SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE FEATURED ARTICLE:

The Tao of Winter Park…Snowshoeing for the Soul

Ignore the signs of summer that desperately try to pull us from our nine-to-five, barely-get-to-see-the-sunshine, desk jobs. It’s time to focus. Before we know it, summer will bid its final farewell and the season of snow-laden lawns will be here again.

And for this we must be ready; so, lest we forget about this “red-nosed” season and all its adventurous glory, what better way to kick off Snowshoe Magazine’s first summer edition than with a taste of a snowshoeing destination that’s sure to entice. The locale? Winter Park, Colo.

Known to local Coloradoans as the place to ski and snowboard (the sister hill, Mary Jane, boasts some of the best skiing this side of the Continental Divide), its appeal goes far beyond the realm of just snowboarders and skiers. Step away from the chair-lift lines and crowded ski hills and what you’re sure to find is an array of snowshoeing trails that will challenge those that seek it and treat those that don’t.

For those venturing to Colorado for a little fun in the snow, Winter Park is located a mere 67 miles from Denver International Airport (DIA) in the Vasquez Mountains of the Arapaho National Forest. The allure of Winter Park is not only its proximity for travelers both near and far, but for one of the most gorgeous mountainous regions many will ever see. One trip up Colorado’s infamous Berthoud Pass, the road that directs travelers into town, and you’ll vow to return to this spot.

Whether expert or beginner, adventurous or tame, Winter Park is sure to appeal to the needs of all snowshoers. If it’s a guided snowshoe tour that you’re looking for, then check out the Redfeather Snowshoe Tours. Beginning in late November and continuing on through April 1 (snow conditions permitting), Redfeather offers the option of both guided and unguided tours. The first, and often times most popular tour, is perfect for first-timer snowshoers and even those that might not even ski or snowboard. For $30, you are equipped with a pair of Redfeather snowshoes, poles, lift ticket on the Gemini Express, and an experienced guide who’ll not only demonstrate the basics of snowshoeing but treat you with a peak into the animal and plant life that surround the area. The tour starts at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and can accommodate up to 10 people.

Not to deny the inevitable crowd that will be looking for a little more adventure and would rather be their own guide, Redfeather rents out their snowshoes and will provide you with a self-guided trail map and a list of nearby trail routes. And as Tom Beattie, groups sales manager for the Winter Park Mountain Lodge says, “Winter Park has more than 600 miles of bike trails in the summer,” bike trails that are just waiting for snowshoers to trample upon them in the winter.

In addition to the aforementioned options, a slightly more challenging and endurance testing tour is also available. The Advanced Adventure Tours, offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m., is a 3.5-hour tour that departs from the base of the resort and leads you on an exploration covering five miles of challenging ascents and descents. But with the backdrop of the Continental Divide meeting you face-to-face, it can hardly be anything but a magnificent way to get exercise and immerse yourself in the outdoors.

One day in Winter Park and the desire to stay for a couple more is an unfortunate consequence. Rather than fight the urge, why not settle in for the night than at one of the numerous accommodations Winter Park has to offer. The Winter Park Mountain Lodge, for example, is a superior hotel whose prices are so reasonable it’s almost unbelievable and is located directly across the street from the base of the Winter Park Resort. Grab a micro-brew at its very own Moffat Station Brewery and enjoy the view that looks out over the mountains onto the trails you had trekked upon that day.

For more information on Winter Park, Colo., check out http://www.skiwinterpark.com for an all encompassing view of activities, both winter and summer, as well as a virtual tour of one of the Redfeather Snowshoe Tours.

See you next winter.