (it would also work well in the hot chocolate and horchata).
Horchata There are lots of variations of horchata across the Spanish-speaking world where it is made variously with nuts or rice. (It is also consumed in parts of West Africa where it is called kunnu aya). The best part is it’s really easy to make at home and is as simple as soaking rice, cinnamon, and almonds (if you like) over night. Strain and blend the mixture adding evaporated milk until it’s as smooth as you want it. Strain into a saucepan and add sugar, vanilla, milk, and some alcohol. Bourbon works well in horchata as does rum. There are even horchata spirits out there, too. Just remember to adjust the sugar depending on what you’re going to add.
49 Photo: Pratiksha Mohanty
Photo: Trevor Triano
SAKABA | BEAVER CREEK Led by Chef Yoshikazu “Kazu” Ebina, who brings more than two decades of experience with him, in conjunction with executive chef Jasper Schneider, Sakaba is the newest addition to the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. 50
Sakaba, which means “bar” in Japanese, opened back in early 2020 and has brought authentic Japanese dishes to Beaver Creek. The food is as spectacular as you might imagine from a chef with such caliber, but that is in part due to the freshness of the ingredients and that in turn is thanks to daily deliveries that are flown in from Japan. At Sakaba you can expect rolls, nigiri and sashimi as well as dishes such as miso black cod, wagyu and ramen, all of which are beautifully presented and taste as good as they look. Perhaps the signature experience at Sakaba is omakase, a Japanese tradition whereby you entrust the chef to present dishes to you using their experience to craft a unique dinner experience. Able to accommodate guests inside, outside on a heated terrace, as well as at the sushi bar, which is arguably the best seat in the house, Sakaba is great for post-dinner drinks, too, thanks to its range of inventive cocktails as well as a very impressive collection of sake as well as several Japanese beers.
Photo: Sakaba / Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch
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Sakaba is currently open Wednesdays - Saturdays, 5:30-10pm, after which the patio opens as a cocktail lounge. 51
Photo: Annie Spratt
BASKET CASE With all of the uncertainty this winter, it is far from clear whether restaurants will be open or if they are under what restrictions they will have to operate. So we thought it would be a good idea to have a giant basket packed with all kinds of goodies in case there was some kind of gastronomic emergency. We hit up some of the most gifted gourmands around the state and packed a basket of the best of the Centennial state. There is of course an art to creating the perfect pairing and making sure every morsel matches or maybe even magnifies every mouthful, but there is also a time for simply eating and drinking whatever is front of you. Suit yourself.
Wine For many of us, the festive season would be incomplete without a few libations to lubricate linguistic intercourse. We picked a few bottles of wine from a few of our favorite producers, although there are plenty of other wineries producing delicious bottles. The Storm Cellar: Over in Hotchkiss, Jayme and Steve are producing a range of magnificent highelevation whites and roses.
2018 Chardonnay: Our 2018 Chardonnay is a 50-50 blend of fruit from estate-grown Old Wente clone vines planted in 1987 here at the Redstone Vineyard and from select vineyard blocks at Talbott Farms on East Orchard Mesa in Palisade. This Chardonnay has tropical fruit aromas, a honeyed texture, balanced acidity, and soft nuances of French oak. 2019 RRV blend: The distinctly different styles of wine from the Rhône and Rhine river valleys come together in our 2019 RRV white blend. This food-friendly, all-season wine boasts texture and spice from the Roussanne, stone fruit aromas and acidity from the Riesling, and floral and orchard fruit flavors from the Viognier. Buckel Family Wines: In Gunnison, Joe and Shamai produce “old worldstyle wines with minimal intervention; allowing the terroir and grapes of Colorado to express themselves.” 2018 Cabernet Franc: With notes of hatch green chili, capsicum, and black pepper, there are distinct flavors of red currant, plum and savory spices. The classic Boudreaux varietal is often blended into wines adding a fruity, floral aromatic component. 2018 Cinsault: A lesser known grape, it is typically used for blending in France. It thrives in Colorado thanks to the intensity of the summers here. Expect aromas of strawberry, clove and spice and can be served slightly chilled. Sutcliffe Vineyards: Located in McElmo Canyon down in southwest Colorado, it took almost a decade to bottle the first vintage from when John Sutcliffe made an offer on a ranch that also produced fruit. Desert Bubbles: No festive season would be complete with something sparkling, and Sutcliffe’s non vintage sparkling wine is made from 100 percent estate Chardonnay and fits the bill perfectly.
