Night Lights: Skiing Under the Stars in Keystone, Colorado

LakeTahoe_Scott.jpg

At most ski resorts along the I-70 corridor in Colorado, 4pm means time is up. More remote lifts start closing at 3pm, and major lifts at the base of the mountains close at 4pm. At Breckenridge, for example, the Four O’Clock run leads skiers straight to the parking lot, making it a popular last run of the day.

The spell doesn’t have to be broken when the clock strikes four. For a memorable last few runs, head over to Keystone for night skiing. Not only a great way to wait out the horrendous I-70 eastbound traffic, it’s an amazing twilight experience.

Keystone is home to Colorado’s largest night skiing operation, including 243 acres of lighted terrain. Lifts close at 8pm. Check the Keystone resort website for a night ski calendar and more information.

Tips for night skiing at Keystone:

1) Bundle up. When the sun goes down, the temperature drops. Add layers to what you were wearing during the day, and consider using hand and foot warmers.

2) Perk up. After a full day of skiing and a big meal, putting the gear back on might seem like a task. Just find a second wind (in a large cup of coffee if necessary) and get back out there. Trust me – it will be worth it.

3) Light up. Eyes just don’t work as well in the dark, especially with goggles on. It’s easier to be seen if you can find a flashing LED light to wear, such as a light-up bike commuter cuff.

4) Look up. The best part about skiing after dark is the night sky above. Whether it’s a full moon or a smattering of stars, the view from the heights of the Rocky Mountains is amazing on a clear winter night. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a festive display of fireworks.

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Steamboat Springs is for Everyone!

Snowshoe Date at Brainard Lake

Snowshoe Date at Brainard Lake

I traveled to Steamboat last week to meet up with some friends and go skiing and fishing for a few days. Steamboat is one of of my favorite mountains in Colorado for a variety of reasons. First and foremost it is just out of reach for the average person from the Front Range/Denver area to drive to for the day. Drive time can take anywhere from 3-4 hours from Denver however, it is only about a 4 and a half hour drive from my home in Park City, Utah.

The mountain has a ton of terrain for every skier/rider ability and there is a solid amount of beginner intermediate terrain at the top of the mountain. What this translates to is that EVERYONE in the family or group gets to experience riding the gondola instead of being trapped down at the bottom of the mountain as is the case at many other ski areas. Another great aspect of Steamboat is the amount of off slope activities there are especially the choices in hot springs in and around the area. We chose to visit Strawberry Hot Springs located just outside of town as they are slightly less developed but be aware as it is clothing optional after dark.

We were fortunate enough to stay for three nights at the Phoenix located right on Apres Ski Way through Mountain Resorts. The Phoenix has seen a ton of updates in recent years. It received a new facade and the owners of our unit did a very tasteful job of updating the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms. The kitchen was all stainless and the counter tops were granite. Bathrooms all had granite counter tops as well and the master had a great walk in shower with a double shower head. Jen and I even enjoyed a sauna located right in the master bedroom. The location of the Phoenix is awesome! You can either make the less than five minute walk over to the snow, or you can jump on the complimentary shuttle provided by the property to get you over to the lifts. The common area pool and hot tubs were awesome after skiing! Another nice aspect of the Phoenix is that it is located right next door to a small sundries/liquor store. The staff is very nice and the orange-cranberry scones are to die for!

We ate some wonderful meals and had some delicious drinks while on the trip as well. The first night we stopped on our way into town at Carl’s for some cocktails. It is a really nice open space with a huge bar in the middle. There is a separate dining room and we heard the food is pretty good. I had a couple beers and Jen enjoyed two Moscow Mules out of the traditional copper mug. The second night we went downtown again to Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill. This is one of my favorite spots in Steamboat to grab a burger and a salad…the house dressing is AWESOME and the beers are good…I recommend the home brewed root beer! The last night we decided to go out for a special occasion meal at Three Peaks for great steaks and seafood. Oysters followed by a NY strip and a salad topped off the trip…the food was great and the service was extraordinary! Our last stop was on our way out of town to the Creekside Café and Grill. This is a must and is worth the wait if there is one. I enjoyed a fresh garden salad and a bowl of the home made beef stew and Jen indulged in the Eggs Benedict…the dining room is relatively small but is packed with lots of character and locals.

One of the finest points of Steamboat is the laid back atmosphere of both the town and mountain. It is a very unpretentious and has some of the best skiing and fishing in Northern Colorado!

