The annual leaf-peeping season in Colorado's high country is upon us, as the weather this summer is expected to produce an especially vibrant autumn display.
Aspens turn when nights get longer and the arc of the sun descends closer to the horizon. The prime foliage viewing time in the Rockies is forecast to begin September in the northernmost elevations, and extend well into October as you move southward. Here's are some suggestions for autumn color tours:
Start at Steamboat Resort, Colorado's most northerly ski and snowboard mountain. The lifts are closed now, but aspen groves cover much of the mountain that looms over town. Take a 4x4 ride up the aspen-lined dirt road toward Buffalo Pass and Summit Lake. Hikers get bonus viewing by climbing into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness just north of Steamboat Springs.
Pair Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek together for top-end foliage, especially since both run their gondolas late in the season. Either one gets you up to 10,000 feet and opens up a full vista of yellowing "quakies" in the Vail Valley. Or, drive U.S. 24 between Vail and Beaver Creek to legacy mining town Minturn where the Eagle River rocks the colors.
A fall foliage tour wouldn't be complete without a stop at eponymous Aspen. Splashes of fall yellow dot the Roaring Fork Valley, and a visit to the legendary ski town should include a ride up Maroon Creek to the take the perquisite photo of the aspen-splashed Maroon Bells at the top of the road.
Head to southwest Colorado for a San Juan Range foliage extravaganza. Head over color-drenched Dallas Divide to Telluride, where aspen groves quilt the steep sides of its much-photographed box canyon. Bright canvases of yellows and reds pop out on both side. Hop the free gondola between the town and the resort village for a sky view of the aspen groves. Or take a Jeep tour to go deeper into the forest.
Take the uber-scenic San Juan Skyway to Ouray and over Red Mountain, Molas and Coal Bank passes to Purgatory. All along the way, dense stands of aspens spill down onto the road. At Purgatory, the chairlifts runs into October, rising through aspen groves to a 10,000-foot-high perch. Fall colors paint much of the 270-degree view of the southwestern flank of the San Juan Mountains.
The west side of the Continental Divide in the Colorado Rockies is home to about half of the ski and snowboard mountains in the state, and a half-dozen of them have built up summer activity infrastructures to lure flat-landers into the mountains.
If you're looking for a full-on summer menu, check out Telluride. On and off the mountain, there's plenty to keep young and old busy -- from via ferrata to bike parks to kids camps to rafting and Jeep tours. Highlight on the hill is Canopy Adventure, a tree-top complex of zipline, aerial bridges and rappels that begins with ride up the Village Express chair.
At Purgatory, MTB-focused lift access, trail prep and downhill challenges are the norm. The first U.S. resort to host a MBT world championship (1995), "Purg" sells single-ride, day, and season passes-- the latter includes massive Spider Mountain bike park in Austin, Texas.
Another mountain bike mecca is Crested Butte. Its Mountain Bike Park opened in 2009, and its more than 30 miles of single track downhill and X-C runs have been improved ever since. The bike-friendly Red Lady Express does the heavy-lifting to get riders onto the mountain.
Steamboat hosts a ton of attractions around its under-construction base area. Featured is the Outlaw Mountain Coaster with a descent of more than a mile long. With that length, there's plenty of track for loops, turns and twists.
Aspen Mountain and Snowmass crank up their gondolas for summer visitors. A ride up the Silver Queen gondola reaches the11,212-foot summit of Aspen Mountain. The summit area has been developed as the main magnet for the resort, with hiking trails, wildflowers, live music, good food and 360-degree views of Maroon Bells and Roaring Fork Valley.
Across the way, Snowmass turns on a gondola of its own -- the Elk Camp Gondola -- to get folks to the trails, vistas and food in and around mid-mountain Elk Camp. New this summer is the Lost Forest Adventure Center at Elk Camp, with ziplines, bike trails, climbing wall and mountain coaster.
Winter Park is playing off on the popularity of e-bikes this summer with 90-minute tours for pedal-assist mountain bicycles. Three tours run daily from the top of the Explorer Express chair at Sunsport Lodge (also headquarters for renowned Trestle Bike Park). E-bikers head up another 600 feet of vertical to Lunch Rock. No charge for views of Continental Divide.
Summer visitors to Colorado ski and snowboard mountains will see plenty of construction going on, as seven resorts across the state string new lifts for the upcoming season.
Following big snow in the Southwest and Four Corners, a storm will work across the country and deliver fresh snow to many Northeast ski areas to finish the week. With new powder all around, let’s dig into this week’s SnoCast forecast.
While Epic Pass holders tend toward destinations along Interstate 70, there's much to be had at a couple of Colorado resorts that are a bit off the beaten track.
From Vermont's classic glades to the powder-choked bowls of the West, the destinations on this list will delight skiers of all stripes.
In this week's SnoCast, we'll see bursts of snow for the Rockies, the Midwest, and Northeast ski areas. And with late-January chilly temperatures on tap, bundle up and hit the slopes during this fairly quiet stretch.
All across the country, resorts have been working hard to bolster their offerings and to fix systemic issues, from addressing long lift lines and the mountain-town housing shortage to investing in renewable energy. With the proper precautions, there are more reasons than ever to hit the slopes this season.
We’re approaching a huge week for ski country—Thanksgiving is upon us, often marking opening days from coast to coast. This week’s SnoCast has a delicious menu of powder, sun, and chill leading up to the big holiday week. Let's dig in!
As the snow begins to fall, it's time to plan ahead and book a flight to your favorite Colorado resort -- whether flying in from East, West or in between.
It takes more than good terrain to be a truly great ski town. When you're walking in ski boots and lugging your equipment around, a town that sits at the base of the ski area or has a great bus system will make all the difference.
In Colorado, the most definitive way to know that summer is over and winter is not long off comes when the high-country aspen groves put on their brilliant yellow coats.
Last year, mountain resorts were overrun by travelers in search of space and fresh air. The visitors are expected back, but now the towns have expanded activities and plans in place to deal with the crowds.
Despite Covid restrictions, the ski and snowboard resorts of Colorado had a hot summer season last year with hiking, biking, scenic lift rides, and other social-distanced activities. But one key attraction was missing: Music.
The day after Thanksgiving, Dr. Jana Eller and Dr. Shiraz Naqvi were seated beside an outdoor fire pit at the base of Telluride Ski Resort, taking a short break from skiing.
This week, snow activity really begins to pick up. As more and more ski areas open, we'll have multiple storms out West and fast movers in the East to build up the bases.
Significant increases in positive coronavirus cases in Colorado -- and resultant stress on hospital capacities -- have forced further restrictions on the number of skiers and riders who can hit the slopes at the same time.
Believe it or not, there are actually some "what's new" news emanating from Colorado ski and snowboard resorts that aren't related to precautions and adjustments for Covid.
With ski resorts and towns brainstorming for creative ways to meet their guests’ restaurant needs within COVID-19 occupancy constraints this winter, the Town of Mountain Village near Telluride has come up with a novel one: a collection of 20 dining cabins scattered in the base plaza made from refurbished gondola cars.