Powderhorn: For Family Fun and Great Skiing at Half the Price

Major Pow Wow in Powderhorn

Major Pow Wow in Powderhorn

We’re in the throes of spring break madness here at most Colorado ski resorts and frankly I’m left wondering how a family of four does it these days. Between the price of lift tickets, lunches, instruction and overall travel expenses, a family ski vacation in Colorado can represent as much as a down payment on a house. I’m fully appreciative of the ski getaways I did with my family when I was a kid but still we went mostly to down-home ski areas in western Massachusetts and upstate New York, all a far cry from the destination resorts of the West. Mom and Dad would pack my bunch of brothers and me into the station wagon along with a picnic basket loaded with Mom’s homemade submarine sandwiches and peanut butter cookies and off we’d go for a fun day on the slopes.

Not a ski day goes by that I don’t feel a pinch of nostalgia for those simpler times, so I was especially thrilled to discover Powderhorn Mountain Resort, a terrific little ski area on the western slope of Colorado just a short drive from Grand Junction. I skied there recently with my dear friend Paula, another northeastern gal who shares the same fond memories as I about family ski trips of a more modest scale, and was delighted to discover the many charms of this little-known resort. From the parkas and pants for rent at the ski shop, to the cubbies and lockers for boots and other belongings to the sack lunch room to the enormous deck at the Sunset Grille to the lift tickets at half the price of major resorts, I loved the vibe of this place from the get-go.

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Skiing Steamboat Powder

Skiing Fresh Pow in Steamboat

Skiing Fresh Pow in Steamboat

My Powder Hound

My Powder Hound

Woo-hoo! There’s nothing like skiing fresh powder, especially when it’s the nice champagne powder we have here in Colorado, the dry, glittering fluff you float through like a glider rollicking on air drafts above a mountain peak. We’ve been having wonderful winter snowstorms here in our Rocky Mountain state with snow totals reaching over two feet at most resorts within a twenty-four hour period at the end of last week and then another biggie that hit just yesterday. I was teaching skiing here in Telluride throughout the biggest pow period and although I wasn’t able to have the fun I’d have on my own, I did enjoy introducing some intermediate skiers to their first powder day—a whole different experience from skiing groomers.

I had the biggest powder day of my life almost a month ago in Steamboat Springs, a resort that’s been particularly well served in the fluffy white stuff this year. My boyfriend, Steve, and I hit it right and managed to arrive just ahead of road closures and other inconveniences caused by a very big dump. They had such a snow event in the area that people had a hard time finding their way to the slopes (especially if they had to cross Rabbit Ears Pass). Fortunately we were staying slopeside in the newly renovated Sheraton Steamboat Resort, the best property of its kind at this popular mountain destination both due to its superb location and the quality of the establishment and services provided. We were thrilled to find ourselves in a contemporary-styled, one-bedroom condo hotel unit where we were able to sprawl out for three days. (A ski trip always involves a lot of clothing and gear even if you’re a seasoned traveler staying for a short while.)

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Perfectly Palisade: Colorado’s Wine Country

The View from Canyon Wind

The View from Canyon Wind Cellars

What a wintery time it has been here in Colorado! It even snowed on the western slope in Palisade/Grand Junction, an area known as the bread basket/banana belt of the state where it’s typically twenty degrees warmer than in the mountains. I did a getaway there with a friend over the weekend and reveled in exploring Colorado’s wine country; I loved seeing the vines beneath a frosty blanket of white. Vineyards the world over are picturesque, however, I find the contrast of the rows and rows of vines backdropped by the dramatic, buff-colored rock towers and cliffs here—known as the Book Cliffs—especially striking.

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America the Beautiful and Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

In honor of Election Day, I thought I’d write about what’s really great about America—aside from our great democratic process. I could list a lot, but here I’d like to report on our breathtaking scenery, our magnificent vistas. There’s so much of it from sea to shining sea and most definitely here in the Rocky Mountain West. It was indeed from atop Pikes Peak, the 14,115-foot mountain in Colorado’s Front Range, just ten miles from Colorado Springs, that thirty-six-year-old English professor Katherine Lee Bates found inspiration for the poem “Pikes Peak” in 1893. This work would eventually be modified a few times over to become “America the Beautiful,” our National Hymn.