Meat & Cheese We love James Ranch in Durango where all of the cheeses are made with raw cow’s milk. They have three variations of their Belford. The mature Belford is aged between nine and twelve months and balances sharpness with creaminess. Haystack Mountain Cheese has a slew of award-winning cheeses. Gold Hill, a Spanish-style cheese made with pasteurized goat milk and additional cultures to bring out a balanced buttery and tangy aroma was named Best American Cheese at the 30th annual World Cheese Awards in 2017, and so is on our list. They also produce Funkmeister, a double cream washed rind cheese made from organic cow’s milk which intensifies over its eight-week shelf life. As for charcuterie, we love the calabrese and fennel pollen salamis from Elevation Meats, while Il Porcellino Salumi, which has a facility in Basalt, has a wagyu bresaola seasoned with juniper, cinnamon, clove, and peppercorns. To cut through the richness, giardiniere is great, adding a spicy and vinegary contrast to creamy cheeses and fatty meat. The market at Mercantile Dining & Provisions (a sister company to Fruition Farms) has one made with seven different peppers - red and yellow bell peppers, Anaheim, Fresno, poblano, Serrano, and jalapeño. A sweet element is, in our opinion, essential to a cheese board, and the jalapeño jam from O’Hara’s of Durango is a great addition. Ska True Blonde Honey Mustard from Durango Artisan Foods also makes for a good dollop on a cheese board. We love both crackers and French bread with our cheese board, and for the latter it’s hard to look beyond blue Grouse Bread in Norwood, which admittedly is only available on certain days and in Telluride, Ridgway, Montrose and of course Norwood.
2017 Cabernet Sauvignon: This 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon is bright on the nose but with intense notes of dark cherry and just a hint of anise. The finish is long and gentle.
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Stare Down the Barrel Lovers of breathalyser busting beers rejoice, earlier this month Oskar Blues released the fourth and final installment of their barrelaged BA20 series with Zuccotto. They are available in four-packs of 12 oz. cans for a limited time, so give your local liquor store a call.
Volume 1 | All Monde
Volume 3 | Angel's Vera
An imperial stout that was aged in bourbon barrels for ten months before toasted almonds and Madagascar vanilla bean was added to give a nutty flavor and aroma. Notes of coffee and bourbon are subtle but detectable as. A winter warmer for sure. ABV 12.5%
While Angel's Vera was, in its former existence, a regular porter, it spent twice as long in the barrel, this time a rum barrel where it picked up plenty of flavor. Roasted and ground pistachios give a nuttiness while cacao nibs, vanilla (this time from Uganda), and coconut round out the sweet and nutty nature of this one. ABV 10.3%
Volume 2 | Amburilla Another imperial stout that was aged in bourbon barrels and infused with Madagascar vanilla bean, but this time with the addition of ginger which makes it a little more complex with the ginger coming through along with hints of chocolate, vanilla, and oak. ABV 12.5% 54
Vol. 4 | Zuccotto The final batch in the series is back to being Imperial Stout aged in brandy barrels with raspberries, vanilla, white chocolate and dark chocolate. Expect oak with notes of marshmallow, molasses, cherry, plum, and cacao. ABV 12.3%
LIFESTYLE Ned is making waves (theta waves that is) with their tincture to help catch some zzzs Page 64
6 HOT SPRINGS TO SOAK IN
HAVEN: VISTA VERDE RANCH
Colorado Chic: Check out this small seasonal selection of apparel and accessories to help you look the part this ski season.
The BEST tonic for a day spent enjoying the great outdoors is to defrost and soothe aching muscles in a natural hot spring. Check out a few we love.
Vista Verde more than lives up to the vista part of its name (understandably in winter it’s less verde). The staff to guest ratio is particularly impressive, too!
FASHION | FOR HER
Outdoor Research | Transcendent Down Pullover $229 As functional as it is comfortable, this pullover is packed with responsibly sourced goose down insulation, while an over-filled hood and collar add to the coziness, and it’s made with 100 percent recycled polyester with a ripstop shell.
