Make this geological gem in northern New Mexico your next vacation

By Claudia Carbone, Special to The Denver Post

At first, Jemez (pronounced Hay-mess) Springs looks like just another small village in the mountains of northern New Mexico. But like Dorothy in black-and-white Kansas, after I start opening doors, the town explodes in vivid Technicolor.

Unlike the world of Oz, Jemez Springs is far from fantasy. What archeologists found here circa 2,500 B.C. — a prehistoric lake basin, remnants of ancient cultures, Precambrian metamorphic rock, ancient fossils, even a Bigfoot sighting — is real. So are the ruins of the pueblo occupied by Ancestral Puebloans who migrated from Mesa Verde in the late 13th century. And Valles Caldera, a dormant million-year-old volcano, persists in bubbling hot springs all over the area.

Jemez Springs is a culturally and geologically rich town embraced by steep canyon walls. It’s loaded with history and beauty that inspires artists, musicians and writers, including “House Made of Dawn” author N. Scott Momaday and the late mystery writer Tony Hillerman.

“There’s a rich foundation with tribes and traditions that have been here for thousands of years,” said artist Susan Vigi-Vigil. She’s one of only 250 residents, who represent a mix of Native American, Spanish and Anglo cultures.

There’s an aura in the valley that beckons people, at times calling them back after they’ve left. Such was the case for Tom Swetnam, who grew up in Jemez Springs. He left to attend the University of New Mexico, earned his masters and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona and become a tree-ring scientist and professor at U of A. Now retired at 63, the scientist is back to his roots and delights in being a historian for his little but mighty town.

History

When Valles Caldera, a supervolcano, erupted 1.25 million years ago, it left a 13-mile-wide depression in the land 17 miles north of Jemez Springs. Today, it’s a national park (ps.gov/vall) with 89 acres of forested volcanic domes, old growth Ponderosa pine groves and shiny streams meandering through the valley.

Recreational activities include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing and hunting, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It’s also a popular spot for movie sets. You’d find the ranch house used in Netflix’s modern Western crime drama “Longmire” there along with other cabins from the 1800s.

Around 1300 A.D., about 30,000 Puebloans lived in the valley — 90 percent of them up on the mesas where they dry-farmed. When Spanish missionaries came in 1598, they brought disease and warfare, which dwindled the valley’s population to around 300. Spanish missionaries had the Jemez people build a huge church between 1621 and 1625 that the natives later burned in a revolt that temporarily drove the Spaniards away.

When the Europeans returned, Jemez warriors fought back until suffering defeat. The Spanish forced the Jemez people to resettle at the site of the modern-day Jemez Pueblo, where you can learn the history in the visitors center 8 miles south of Jemez Springs (jemezpueblo.org).

In town, step back in time and visit that burned-out church and other ancient ruins with a guide at the Jemez Historic Site (mhistoricsites.org/jemez). Periodically, they open the site to the public to help with ongoing archeological digs. The Jemez Mountains have the largest concentration of ancestral ruins in the country.

Geology

Hidden waterfalls, sandstone rock as red as rare steak and Battleship Rock formed more than 5 million years ago in a volcanic eruption are spectacular sites. One of the most popular natural attractions is Soda Dam, a formation of calcium carbonate created over millions of years. A river flows under the dome that is still building.

“It’s unique in the world,” Swetnam said. As a kid, he learned to swim in the river under the waterfall.

You can easily reach Soda Dam that sits along Highway 4 about a mile north of Jemez Springs. There is no fee for visiting and hiking around it.

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 Hot springs

Jemez Springs was once the pueblo of Guisewa, which means “place at boiling water” for the caldera’s ancient seawater. In 1860, when a geyser exploded in the middle of town, locals added the mineral-rich hot springs as another attraction. Today, there are three non-commercial hot springs you can hike to where swimsuits are optional, and two commercial ones in town where you can “take the waters” all year long.

At Jemez Hot Springs (jemezhotsprings.com) in the heart of town, the small gift shop opens to a glorious garden of four rock-rimmed pools of varying temperatures flanked by private cabanas and lounging chairs. We soak at night under the stars with tiki torches lighting the pathways. The water here is chemical- and chlorine-free. And there’s no rotten-egg smell!

Another soak is at the 130-year-old Jemez Springs Bath House near the site of the original geyser in town (jemezspringsbathhouse.com). Here, I lowered myself into a cement tub with two large pipes dispensing hot (154 to 186 degrees!) and cold mineral water that I can regulate. Because it is a private tub area, swimsuits are optional. Following the bath, attendants covered me with a herb-infused hot towel and wrap me like a burrito in a private cubicle, where I lay until I am jelly.

