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Colorado See And Do

Adventure Ridge
Vail Mountain
Vail , Colorado
Tel: 970 754 8245
www.vail.com/activities/adventure-ridge.aspx

If riding a bike over the snow and through the trees—at night, with only a headlamp illuminating the path ahead—is your kind of thing, then head straight for Adventure Ridge, an adrenaline junkie's dream at the top of Vail Mountain. It's actually pretty child-friendly, too, with a long, multilane tubing hill, trampolines with bungee harnesses, and pint-size snowmobiles for kids ages 6 to 12. You can try the ski bikes on your own starting at 2 pm or take a two-hour guided nighttime tour. It's good, thrilling fun, and probably not much more dangerous than Vail's bar scene.—Sarah Tuff

Open daily 2:30 to 8 pm.

Aspen Art Museum
www.aspenartmuseum.org

This well-curated museum runs two exhibits at a time focusing all manner of contemporary and modern art. The problem? It's tiny, worthy of an hour or so to see it all. That will all change in 2013, when the AAM moves into its new home on the corner of South Spring and Hyman in downtown Aspen. The space is designed by innovative Japanese architect Shikuru Ban, one of the 13 architects chosen by Brad Pitt to work with his Make It Right foundation to rebuild New Orleans's Lower 9th Ward. The 30,000-square-foot space features a roof deck with a sculpture garden and an unbeatable view of Aspen Mountain.—by Samantha Berman

Beaver Creek Golf Club
103 Offerson Road
Beaver Creek Village
Beaver Creek , Colorado
81657
Tel: 970 845 5775
www.beavercreek.com/golf/beaver-creek-golf-club.aspx

This 18-hole course with to-die-for views was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. It's open to the public from May to mid-June and then becomes a private club only for members and resort guests of Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, and Arrowhead villages for the remainder of the golf season.

Dogsledding
Vail , Colorado

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).

Golf
Telluride , Colorado

Located inside Mountain Village, the Telluride Golf Course at the Peaks Resort elevates your game to 9,300 feet above sea level, where the thin air promises 15 percent more distance for your Titleist. The par-71, 6,739-yard course is open May to mid-October. Carts are equipped with GPS systems (970-728-7320; tellurideskiresort.com).

Horseback Riding
Telluride , Colorado

Telluride Horseback Adventures trots riders along trails below the Wilson Range, including Mt. Wilson, the majestic peak on the Coors beer logo. The outfit conducts sunrise and sunset rides, day trips, and custom pack trips into the San Juan Mountains backcountry (970-728-9611; www.ridewithroudy.com).

Horseback Riding
Tel: 970 928 0723
www.aspenwilderness.com

One- to four-hour trail rides set off from Buttermilk Mountain, just outside of Aspen, for scenic rides through the Elk range. Multiday guided pack trips are great for those who want more saddle time.—by Samantha Berman

Hot Air Balloon Rides
Tel: 970 963 6148
www.aboveitallballoon.com

If the view from the gondola isn't enough, soar up to 2,500 feet above the Maroon Bells and the beautiful Elk Valley in a hot-air balloon. Rides launch at sunrise and last about an hour. A Champagne brunch is served when you land.—by Samantha Berman

Hotel Photo
Mountain Biking
Vail , Colorado
www.vail.com/summer/activities/mountain-biking.aspx

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.

Mountain Biking
Telluride , Colorado

The capitals of American dirt single-tracks—Durango, Crested Butte, and Moab—may all be within two and a half hours of Telluride, but with hundreds of miles of trails, Telluride itself is no slouch. Visit Bootdoctors, which runs easy, mostly downhill tours for novices and intermediates, and sells maps and guidebooks for gnarlier riders. Bootdoctors also rents a variety of full-suspension bikes (970-728-8954; www.bootdoctors.com). Don't miss the flowing, aspen-shaded single-tracks Deep Creek Trail and Jurassic Trail.

Mountain Biking, Snowmass
Tel: 800 525 6200 (toll-free)
Tel: 970 925 1220
www.aspensnowmass.com/summer_rec/biking.cfm

The only lift-served mountain biking in the Roaring Fork Valley, the 50 miles of trails on Snowmass are suited to never-evers as well as seasoned two-wheelers. Take the gondola halfway up, or if you are feeling adventurous, go all the way to the top. Guided tours are also available.—by Samantha Berman

Music Festivals
Telluride , Colorado

The two biggest wingdings of Telluride's festival-packed calendar induce a lot of dancing in Tevas. The Telluride Bluegrass Festival takes place mid-June, during four of the longest days of the year, and a couple of weeks before the daily afternoon thunderstorms kick in. Expect the likes of bigger acts such as Barenaked Ladies and Bonnie Raitt, as well as less organized acts, including roving bands of banjos. The other biggie is the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, which is exactly what the name says. It takes place each September with acts like Willie Nelson and the Flaming Lips.