Safe Travels,
Cam
Destination Expert

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The Singular Joys of a Solo Ski Day

solo ski days – singles line

Ski lift chairs are built for two or more. Aside from that, there’s really nothing plural about the sport. It’s a solitary venture. At the top of the lift, gaggles of friends and families disband and carve their own lines down the mountain, similar but separate. Except for those hapless small children whose parents have decided to tether them up with some kind of leash, we ultimately go down alone.

Rather than resisting the solitude of the sport, take at least one day each season to embrace it. For those who have never gone skiing unaccompanied, the joys of a solo ski day are many. To name a few:

Freedom

Without a partner or a group to coordinate with, the freedom is complete. Want to wake up super-early and catch the first chair? Do it. Want to eat on the lifts rather than taking a lunch break? Pack your picnic for one and stop for nothing. Push yourself on runs you’ve never tried before, losing both skis and poles in a total yard sale. Nobody you know will see it or capture it on their GoPro. Lap around your favorite run six times in a row. Nobody will judge.

solo ski days – powder and freedom!

Fresh Powder

As the saying goes, “No friends on a powder day.” On those rare days of ideal conditions, it’s okay to be a little selfish. “I won’t wait to get in line 30 minutes before a lift starts and potentially forgo some fresh tracks just because a buddy is late to join me,” says Crested Butte local Kris Bruun. “Nor would I expect a better skier to wait on me if I were dragging behind.” Some things, like secret stashes, aren’t meant to be shared.

Oblivion

Skiing alone, you can be a self-contained universe inside your helmet. Plug some headphones in and zen out. Lose yourself on the mountain – it doesn’t matter where you end up or when you get there. Deep “me time” is a constructive state, where new ideas are born. Think of it as a meditative retreat (minus the yoga mats, incense, and granola).

Eight Minute Friends

Once you’ve zipped your way through the singles line and onto the chair lift, chances are you’ll be sharing it with strangers. You have two choices: 1) be a fly on the wall and drop eaves on their conversations, collecting a “things overheard” montage, or 2) be sociable and chat it up. For Colorado transplant and ski aficionado Ari Templeton, there’s a certain appeal to the smalltalk. “You never know who you’ll have random eight minute conversations with,” she notes. “It’s people you’ll likely never see again. Over and over.” If the repetition gets boring, sharpen your improv skills. Invent a new persona on every lift.

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Five qualities to look for in a ski or snowboarding school

Kamp Keystone

For many families, ski or snowboarding lessons are a crucial aspect of a ski vacation. I concur: each of my kids learned to ski at age three, and ski schools were (and are!) a big part of our winter experience. Wherever you’re planning a spring skiing vacation, here’s what to look for in a ski or snowboarding school:

  • A way to measure progress:

A good ski school will have a way to measure your child’s progress, so you can know where he or she stands in terms of skill level for the next day or next ski trip. Most ski schools use a numbered level system from 1-9, and the better ones will describe each level on their ski school website for parents to peruse. However, this is only useful if you know where your child falls on the scale. Look for a ski school that gives you either a written or digital report card of your child’s progress every day. For example, Northstar California and other Vail Resorts use Epic Academy, tied to Epic Mix. After each day of lessons, parents can click on a child’s Epic Mix profile and select Epic Academy. It’s easy to see exactly where the child is in terms of progress. More importantly, it’s easy for his or her instructor to see the next day or next ski trip.

  •  Consistency:

Ideally, a great ski school will guarantee your child has the same instructor for every day of his or her trip. Who does this? Keystone Resort’s ski and ride school, for one, when kids are enrolled in Club Keystone. If you’re visiting another resort that does not guarantee the same instructor, you can ‘buy’ your own guarantee with a private lesson. A way to save: start with a group or semi-private lesson, and if your child hits it off with his or her instructor and you’d like to continue the relationship, book a private lesson for the subsequent days. Our son’s Burton Snowboard Academy instructor let us in on this tip: even if she’s scheduled for a group lesson, if a family requests her for a private lesson, she’s automatically reassigned.

  •  Ski school-only dining space:

This one seems minor, but makes a big difference. Ski schools with their own dedicated space for kids in lessons maintain more order and have more relaxed kids (and parents). During our ski experiences, we’ve loved when kids in ski and snowboard school have their very own lodge where they eat their lunch, have hot chocolate breaks, and warm up by the fire pits. Why does this matter? Well, have you been in the public lodge during lunch hour? Chaos. Kids in lessons are already working very hard…they deserve a chill place to relax, and their instructors deserve a chill place to keep track of them.

