Saturday, December 3, 2022 Dec 3, 2022
52° F Dallas, TX
Publications

TRAVEL OFF THE BEATEN SCHUSS

Skiers in the mood for adventure can try these quirky or quiet slopes.
By

To thousands of Dallasites, winter means skiing, skiing means Colorado, and Colorado means Aspen or Vail. But this year, with net worths deflating like so many hot air balloons at the end of a crisp mountain ride, many will forgo glitz in favor of the get-down charm of lesser-known resorts. Quaint little bed and breakfasts dot the Rockies, offering low-cost lodging and quick access by car to a variety of ski areas. And if driving’s the ticket that will keep you on the slopes this year, the ski resorts of New Mexico are within striking distance of Dallas, even if a long weekend is all you have to ski. Farther north, Montana, Wyoming, and Canada have breathtaking scenery and fresh terrain to conquer.



COLORADO

Georgetown-Colorado’s modern boom towns, built around the skiing industry, are nothing new to the Rocky Mountains. They’re the descendants of earlier seats of prosperity, like Georgetown, Silver Plume, Empire, Idaho Springs, and other small mining towns that dot the front range. Sometimes overlooked by tourists eager to get to the ski areas farther down Interstate 70, these nuggets of living history are quaint and interesting alternatives to the glitzy but more expensive resort lodgings.

Georgetown, forty-five miles west of Denver on 1-70, sits quietly on the doorstep of ski country. Minutes away from the Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Vail, and Beaver Creek ski areas, Georgetown offers visitors a look at the lifestyle that accompanied the development of the American West.

Georgetown’s cafés, saloons, tearooms, and taverns provide a variety of fare from country-style breakfasts to hearty Colorado beef. The Swiss Inn, specializing in continental cuisine, is a gourmet’s delight.

Accommodations run the gamut from motor lodges to bed-and-breakfast inns, but a romantic option is one of Odette Baehler’s private Victorian homes. White most people collect things like stamps and coins and trinkets, Baehler collects Victorian homes in pale pastels, as ornate and delicate as the finest porcelain figurines. She also has miners’ cabins, decorated with the tools of a near-forgotten trade, and ski cottages with cozy fireplaces and spectacular views.

Baehler runs the George-town/Baehler Resort Service, specializing in historic lodgings that give clients a glimpse of the Rocky Mountain village’s silver boom days. Her job, Baehler says, is to match people with the kind of surroundings they desire. The “Queen Victoria” house, for instance, is a pastel pink confection filled with antiques and lace. The “Junction Cabin” is a small A-frame on the Georgetown Loop Railroad route with a sleeping loft, a fireplace, and a deck overlooking Clear Creek. But the prize of Baeh-ler’s collection is the “Serenity” cabin. The luxury log cabin features a huge stone fireplace that separates the living room and master bedroom. There’s a small kitchen, a cozy dining table beneath a stained-glass window, a television, telephone, and stereo system, plus a hot tub and a sauna. The master bedroom features a queen-size brass bed, and a bay window provides a breathtaking view of the mountains. The rustic mountainside cabin is a secluded retreat that sleeps up to six people.

Unlike the traditional bed-and-breakfast, the resort service provides guests with the key to their house. You’re responsible for your own cooking and tidying up-the maid comes in only after guests have checked out. House rules vary from location to location, depending upon the owners’ requirements.

Lodgings are available for couples, families, and large groups. Rates start at $125 per night for two people. For information or reservations, call (303) 569-2665 or write Georgetown/Baehler Resort Service, P.O. Box 247, Georgetown, Colorado 80444.



NEW MEXICO

Taos-Art buffs who have attended the Georgia O’Keeffe show will recognize much of the Taos landscape. In the Twenties the area was a haven for some of the nation’s most talented artists, including O’Keeffe and D.H. Lawrence. Of course, they were preceded by the Pueblo Indians, who settled in a nook of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains more than a thousand years ago. The Indians probably devised makeshift skis for survival. Today, ski shops rent state-of-the-art equipment for the serious skier.

Despite the modern amenities, this New Mexico ski area prides itself on being uncomplicated and uncrowded. Taos Ski Valley personnel still serve hot chocolate to skiers at base lifts if a line develops. Another nice touch: children taking ski lessons get a cup of the steaming drink regardless of the lines.

Although Taos averages more than 320 inches of snow a year, the resort community has just enhanced its $1.5-million snow-making system. Because the mountain air is so dry, the snow tends to be light and fluffy, nirvana for powder buffs. And high tech has invaded the slopes at Taos, an Indian word meaning “the place of the red willows.” Lifts on the Kachina side of the mountain have electronic trail maps announcing which trails have been recently groomed.