Title Nine | Barra Tunic Sweater $169 Made from a proprietary blend of soft, itchfree, Merino wool and a fast-drying poly (called Woolicious; it’s 60-40 wool/poly) the tunic offers greater coverage than the sweater version and has a zip pocket and comes in a couple of funky designs - black and elderflower.
Burton | Chescott Down Jacket $284.95 Burton’s version of the wardrobe staple long jacket has plenty of insulation with an oversized collar and removable hood which both let you adapt somewhat to changing weather. It also has a twoway zip, a removable hood, a drawstring adjustable collar, and microfleece handwarmer pockets which make quite a difference on really frigid days. We find mesh interior dump pockets useful, too. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.
Timberland | Graceyn Waterproof Tall Boots $159.99 Made using Timberland’s ReBOTL fabric that contains at least 50 percent recycled plastic, these threequarter length boots have a waterproof membrane, a rubber outsole, and come in black or rust.
Keen | Oregon City Chelsea Boots $170 These leather stacked heel boots are built to be rugged but have enough cushioning to allow them to be worn for extended periods. The outsole has been designed to have more traction that you might expect on a boot like this which makes them good for icy and snowy conditions, and they arch support.
Skhoop | Mini Down Skirt $149
Solo | Re:Store Tote $54.99
Offering both warmth and freedom to move, the Mini Down Skirt is good for outdoor activities from cross-country skiing to walking the dog. The nylon shell is filled with RDS-certified 90/10 down/feather and an environmentally friendly DWR repels dirt and moisture. It also has a zip pocket on the right.
Made from five recycled PET bottles, the Re:Store tote has a padded compartment that fits most laptops. An interior organizer section has a very useful key clip while there is also a front zippered pocket, a front quick access pocket and a very handy back panel that slides over luggage handles. It is currently available in a heather gray.
FASHION | FOR HIM
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Green Guru | Upcycled Sleep Pad Travel Kit $34.95 With a shell that is made from salvaged sleeping pads in a mix of vibrant colors, this travel kit is a fun and practical accessory. The reinforced bottom is made from old bicycle tubes as is the handle, while the zip pull is made from salvaged climbing rope. Made in Colorado, to boot.
Maloja | Luzzam Shirt $119
Elevenate | Motion Jacket $250 A Colorado wardrobe staple, the Luzzam shirt from Maloja This lightweight synthetic down jacket can be has a Kent collar and comes in three color variations of the used as a standalone jacket and as a mid-layer plaid design (moonless, red and black; night sky, red and a on particularly cold days. Made with recycled dark blue; and dark tiger, an orange/rust with blue). It also synthetic down insulation that has a down-like has a chest pocket and a rounded seam. puffiness and loft and it retains its insulating capacity even when damp. The shell fabric is made from recycled polyamide and has a PFCfree water repellent treatment.
OluKai | Nānā Hele $150 While the Nānā Hele chukka boots are waterproof, they were not designed for trudging around in the snow. They are good for chilly weather, however, thanks to a shearling lining in the forefoot and the quilted heel, and so they will work for bright winter days when the ground isn’t covered in snow. They also have a wet grip rubber outsole.
Feetures | Run Rudolph Run No-show Socks $15.99
Deckers X Lab | KO-Z Chukka $170 The innovation department of Deckers wanted to take slippers to the street, and they managed it. These really are the most comfortable things we’ve worn in a while. Made of EcoTan sheepskin and EcoTan cow suede leather and recycled Looped Wool, the only issue we have is that they are so slipper like it almost feels strange wearing them outside!
LIVSN | Flex Canvas Pants $99 LIVSN’s flagship product, the Flex Canvas Pants are very rugged but they are also stylish enough to wear out for drinks. With a range of useful features like the roll-up leg system with reflective taping, a hidden security pocket in the left front pocket, and ventilated and deep mesh front pockets, these might be our new favorite pants.