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Fall in Colorado: A Beautiful Time for Sightseeing and Winter Travel Planning

Fall in Telluride

Fall in Telluride

Fall in Aspen

Fall in Aspen

As you can see from the photos featured in this post, we are in full fall splendor here in Colorado. The foliage is peaking now, yet there’s still a lot of green on the trees. So it should remain beautiful in the mountains for another few weeks. Now we’ve entered the autumnal phase of white beginning to replace the gold, russet, burnt umber and bronze that currently punctuate our alpine panoramas. Yes, as the snow fills in, this harvest of fall colors fades into the landscape and we’re left increasingly hopeful about the opening of our ski resorts and the promise of the winter season in the Rockies.

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Lovely Leadville

Leadville, Colorado

Leadville, Colorado

Biking Fun In and Around Leadville

Biking Fun In and Around Leadville

Delaware Hotel:  The Grande Dame of Leadville

Delaware Hotel: The Grande Dame of Leadville

While I’m enjoying some time with my parents in the Adirondacks, I’ve been marveling at the Facebook posts from friends and contacts in Colorado—an avalanche of images documenting the recent snowstorm across the Rockies. The first big snow always creates a stir, mostly since this indicates that ski season is only a handful of storms away.

From my viewpoint here in upstate New York alongside a glorious lake that I took a dip in just the other day (not intentionally mind you, but that’s another story), I shiver at the idea of snow. Yet when I think twice, the thought of it does excite me—even from afar—mostly because I do love to ski and also because there’s nothing like a crisp, white snowfall to top off an autumnal scene. The trees have barely begun to change in Colorado, so these sugar-coated panoramas will only intensify within the upcoming weeks.

To me, fall, a terrific season for hiking, biking and touring, may best be savored in a quaint town steeped in history, surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty. This describes a good number of destinations in Colorado, however, here I’m focusing on Leadville, an old mountain town I visited last summer and enjoyed immensely.

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Tellurider Matt Beaudin Talks about Cycling, VeloNews and France

Matt Beaudin

Matt Beaudin

I’ve been living in Telluride just over ten years now. And I’m still continually amazed by the number of multi-talented people living within our towns (Telluride and Mountain Village) of a combined population of about 3,200 year-round residents. Artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, you name it—T-ride boasts the crème de la crème of doers, adventurers and creative types from many areas. And Matt Beaudin definitely fits that profile.

I’ve always enjoyed the quality of writing in our local newspapers and came to know Matt through his stories when he was editor of the Telluride Daily Planet. After a nice stint at our local rag, Matt moved on—but not out of Telluride—to become a writer for VeloNews, one of the country’s top publications on cycling. Now after a year and a half at this post, I thought it was time to sit down and chat with Matt on Travel Fun, my talk show on KOTO. He’s passionate about cycling, has been to France a couple of times and covered the Tour de France twice, so I was sure we’d have a good exchange. I enjoyed what Matt had to say about the French, following the Tour and riding a mountain stage, recounting another impressive ride—Eider Creek—in Telluride and sharing his thoughts on the upcoming USA Pro Cycling Challenge that begins Monday, August 19 in Aspen, Colorado.

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Dogs on Vacation

DaVinci & Valentino Heading Out on One of Their Road Trips

DaVinci & Valentino

Mighty Valentino Testing Out the Red Rock in Moab, Utah

Mighty Valentino Testing Out the Red Rock in Moab, Utah

Warning:  This story includes tons of adorable photos of pups.

Woof, woof. Bark, bark. I’ve never seen so many happy dogs in my life as those that have padded, trotted and trounced through our little mountain town of Telluride, Colorado these past weeks. Little, big, short-haired, long-haired, well-groomed or scruffy, they all have an air de vacances, a certain joie de vivre that makes it clear they’re happy to be a part of their mom and dad’s vacation as well.

As a confirmed cat person, I hadn’t had much experience traveling with dogs up until over a year ago when I went on a road trip with my friend Mary Dawn (MD) and Valentino, her beautiful Bernese Mountain dog. Our travels, which I recount in my story, Travels with Valentino, culminated with the choosing of DaVinci, a new brother for Tino. As of last fall, we thought DaVinci was big enough to accompany us on a couple more trips:  one to Moab and Salt Lake City, Utah; the other to Denver, Beaver Creek and the Vail Valley. I tell you, these dogs get around. And wherever they go, they are greeted with a fanfare of enthusiasm that makes me happy to just be tagging along. Here are some of the highlights from the best pet-friendly properties we visited on our jaunts:

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