3 winter activities around Vail other than skiing
Special to the Weekly
maybe you want to give your legs a day off. Maybe you’re that family member who would rather enjoy winter from inside the ski lodge. Maybe you just want to try something unique.
Whatever the reason for wanting to spend a day off the hill, there’s plenty to do around Vail to fill your itinerary that doesn’t include skiing or snowboarding. Here are a few of our favorite activity pairings that are sure to show visitors another side of the Vail Valley.
Horseback ride and wine tasting
Star in your own Western movie while horseback riding across open pastures with snowy mountains as your backdrop with Triple G Outfitters. The rides are based at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott, just 30 minutes west of Vail, but a world away from the bustle of the ski villages.
“The rides are a great way to experience the old West,” said Triple G manager Kirstie Bajza. “We ride along the creek and through sage fields. The scenery is really beautiful because you can see the snowcapped peaks. The views are 360 degrees and just endless.”
Riders can choose from 90-minute beginner or advanced rides that accommodate every level. Riding experience is not required for the beginner rides, while advanced options allow riders to trot and canter through open fields. Kids 6 and older can join in as well, under the tutelage of the ranch’s child-friendly steeds. Reservations are recommended — book your ride at http://www.tripleg.net.
Afterward, stop by Vines at Vail, a winery tucked away on the 4 Eagle grounds. Owner and winemaker Patrick Chirichillo will proudly pour you tasting flights or wines by the glass and even serve up snacks on the patio on warmer afternoons. In the winter, visits are by appointment only, so call ahead. Find out more at http://www.vinesatvailwinery.com or by calling 970-949-WINE.
Snowmobile and dine in a yurt
Many visitors spend most of their time on Vail Mountain, yet never venture to the south facing side of the valley. There are many ways to explore this part of the White River National Forest, but one particularly group-friendly option is a backcountry snowmobile tour.
A ride with Vail Backcountry Tours start at its headquarters just five to 10 minutes from Vail Village on Red Sandstone Road. From there, tours head up toward Piney Ranch to an area boasting 225,000 acres of snowmobile-friendly terrain. Riders are treated with views of Vail Mountain and the Gore Range, and they might even spot moose or wild turkeys.
“Snowmobiling is such a unique experience because of the adrenaline you get, the views and getting to experience what nature has to hold,” said Carrie Rose Morris, the company’s director of sale and marketing. “The best thing is, because we can get miles up there, you have it all to yourself. When the alpenglow comes out on the evening tours, it’s so serene. Sometimes it’s hard not to shed a tear.”
Shorter tours run at 10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m., while half-day tours run at noon and 3 p.m. The tours culminate at a private yurt, where guests on the short tours warm up with drinks and a snack, and half-day tours enjoy either lunch or dinner. The white-glove service includes hot beverages around a fireplace, candlelit tables and a barbecue-style buffet.
No experience is needed to drive the snowmobiles, just a driver’s license. Those who don’t want to drive can enjoy the views as passengers.
“Because we’re so close to Vail, you don’t need to spend half the day in a van in order to visit us,” Morris said. “You can snowmobile and ski all on the same day if you want.”
For more information, visit http://www.vail backcountrytours.com.
Relax with a spa and yoga day
Enjoying all the mountains have to offer can be hard on your body, so a day spent relaxing and recovering can re-energize you for the rest of your vacation. One particularly luxurious way to do this is with a yoga session to stretch and align the body, paired with a specialized massage.
Vinyasa flow yoga incorporates fluid, dynamic movements, while restorative yoga classes move at a slower pace with a focus on healing and release. At the Vail Athletic Club, the slow flow yoga class is specifically designed for skiers and snowboarders looking to open up their hips, quads and hamstrings after a day on the hill.
Next, head over to the spa for a rejuvenating massage. At the Vail Vitality Center, experience the healing powers of cannabinoid oils with a CBD massage.
“Colorado is famous for its marijuana, so this massage focuses on the healing properties of hemp, without the high-inducing TCH component,” said Leya Nicolait, the Vail Vitality Center’s director of spa and fitness. “It’s great for relieving muscle cramping, pain, inflammation or any soreness you may have from skiing.”
Dealing with some altitude sickness? Try the high-altitude recovery massage, which starts with a foot soak and treatment, then proceeds with a rehydrating, essential oil massage meant to relieve tension and encourage increased oxygenation.
Find out more at http://www.vailvitalitycenter.com.
The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.