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  • WINTER PARK: ON AND OFF THE SLOPES!
    SLEIGH RIDES, TUBING, MASSAGES AND MORE

    Photo courtesy Winter Park Resort Everybody who comes to Winter Park wants to spend every possible moment on the slopes, right? Wrong. Action on the slopes may be the main course but everyone wants to sample a few side dishes. And, of course, more and more visitors to the Colorado Rocky Mountains don't come to ski or snowboard at all. They come to be with family and friends, to escape their everyday world, admire great scenery and try new and different activities. Happily, Winter Park and the Fraser Valley offer a smorgasbord of fun-for non-skiers and apr├Ęs skiers.

    Adventure seekers with energy to spare can rent snowshoes and traipse off into the woods to explore more than 600 miles of backcountry roads and trails. No special skills are required and snowshoes can be rented at the ski area and several sporting good stores in town. Cross-country skiing is another popular winter workout. Devil's Thumb Ranch (six miles north of Winter Park) and Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies offer beginner and intermediate lessons, rental equipment and hundreds of kilometers of groomed trails.

    Another way to explore the snow-covered woods is on horseback. A ride along a snow-packed trail gives riders an idea what life was like a century ago in the Fraser Valley when horses were a primary form of transportation. An old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh ride also captures the flavor of the Old West and a variety of options are available through local outfitters that range from rides that include a light snack and a warm beverage while other trips offer a hearty western meal.

    To experience a form of snow country transportation that is more than a century old, a dog sled ride is a must! One or two passengers ride in a small sled behind a team of specially trained dogs as they race across open meadows and along wooded trails.

    For a more modern journey into the woods, snowmobiles offer an ideal way to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short time. Drivers are given instructions on how to safely operate their snowmobiles before following their guide on one of several different adventures. Choices range from a scenic trip up the Continental Divide above tree line or a route that winds through the woods and leads to open meadows where drivers can cut their own tracks while driving through an untouched snowfield.

    For family fun, the Fraser Tubing Hill has become a traditional stop on almost everyone's itinerary. With the smooth, slippery hillside to speed down and a mini J-bar tow to pull "tubers" back up the hill, expect plenty of giggles, thrills and spills. The Tubing Hill is open daily from 4 p.m. and on weekend days.

    When it's time for indoor fun, the Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies offers a variety of recreation. An inexpensive day pass is available for visitors and includes use of an indoor pool, roller skating rink and basketball courts. For an additional fee, adults and children can also play in the craft shop or tackle the indoor climbing wall.

    If relaxation is at the top of the agenda, day spas that feature a variety of relaxing treatments are an inviting alternative. Therapeutic massage, energy balancing, foot reflexology, facials and a variety of other spa services can be scheduled with several different facilities in the Fraser Valley such as Alpenglow Massage Center, Alpine Physical Therapy and Wellness Center and the Neuromuscular Center & Day Spa. A natural hot springs spa with more than 20 different pools and full spa facilities is a 30-minute drive away in Hot Sulphur Springs. Yoga, aerobics classes, weight training and exercise machines are also available at locations around town.

    Of course, dining is a priority for skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, cross-country skiers and everyone else who has been busy playing all day. The choices are many and vary from upscale gourmet dining to casual settings with generous portions of mountain fare. For the finest dining, The Lodge at Sunspot and The Ranch House at Devil's Thumb are guaranteed to dazzle the most discerning of palates. Locals are loyal to The Shed, Fontenot's, Hernando's and Pepe Osaka's. The two newest additions to the cuisine scene are Loco Gringo in Fraser for traditional Mexican and Marvin's Hideaway Park in Winter Park, offering an upscale modern mountain menu in the main dining room and casual family fare downstairs at The Point.

    For more information about winter activities in the Winter Park/Fraser Valley area, call the Chamber of Commerce at (800) 903-7275 or visit winterpark-info.com .

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    KidznSnow: Ollie in for Winter Family Fun!





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