Get into the spirit of the season with these fun no-show Christmas socks from Feetures. The fun design has reindeer prancing across the middle of the sock while the low ankle cuff reads Run Rudolph Run. They also have targeted compression and high density cushioning among other features. 57
Photo: The Springs Resort & Spa, Pagosa Springs, CO
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Defrost this winter with a visit to one of the numerous natural hot springs we have across the state. We picked six that we think are perfectly located for a post-ski soak but are also large enough to facilitate social distancing and other COVIDrelated restrictions
OLD TOWN HOT SPRINGS, STEAMBOAT SPRINGS Located on Lincoln Avenue in the heart of downtown Steamboat Springs, Old Town Hot Springs is a familyfriendly nonprofit with water slides, a fitness center, massage services and childcare in addition to eight geothermal pools. Open year round, the pools are fed by Heart Spring and the water comes right out of the ground at a very pleasant 103 degrees F. There are private cabanas if you want to make a day of it. Boasting over half the population of the town as members, Old Town Hot Springs is the perfect way to defrost after a day at nearby Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
1 GLENWOOD HOT SPRINGS RESORT & SPA, GLENWOOD SPRINGS
One of the better known hot springs in the state, Glenwood Hot Springs Resort has been curing ailments and relaxing aching muscles for over 130 years. Around an hour from both Aspen and Vail, the resort boasts the world’s largest hot springs pool at a whopping 1,071,000 gallons. For those who want to stay for more than just the day, the 107-room Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge is on the grounds of the resort.
THE SPRINGS RESORT & SPA, PAGOSA SPRINGS Across the San Juan River from Overlook Hot Springs Spa, the Springs Resort and Spa is a sprawling property that is home to the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring. There are almost two dozen mineral soaking pools (eight public, all-age soaking tubs and five exclusive Relaxation Terrace pools for bathers aged 18 and over), a full-service spa and salon and a 79-room hotel that is heated by a geothermal system. Guests at the Lodge also get 24-hour access to the soaking pools. Five of the 23 pools are adult-only.
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OURAY HOT SPRINGS POOL, OURAY Surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, the Ouray Hot Springs Pool is a community facility. In operation since 1927, the 750,000-gallon, sulfur-free mineral pool is open year round (parts of it at least). With five distinct sections — shallow, hot, lap, activity and the overlook (the latter being a space for those over 18 which closes during off season as does the activity area) — the Ouray Hot Springs offers something for everyone. The facility, which is owned and operated by the city of Ouray, underwent a comprehensive renovation not long ago.
4 MOUNT PRINCETON HOT SPRINGS RESORT, NATHROP
One of the better known hot springs in Colorado, Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort is a luxurious property in the mountains that has several geothermal springs. With 30 small pools in Chalk Creek, which runs alongside the property, as well as a historic bathhouse and the Upper Pools that are connected by a lazy river and features a 400’ water slide, Mount Princeton lives up to its name as a resort. It also happens to be close to both Monarch and Ski Cooper ski areas and so is popular in winter as an après ski destination. The surrounding scenery also helps to relax your mind as the geothermal water goes to work on your muscles.
ORVIS HOT SPRINGS, RIDGWAY A few minutes south of Ridgway on the way to Ouray, Orvis Hot Springs is a clothing-optional, natural hot springs resort. Closer to Telluride than Ouray is, and so a slightly more convenient option for those coming off the slopes, the scenery is spectacular and there are rooms and a campground for those that want to stay overnight (all overnight guests have 24-hour access to the hot springs). There are 10 pools and ponds that are just as nature intended - never heated or treated in any way. There are both indoor and outdoor soaking areas which range in temperature from 65F to 112F. There are also massage therapists on site.
Photos (opposite page top to bottom): Kopischke Photography, Glenwood Hot Springs, Pagosa Springs (this page top to bottom): Ouray Tourism Office, Scott Peterson, Brent Bayless
HAVEN Vista Verde Ranch
Sitting in 540 beautiful acres and surrounded by millions more acres of national forest, Vista Verde is a luxurious and secluded ranch that is a winter wonderland. Just 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs, Vista Verde offers something for everyone whether you want to enjoy some well-earned R&R or an action-filled adventure vacation - or a bit of a both.
horse riding. Day trips to nearby Steamboat Ski resort can also be arranged.
DRINKING AND DINING While the term cowboy cuisine may suggest simple and hearty food without pretense, the chefs at Vista Verde do a good job of adding a touch of elegance as well as using the best produce they can find and preparing them simply to let the quality come through.
REST AND RELAX The cabins at Vista Verde are rustic log cabins that blend seamlessly with the environment, but inside they are inviting and welcoming with log fires and hot tubs, but no TVs. Massage and yoga are also options (COVID regulations permitting of course). The 12 cabins and three lodge rooms can accommodate a total of 50 guests, and with more than 60 staff in winter, the ratio is very much in favor of the guest.
