By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
In that case, look out for a fifty-inch snowstorm this year, because Steamboat is celebrating a big birthday of its own this year, with season-long events and discounts that will culminate in an extended fiftieth-birthday party January 11-21.
To make the most of your trip, Anderson says, "just point for the pow in the aspen trees. Shadows and Closets are two of my favorite zones on the mountain, and some of the trees off of Pony Express are awesome. You'll find pockets of powder all over the place at Steamboat once you get into the glades. But my absolute favorite thing about Steamboat is the gate access into the Fish Creek sidecountry. It's a whole 'nother world in there."
Splurge: "Going up to Strawberry Hot Springs is a must," says Anderson. "It's only a $10 splurge, but it's kind of out of the way, and a lot of people get deterred and don't know what they're missing. Book a massage, starting at $50 for a half hour, to make the trek even more worthwhile after a long day in the pow [www.strawberryhotsprings.com]." For lodging, he suggests Trappeur's Crossing Resort and Spa. "The other splurge I'm looking forward to this winter is my first trip with Steamboat Powdercats," Anderson says. The snowcat operation operates on Buffalo Pass, about 25 minutes outside of town, with rates starting at $375 (early season, December 14-31) or $450 (peak season, January 1-April 12) per person.
Find more on winter recreation and special events in the Calendar section and Show and Tell blog at westword.com.
Ski bum tips: "The Rabbit Ears Motel in town has free breakfast with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal!" Anderson exudes. "And, for the price, the location right across from the Old Town Hot Springs can't be beat." Rooms start at $89, and the motel is billed as "always the most affordable in Steamboat Springs." For advance lift-ticket discounts and fiftieth-anniversary specials on and around the mountain itself, visit steamboat.com.
Drink locally: "Mahogany Ridge Brewery is my favorite spot in town," says Anderson. "They brew their own beers, and the entrees and happy-hour specials are amazing, with all these different dipping sauces." The Alpenglow amber ale is the most popular beer on the menu, but you can buy your kids and your designated driver each a pint of the Rabbit Ears Root Beer before heading back over the pass to Denver.
With just 470 acres of skiable terrain, Sunlight is one of the state's smallest ski areas. It's also one of the most charming, and offers a surprising mix of steep, challenging slopes as well as family-friendly beginner and intermediate terrain and a well-kept terrain park. Still a non-believer? Try dropping in on Heathen: At 52 degrees, it's one of the steepest in-bounds slopes in Colorado.
And while it's keeping its old-school trappings, Sunlight is making moves into the 21st century this season. "Sunlight is happy to introduce cell-phone reception!" exclaims resort spokeswoman Jennie Spllane. "Also, we have just launched a new website that makes it even easier to plan and enjoy your vacation at Sunlight Mountain Resort."
Splurge: The $120 guided alpine/telemark/snowboard tours of nearby Williams Peak is a splurge by Sunlight standards, but it's also the best backcountry bargain in the state. And the terrain is worth the trek. Just in it for the sightseeing? Sunlight also offers snowmobile tours of White River National Forest starting at $99.
Ski bum tips: Sunlight's $44 ticket price is one of the lowest in Colorado, but if it's still too rich for your blood, try skier appreciation day on January 11, when the price drops to $15. And for the full Glenwood Springs experience, check out the packages offered by ten local hotels, which include lift tickets, passes to the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and lodging, starting at under $100.
Drink locally: "Sunlight works closely with Glenwood Canyon BrewPub, a hotspot in Glenwood Springs downtown life since 1996," Spillane says. "They offer a variety of microbrews, varying from their Old Depot Porter to the Hanging Lake Honey Ale." Also try the Irish Red, a 2012 Great American Beer Festival gold medalist.
TELLURIDE SKI & SNOWBOARD RESORT
Telluride is beautiful, has great terrain and a cool local vibe. But once you've been there, warns Pete Wagner of Wagner Skis, you just might be tempted — as he was — to stay for good. "The important thing is just getting here in the first place: I know it can be hard for people from Denver to drive past all the other ski areas to get to Telluride, but once they're here, people realize how unique and special it is. Do yourself a favor and give yourself a four-day long weekend to come skiing and spend some time here."
Telluride's a big mountain and has a good mix of beginner, intermediate, expert and "no, seriously, experts only" terrain, says Wagner. "Palmyra Peak allows you to hike up to 13,100 feet and get amazing steep, technical skiing and Telluride has world-class sidecountry skiing just beyond the ski-area boundaries. If you like steep tree skiing as much as I do, we've got some of the best that Colorado has to offer."
Splurge: For fancy dining, Wagner recommends La Marmotte and 221. "Probably the most over-the-top splurge you could do is to go to Dunton Hot Springs, this really sweet little resort with all these restored old miner's cabins and a natural hot springs, and you have Telluride Helitrax pick you up from there and then drop you off back at the resort," he says. "It's the ultimate way to do heli-skiing in the San Juan Mountains."