Get Off the Slopes, Hit the Road, and Add Additional Memories to Your Colorado Vacation
I often recommend to visitors that they take a break from the mountain to enjoy more than gravity and speed. Also, Once in awhile, I'll run across a family who has a member or two that would rather not be on the slopes. Regardless, the surrounding area has some astounding scenery and wonderful experiences.
If you have a car, try some of the suggestions below. If not, I will soon write an additional post on some other activities you can do without a car (i.e. snowmobile tours, dog sledding, horse tours, snowshoe hikes, etc.). Note that none of these ideas are targeted towards those who'd like to spend a day at a spa or shopping - that's not exactly my thing.
1. Take a Driving Tour of the Copper Triangle and have lunch in a mountain town
If you have a car and the weather is cooperating, doing a loop-trip can on US 24 can provide incredible views and let you experience a few true mountain towns. I recommend the "Copper Triangle." A 1 hour loop that connects Cooper Mountain, Leadville, Minturn, and the Vail Pass. You should take more than the hour to grab a bite or drink in Leadville, Minturn or Red Cliff. The Route includes three easy passes (Tennessee, Fremont, and Vail Pass). You'll cross the Continental Divide. See the area that the 10th Mountain Division trained at (Camp Hale)
2. Visit the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum
I know, it sounds a little unusual, but this museum will provide a few glimpses of a life and industry that few ski town visitors might ever experience. See the instruction in the suggestion above and take US 24 to Leadville. I guarantee you will find this to be worthwhile.
3. Go soak in the hot springs in Glenwood Springs
About 45 miles west of Vail is the town of Glenwood Springs, home to great public mineral springs and vapor caves. Soak in a 104 degree therapy pool. The highlight of the drive will be the 17 mile traverse through Glenwood Canyon. That strip of I-70, completed in the early 90's was the most expensive piece of US interstate, until the "big dig" in Boston - it's an engineering marvel. Also, the won Glenwood Springs is another mountain town worth visiting and having a meal in. It's also the turn-off to Aspen.
4. Head west, Far west, and see the spectacular colorado national monument
Moab and the Colorado Plateau are fantastic, but a bit far. Yet, in less than two hours west on I-70 you can visit the Colorado National Monument, which is a microcosm of the Canyonlands of the Southwest. You'll be glad you made the trip to the desert and the drive there and back is rather scenic.
5. Don't have a car? Go snowmobiling, horse/dog sledding, snowshoeing, sledding, etc.
Do any of the above, go play in the snow, or (heaven forbid) do the spa and shopping thing! Note: the outfitters that run tours like snowmobiling will pick you up at your accommodations and take you to their base of operations.
Need other ideas of tips? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org