Although summer is high season in the Jemez Mountains, the attractions are year-round, and winter is a beautiful time to visit. In December, the town is in full holiday mode and luminarias add glow to the historic site while Native Americans dance to flute music. (This year, Light Among the Ruins was scheduled to be held Dec. 8.)


If You Go

Jemez Springs is 7.5 hours south of Denver via U.S. 285, one hour north of Albuquerque and 1.5 hours northwest of Santa Fe.

Where to eat

Los Ojos Restaurant & Saloon: Owned by two former summer Olympians, Los Ojos repurposes an 1886 mercantile building chock full of western memorabilia. Famous for piled-high burgers and northern New Mexico specialties. 575-829-3547; losojossaloon.com

Second Alarm Brewhouse: This old firehouse turned brewery is co-owned by a firefighter whose dad was a fire chief. Jemez native Monica Tolleson prepares New Mexican dishes to pair with small-batch beer made with local ingredients. 575-829-4222

Highway 4 Cafe & BakerySpecializing in coffee drinks and made-from-scratch desserts with a full menu of breakfast and lunch options. East Indian Samosas are the signature dish. 575-829-4655; hwy4coffee.com

Nomad Mountain Pizza: A pizzeria featuring New Haven-style pizza in a vintage Americana-themed space. 575-829-3197; omad-mountain-pizza.business.site

Where to sleep

Cañon del Rio Retreat & Spa: This luxury adobe-style inn sits in a spectacular setting along the Jemez River below the mesa. Gourmet breakfast, outdoor pool, hot tub, spa and art gallery are some of the amenities for the six beautifully appointed rooms with private baths. 575-829-4377; canondelrio.com

Casa Blanca Guest House and Garden Cottage: This historic adobe home offers two styles of lodging on romantic terraced gardens along the Jemez River. 575-829-3579; casablancajemez.com

What to do

Valles Caldera National Park: Open daily 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Nov. 1-May 14 (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas); 8 a.m.-6 p.m. May 15-Oct. 31. Due to construction, fees are waived through May 14, possibly through summer 2019. 866-382-5537; ps.gov/vall

James Pueblo Visitors Center: Open daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (winter); 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (summer). No entrance fee but costs $7 for guided or unguided hike around red rocks. 575-834-7235; jemezpueblo.com

Jemez Historic Site: Open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday, and Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Fee for 17 and older is $5. 575-829-3530; mhistoricsites.org/jemez

Jemez Hot Springs:  Open Wednesday-Monday (closed Tuesday) at 11 a.m. Check website for closing times that are different each season. $25 per person for one-hour soak; $40 per person for two-hour soak; children 14 and older welcome. 575-829-9175; jemezhotsprings.com

Jemez Springs Bath House: Open Monday, Tuesday and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Wednesdays, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. $12 per person for 25-minute bath; $18 per person for a 50-minute bath. Massage, wraps and body treatments are additional. No bathing suits needed; children 14 and older are welcome. 575-829-3303; jemezspringsbathhouse.com

New Mexico Highway 4-Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway: Drive it — for the sights, sites, springs and significance. It’s a paved two-lane road with tight curves through the Jemez Valley. Speed limit is 50-55 mph but slows to 25-30 through the towns. jemezmountaintrail.org

PHOTOS: Colorado’s largest esports arena opens in Lakewood Friday

N3rd Street Gamers opened an 18,000-square-foot esports mega center in Lakewood Friday. The facility, called Localhost Arena, is the largest in Colorado. Gamers can use 120 PCs to play and compete in the latest video games. The space also features VR, an event stage, large video screens and monitors, a lounge, and food and drink. Eventually, Localhost Arena will have a full-service bar and host organized esports events and tournaments.

See the photos on The Know.

Where to see live jazz in Denver this holiday season

There’s some warm and occasionally thrilling music scheduled as we head into the holiday season.

Vocalist Kurt Elling is an established, deeply thoughtful performer, and he’s doing something ambitious at Denver’s Soiled Dove Underground on December 12. There will be two performances that night, but each will feature different material. The first set at 7 p.m. will consist of holiday-themed songs, drawing from his 2016 “The Beautiful Day (Kurt Elling Sings Christmas)” album. That kaleidoscopic offering reflects the singer’s charisma as much as anything he’s ever released, and his warmth as a performer should be on ample display.

