Issue link: http://digital.slmag.net/i/793509
Effervescent is an adjective often used to describe the bubbles in a glass of champagne; it is also apropos for describing the resulting emotion that follows from skiing on snow with such a minimal water content (the lowest in the United States), that it feels like you are floating on air. Tromping along the well-groomed snowshoe trails that commence just outside underhead Lodge at the terminus of the gondola on the mountain in Steamboat Springs, CO, my volunteer guide, a transplant from Tennessee some 30-odd years ago, talked wistfully of one particularly memorable morning that for him embodies what makes Steamboat's "champagne powder" so special. "We were one of the first up the chairlift after a big snow and saw this guy just jump down the hill and disappear into bank of untracked powder before reemerging a few moments later to wild applause from everyone on the lift as he continued down the mountain," he said. Steamboat is comprised of six peaks with a diversity of trails catering to all ability levels. Tree skiing in Pioneer Ridge, Sunshine and Storm Peak in particular are unique to Steamboat and sought after by the most avid powderhounds. e powderiness of the snow I can certainly vouch for; the thrill of hurtling oneself down a mountain to zig-zag through a glade of Aspens I personally cannot. Two days in Steamboat Springs preceded a visit to Vista Verde Guest Ranch, allowing us to take full advantage of myriad activities in the wintry wonderland, although the boom in summer activities and special events makes a visit worthwhile any time of the year. Powder without pretense was the takeaway from my time in the pioneer settlement-turned ski town (the first ski lift opened in 1963, although Norwegian Carl Howelsen is credited with introducing recreational skiing and ski jumping here in 1913). This small city has produced more winter Olympians than any other town in North America – currently 88 and counting. Extremely family friendly, there is a nice mix of fine dining and tasty dives to suit whatever your après mood might be. Be sure to try the peanut butter and bacon sandwiches at Café Diva (cafediva.com), the Fiery Margarita at Laundry (thelaundryrestaurant.com), the Rancher Pizza at Mountain Tap Brewery (mountaintapbrewery.com), the Cuban Reuben at Paramount (theparamountcolorado.com), and the burgers and colossal milkshakes at Back Door Grill (thebackdoorgrill.com). slmag.net 49 e 540-acres that comprise Vista Verde Guest Ranch are surrounded by Medicine Bow – Routt National Forest, a U.S. Forest Service managed area that extends the Ranch's backyard by more than two-million acres.