  •  A snow option for the little ones:

I don’t know how it is in your family, but in ours, the toddlers and preschoolers never appreciate being left out. While on-mountain daycare can be a lifesaver, once kids aren’t babies anymore, they really love the option of feeling like they’re on the slopes, too. At Northstar, for instance, sign 4-6 year olds up for lessons, and they’ll get to play in the Riperoo Riglet Park. The emphasis should be on fun: great ski schools let potty-trained kids play in the snow, try on equipment and give it a whirl, and make a snowman or two. If kids this age have fun, then everyone has won!

  • A great ratio:
northstar ski school

Enjoying Northstar’s ski school experience.

We’ve all seen ski instructors on the slopes trailed by a long, long line of little skiers following like duckies. While cute, this is not ideal. Instructors cannot hope to teach individually to a large number of barely independent skiers or snowboarders. A good ski school will offer a semi-private option of four or fewer kids. At Northstar, this is called Ultimate 4, and in our experience, it’s considered the standard, not the exception. They’ve got Ultimate 4 at Breckenridge, as well.

Safe Travels,

VacationRoost Ambassador Amy

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I-70 Corridor: Ski 7 Resorts in 7 Days

I-70 map of Colorado

I-70 Corridor is home to seven world-class resorts.

Summit and Eagle Counties are home to seven world class ski areas: Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Vail and Winter Park making it easy to ski more than one resort during your Colorado vacation. We’ve mapped out the I-70 corridor to give you an overview of what to expect at each resort — including terrain and amenities — along with the best way to combine resort visits during one trip.

A few possible itineraries include:

  • 7 Nights: Spend four nights in Dillon or Frisco and three nights at Winter Park. Then ski half day at Arapahoe Basin before heading to the airport on your last day.
  • 2 Night Romantic Getaway: Stay in Vail or Beaver Creek and ski at each resort one day.
  • 2 Night Weekend Reunion: Stay in Keystone for a weekend of great nightlife and fun with friends.

Visit our sister company’s website to learn more about each resort and to find deals on vacation rentals.

Safe Travels,

The Mountain Reservation Team

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Ski Butlers – Beaver Creek/Vail

Psyched about the Ski Butlers experience!

My brother and his friend recently came out to visit me for a few days of skiing.  Rather than lugging their old, outdated gear from NYC I suggested they rent gear from Ski Butlers.  I explained to them that the rentals would get delivered right to our house and that they would get custom fit in the comfort of our home.  They had never experienced a service like this.  They didn’t even know it existed.  Ski Butlers promptly arrived at the time we requested (right around cocktail hour on the evening of their arrival) and had them set up and ready to go in no time.  Not having to spend an hour in the rental shop the first morning of their visit was great as we were all eager to hit the slopes…especially seeing as it dumped overnight!  You simply can’t beat the level of service, quality of equipment, and the ease of renting through Ski Butlers.

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North America Snow Report

It’s snowing all over the country! We’ve compiled the latest snow reports to help you plan your next snow vacation. Taos had the most snow with 9 inches in the last 24 hours. Deer Valley and Snowbasin tie for second place with 8 inches in the last 24 hours. Whitefish Resort in Montana has the deepest base at 52 inches. (All totals are as of Sunday December 8, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. MST.)

Happy trails!

Snow at winter park

Winter Park’s new snow on December 4, 2013. (Photo courtesy Winter Park)

