Travel Diaries

There’s Snow Place Like Colorado

by Joy Pecknold

With 30 ski resorts and the highest overall altitude of all the U.S. states, Colorado provides a powder high unlike any other. Herein, the highlights of a few stellar days I spent skiing and eating my way through Vail and Beaver Creek.

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THE KARDASHIANS WERE HERE

Taking my first snowy steps in Vail Village, the first thing I notice is how dry the Colorado snow is. Coming from the wetter Pacific Northwest, I’d packed my Gortex ski pants, but quickly realize they’re overkill, which has me yearning for those slim ski suits Bogner makes—the Gorsuch store here sells them, along with everything else deemed chalet chic. When Kim Kardashian skied here in 2016 with her family for an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, she certainly had the style dialed. I learn after the fact, that Kim K’s whole Vail itinerary was striking similar to mine.

BOWLED OVER

The third largest in the U.S., Vail Resort has 5,289 acres of skiable terrain.  To know it better, my travel companions and I take one of the complimentary mountain tours offered every morning. Blue Sky basin and the back bowls are must-see—we had a blast dipping into a bunch of them. Lift lines were practically non-existent too. For lunch, we returned to the frontside and took what I’m told is Kim Kardashian’s favorite run, Cappuccino, to The 10th, a swankier ski-in spot at mid-mountain that lets skiers kick off their clunky boots in favor of a pair slippers provided. In the evening, we kept the bowl theme going at Bōl, a cool, upscale bowling alley and restaurant where Kanye West had so much fun, he broke out into a full smile. After the game, and nearly every night, we’d soothe sore muscles in the hot tub.

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TOP OF THE ROCKIES

The next day, we drive to Camp Hale and trade skis for Ski-Doos to take Nova Guides’ Top of the Rockies tour, just like Kanye and Kim had done. You can sport your own winter garb for the ride (Kim wore a fur coat, naturally), but the retro onesies they offer guests make for great photos. After ripping around an open field to test our snowmobiling skills. We take a series of trails through White River National Forest to get increasing more spectacular views, culminating on a ridge with a 360-degree view of the surrounding snow-covered peaks. It almost felt like being on another planet.

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SKY-HIGH DINING

Returning to Vail as the sun descends, we take the Eagle Bahn gondola and then a snowcat to reach Game Creek Restaurant. During the day it’s a private club, but at night it’s open to anyone with a reservation for dinner. My meal, Colorado lamb paired with a biodynamic Napa Valley red blend, almost rivaled Mother Nature’s landscape painting.

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NEXT-LEVEL SKI EXPERIENCE

To get a taste of another mountain, we pop up to Beaver Creek, just 25 minutes up the road. If you dreamt up a perfect little ski resort, this might be it. The trails are well-designed—none of the cat tracks really slowed me down—and there are beginner runs right at the top for neophytes who still want to see the views. There’s also other treats, literal treats. At the top of the Strawberry Park lift is a Candy Cabin where you can buy all kinds of old-fashioned sweets. If that weren’t enough, at 3 p.m. every day, staff hand out freshly-made, still-warm chocolate chip cookies at the base. But if you’re looking for a more adult way to après, that’d be a glass of champagne whilst sitting by the crackling fire at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.

I loved Colorado, so much so that I even bought an “I love Colorado” pin. Next time I roll through, I’m coming for you Aspen and Telluride.