As part of the all-inclusive ranch pricing, house wines as well as beer and a variety of sodas are included in your stay. There is also a private cellar list, which is available at an extra charge.
NO KIDDING ADVENTURE There is no shortage of activity options here with everything from fat tire biking, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing, to snowmobiling, and 62
While Vista Verde is family friendly, the ranch does set aside periods each year for adults only vacations. Typically that is most of January and early February and late-August through late-October for summer vacations.
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Photos: Vista Verde Ranch
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The company launched in 2017 with a line of full spectrum hemp products. One of the company’s newest products is Sleep Blend.
OOD quality sleep has always been an important but often overlooked part of living a healthy lifestyle, but perhaps now more than ever most of us could use a helping hand. Ned is a wellness brand that has its roots in the idea that we can all live better by connecting more deeply with the natural world.
64 Photo: Ned
Blending CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol) with organic botanicals such as MCT (Medium-chain triglyceride) coconut oil, oatstraw, nettles, valerian, lemon balm, passionflower, skullcap, chamomile, licorice, and calendula, it is claimed that it will help you sleep deeper for longer which will lead to you waking up refreshed. The organically-grown hemp used in the Sleep Blend is cultivated on a small farm in Paonia. $96
CULTURE & EVENTS Venture off the beaten track to see Breck’s outdoor 15foot troll, Isak Heartstone Page 66
TROLL IN THE WOODS
Q&A: THE MAYORS
Isak Heartstone is Breck’s 15-foot tall wooden sculpture. Initially controversial, it is now settled in a permanent location away from habitation.
Find out, among other things, what Crested Butte’s mayor’s favorite curse word is and how Ouray mayor Greg Nelson would like to be remembered.
A few other little bits and pieces of culture news for the season from west of 105.
Photo: Breckenridge Tourism Office
THE TROLL S H EB AN G Photos: Breckenridge Tourism Office
Isak Heartstone, Breckenridge’s 15-foot wooden troll sculpture, was a divisive figure when he first appeared, so much so he disappeared in the middle of the night before reappearing in a new location to the delight of troll fans. Given COVID restrictions, outdoor art will probably be more popular than ever this winter, and Isak Heartstone will be no exception.
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The first incarnation of artist Thomas Dambo’s reclaimed wood troll was originally commissioned in August 2018. Loved by tourists, but not so much by the people who lived in the Wellington neighborhood which was adjacent to the trail because of the raft of visitors that residents say caused problems such as illegal parking and littering among other issues. Long story short, Isak Heartstone 1.0 was quite literally cut down in his prime with chainsaws in the middle of the night. Troll fans, however, weren’t happy and a public outcry led to the Town of Breckenridge working with BreckCreate to have Dambo return to Breck and build a new troll in a new location. Dambo returned in May 2019 to rebuild the troll. After the ceremonial placement of Isak's 'heart stone' (by the same local children who gave Dambo a heart-
shaped rock while he was building the original troll and unwittingly gave the troll his name) Isak Heartstone 2.0 was ready for his second close up! The sculpture was unveiled in June, 2019. Isak Heartstone 2.0 is now situated in Illinois Gulch, an area owned by the Town of Breckenridge that doesn’t have the residential problems of the first location, and it is more accessible. It is a 15-minute walk from the Breckenridge Welcome Center along the Trollstigen Trail which begins in the southeast corner of the Stephen C. West Ice Arena parking lot. The trail is not maintained throughout the winter, however, so be sure to prepare accordingly. The easiest way to get there is to take one of Breck’s free public transportation options. And there is no parking available near the sculpture (and given previous problems, this is strictly enforced).
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And finally, follow the Leave No Trace Principles! Take Only Photos and Leave Only Footprints - There is no garbage service along the trail, so be sure to use the trash receptacle at the trailhead. Please pack what you bring in and do not add anything to the troll. Keep Dogs on Leashes – Simply put, trolls prefer not to be peed on. And, similarly, people don’t like to step in poop. Please, practice responsible dog ownership and pick up after your pet. Stay on the Trail – Please respect private property by staying on the trail. Trollstigen Trail is a one-way directional trail. Respect the Troll – To ensure he is around for others to see, please treat Isak as a piece of art, which means no climbing on him.
