Skiing in Colorado may be the the main attraction, but it’s not the only thing to do. If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy adventure in the high, snow-covered peaks and crisp sunny days, Dena Braun-Roché shares six snowy activities you can do beyond skiing.
While everyone knows Colorado is ski bum nirvana, the Rocky Mountain State can serve up a winter vacation sans the skis. So grab your winter gear, head to the mountain towns of Summit County and prepare to see Colorado in a new light.
Here Kitty Kat
One of the joys of skiing is reveling in the magnificence of nature as you stand at the top of a 12,000 foot peak. There is something spiritual in the stillness, beauty and tranquility of the mountain. Now non-skiers can drink in the view by taking an hour-long Mountain Top SnowCat Tour at Keystone Resort. Normally used to groom the trails, these specially outfitted, heated cats can carry several people to the top of Dercum Mountain into Erickson and Bergman Bowls to provide views of the Continental Divide, Ten Mile Range and Gore Range.
Just 90 minutes from Denver, Keystone offers the largest mountain in the county and two villages to explore during your stay. The resort boasts several restaurants both on and off mountain, a new spa, and other outdoor recreation including tubing, snow biking and ice skating.
If you think biking down the slopes sounds impossible, be prepared to be wowed by snowbiking. Popular for years in Europe, it’s just taking off in the States and is a great alternative to skiing. Instead of two wheels, the snowbike is powered by two skis with the rider wearing two additional small skis. The bike has handlebars and a banana seat. Keystone offers the only place in Summit County to learn how to ride the bike, and as they say, once you get the hang of riding a bike you never forget. An introductory lesson teaches riders how to control, steer and have fun on the bike. After completing the lesson, riders receive certification that allows them to rent snowbikes. The lesson includes use of the bike and a lift ticket, but riders need to bring their own ski boots.
Let it Fly
Ben Franklin used it to discover electricity, but you’re going to use a kite to discover a new world of fun. Just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado Kite Force is ready to introduce you to the hot sport of winter kiting. The sport uses a kite to harness the wind to pull you along on either a snowboard or skis. The two-hour beginner ground school held on Lake Dillion is the ideal way to learn. During this initial lesson, which uses a small trainer kite, the focus is entirely on getting the kite to fly, how to steer it and gain an understanding of how wind patterns affect its flight. Students start with a two-line kite and progress to a bigger, four-line kite. The class can be combined with another two-hour session where you’ll strap on skis or a snowboard and put your kite skills to the test. And voila! You’re snow kiting!