Travel Explorations takes you to the mountains today! It’s time to think about ski vacations!
Purple Mountain Majesties – - Even ‘though they are snow-capped, the Colorado Rockies make me think of the song that praises purple mountain majesties! The reason I ski is to see the beauty of the mountains. To be at the top of a mountain and look across to other mountains in the range is breathtaking! If you are not used to the elevation of 12,400 feet at the summit, it can literally be breathtaking! The base of the mountain is at 9,300 feet. It’s a good idea to be at the mountain at least 24 hours before skiing to get used to the altitude.
Our most recent ski trip was last March to Keystone, Colorado, a family tradition over many years. Besides the beauty of the mountains, there is a tremendous amount to enjoy at the resort area.
Keystone lodging sites, shops and restaurants are arranged around a five-acre lake. The lake transforms into a very large outdoor skating rink in the winter.
You can sit in a lake-side restaurant by a fire, enjoying dinner and looking out at a Christmas card scene with skaters, the lighted Christmas tree in the middle of the rink, and gentle snow falling.
Keystone has renovated some of their original buildings in recent years and nearly all venues are looking fresh. We stayed in a delightful Willow condo. It was only a few steps to an outdoor hot tub, which is a near necessity when coming back from a day of skiing! It is really neat to sit in the hot tub with the snow coming down, and look straight up at the stars.
The Keystone Lodge has a pool that is partly inside and partly outside, as well as an extensive spa. It is incredibly relaxing to be in the steaming outside pool.
While Keystone is a fine experience for couples and individuals, it really caters to families. A ski school teaches everyone from the very young to grandparents.
A unique accommodation is the Ski Tip Lodge. It is an old 1880s stagecoach stop that is now a cozy bed and breakfast. Even if you do not stay there, the Ski Tip Lodge offers Friday evening “Snowflakes and Wine.” Sound nice? It is!
The Keystone Nordic Center offers a moon-lit snowshoe hike and supper.
Another great program is “Ski with a Ranger.” The US Forest Service provides interpretive tours highlighting the resources of the National Forest and the resort’s environmental commitment.
Many activities are available including taking a horse drawn sleigh ride to an old homestead cabin for an authentic cowboy dinner.
Another unique and delicious dining experience is offered at the top of North Peak at the Alpenglow Stube. Diners travel by gondola to the site, viewing all the glowing lights below and twinkling stars above. This is a gourmet experience, with stunning views and wonderful fare.
Keystone sister resorts are in Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckinridge. In Breckinridge, I particularly like the quaint historic downtown buildings and homes.
Closer to home, Montana offers many ski areas including Big Sky! One can take the train, drive or fly into Bozeman, only 50 miles away. The resort which is at 6,800 square feet and the summit elevation is just over 11,000 feet.
Or consider Terry Peak in South Dakota which has 1100 feet of vertical drop. On average, about 13 feet of the white stuff falls on the mountaintops of the northern hills. South Dakota slopes are uncrowded compared to Montana and Colorado.
For skiing packages at these resorts and others around the country, contact your travel professional.
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