Forego the flight: Three good reasons to stay close to home this spring | SummitDaily.com
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Forego the flight: Three good reasons to stay close to home this spring

Katie Coakley
Special to the Vail Daily
Special events at Steamboat's Springalicious celebration test your courage and creativity, like the Cardboard Classic and Pond Skim,
Larry Pierce | Steamboat Ski Resort |

Ways to save

Springtime often means incredible deals on everything from lodging to lift tickets. Here are a few tips — and deals — for planning your getaway.

• Save on lift tickets: Check out the Springalicious and Double Dip passes. Springalicious will give you three days of riding at Steamboat for $119; Double Dip grants unlimited skiing at Steamboat and Winter Park for all of April for $179.

• Save on lodging: Reach out to Central Reservations in your destination of choice. As a type of clearing house for lodging, they usually have their finger on all of the best lodging deals, which can often include “ski and stay” deals that bundle lodging and lift tickets.

• Save on gas: Carpool and be sure to ask your friend with the hybrid to drive so as to maximize fuel economy.

• Save on meals: Staying in a condo, cabin or place with a kitchen will allow you to cook for your crew. Making group meals will save money by bypassing the restaurants. No kitchen? Take items for breakfast, such as fruit, baked goods and/or pastries, and you’ll save on the cost of at least one meal.

Getting into a routine is easy: home, work, gym, school, home (or some variation thereof) and repeat. Even when you live in a nirvana-esque locale such as the High Country, it’s easy to miss the mountains for the grind.

Perhaps it’s time for some reflection. Time to explore the near, rather than the far. Time to see the forest and some trees. Time to play “not my town.”

It’s spring. Whether you get to play a full week of hooky (lucky dogs) or can escape for a weekend, here are some destination recommendations that can rejuvenate your spirit and remind you why you chose to call this amazing state home.

Routt County (Steamboat Springs)

Drive time from Frisco: 1.5 to 2 hours

Go for: the uncongested slopes, spring events and natural hot springs.

A relatively short (and scenic) drive, Routt County is a fun and funky outpost that is far enough to feel as if you’re on vacation, but not so far that you feel the need to overpack. Known for its authentic cowboy lifestyle and the various natural hot springs that give the town its name, Steamboat Springs is the heart of this area and an ideal location for a quick vacation — and possibly fresh powder.

“I like going to Steamboat because you don’t get the hustle and bustle of I-70 traffic or the Front Rangers, and the locals feel genuine and happy to have you in their town,” said Eagle-Vail resident Beth Cleveland. “Plus, they get different storms than us, so if the radar is looking grim for the Vail Valley, you might be able to jump over and catch some of Steamboat’s famous Champagne Powder for the day.”

The ski resort will be hopping through Sunday, April 10. The Springalicious celebration includes free concerts from bands such as Ozomatli and Leftover Salmon, as well as special events to test your courage and creativity, such as the Cardboard Classic and Pond Skim (www.steamboat.com).

While there, be sure to explore downtown Steamboat Springs. Several craft breweries, including Butcherknife (butcherknifebrewing.com) and Storm Peak (www.stormpeakbrewing.com), have opened in the past few years and The BARley (www.thebarleycolorado.com), a craft beer bar downtown, is a great place to sample various libations.

For noshing, check out Salt & Lime (suckalime.com), a new restaurant that is taking Mexican food up a notch with gourmet tacos and unique margaritas. Fingers crossed: Spring might even see the opening of the rooftop deck, the best place to hang out in the heart of downtown.

“A great tip to save on lodging is to book a room at the historic Rabbit Ears Motel (www.rabbitearsmotel.com),” said Loryn Kasten, communications manager at Steamboat Ski Resort. “It has great low prices, an incredible downtown location within walking distance to all restaurants and bars, and some rooms can sleep up to eight people.”

Pitkin County

(Carbondale)

Drive time from Frisco: 1 hour 45 minutes

Go for the: small-town feel with big-city perks.

Carbondale is a relatively short drive through scenic Glenwood Canyon, but it feels like you’ve traveled much farther. Full of artists, outdoor junkies and foodies, this community is tight-knit but welcoming — visit once, and you’ll feel like a local yourself.

Try to coordinate your visit with the first Friday of the month. On that day, part of Main Street is closed to cars and flocks of folks congregate to visit the art galleries and catch up with friends (www.carbondale.com/first-fridays). Other attractions include the hot springs — the free kind at Penny Hot Springs or the more upscale experience at Avalanche Ranch Hot Spring (avalancheranch.com) — and True Nature Healing Arts (www.truenaturehealingarts.com), a day spa, yoga retreat and raw kitchen that is a touch of Thailand in the mountains.

One way to experience Carbondale is to eat (and drink) your way through town. Start off by booking a stay at The Distillery Inn, the only inn in the world to be housed in a working distillery. Located on Main Street, the Distillery Inn is part of the Marble Distilling Co., whose alcoholic offerings include vodka and gingercello (www.marbledistilling.com).

The distillery has live music weekly, so it’s possible to simply hunker down there for a weekend. However, hunkering down would deprive you of all the tastes that Carbondale has to offer.

“Carbondale has some of the finest dining around,” said Michelle Marlow, spirit liaison at Marble Distilling Co. “There’s everything from farm to table (Town, SILO) to Asian-inspired (Phat Thai) to Mediterranean (The Goat) to barbecue (Shorty’s) and everything in between.”

Try breakfast at the Village Smithy, a locals’ favorite that now heats meats and veggies instead of iron and metal (www.villagesmithy.com), or stop into Bonfire Coffee, a micro roaster that sources coffee beans from around the world (www.bonfirecoffee.com).

Grand County

(Granby)

Drive time from Frisco: 1.5 hours

Go for: cabin living and “snow” many adventures.

Drive against the Front Range traffic and make your way to Granby for some old-fashioned and new-fangled fun in the snow. Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies, is a destination that provides everything you need for a weekend of adventure without leaving the grounds (www.snow mountainranch.org).

Stay in a room in the lodge or rent a cabin: Two-bedroom to five-bedroom versions are available. Once settled, a veritable smorgasbord of activities awaits. Snow Mountain Ranch’s Nordic Center has more than 50 miles of trails that wind through aspen groves and pine trees, perfect for those who are new to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, as well as seasoned pros. Prefer to explore on two wheels? Rent a fat bike and tour 6 miles of designated trails. Still not satisfied? How about traversing on four hooves or feet? There are guided horseback tours, sleigh rides and even dog sledding.

“Snow Mountain Ranch is a mountain getaway without the ski crowds,” said Kay Baker, who lives in Vail. “There are lots of alternative snow activities to try, like fat biking and horseback riding. It’s a different and fun way to enjoy the mountains and the outdoors without being on a crowded ski hill.”

The rates are reasonable, allowing several couples or a large group of friends to share a cabin and share the cost. Having a kitchen allows you to create group meals and save on dining out. One more note: Snow Mountain Ranch is bring-your-own adult beverage — as it’s a YMCA camp, there is no alcohol sold on the grounds.

This spring, consider retreating a little closer to home. Not only does it give you the chance to explore what our neighboring counties have to offer, but it also provides some perspective to how good we have it here in the Colorado.

“Visiting Steamboat is a chance to get away but still participate in everything that has attracted me to the Colorado Rockies,” Cleveland said. “Going 1.5 hours north helps me appreciate everything I have when I get back.”


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