Danika Porter

There is an intangible magic being high in the snow-covered mountains from that moment the icy air touches your exposed skin, to the storybook images of everything blanketed in snow.

And you can experience this energy, whether you pride yourself on your skiing prowess or not.

Winter Park Resort is an easy 1.5 hour drive from Denver, Colorado. In this postcard-perfect alpine town, there is so much to do aside from just ski – from dogsledding, snowshoeing, alpine dining, and ice fishing, to snowcat tours, sleigh rides and even hot air ballooning.

Yes that’s right.

Permitting no blizzard-conditions, you can be blown-away (not literally, we hope) by the spectacular winter scenes of the snow-covered mountain peaks from the comfort of a balloon.

Here are just four examples of ways to explore the breathtaking scenery of Winter Park whilst your mates are busy battling the queues to the ski lift.

 

GET THE SPEED WITHOUT THE SKIS

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Escape high into the backcountry of the mountains with the awesome power of a snowmobile. You can use your body to manoeuvre the machine like a motorcycle, but it can be a wrestle to control this powerful beast. The little skis leading the machine are like two toddlers hell-bent on scattering in opposite directions.

The highlight of the tour with Grand Adventures has to be the breathtaking views on offer along the ridgeline of the Continental Divide at 3,300 metres. The ski runs decorating the mountains of Winter Park Resort are on full display across the Fraser Valley. It’s an incredible way to make the most of the sights in an efficient and smooth manner. Plus, you look really cool doing it.

 

HORSEPOWER

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Dialling down the pace to hoof-power gives you the time to absorb the picture-perfect winter wonderland surrounding Devil’s Thumb Ranch. My ride comes in the form of my equine buddy Dan, who guides me though the perfectly set scene, a pristine landscape not dissimilar to one found within a snow globe.  Imagine the scene, the ground is a white twinkling blanket, fields of Christmas trees sag under the weight of the heavy snow and chunky snowflakes swirl in the air.

It’s eerily silent, bar the squeaky crunch of Dan’s steps compacting the snow. Even the relaxed pace is hard work in this terrain. Luckily Dan has double the leg count as he smoothly catches his occasional icy slip. It’s a tranquil and relaxing change of mode to explore this gorgeous terrain.

 

PEDAL THROUGH THE POWDER

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What isn’t so easy is attempting to pedal ten-centimetre thick tyres through deep snow.  The monster tread assures a secure grip on icy roads, but once you hit ankle-deep snow, turning or braking becomes problematic. When the front wheel digs in, you are flipped off. It’s a soft, and hysterical, landing though. The joy of powder isn’t just for the skiers.

The snow looks light to power across, however the reality feels like pushing through thick butter. My laboured breathing also reminds me I’m biking at 2700 metre elevation in -8°C temperatures. You are assured of a satisfying calorie burn with 120 kilometres of terrain to explore at Snow Mountain Ranch.

 

SPA IT UP IN THE SNOW

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Wrangling a snowmobile, horse and bike has awakened a range of dormant muscles I forgot I possessed. Whether you consider yourself a spa reveller or not, it’ll be impossible not to enjoy a relaxing soak in the hot tub under snowfall. Sink into the steaming outdoor pool at Ranch Creek Spa and enjoy the beautiful alpine scenery.

The imposing range of the Continental Divide fades out of view as a blizzard closes in. It’s ideal weather for a massage, a perfect reward for those taut muscles, and the ideal chance to give your body a break.

Wouldn’t a break like this be VERY après-ciated (sorry)?

Click here for information about these activities and much more.

 

Does Winter Park sound like the perfect alpine break?