Discovering Colorado: Snow Tubing & Snowmobiling

Yep, That's Shan!
Snowmobiling at White Mountain Tours in Leadville, CO.

I finally took my first ski trip and it was so much more than I would have ever expected it to be! From the beautiful vacation home to having several “first time” experiences, I’m so glad I finally did it. But you want to know the really funny part? I actually didn’t get a chance to ski (more on this later)! However, I did get an opportunity to enjoy a ton of other activities that changed my mind completely about vacationing in cold climates — which was never an option until now.

Traveling to Colorado was fairly easy with a quick 2-hour flight from Houston landing me directly into the Denver airport. After switching out our sprinter van for a really nice Tahoe at the recommendation of the car rental associate, we would take a very scenic drive from Denver to Alma (about 2 hours away). Initially I thought we were being bamboozled into upgrading our car rental, but after a short 10 minutes on the snow-laced roads, I quickly understood my he was so adamant. The 4X4 option is great for handling extremely slippery surfaces and very steep inclines which you will find around every corner as you drive your way through the mountainous terrain of Colorado.  Thanks car rental guy.

Breakfast at River Ranch Lodge
Breakfast at River Ranch Lodge

We booked our home in Alma through River Ridge Rentals and got an amazing rate for a 7-bedroom home that could sleep up to 16 people comfortably. River Ranch Lodge proved to be the perfect choice for our group as we congregated around the kitchen for meals (and laughs) that would help us jump start and ultimately wind down each day. Although we would be spending much of our time about 20 minutes up the highway in Breckenridge, we found the sometimes twice daily commute to be very doable. Plus, the homes closer in are a little more expensive so saving a few bucks to enjoy the beautiful drive to Breckenridge from Alma was honestly worth it.

There is so much to see and do and our activities would take us all around Summit County including Breckenridge and Frisco. From snowmobiling, to snow tubing, and even enjoying several afternoons at the Breckenridge Ski Resort, my 4-day vacation would be full. So where to start?

Heading up the magic carpet to go snowtubing at Frisco Adventure Park
Heading up the magic carpet to go snow tubing at Frisco Adventure Park

Snow tubing is an exciting way to spend some time on the snow. I would highly recommend it for all age groups, even those who are not as adventurous — unless you have a slight fear of sliding down a hill at 20 mph! Well I am far from timid so I slid my behind down the slope several times like a pro. With snow tubing, you are basically gliding on inflated inner tubes down a small slope. You can tube solo or form a train that will allow you to join others for the downhill ride. The great thing about Frisco Adventure Park snow tubing is they use what’s called a magic carpet. It is an easy way to travel uphill to tube down the slopes as many times as you like (within your allotted time) versus having to physically walk up the hill yourself. If I had to do that I would have probably only gone once. Real talk.

Be mindful of the high altitude when traveling to Denver and the surrounding areas.  The air is thin and dry and if you are not prepared for it, altitude sickness will become a real thing for you. Drink plenty of water to help in adjusting easily to the higher altitude, wear sunscreen because the sun is fierce, and dress in layers.

Snowmobiling at White Mountain Tours in Leadville, CO.
Snowmobiling at White Mountain Tours in Leadville, CO.

Once I got a feel for the slopes, moving on to something a bit “faster” was on the schedule. Snowmobiling with White Mountain Snowmobile Tours was the highlight of my trip. They offer tours for beginners which allowed you to ride with someone else if you wanted, and they also offer other tours with more challenging courses for advanced riders. We opted for the Prospector Tour so my less adventurous bestie could jump in the passenger seat. We rode for around 2 hours taking in the sights via 25 miles of groomed snow. Once we got our feet wet (not literally) we had a short stop on a closed track where we could test our need for speed. Even the kiddos had a chance to jump on small Kiddie Polaris vehicles while the adults hit curves on the open practice field. For the record this is my new thing and I promise to never miss any opportunity to snowmobile anytime I am near snow.

Afternoons and evenings were spent cocktailing and dining in and around the Breckenridge Ski Resort where I completely fell in love with the ski town vibe. During the day, most places were packed full of skiers taking casual breaks in between skiing and snowboarding to enjoy a beer or hot toddy and at night folks were out dressed in their winter’s best socializing with friends and knocking back a few brews sharing tales of the day. Some may have been telling stories of how they ended up on crutches — because I saw a few of those too. We received great service everywhere we went and the food was equally memorable.

Going snowtubing at Frisco Adventure Park
Cute ski outfits are very important.

Now why didn’t I get a chance to ski? Haha. Glad you asked. Well, the short story is I didn’t prepare. The capricorn in me would be so upset. It was my first time skiing and I thought it would be easy to jump in a pair of snow boots and skis and hit the slopes. But no, that’s not quite how it goes. You do need some form of instruction to make sure you get the most out of your skiing experience and to make sure you don’t twist your damn ankle (mental flashback of all those people I saw in crutches). Ski classes at Breckenridge start first thing in the morning and last for several hours; and last the first half of the day. So…not only do you need to get up early, you need to book way in advance as well. Point taken.

If you love to ski or would much rather take advantage of other ski activities, then Summit County is the perfect choice. On top of the traditional methods of fun, you can enjoy zip lining through the mountains, dog sledding, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, or spend your time making snow angels in the snow (I did that too). With so much to do and so many options, all it requires is a little planning and a good pair of gloves. 🙂

Now that I’ve overcome my apprehension of taking winter trips, I have so much catching up to do! I’ve already booked my next ski trip and this time I will be skiing! Here I come Banff and have my skis ready for me!

Snowmobiling at White Mountain Tours in Leadville, CO.
See ya!

Have you been snow tubing or snowmobiling? How was your experience?

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Yep, That's Shan!