Five spring break destinations for Vail road warriors |

Five spring break destinations for Vail road warriors

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyGetting to Telluride, Colo. takes less than five hours.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Come spring break, some Vailites will be more concerned with calling shotgun than upgrading to first class.

Flying to Cancun is great, but what happens if you failed to scare up the cash for a plane ticket or waited too long to book a flight?

A road trip could be the solution.

Several scenic destinations lie within a days’ drive of the Vail Valley. You can motor less than four hours to scale a mesa in Moab, Utah or less than six hours to stroll art galleries in Santa Fe, N.M.

Hitting the road for spring break makes sense to Carol Carlson, who works for Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. Turned off by the cost of plane tickets, she and her family will drive to Phoenix, Ariz. to watch a string of baseball games. “We wanted to go somewhere warm and we didn’t have a ton of money, so it was somewhere we could get to and have a nice little family vacation,” Carlson said.

Here are five cool places within a seven-hour drive.

Travel time: 430 miles or roughly 6 hours, 35 minutes

What to see: There are four skiing mountains within a half-hours’ drive of the city, said Danica Farley, a spokeswoman for the Downtown Alliance. Alta, Brighton Ski Resort, Snowbird and Solitude Mountain Resort all boast summits above 10,000 feet. Learn about Mormon history at Temple Square, a popular tourist hub that houses the Salt Lake Temple and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Events: The World Horror Convention is slated for Thursday, March 27 through Sunday, March 30. The public can attend an art show and browse vendors of horror books or monster heads.

Crowds: Farley doesn’t expect “huge crowds that would keep people away from coming.”

Where to stay: The city has everything from five-star hotels to motels to bed and breakfasts.

Chances of finding a place to crash on short notice: Good, according to Farley.

Weather: March serves up mild days reaching 50 or 60 degrees, Farley said. A few snowstorms typically hit the mountains, she added.

Travel time: 318 miles or roughly 5 hours, 45 minutes

What to see: Art lovers can browse more than 100 galleries and studios along Canyon Road. Other must-sees are the spiral staircase inside Loretto Chapel and the Palace of the Governors, a history museum flanked by jewelry vendors, said Vicki Basta, a spokeswoman for the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce.

Events: Adrenaline junkies can get a fix at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Scheduled for Tuesday, March 25, it features climbing and adventure flicks.

Crowds: Expect medium crowds, Basta said. The tourism season doesn’t reach full tilt until the summer, she said.

Where to stay: Choose from hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, nearby campsites and the Santa Fe International Hostel.

Chances of finding a place to crash on short notice: “It’s not high season, but it’s always good to plan in advance,” Basta said.

Weather: Tempatures can reach 55 during the day and dip to 28 at night, Basta said. Expect mild wind and some light precipitation, she added.

Travel time: 268 miles or roughly 4 hours, 45 minutes

What to see: Jutting 12,255 feet into the sky, Telluride’s skiing mountain is open through April 6. After crushing some freshies, visitors can ride the free gondola to Mountain Village on the other side of the ridge. Another must-see is Bridal Veil Falls, one of the largest free-falling waterfalls in Colorado, said Johnna Ditton, an information specialist with the Telluride Tourism Board.

Events: A free concert series will take place in Mountain Village on Friday, March 28, Ditton said. The bands have not yet been announced, she added.

Crowds: “You can expect some bigger college crowds with spring break and everything,” Ditton said.

Where to stay: Telluride doesn’t have any chain hotels, but offers motels, condos, private homes and campgrounds, Ditton said.

Chances of finding a place to crash on short notice: Good, as long as you know what you’re looking for, Ditton said.

Weather: “March is usually the snowiest month of the year, so it’s usually snowy one day and nice the next,” Ditton said. Expect temperatures reaching the 50s some days, she added.

Travel time: 260 miles, or roughly 3 hours, 51 minutes

What to see: Drive the 18-mile scenic byway through the world’s largest concentration of natural stone arches, said Tina Snyder, an information specialist with the Moab Area Travel Council. Scale the Island in the Sky, a 1,500-foot mesa inside Canyonlands National Park. Enjoy views rivaling the Grand Canyon at Dead Horse Point State Park; the Colorado River cuts a horseshoe loop through the canyons, Snyder said.

Events: The Moab Jeep Safari goes from Saturday, March 15 through Sunday, March 23. Snyder expects an estimated 4,000 Jeeps to descend on the Moab backcountry.

Crowds: Expect major crowds during the Jeep safari. To escape the madness, plan your trip for after the event ends, Snyder said.

Where to stay: Pick from hotels, more than 30 motels, bed and breakfasts, overnight rentals in a former apartment complex turned into duplexes and condos, 13 private campgrounds and primitive camping on Bureau of Land Management land, Snyder said.

Chances of finding a place to crash on short notice: Pretty good, as long as you go after the Jeep safari, Snyder said.

Weather: The average temperature in March is 61 degrees. Overnight lows dip to the 40s or below. Moab typically sees less than an inch of rain and snow during the month, Snyder said.

Travel time: 78 miles or roughly 1 hour, 28 minutes

What to see: Nearby mountains provide ample snowmobiling opportunities, said Connie Robb, a volunteer with the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce. If you’re in a historic mood, visit the ghost towns in the vicinity, including St. Elmo. Popular soaking destinations are nearby Cottonwood Hot Springs and Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, Robb said.

Events: No major events are scheduled during spring break, Robb said.

Crowds: Officials say the town is crowd free during spring break.

Where to stay: motels, bed and breakfasts, cabins, campgrounds

Chance of finding a place to crash on short notice: Good, according to chamber volunteer coordinator Billie Love.

Weather: Situated in the “banana belt,” a high desert area in a wide valley, Buena Vista boasts milder temperatures than the rest of Colorado, Robb said. Expect temperatures in the 50s or 60s, she said.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or

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