Quickfire Q&A: The Mayors
DAVE CHAPIN | VAIL
GREG NELSON | OURAY
Dave "Bone" Chapin arrived in Vail from upstate New York in the early 1980s. A partner in Vendetta’s restaurant and bar in Vail Village, Chapin takes advantage of the great outdoors that living in Vail provides access to.
After graduating from high school in Madrid, Nelson moved back to the States to attend college. After spending more than three decades as an engineer, he retired to Ouray In 2014.
What is your favorite word? Thanks
What turns you off? Drama - doesn’t matter whether its In real life, TV, the media or social media.
What sound or noise do you hate? Highway noise If you were reincarnated as some other plant or animal, what would it be? A shark Who are your favorite heroines in real life? Our armed forces What do you value most in your friends? Honesty How do you relax? In the outdoors
What profession would you not like to do? Anything that involves cold calls. Too impersonal. What is your idea of earthly happiness? Time with my family, new adventures and seeing my grandkids grow up. What superpower would you most like to possess? To be able to fly like Superman. What or who is the greatest love of your life? Without a doubt, my wife, Diane! How would you like to be remembered? I’d like to be remembered as someone who left every place I worked, and every community I lived in, better than I found it.
JIM SCHMIDT | CRESTED BUTTE Jim Schmidt moved to Crested Butte in 1976 after visiting some friends during his 12,000-mile, four-month, National Park, Bicentennial tour of the western US. He grew up in Waukegan, Illinois and graduated from Cornell in 1970. After six years working in the “alleged” real world, he packed up and headed west on his motorcycle. He is currently serving his fifth term as Mayor. What is your favorite curse word? Fuckin’ A If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? You can be young again but as smart as you are now, you can run forever and eat and drink to your heart’s content. And as a special bonus, no Trump. Who are your favorite fictional heroes? Indiana Jones and Wonder Woman Who is your favorite musician? Eric Clapton What is your motto? Never go out with anyone who has more problems than you What is the most important lesson life has taught you? Don’t let someone else ruin your day with their problems.
WEST OF 105 | CULTURE & EVENTS
Arts and Culture Briefs Many people are unaware that pilates, the fitness system that is often compared to yoga, was named after the man that created the system, Joseph Pilates. In a new book by Former Telluride Mayor John Howard Steel, the man and the method are put under the spotlight by Steel, a student, friend, and confidant of Joseph Pilates in Caged Lion: Joseph Pilates and His Legacy. Born in Germany, Pilates was a gymnast and bodybuilder who variously earned a living as a professional boxer, a circus-performer, and a self-defense trainer at police schools. After being imprisoned during World War I, Pilates eventually emigrated to the United States where he would invent his eponymous fitness system and reinvent himself.
CAGED LION: JOSEPH PILATES AND HIS LEGACY Presented by Carbondale Arts, the 42nd Annual Valley Visual Art Show will open to the public on Friday, Jan. 22 and will be on display at the R2 Gallery (up to eight masked visitors will be allowed at any one time between 10am-5pm each weekday) through Feb. 25. A virtual tour will also be available. Featuring 50 artists from the Roaring Fork Valley, each piece will be available for purchase through the gallery’s online shop. Committed to showing the work of local artists, VVAS began in 1980 the show has evolved into both a showcase of art and as a way to recognize the wide range of talented artists in the community.
THE 42ND ANNUAL VALLEY VISUAL ART SHOW, CARBONDALE As part of a project by large-scale sculpture artist Griffin Loop, a 25-foot stainless steel sculpture of a paper airplane is on display on the front lawn of Aspen’s Red Brick Center for the Arts. The sculpture represents youthful innocence in that paper airplanes are one of the first things we create as children and launch into the world. The project, entitled ‘LAUNCH INTENTION’, is based around models of paper airplanes which serve as an invitation for viewers to set intentions by verbalizing what they need and/or want and launching these ideas into action.
LAUNCH INTENTION, ASPEN
Viewers can digitally submit their intentions through the LAUNCH INTENTION website. Loop will respond to the submissions to keep people accountable and to support their intentions, in addition to using the messages to inspire new artwork. The sculpture is for sale.
Photos (middle photo): Bailey Haines “Spirit” Monoprint