SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE FEATURED ARTICLE:

Colorado’s Grand County Offers Plenty of Snowshoeing Options

Many couples have discovered that a weekend snowshoeing adventure is more than just a fun outdoor activity. It can also be a time of bonding with your loved one. Imagine: The only sounds you hear are those of your snowshoes methodically crunching over the snow, and your heart keeping time with your step. A stop now and then lets you absorb all the beauty Mother Nature has to offer. It also gives you that time to rekindle the warmth with the person you love.

For several years, my wife and I have used snowshoeing adventures as romantic getaways; a time to slow down, appreciate what is, and enjoy the moment. We’ve experienced the outdoors on snowshoes in several U.S. and Canadian locations. Most recently we discovered the splendors of Grand County, Colorado.

Though skiing will always be king in Colorado, snowshoeing is fast becoming an alternative outdoor winter activity. In Grand County, snowshoers have several Nordic centers to choose from. Here is a summary of what we discovered on a recent trip to Grand County, 80 miles northwest of Denver.

We found the perfect romantic snowshoeing weekend at Latigo Ranch. Snuggled in at more than 9,000 feet above sea level, Latigo Ranch, in Kremmling, provides never-ending panoramic views of the Continental Divide, that expanse of mountain that stretches from Alaska to the tip of South America. Latigo Ranch wears two cowboy hats: It’s a dude ranch by summer, and then is transformed into a Nordic center in winter, featuring 60 kilometers of groomed trails. It was recently named the state’s best dude ranch by “Colorado’s Best: The Essential Guide to Favorite Places.” But its connection to winter sports goes back much further. Latigo Ranch got its start back in 1923 when it was called Snowshoe Dude Ranch by founder Frederick Kasdorf, Jr. Be it in summer on horseback, or winter on snowshoes or cross-country skis, this slice of heaven is still the perfect hideaway for couples looking to enjoy nature.

Whether in the cozy confines of your cabin or stepping it out on Coyote Run trail, the mystical mountain range is never far from sight. Relaxing afterwards in hot tub is a nice way to end a day of snowshoeing. Another appealing draw during your stay at Latigo Ranch are the friendly and personable hosts and owners: Jim and Kathie Yost, and Randy and Lisa George. The foursome serve up three home-cooked meals daily (Randy does most of the cooking), and a wealth of knowledge about the local area and ranch. They also feature a recipe of the week on their Web site: http://www.latigotrails.com.

Snow Mountain Ranch – part of the YMCA of the Rockies, the world’s largest YMCA facility and unique in its resort-like feel – provides a plethora of trails throughout its 5,100 acre facility near Winter Park. In addition to a variety of lodging options, Snow Mountain Ranch offers 70 cabins, many of them cozy two and three bedroom units. Just step out your cabin door and begin snowshoeing; there are 100 kilometers of groomed trails to explore. All the information you’ll need regarding Snow Mountain is available on its Web site at http://www.YMCArockies.org.

If your taste goes to luxury, Devil’s Thumb Ranch is a great choice for those seeking to experience the solitude of snowshoeing, but with comfortable, pampering perks. Tucked into the Ranch Creek Valley between the towns of Fraser and Tabernash, Devil’s Thumb and its Nordic center features great accommodations and 100 kilometers of trails. There are also several enjoyable dining options, including the Ranch House Restaurant and Saloon.

After a day of snowshoeing around Devil’s Thumb, you’ll want to indulge yourself in the 12,000-square-foot Ranch Creek Spa, which opened in February. It features eight treatment rooms for nature-based and restorative services including massage, facials, hand/foot treatments, hydrotherapy, and reflexology. The renovated main lodge at Devil’s Thumb Ranch is decorated in rich colors with three story high ceilings. More information is available at http://www.devilsthumbranch.com.

The Grand Lake Touring Center is another Nordic center offering great snowshoeing. The center features 35 kilometers of groomed trails that wander over the gentle hills of what is Grand Lake Golf Course during the summer. The Nordic center also serves as the trailhead for many more challenging backcountry trails that stretch out into the public lands that border the property. For information, visit http://www.grandlakegolf.com/touring.html.

One final option for snowshoeing in Grand County is SolVista Golf & Ski Ranch just outside of the town of Granby. Featuring 40 kilometers of groomed and uncrowded trails, SolVista is spread over 400 acres. A variety of accommodations, ranging from hotel and motel rooms to condominiums and private rental homes, is available in and around SolVista Golf & Ski Ranch. More information is available at http://www.solvista.com/.

If snowshoeing, serenity, or a little romantic bonding are on your agenda, Grand County, Colorado is a perfect choice.