Platts: Get out now
As you may have seen in last week’s column, staying in Aspen all offseason can be incredibly detrimental to your health. So much so that some crazies even end up unconscious in front of Cache Cache …
Anyway … it’s understandable. Everyone is getting out of town, and those of us who aren’t wish we could. But an offseason trip doesn’t have to be weeks long in order for it to count. Even 24 hours away from the Roaring Fork Valley’s high walls can alleviate some serious cabin fever. Here are four of my favorite adventurous getaways that will have you feeling refreshed and ready to return to the weekly grind in little to no time.
Distance from Aspen — 210 miles
Elevation — 5,430 feet
Preferred type of lodging — An Airbnb residence or the St. Julien Hotel if you’re feeling like spending some cash
Why? I may be a bit biased since I grew up in Boulder, but it’s a very fun place to visit. A nice alternative to Denver, this town has impressive restaurants for the dedicated foodie, such as Salt and The Kitchen. And for the dedicated drinker, try a margarita at Rio Grande or a cold one on nitro tap at Mountain Sun. They also have a lot of boutique shops that are interesting to peruse. I recommend spending a day and night on Pearl Street. Boulder is more urban than my other suggestions, but there are also several hikes in the area so you can get your nature on. Spend some time on trails near the Flatirons (those iconic slabs of rock on the town’s flagship peaks) or in North Boulder on the Mount Sanitas Loop Trail.
Buena Vista, Colorado
Distance from Aspen — currently 162.1 miles (this is shorter once Independence Pass opens)
Elevation — 7,965 feet
Preferred type of lodging — A cabin at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs
Why? I just visited this town with some friends last weekend. We concluded that, when you are completely done with skiing, the best way to enjoy a snowfall is from the comfort of a natural hot spring along the river with a glass of wine or fruity alcoholic concoction in hand. Mt. Princeton Hot Springs just outside of Buena Vista can offer that at a very fair price. There are several springs on the river, as well as six pools of varying sizes and temperatures to enjoy. If you get tired of lounging around in hot springs, there are also several good hikes in the area and great coffee shops (Brown Dog Coffee Company, for one) and a brewery (Eddyline Brewery) in the downtown core.
Distance from Aspen — 239 miles
Elevation — 4,026 feet
Preferred type of lodging — Camping
Why? An offseason pilgrimage for just about anyone residing in the Aspen area during spring or fall offseason, Moab’s hotter temps are a warm welcome after experiencing the tumultuous weather patterns in the valley. Moab has it all: great places to hike, mountain bike, eat and camp. You can enjoy the whole weekend without ever entering the town, but I do recommend checking out some of the shops and restaurants if you have time, specifically the Love Muffin Cafe for breakfast and the Moab Brewery for lunch or dinner. Also, there are two national parks (Canyonlands and Arches) minutes away from downtown. And, in case you haven’t been paying attention thus far in 2016, the National Park Service turns 100 this year, meaning we should celebrate by taking advantage of as many national treasures as possible.
Distance from Aspen — 89 miles
Elevation — 5,682 feet
Preferred type of lodging — Bed and breakfast or Avalanche Cheese Co.’s Farm and Dairy Cabin
Why? The summer season may not be in full swing yet, but that doesn’t mean the wine isn’t flowing. Many people give Colorado flak for its vino but, considering this state’s dry climate and unpredictable weather conditions, there are people making some really great stuff. The Azura Winery and Gallery is a must-visit, not just for the wines but also for the art and the incredible views. Stone Cottage Cellars is also a special one where the owners are very passionate about what they are making. Need a wine break? Check out Revolution Brewing for beer or Big B’s Delicious Orchards for cider.
These are just some of the many options for trips that are only a short drive away from your front door. Take advantage of the slow time here and adventure elsewhere on your days off. I’ll see you out there.
Barbara Platts went to Buena Vista last weekend, plans to head to Boulder tomorrow and will schedule trips to Paonia and Moab soon. Cheers to that offseason time of year! Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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