No snow, no problem: Winter activities in Vail (for non-skiers)
Believe it or not, there’s more to winter in the Vail Valley than just skiing and snowboarding.
And with conditions on the mountain slowly getting up to par, now is a great time to see what else the valley has to offer. From fishing to 4×4 tours and paintball to sporting clays, there’s something for everyone in the family.
Just remember to think outside — no box required.
May the Fish be with you
The fishing season runs 365 days in the Vail Valley, and local anglers are pleased with their hauls this time of year.
“It’s really magical fishing in the winter, especially on days that the snow is lightly falling,” said Madeline Grande, of Vail Valley Anglers.
A stark contrast to the busy ski slopes, local fishing waters are a rare place of solitude during the winter.
“The fish still have to eat,” Grande said. “They’re still out there, and if anything they’re a little less picky about what they eat.”
Fishing trips are perfect for groups, and local anglers know how to keep you warm while on the river during the winter.
“No matter the weather, we’re out there catching trout,” Grande said.
Vail Valley Anglers offers multiple trips, including half-day wade trips for two people ($325); full-day float trips for two people ($495); and ice fishing for three ($550.) Call 970-926-0900.
Other local anglers include Minturn Anglers, open daily (970-642-3014); and Gore Creek Fly Fisherman in Avon (970-476-3296).
Take a ride in a side-by-side
The Can-Am Maverick side-by-side vehicle is “really the most appropriate machine you can be on right now,” said Joe Tomasic, of Sage Outdoor Adventures in Wolcott.
With snow limiting the snowmobile terrain accessible, these off-terrain vehicles have access to most of the 6,000 acres of private property on the Sage Outdoor Adventures ranch.
“It’s an incredible winter activity,” Tomasic said. “People are figuring out this is a cool thing to do in the winter.”
The folks at Sage will pick you up in Vail and take you to their outdoor playground in Wolcott, and bring you back. The tours are about two hours, and anyone 4 years old or older can ride on a Maverick.
Cost is $175 for the driver and $65 for each passenger. Call 970-476-3700 or visit http://www.sage outdooradventures.com.
Wildlife spotted recently on excursions include huge bucks and a mountain lion.
Can you escape?
The Vail Valley Escape Room in Avon has three independently designed and operated escape rooms.
Escape rooms are an immersive team building experience requiring no special skills or knowledge, only the ability to observe, open your mind to creative thought and apply logic.
The three rooms range from easy to hard, last one hour and are for groups of two to 10 people. The Vail Valley Escape Room is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Cost is $35. Call 970-949-6275 or visit http://www.vail valleyescaperooms.com.
Skate the day away
Take a spin around the ice rink located at Vail Square in Lionshead Village, open from 1 to 9 p.m. through Closing Day. Ice skates are available to rent.
At Beaver Creek, outdoor ice skating takes place in the heart of the village with several fire pits around the rink. The ice rink is open daily, and skates and helmet rentals are available.
Ready, aim, fire
Did you know that the sporting clay season ends when it’s too cold for the machine that launches the clays to function?
Well, it hasn’t been that cold, yet, and Sage Outdoor Adventures in Wolcott is still offering its shooting range for sporting clays.
Cost is $145 and includes about 25 rounds of ammo. Sage also has some really talented marksmen who shoot professionally and will give instruction.
Call 970-476-3700 or visit http://www.sageoutdooradventures.com.
Hit the backcountry on snowshoes
Walking Mountains Science Center offers free one-hour snowshoe tours daily at 2 p.m. out of its campus in Avon.
Also, for more adventurous, Walking Mountains offers two-hour Backcountry Tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. With permits from the National Forest to go about anywhere, the tours go to places such as Meadow Mountain and areas around Red Cliff. Cost is $50.
“How we separate ourselves is we operate in an environment education niche,” said Peter Suneson, of Walking Mountains. “We’re also going to hopefully influence folks with our mission — to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardships.”
Call 970-827-9725 or visit http://www.walkingmountains.org.
Sleigh rides and hot chocolate
Perfect for families and date night, 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott is offering sleigh ride dinners from 6 to 8:30 p.m. every night except Tuesdays and Sundays.
The evening includes unlimited rides, a solo guitarist performing all night and s’mores around a campfire. Dinner is robust with a buffet including steak, chicken and ribs.
Cost is $85 for adults; $75 for seniors and military; $50 for kids ages 5-12; and $25 for kids ages 2-4. Call 970-926-3372 or visit http://www.4eagleranch.com.
At 4 Eagle Ranch, there’s also year-round horseback riding through Triple G Outfitters. Call 970-926-1234. Cost is $70 or $85. Coming soon will be paintballing at 4 Eagle Ranch with Double Diamond Paintball. Call 970-560-6519.
As a nonprofit, 4 Eagle Ranch is active in giving back.
“All the money we make goes back to helping other nonprofits, mostly within the valley,” said Kristen Mehan, of 4 Eagle Ranch. “When people come out here and spend their money, they’re helping people locally.”
Bearcat Stables in Edwards also offers year-round horseback riding and sleigh rides. They also offer free pony rides for kids 7 and younger. Cost is $60 for a one-hour ride, $90 for a two-hour ride and $300 for the sweetheart ride for two. Call 970-926-1578 or visit http://www.bearcatstables.com.