- Beaver Creek,
- North America,
- United States,
Whether you want to ski in the winter or hike in the fall, Colorado offers a wealth of adventure.
From his Audi RS 6 supersedan, Stephan Wilkinson surveys canyons, caravans, and an infamous cannibal
See + Do
Mountain Biking, Colorado
The same verticality that draws skiers in the winter lures the nubby-tires set in summer. The 20 or so trails are rated in difficulty the same way ski runs are (green to black), so you don't have to be an expert to relish the gravity-fed thrills. From seven-mile Village Trail, a meandering green, to '94 Downhill, a technical romp used in the 1994 World Cup Mountain Bike races, most trails are reachable by the Eagle Bahn gondola.
See + Do
Mountain Musher Dog Sled Rides runs trips twice daily on the 10,000-acre Diamond Star Ranch outside Vail. Two people board a sled operated by a musher and pulled by 10 to 12 friendly huskies. The experience is a strangely quiet glide through snow-muffled woods. Halfway through, clients are given the option to take the reins (970-653-7877; www.mountainmusher.com).
Bart & Yeti's, Colorado
Vail, Colorado 81657
Tel: 970 476 2754
A local dive that's consistently voted "Best Burger" by Vail's faithful denizens, Bart & Yeti's—named after two dearly departed dogs who served as establishment mascots—is also the place to go for chili, baby back ribs, steak, and fried chicken. You'll probably run into your kid's ski instructor and the boisterous ski patrol crew chilling at the end of the day.
See + Do
Tel: 800 525 6200
The Aspen ski season starts in late November and runs through mid-April. There are four mountains here: Aspen Mountain (a.k.a. Ajax), Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and the enormous, aptly named Snowmass (home to the longest and highest lift-served vertical rise in the country). Combined, they comprise 341 trails (316 miles covering 5,246 acres) served by 45 lifts capable of hauling more than 50,000 snow warriors an hour.
Thanks to 3,128 acres of varied terrain, skiers of all levels do well on Snowmass, earning its reputation as one of the best family resorts anywhere. And with a new learning area and lift at the top of the gondola, three new magic carpets, and the $17-million Treehouse Kids' Adventure Center—complete with Disneyland-like bear caves, beaver dens, and trout ponds—your little cubs will definitely agree. But the hill's friendly vibe shouldn't deter the double-diamond set: The Cirque Headwall serves up honest steeps that put your heart squarely in your throat. Visitors do have one gripe about the place: the lack of a base village, which is currently being solved by a massive development project. (The mountain is six miles outside of town.)
The other three mountains are all within a three-mile radius of downtown. Buttermilk, the site of ESPN's Winter X Games, is also a good choice for the novice—15 of its 42 trails are deemed easiest. Also a good bet for avoiding crowds. Aspen Mountain rises straight up from downtown, and is suited for experts (there are no bunny slopes). There is the classic World Cup–cruiser Ruthie's Run, and thrilling steeps like S1. There are also more famous and eccentric people than you'll be able to shake your pole at.
Aspen Highlands is where the locals play, and is generally the least crowded, with an average of two people per acre. It's also home to the hike-to Highlands Bowl, some of the steepest and deepest in-bounds terrain in Colorado. The hike—a 45–60 minute slog up a bootpack—is best for diehard experts, and those turns that are definitely worth earning. If that's not for you, don't worry: Deep Temerity's steep, moguled chutes will lend bragging rights, too. For the blue-square set, the long, rolling cruisers off the Cloud Nine chair are some of the best around.
See + Do
Tel: 970 476 6797
The Vail valley's predilection for all things Teutonic climaxes in three raucous weekends in September. The first weekend in September is a more civilized affair in Beaver Creek with live bands, beer tasting, and culinary classes on the finer points of German cuisine. The festivities then unravel the following weekends in Vail with foot-stomping oom-pah music, yodeling, and alpenhorn-blowing demonstrations, a bratwurst-eating contest, keg bowling, and, of course, all the Erdinger Weissbräu you can guzzle down. Expect public drunkenness and bad singing.
Main Street Bakery Café, Colorado
Aspen, Colorado 81611
Tel: 970 925 6446
There are many times and places for high-end restaurants, but breakfast isn't one of them. The Main Street Bakery is a down-home haunt where you can tuck into a good, honest meal. An 1890s building with blue gingham curtains, original wood floors, and one of the best summer patios in town, the Bakery is where locals and visitors alike come to warm their hands around a cup of perfectly brewed coffee. Service is as friendly as it gets (“Tourists treated same as home folks,” reads the sign above the doorway), and the food is simple and delicious, with no pomp or garnish. Don't miss the huevos rancheros, or, if you're in a hurry to get on the slopes, grab an egg-bagel sandwich or any one of the baked confections beckoning through the glass display case at the front.
Open daily 7 am to 4 pm.
Chap's Grill and Chophouse
Matsuhisa Upstairs, Colorado
Aspen, Colorado 81611
Tel: 970 544 6628
This is Nobu's extension of Matsuhisa Aspen. Upstairs, in this case, is street level, and, just like Next Door Nobu in New York, it's more casual and less pricey than the original, and takes no reservations. Comprising lounge and restaurant, bar, and patio, the place provides great people-watching as well as fine eating, the miso-glazed black cod being the de rigueur order.
The Little Nell, Colorado
Aspen, Colorado 81611
Tel: 888 843 6355 (toll-free), Tel: 970 920 4600
The Nell is so Aspen—i.e., it's a cute little (92-room) home-away-from-home chalet where everyone happens to be wearing Prada skiwear and there's a two-to-one staff-to-guest ratio. Those abundant staff members are convincingly caring, and the atmosphere really is warm at the town's only true ski-in, ski-out hotel. The ski concierge, Ray McNutt, will take you out at the crack of dawn to be first to sully the groomed slopes, too. The all-beige rooms have plenty of space to swing a dog (yours is welcome and has his own menu), plus king-size beds, gas log fires, huge closets, humidifiers, and big marble bathrooms. Restaurant Montagna is among the best in the state, and the bar is a hot spot, especially with its fondue menu. The Nell's Ajax Tavern, just across from the gondola, has reopened for the 2008 season after a massive renovation, with a new menu befitting its contemporary French bistro atmosphere. (Old favorites, however, such as the Tavern's famous truffle fries, are still a must.)
Pines Lodge, Colorado
Beaver Creek, Colorado 81620
Tel: 866 605 7625 (toll-free)