Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2020 issue.
As a relative newcomer to Colorado, I consider myself lucky when it comes to my mental and physical fitness. I can hop in my trusty 11-year-old Toyota 4Runner for a yoga class in Boulder (15 minutes, give or take, from my home in Louisville) and the next day, drive said adventure-mobile to the mountains for downhill skiing at Winter Park, snowshoeing at Copper or cross-country skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park.
It hit me recently, however, that after living in the Green Mountains of Vermont for 15 years, I’m not so good at maintaining green practices while piling on the miles for outdoor adventures. So I began compiling a list of places I could park the car, practice yoga (still, admittedly, not my strongest suit) and get an endorphin rush — bookended by hyper-local breakfasts and Colorado-crafted cocktails, of course. Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve discovered so far in my “research.”
DEVIL’S THUMB RANCH
Sprawling more than 6,000 acres through Grand County’s Ranch Creek Valley, this upscale getaway offers nearly endless breathtaking spots to practice your ujjayi breathing. I’m prone, however, to the 18,000 square-foot indoor spa, where the resort offers free yoga classes for guests at 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. In between sessions, click into cross-country skis to kick and glide along a network of 75 miles of nordic trails. (Devil’s Thumb has been named the number one cross-country skiing destination in the country, and also offers snowshoeing and skijoring on its dog-friendly property.) I’m also quite keen on the cocktails and apps in the cozy, hexagonal-shaped Heck’s Tavern.
Aspen abounds with enough art, food and wine events to make Paris or Barcelona blush. But this town’s heart really still beats for downhill skiing: think four sprawling mountains, 5,300-plus acres and more than 330 trails for every level of skier and rider to start hooping and hollering. Ruthie’s Run on Aspen Mountain is a long cruiser and a must-ski while views of the Maroon Bells from the summit of Aspen Highlands are a must-see. Visitors can drop into any number of the topnotch studios that pepper the town, and even combine traditional après ski with a twist, thanks to rosé all day classes at Aspen Shakti.
DUNTON HOT SPRINGS
Mention this magical destination to anyone who’s ever been (or even just dreamed about going) and chances are you’ll see sparkling eyes and a long sigh that’s half contentment, half excitement. And that’s just the vibe that this 1800’s ghost town turned romantic, athletic hideaway exudes. At first glance, it’s a cluster of log cabins; a closer look reveals luxurious furnishings, farm-to-table fare and natural hot (and cold) springs around every corner. In the winter, guests can ride a snowcat to 10,000 feet for snowshoeing in the San Juan Mountains; spring brings hiking and mountain biking among the emerald green aspens. One of the property’s most stunning spots is the glass-walled yoga studio, open to those who wish to practice on their own or take a private class.
CHIPETA SOLAR SPRINGS RESORT
An ax’s throw from the world-famous ice climbing destination of Ouray, this hotel channels the power of the sun to heat its pools, one of which is a tiled Roman bath that maintains a 103-degree temperature, even in winter. You’ll appreciate it even more after tackling one of the spine-tingling routes at the Ouray Ice Park, a mecca in the Uncompahgre Gorge with 100 ice and mixed climbs, all crafted by climbers themselves. Here “ice farmers” use the city of Ouray’s overflow water and more than 250 sprinklers to build and maintain massive and majestic walls of ice with 11 distinct areas in only a one-mile span. The best way to start the day is, naturally, by heading to an 8:30 a.m. yoga class and then fueling up with a spicy hot breakfast burrito at the Costa Rican-inspired Land & Ocean restaurant or a Sneffels Skillet at the locally loved Kate’s Place.
Ten years ago, pretty much the only twists in this town were the ones along the Arkansas River. But then Jenna Pfingston arrived to open jalaBlu Yoga, and a new community began coming together for a dozen different offerings, from Align & Flow to VinYin. Plus, the studio operates on a “karma compassion pay scale,” so if you’ve spent all your pennies on spring rafting through world-famous Brown’s Canyon and the Numbers, playing in up to Class IV rapids, you don’t have to pay much for a class. Spend the morning strolling around the new South Main development (which also emerged about 10 years ago); get your greens, beets and avocado in a House Rock salad in the eponymous establishment, and enjoy an afternoon of bouncing along the Arkansas in a rubber-sided raft, perhaps the best transportation of all: high-impact fun, low impact on the planet.
Dunton Hot Springs photo courtesy of Dunton Hot Springs; Buena Vista photo by Beth Grimes with Yellowfeather Photography.