Beyond the Boards - Snowshoes, Snowcats, Shopping and Sipping
It’s really no surprise that for the past few years, ski resorts have been evolving into hubs of recreation and fun that involve so much more than skiing and snowboarding. Some people don’t ski or snowboard at all, some want a break from their skis or board, some want to stay active as much as possible for as long as possible, and some people simply want to try something new.
One of the most popular options at Winter Park are the Redfeather Snowshoe Tours offered daily at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. After a short chairlift ride up to mid-mountain, the group tramps on a gentle downhill route through densely wooded sections of the resort. An experienced guide leads the two-hour tour and provides insight and information about the plant and animal life that populates the Rocky Mountains in winter.
A more vigorous snowshoe workout is available on weekends with the Advanced Adventure Snowshoe Tours. These 3½-hour tours depart Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. from the Balcony House at the base of the resort and cover five miles of challenging, up and down terrain. Individual exploration is also possible with snowshoe rentals available at the Tour Center desk in Balcony House.
Non-skiers and riders alike are fond of Scenic Snowcat Tours that provide passengers with a two-hour tour up, down and around the mountain on a route that crosses a variety of trails—in the comfort of a heated snowcat. En route, tour guides provide a colorful and entertaining history of the Fraser Valley and make sure that there are several stops to admire the views and take pictures. Departing daily at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m.. Snowcat Lunch Shuttles to the top of the mountain are ideal for families and friends who want to have lunch together at either Snoasis or The Lodge at Sunspot. Three daily departures provide diners with 90 minutes to enjoy lunch and the views before returning back to the base.
Non-stop fun-seekers opt for the Twilight Snowmobile Dinner Tours. Drivers and their passengers spend two hours exploring on a guided tour that reveals the shadowy, serene side of the resort when the alpenglow is at its best and everyone else has gone home. A hearty dinner is served halfway through the tour and the twinkling lights of the Fraser Valley create a memorable view on the ride back. Tours depart at 5 p.m. Reservations are required.
The athletically inclined can’t resist the lure of the Base Camp 9000 Climbing Wall, located inside the main base area lodge, West Portal Station. The 30-foot wall offers several routes with varying degrees of difficulty to provide a challenge for every level of climber from novice to advanced. The wall is open from 5 – 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Shoppers can liberate their credit cards with a stroll through the Winter Park village shops that have merchandise ranging from the predictable but necessary t-shirts and coffee mugs to western clothing and boots. Shops that specialize in ski clothing and accessories are also on the “must investigate” list.
Topping off an active day on or around the mountain is a visit to the radically revamped Derailer Bar in West Portal Station. Action, entertainment, energy and some really great drink specials are the buzzwords for this watering hole that will be unrecognizable from previous seasons with new layout, new décor and new menus for lunch and après ski munching.
Best of all, the arrival of Intrawest at Winter Park signals that even more recreation, more options, more playgrounds, more activities, more shopping, more dining, more FUN is in Winter Park’s near future. Stay tuned!