The second concert of the evening at 9:30 p.m. will feature material from his new release, “The Questions,” which is, according to a press release, “his musical response to this moment in history and the widespread anxiety of our times.” And I’ll admit, “The Questions” is searching, existential stuff. Elling’s covers of Bob Dylan and Carla Bley compositions prove he’s unafraid to jump into eclectic territory, and the results are often rewarding. Tickets for these sets begin at $40, and can be found at tavernhg.com/soiled-dove.

Also on December 12 (and 13), tenor saxophonist Houston Person, a genuine wise man in the world of jazz who can stir up emotions with his heartfelt tone and lyricism, will play Dazzle at Baur’s. Person broke through on the “soul-jazz” scene in the 1960s, recording an exceptional string of dates for the Prestige record label. (My favorites include period-perfect titles like “Underground Soul!” and “Blue Odyssey,” but there are many more.) Person worked extensively with the singer Etta Jones until her death in 2001, and continues to travel well into his 80s, managing to stop at Dazzle at least once a year. Houston’s support for these shows includes some of Colorado’s most empathetic players: bassist Ken Walker, pianist Jeff Jenkins and drummer Paul Romaine. I don’t know if Person will perform any seasonal music during his Dazzle run, but his tenor style would mesh perfectly with your favorite holiday ballad. Tickets are $15-35 for the 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. sets both nights; get them through dazzledenver.com.

New Orleans’ rowdy Rebirth Brass Band will be swinging through three Colorado venues December 13-15. Even though the drum and tuba propelled unit has experienced a rotating lineup in its 3 -year existence, it has always maintained the same irresistible life force. Often featured on the HBO series “Treme,” where Rebirth formed, there’s a sense of New Orleans’ (and America’s) musical history in every performance. The band makes purely timeless music. See them at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins on December 13, the Caribou Room in Nederland on December 14 and Denver’s Bluebird Theater on December 15. They don’t leave their environs for Colorado very often; catch them live if you can.

And more: Trumpeter Bob Montgomery and Friends play Denver’s Nocturne December 11…Big ’80s names of the Windham Hill Records “new age” movement, William Ackerman, Barbara Higbie and Todd Boston, play at the Boulder Theater December 11…Colorado Musical Royalty, Purnell Steen, appears at Dazzle on December 19.

Bret Saunders (bretsaunders@ kbco.com) can be heard from 5 to 10 a.m.weekdays at KBCO 97.3 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @Bretontheradio

Torchlight parades, skiing Santas and other holiday celebrations at Colorado resorts

Looks like Santa Claus will be skiing powder when he visits Colorado ski resorts this month, bringing cheer to their annual holiday festivities.

With abundant natural snow making this one of the best early seasons in years, Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations in ski country could become the stuff of epic memories. Santa will be a busy fellow, though. He will be making stops at Arapahoe Basin, Aspen, Beaver Creek, Ski Cooper, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Loveland, Purgatory, Steamboat, Winter Park and elsewhere.

Here are some of the holiday celebrations that caught the eye of The Know:

Arapahoe Basin: Santa and an elf will visit on Christmas Eve, bringing candy and holiday cheer while the Summit County Choral Society sings Christmas carols in the base area from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Alas, the annual New Year’s Eve gourmet dinner in Black Mountain Lodge at mid-mountain is sold out. Info: arapahoebasin.com

Aspen Snowmass: The annual tree lighting at the Little Nell will take place Sunday (Dec. 9) at 5 p.m., featuring complimentary cookies and hot cocoa with carolers and photo ops with Santa. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the Little Nell will host four-course dinners at Element 47. New Years Eve celebrations will include a torchlight parade on Aspen Mountain, fireworks and several ticketed events. Info: aspensnowmass.com

Beaver Creek: From Dec. 21 through Jan. 5, Beaver Creek Extraordinaire’s “Cheer” in the village will host holiday movies at the ice rink, fireside story telling with characters in costume, carolers and string quartets, “flavors of the season” and the work of sculptors working in ice and snow. Check the schedule online because these festivities will be held on select days. Info: beavercreek.com

Ski Cooper: Carolers will sing in the lodge on Christmas Eve during the lunch hour and Santa will be there for photos and skiing. The New Years Eve celebration will include live music from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and a torchlight parade at 6 p.m. Special mountaintop yurt dinners are planned on Dec. 22 and Dec. 29 with snowcat transportation to the top of the mountain. Menus will include salmon, New York Strip or stuffed portabella with locally sourced wines. Info: skicooper.com

Copper Mountain: Santa makes an appearance on Christmas Eve along with a kids’ glow-stick parade, a torchlight parade and fireworks with a DJ playing Christmas songs in a celebration at the Center Village base area from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Candlelight services will be at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Copper Mountain Chapel. Another kid’s glow-stick parade, torchlight parade and fireworks extravaganza is planned for New Year’s Eve, 6-10 p.m. Info: coppercolorado.com