Colorado 

Aspen: 3″ last 24 hours, 38″ base

Beaver Creek: 4″ last 24 hours, 29″ base

Breckenridge: 2″ last 24 hours, 34″ base

Copper Mountain: 2″ last 24 hours, 31″ base

Crested Butte: 5″ last 24 hours, 46″ base

Keystone: 1″ last 24 hours, 27″ base

Steamboat: 4″ last 24 hours, 44″ base

Telluride: 5″ last 24 hours, 44″ base

Vail: 4″ last 24 hours, 30″ base

Winter Park: 3″ last 24 hours, 29″ base

Canada

Kicking Horse:  0″ last 24 hours, 29″ base

Whistler: 0″ last 24 hours, 31″ base

Utah

Alta: 0″ last 24 hours, 37″ base

Park City: 4″ last 24 hours, 24″ base

Deer Valley: 8″ last 24 hours, 36″ base

Canyons: 7″ last 24 hours, 29″ base

Powder Mountain: 0″ last 24 hours, 21″ base

Snowbasin: 8″ last 24 hours, 40″ base

Snowbird: 1″ last 24 hours, 39″ base

Solitude: 5″ last 24 hours, 39″ base

Idaho

Sun Valley: 1″ last 24 hours, 22″ base

Wyoming

Jackson Hole: 1″ last 24 hours, 44″ base

Montana

Big Sky: 1″ last 24 hours, 38″ base

Whitefish: 0″ last 24 hours, 52″ base

California

Heavenly: 0″ last 24 hours, 37″ base

Mammoth Mountain: 2″ last 24 hours, 30″ base

Northstar: 8″ last 24 hours, 30″ base

Squaw Valley: 5″ last 24 hours, 29″ base

Kirkwood: 0″ last 24 hours, 25″ base

Alpine Meadows: 7″ last 24 hours, 33″ base

New Mexico 

Taos: 9″ last 24 hours, 43″ base

 

Safe travels,

Mountain Reservations

 

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Hidden Gems

The Clymb recently blogged about the top 6 resorts that you “probably didn’t know about.”  We loved the list and were excited to see that we have vacation rentals at all of the North America destinations.  So, now that you know about these hidden gems you can start looking for your next vacation property. We’ve highlighted our top property in each town below.

Taos, New Mexico

The Columbine Inn is nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico. It is located 1.5 miles from the lifts of Taos Ski Valley. You can enjoy the Columbine Inn for its relaxed atmosphere, hearty breakfast, breathtaking views, outdoor fireplace and beautiful lobby.

The Columbine Inn

Crested Butte, Colorado

The Buttes are slopeside to Crested Butte Mountain. You will be able to ski/ride nearly all the way to the front door. Just walking the length of the property’s sidewalk will put guests on the slopes quickly. Splendid views from the newer outdoor hot tub.

The Buttes slopeside condos. 

Kicking Horse, Canada

The centerpiece of the resort village, Glacier Mountaineer Lodge comprises of  2 lodges offering over 130 alpine inspired guest rooms and 1, 2 and 3-bedroom condominium suites with every creature comfort in mind.  All of our condominium suites come equipped with fully appointed kitchens, gas fireplaces, washers and dryers and a private balcony with spectacular views of either the ski hill or Canadian Rocky Mountains.

The Glacier Mountaineer Lodge.

Safe travels,

Mountain Reservations

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First Snow Day

Chairlift at Brighton Ski Resort

First day of the season at Brighton.

November 21,  2013 may not have been the wisest day to use a Snow Day (yes, we get those at work) but somehow, the snow started to fall Wednesday night and never stopped. Being the middle of the week, there was nearly no one up at Brighton and every run was better the next time through. I was in shock arriving to the resort to 8 inches of fresh Pow dispersed beautifully.

New snow at Brighton Ski Resort

A nice dusting of new snow made for a great first day!

We arrived around noon and road constantly until four o’clock. This day may not be as exciting to some, but this gave me a huge sense of hope for a promising winter. Being a previous season pass holder, I was in awe to see the snow this good. With nearly sixty days under my belt last season, there were few that could top this beautiful Thursday.

Every chair lift is now running except for Great Western. Crest was unreal and even Snake had runs that were untouched. We did not spend much time on the ole Majestic but definitely got in laps through the park. I have attached a few photos and video to give you an idea of the shred we got to experience!

First Day at Brighton

Unfortunately, the sun has started to peak back out and the snow has already melted down in the valley. I will be returning this weekend to hopefully catch a few more turns in good snow before it vanishes. My fingers are crossed for a solid season. Here’s is to a good season ahead!

Safe Travels,

Dillon Fugate

Destination Expert

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Giving Thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches we wanted to take a minute to list all of the things we’re grateful for here at Mountain Reservations.  As a group of ski and travel enthusiasts, it’s pretty easy to come up with our list of gratitude.  We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

We are giving thanks for…

  • the snow gods who brought the ski season early around the country
  • Beaver Creek‘s warm chocolate chip cookies season
  • the fact that all Salt Lake City ski resorts (Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton) are all open for the Thanksgiving holiday — and just down the street from our headquarters!
  • good workouts and good beer on the slopes
  • and all of our family and friends who share a love of winter with us.

Safe Holiday Travels,

The Mountain Reservations Team

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