A word of advice: Taos caters to expert skiers, with half of its seventy-two runs labeled expert. Last year more than 70 percent of the resort’s classes were designed for advanced skiers wanting further instruction on moguls, steep-and-deep, and alpine touring. The downhill descents feature a tree line twice as high as the Alps. Beginners, however, need not worry. This year Taos is offering a special novice ticket. Its $29 tariff, the same price as a standard all-lift ticket, includes a two-hour lesson.

The season opens Thanksgiving weekend. For ski information call (505) 776-2291. For lodging reservations, call the Taos Valley Resort Association at 1-800-992-SNOW.



WYOMING

Jackson Hole-Jackson Hole features the largest vertical drop-4,139 feet-in the continental U.S. The resort, nestled in a crag of the Grand Teton mountains, has more than twenty-two miles of groomed trails. Day lift tickets cost $28 for adults, and the longest run is a daunting four-and-a-half miles. But if skiing’s not your ticket, Jackson Hole has many other options.

Since the resort sits three miles north of Grand Teton National Park, the rangers will gladly give you a tour on snowshoes-and it’s free, since you’ve already paid with your tax dollars. Or you can tuck yourself under the toasty blankets of a dog sled powered by a team of huskies.

Old Faithful, located in neighboring Yellowstone National Park, seems to erupt with greater grandeur against a snowy backdrop. You can rent snowmobiles and motor to the geyser. And if you’ve never seen elk, board a horse-drawn sleigh to visit their feeding grounds. Some 7,000 elk winter at the National Elk Refuge at the edge of town.

After a day in the bracing cold, soak those sore muscles in the Granite Hot Springs, a mammoth hot tub created by Mother Nature.

For more information, call the Jackson Hole Visitors Council at 1-800-782-0011.



MONTANA

Big Sky-NBC newsman Chet Huntley was awed by the pristine beauty of this area, located forty miles from Yellowstone National Park, so he retired from the popular “Huntley-Brinkley Report” to develop Big Sky. After his death, Boyne U.S.A. purchased the resort and invested more than $10 million in the mountain hideaway.

Three mountain ranges surround the resort. Two gondolas and five chairlifts allow Big Sky to cart 8,200 skiers an hour to the mountaintops. Currently the resort offers more than fifty-five miles of skiing, with the longest run rambling for three miles.

Ski school director Robert Kirchschlager, an Austrian, invites any skier on the slopes to “Ski the Sky” with him-at no charge. You merely have to sign up at the ski school desk. Anyone purchasing a six-day consecutive lift ticket can take a free lesson on the day of purchase. Adult novice skiers can save $12 when purchasing the beginner’s package, which includes a lift ticket, ski rental, and a half-day lesson. The total price is $26 a day.

When the sun goes down, you can take a sleigh ride through quiet, secluded woods to an inviting log cabin, There the chefs, waiting for your arrival, are grilling prime rib over a wood-burning stove. Or, if you’d rather play cards, head to Chet’s Bar at the Huntley Lodge. Since poker is legal in Montana, it’s a safe bet to say there’s a game in progress there when the sun goes down.

If your sore muscles need some tender loving care after a day on the slopes, get a Swedish massage at Huntley Lodge, the center of social activity at Big Sky.

For lodging reservations at Big Sky, call 1-800-548-4486.



CANADA

Alberta-This year’s Winter Olympics placed Alberta in the world spotlight as the premier place for winter sports. The Canmore Nordic Centre served as the site of the cross-country and biathlon events.

Alberta’s Rockies are divided into four areas-Jasper, Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay national parks. All are perfect for Nordic skiing. Cross-country enthusiasts can explore mountain meadows, rolling foothills, and expansive sweeps of prairie lodged between the craggy mountains.

Banff, located eighty miles from Calgary, celebrates its Winter Festival in late January and early February. Teams from all over the | world congregate for the “Mountain Madness Relay Race,” which is a pentathlon of downhill and cross-country skiing, running, skating, and snowshoeing. During the festival you can also enjoy “ski joring,” being pulled on skis behind a horse.

Jasper National Park is Canada’s largest mountain park, encompassing 4,200 square miles of lofty peaks. The skiing season here starts in early December. The Marmot Basin is famous for its numerous glades. An adult lift ticket costs $25 a day.

Adventure Tours in Dallas specializes in package ski trips to Alberta. Great Escape Vacations Ltd. in Richmond (1-800-663-2515) is also known for its Alberta packages.

Another famous attraction in Alberta is the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. But that is another story.

Related Articles

Fashion

Resort Regalia

Check out the latest in that in-between season: resort.
By Stephanie Quadri