Warm weather equals variety in Eagle County
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – It’s been a bit confusing trying to figure out which season it is around here this month – it’s still ski season, sure, but unseasonably warm temperatures have opened up opportunities for many other outdoor activities around the valley.
Bike shops are already renting bikes to visitors, the road bikers are out wearing lightweight clothing, downvalley golf courses have opened and the fishermen are enjoying conditions they usually don’t see quite so early in the year.
For visitors who came to the area for a ski vacation, they’re getting in some skiing, biking, hiking and even pool time.
“We’re ridiculously jammed right now,” said Jamie Malin, one of the owners of The Kind Bikes and Skis in Riverwalk. “The ski business is still a steady flow for this time of year, but the bike business is going crazy– renting as well as selling.”
Malin said he’s had many customers who will ski one day, rent a bike the next day and then go back to the skiing the next day. The weather has created variety – people have many options.
Malin said it’s definitely out of the ordinary to already be talking with the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association about trail work plans. Last year, that didn’t happen until June.
Many local mountain bike riders are already hitting Fruita and Moab, too.
“I think everyone’s willing to embrace (the warm, dry weather) and make the best of it,” Malin said.
Charter Sports is renting bikes from its Vail Marriott and Vail Cascade locations, said Reed Spalding, who works in reservations for Charter Sports. He said guests are simply making the best of the warm weather.
“There’s a lot of guests interested in it,” Spalding said.
At Vail Ski Tech/Vail Bike Tech, many guests have inquired about bike rentals, but the shop isn’t big enough to keep both skis and bikes available at the same time, said Kelly Beckley. She said seasons like last year, which had record snowfall, don’t bring in many bike inquiries in March, but drier seasons like this one do.
Colorado Bike Service, in Eagle-Vail, said March typically starts to pick up in terms of business, but it seems like there’s a “little more buzz in the air,” said co-owner Jeff Mohrman.
“People are just getting excited,” he said. “We have been real busy.”
Mohrman said the biggest difference this year with the warm March weather is that the mountain bikers will probably be able to get going earlier this year. There are already mountain bike trails open between Berry Creek and Boneyard, Malin said.
“They’re dry and good to go,” he said.
Local fly-fishing guides say the fishing along the Eagle River is just spectacular right now, too. The warmer temperatures have helped the water temperatures rise, meaning the bug activity has picked up and the fish are more active in feeding on the bugs, said Mark Sassi, a Gore Creek Fly Fishermen guide.
“We’re about a month ahead of schedule in terms of where the fishing is – it’s lights-out good right now,” Sassi said.
Gore Creek Fly Fishermen stores aren’t open yet, but the guides do trips year-round, he said. And with warmer water temperatures and runoff that has caused the rivers to open up more, there’s easy fishing access just about everyone and more opportunities to catch fish, he said.
Alex Rachowicz, owner and guide at Minturn Anglers, said March is always a good month, but this March is “quite good.”
With water temperatures around 50 degrees right now as opposed to about 38 degrees, which is normal for March, the fish are just more active because there’s more food for them to eat, Rachowicz said.
He uses the analogy that it’s like going from eating nothing but rice cakes for four months to stepping into the buffet at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Rachowicz cautions that if weather patterns don’t change, things could get challenging later this summer. Fishing will still be good in June and July, but other river recreation like rafting and kayaking might not be as good.
And the fishing will start to suffer around August, too, if the valley doesn’t start getting some rain or snow soon, he said.
In the mean time, though, outdoor enthusiasts around the valley are appreciating the variety. Cheryl Bottomley said she gave up on skiing in February and is now riding her bike. Steve Klehfoth has been enjoying disc golf in Eagle and Glenwood Springs.
Matt Jones, of Eagle-Vail, is still skiing – he’s enjoying steeper, big lines without the avalanche danger that has plagued the slopes for much of the winter, he said.
“Backcountry skiing is the best right now,” Jones said.
Local resident Shane Kennedy told the Vail Daily via Facebook that he’ll “snowboard until the lifts close.”
“Other ‘summer activities’ can wait,” Kennedy said.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.