Crested Butte: Here’s something different, befitting a ski town that defines quirky. CB will be hosting its sixth annual Santa Ski and Crawl on Dec. 15 in hopes of breaking its own record for most skiers and boarders in full Santa Claus regalia. All you need is a Santa suit and a season pass or lift ticket for the day. If you don’t have a season pass, you can get a lift ticket for only $40 if you’re in a full Santa suit including top, bottom, hat and beard. Info: skicb.com

Keystone: The Kidtopia Holiday Spectacular, Keystone’s signature holiday season event, has already begun and runs through Dec. 24 with all sorts of family fun in store. The Kidtopia Snow Fort featuring slides and mazes will open on Dec. 15 with fireworks to follow. The Denver Figure Skating Club will make an appearance at Lakeside Village on Dec. 16. The Mountaintop Spectacular, with fireworks and the lighting of the snow fort, will be on Dec. 22. And don’t forget the Jingle Bell Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 24. Info: keystoneresort.com

Loveland: Santa will be there Dec. 23-25, not only cruising the slopes but also visiting the Ski & Ride School and the Children’s Center to hand out candy. Info: skiloveland.com

Monarch: Santa will be skiing here all day on Christmas Eve, handing out candy and posing for pictures. A torchlight parade and fireworks is planned for New Year’s Eve along with live music, food, drinks and activities for kids. Info: skimonarch.com

Purgatory: When Santa comes to Purgatory, he brings Mrs. Claus with him. A special buffet dinner with a hot cocoa bar, a Christmas cookie station and a dessert buffet is planned for Christmas Eve. A New Year’s Eve torchlight parade and fireworks display also will feature a special night rail jam, a five-course gourmet dinner with wine pairings at the Powderhouse with transportation via snowcat. Info: purgatoryresort.com

Steamboat: The holiday festival will be held at Gondola Square in the base area on Dec. 23, and Santa will ride down the mountain on horseback. Other festivities include a stocking scramble, cookie decorating, story time and a holiday concert. When night falls, a torchlight parade and fireworks will follow. New Year’s Eve will have a torchlight parade and fireworks plus a champagne party at the top of the gondola in the Thunderhead Lodge. Info: steamboat.com

Telluride: In addition to torchlight parades on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, a “Holiday Prelude” celebration will take place at Mountain Village Dec. 15-16, complete with free ice skating, rides on the Polar Express to the North Pole, Santa’s Village, live reindeer, a tree lighting and caroling. Info: tellurideskiresort.com

Winter Park: Santa’s itinerary brings him here on Dec. 15, and Dec. 22-24, with the torchlight parade set for Christmas Eve. Snowcats will be adorned with Christmas decorations and fireworks will follow. Info: winterparkresort.com

Wolf Creek: Santa visits on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, handing out candy canes. Dinner at the Upper Lodge will include Cornish game hens with mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and dessert. Info: wolfcreekski.com

Dead & Company, Anderson .Paak, Jenny Lewis and more Denver concerts on sale

As first reported by The Denver Post, Dead & Company – featuring Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, John Mayer and Bob Weir, with Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti – will return to Boulder’s Folsom Field at the University of Colorado as part of its summer 2019 tour. The all-ages, July 5-6 concerts will close out the band’s currently announced string of dates, with tickets on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 8. ($65-$155, cubuffs.com/deadandcompany)

California lifer/lover and dazzling multi-talent Anderson .Paak (the period is intentional) will bring his Andy’s Beach Club World Tour to the Fillmore Auditorium on Feb. 13 to liven up our late-winter lives. Tickets for the all-ages show, promoting new album “Oxnard,” are on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 7 following a litany of fan-club and promoter pre-sales. (Prices TBA, livenation.com)

Although he just played a trio of Colorado dates with Denver’s Nathaniel Rateliff last month, singer-songwriter legend John Prine is already plotting a 2019 return — this time backed by the Colorado Symphony. Prine will take over Red Rocks Amphitheatre on July 28, with an opening set from I’m With Her. Tickets are on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 14. ($55-$150, axs.com)

RELATED: Blue-collar buddha John Prine returns to Colorado with “The Tree of Forgiveness”

Jenny Lewis’ 2019 On the Line Tour will play both Denver’s Ogden Theatre (on May 16) and Bellvue’s Mishawaka Amphitheatre (May 17) as it winds from New Mexico to Utah. Tickets for the shows are on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 7. ($28.75-$30 via axs.com for Denver; prices TBA for Bellvue via themishawaka.com)