National Parks

Three striking—and strikingly different—national parks are a short drive from Telluride. About two hours south is Mesa Verde, where visitors can climb a 32-foot-tall ladder, crawl through a 12-foot-long tunnel, and then scamper an additional 60 feet up ladders and stone steps to visit Balcony House, a 14th-century Anasazi cliff dwelling (www.nps.gov/meve). Two and a half hours west, in Utah, is Arches National Park, where eons ago rushing waters carved out arches, narrow canyons, and oddly-shaped rocks (www.nps.gov/arch). Near Montrose, Colorado, about 90 minutes north, is Black Canyon of the Gunnison, established in 1999. Eleven hundred feet across at its narrowest point and 2,772 feet deep, the canyon's dark walls are shaded most of the day, begetting the name. Fly-fishing, kayaking, and hiking rarely get more dramatic (www.nps.gov/blca).

Off-Piste Skiing
Powder Tours
Aspen , Colorado
Tel: 970 920 0720
aspensnowmass.com/onmountain/moremountainfun/powdertours.cfm

Powder Tours takes expert skiers in 11-person snowcat groups to terrain selected according to daily snow conditions and the group's experience. Expect an average of 10,000 vertical feet on ungroomed terrain, hitting glades and open bowls. Lunch is provided in a woodstove-heated cabin.

Oktoberfest
Vail , Colorado
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.

Skiing
Aspen , Colorado
Tel: 800 525 6200
www.aspensnowmass.com

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.

Skiing and Snowboarding
Telluride , Colorado
Tel: 970 728 6900
www.tellurideskiresort.com

Telluride Ski Resort is challenging: Thirty-eight percent of its 2,000 skiable acres are rated advanced or expert. On average, annual snowfall is a respectable 309 inches, but the quality is more impressive than the quantity. Storms from the Pacific lose moisture while traveling over the desert, and snow falls so light and fluffy here it can't be packed into a snowball. The Telluride skier or snowboarder is often more advanced than the Vail-goer, for there are fewer groomers and more mogul-studded steeps, particularly double-diamond Electra and Little Rose, which spill down Gold Hill.

Unless you're sensitive to high altitudes, the must-do run at Telluride is See Forever. When you slide off the Gold Hill chair at the resort's 12,570-foot apex, you'll be significantly higher than any lift in California, Utah, or Montana. See Forever starts here, and as you drop down this always-groomed intermediate pitch you can see deep into the red-rock canyons near Moab and the La Sal mountains emerging from the Great Basin like islands in the sky. Advanced bumpers schuss the egg cartons of the run Plunge, while rubbery teenage snowboarders flip and spin in the Air Garden Terrain Park. Skilled backcountry skiers or riders (equipped with shovels and avalanche transceivers—and the knowledge to use them) can pass through a Forest Service access gate and drop more than 4,000 vertical feet into the sheer, cliffy Bear Creek drainage. Rent or demo skis or a snowboard from Paragon Sports.

Skiing and Snowboarding at Beaver Creek

Like Vail, Beaver Creek gets an average snowfall of 350 inches, but with 1,815 skiable acres and 17 lifts, it's decidedly smaller than its sister resort. And that's why so many skiers and boarders love it: Beaver Creek is easy to navigate yet still big enough, with its village-to-village skiing, that you can try something new each day. Beaver Creek is also a favorite venue for athletes who fly downhill at 70-plus miles per hour: The mighty Birds of Prey racecourse hosts the only men's Alpine World Cup races in the United States every year in early December, and the men's and women's Alpine World Championships will be held here in 2015. In the meantime, the Stone Creek Chutes on the western edge and Talons Challenge terrain (mid-mountain, centered around Grouse peak) should satisfy any expert. The rickety old Rose Bowl double was replaced with a high-speed quad for the 2011–2012 season, serving up faster access to the popular Rose Bowl terrain. There are also three freestyle terrain parks suitable for all levels, including a superpipe.

The Beaver Creek Nordic Sports Center offers access (via the Strawberry Park Express lift) to more than 20 miles of cross-country and snowshoeing trails in McCoy Park. There are also snowshoe tours that include lunch at the mountaintop Mamie's (970-754-5313).

For equipment rentals, try Beaver Creek Sports, which has locations at every base chairlift, including one inside the Ritz-Carlton (970-845-5418). Or, have your skis and boards delivered to your room via Ski Butlers (970-845-2268). Aim to make all rental reservations at least two weeks in advance for holiday periods.—Sarah Tuff

Hotel Photo
Skiing and Snowboarding at Vail
Tel: 970 476 9090
vail.snow.com

With 5,289 skiable acres and 31 lifts, Vail is enormous. Getting your bearings on the slopes can take days, but you'll never be bored. Even better, the resort averages 350 inches of pristine Rocky Mountain powder per year, so you can forget about those ice chutes they call runs on the East Coast. Vail's Front Side, which rises up from the village, offers a good mix of terrain, including Double Black Diamonds off the old Highline chair to the west (Roger's Run and Blue Ox are two favorites) and easygoing groomers off the Avanti Express to the east. There are four terrain parks for snowboarders who go for tricks, including a 400-foot-long superpipe (picture a half-pipe on steroids). But to get the full value from your lift ticket (more expensive every year), frolic in Vail's incomparable Back Bowls. Sparsely groomed, beautiful, and wide open, the bowls are perfect for advanced skiers (to access them, take the Mountaintop Express or Northwoods Express lifts and follow the signs to Sun Up Bowl or China Bowl). Just past the bowls (take the catwalk trail off Sun Up Bowl), you'll find epic Blue Sky Basin: 645 acres of ungroomed powdery bliss for quite advanced skiers and boarders. Tip: Head there first thing in the morning, because it takes 45 minutes to reach from the village, and Blue Sky starts shutting down in the early afternoon.

Prefer a slower, lung-filling pace? Vail has two Nordic centers for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. At Vail Golden Peak, daily group tours include equipment rentals (970-754-3200). The Vail Nordic Center, meanwhile, has 17 kilometers of groomed trails, along with rentals, lessons, and clinics (970-476-8366).

The American Ski Exchange, next to the Vista Bahn Express, demos Salomon, K2, Rossignol, Völkl, Volant, and Head skis (225 Wall St.; 800-327-1137).

Double Diamond, in Lionshead Village, demos all the skis and boots it sells (no snowboards), so opt for a Demo Package; you can also choose nondemo rentals of skis and snowboards (877-433-7547).

One Track Mind, in Lionshead Village, specializes in snowboards (970-476-1397).

Ski Butlers delivers skis and boards to your hotel room (970-845-2268).

For all rentals, aim to make reservations at least two weeks in advance for holiday periods.—Updated by Sarah Tuff

Telluride Farmer's Market
Telluride , Colorado
81435
Tel: 970 728 8701

A virtual block party, the farmer's market brings musicians, farmers, tourists, and fresh organic produce to South Oak Street every Friday afternoon from noon to 4 pm (June through October). Along with fruits and vegetables you'll find organic wines, elk and buffalo meat, and fresh local eggs. Look for TFM's signature shopping bags: burlap coffee sacks with the denim from old jeans sewn on as straps.

Open Fridays 11 am to 4 pm.

Vail Farmer's Market
Meadow Drive
Vail , Colorado
81657
Tel: 970 479 1711
www.vailfarmersmarket.com

Every Sunday from mid-June through mid-September, the region's farm and food vendors set up 100-plus tents on Meadow Drive in Vail Village to sell just-picked berries, vegetables, meats, cheeses, local wines, and outrageously delicious pies. You'll also find local artisans selling watercolors and such.

Summer Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Hotel Photo
Vail Resort Gondola
Vail , Colorado
Tel: 970 476 9090
www.vailsummer.net

There's no better perspective on the mountains than from the top of one: The bonus at a ski resort is the ability to save yourself a five-hour uphill hike to achieve that 360-degree view. The Eagle Bahn gondola offers scenic rides from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Tues.– Sat.) in the winter. It also runs during the summer months (Thurs.–Sat.), linking up to a warren of hiking and mountain-biking trails.

Waterfalls
Telluride , Colorado

Because the San Juans are Colorado's steepest range and all that snowmelt has to go somewhere, Telluride boasts stunning waterfalls. The easiest to reach is 60-foot Cornet Falls, just a quarter mile up a steep dirt trail from the top of Aspen Street. Ingram Falls is also noteworthy: It's the huge, 125-foot white ribbon you can see clearly from town. Reach it by driving east on Colorado Avenue past the old Pandora Mill, and up the dirt road toward Black Bear Pass. Along the way, you'll round a switchback and see the most dramatic, Bridal Veil Falls, which plunges more than 300 feet, making it the tallest free-falling chute in Colorado. For more information, call the local Forest Service office (970-327-4261).

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.