My Morning Jacket shows combine the best of jam band excess, rock-ready vigor and singer-songwriter sensitivity, and the band’s enviable aesthetics mean their special guests will be just as solid. Tickets for the band’s just-announced, all-ages, Aug. 2-3 stand at Red Rocks are on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 7, with openers yet to be announced. ($50-$95, axs.com)

The Piano Guys — Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson and Al van der Beek (not all of whom play piano on stage, incidentally) — are headlining Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Aug. 20, with tickets on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 7. ($49-$71.50, axs.com)

Also at Red Rocks next year: Rage Rocks featuring Lettuce, The Soul Rebels and Tauk. Tickets for the all-ages, jam-funk extravaganza on June 15 are on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 7. ($29.75-$39.75, axs.com)

Metal legends Judas Priest will skip Denver this time around, at least according to the U.K. band’s current tour schedule, for a concert in Colorado Springs on June 5 at the Broadmoor World Arena. Tickets for the Firepower 2019 Tour stop, with opener Uriah Heap, are on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 7. ($49.50-$69.50, axs.com)

Start growing out your hair now for the April 1 Tesla concert at the Paramount Theatre, which will feature the (still) glorious-maned hard rockers known best for ’90s pop hits such as “Love Song” and “Signs.” Tickets are on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 7. ($45-$78, altitudetickets.com)

Give the gift of a Denver experience by eating bugs with Frank Bonanno or having a Meow Wolf pizza party

Each Friday for the last couple weeks, a modest but attractively designed wooden cart has rolled out at Milk Market, the Denver micro-district that aspires to turn its Ballpark-adjacent block of Lower Downtown into a model food hall and social hub for the 21st century.

Its wares? Unique experiences.

No, not holiday gift certificates that invite you to get high and paint mediocre pictures in a room full of strangers, nor ones that allow baby goats to climb on you while you struggle to complete yoga poses (also in a room full of strangers). Those experiences, once novel, have become common in Colorado — and, increasingly, everywhere else.

We’re talking about custom, one-off sessions with some of the region’s most notable cultural leaders: chef Frank Bonanno, Denver Art Museum curators, internationally known designers, architects and gallery professionals, scientists, bartenders, vintners, classic-car collectors, pilots and writers.

With titles such as Meow Wolf Experience Tube Pizza Party and Buggin’ Out with Food Science, there are 15 experiences in all, with prices ranging from $15 to $1,500.

“Everyone is talking about the experience economy, but what does that look like? What’s the role of retail in that economy?” said Brian Corrigan, creator of the F.U.N. pop-up cart at Milk Market. “Commodities you can just get on Amazon. For those, it’s about what’s the cheapest, most convenient and fastest delivery method. But when you start to think about how you can compete with that in brick-and-mortar retail, experiences are your competitive advantage. These are things you can’t get online.”

Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Corrigan, the creative strategist behind the OhHeckYeah street arcade, Clyfford-Still Museum’s opening gala, and numerous other art, design and economic-development projects with the city, first hatched F.U.N. thanks to Denver Startup Week, where he’s co-chairman of the Design Track.

He and co-chairman Castle Searcy met Jacqueline Bonanno, creative director at Bonanno Concepts (the minds and money behind Milk Market and its Dairy Block), through Startup Week. Jacqueline began wondering about retail possibilities at the collection of 13 eateries and three bars, and Corrigan conceived F.U.N., which stands for Futures United Network.

The name is particularly meaningful to Corrigan because he sourced and created most of these experiences from the personal and professional network he’s built since moving to Denver nine years ago.

“The Bonannos have been amazing partners in their support for trying something creative and different,” said Corrigan, 38, a former teacher at Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art. “And that’s important, because they’re the first clients of F.U.N.”

Of course, the Bonannos seemingly have little to lose if F.U.N. tanks. With businesses ranging from fine dining’s Mizuna and Luca to the Vesper Lounge and faux speakeasy Green Russell, they can afford to experiment here and there. But as part of F.U.N., chef Frank, for example, is contributing his time and cooking skills to things he’s never attempted — such as collaborating with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to cook a full dinner based on insects.

“Frank has all of these really great ideas he wants to explore, so he’ll be cooking with everything that’s found in the garden. And I mean everything,” Corrigan said. “Insect cuisine is a trend right now. It’s on the wild side of farm-to-table.”

That experience takes place at Milk Market on March 9 and costs $50 per person, with a limit of 20 people. More traditional (and pricey) is Tailor-Made, a $300-per-person experience at Mizuna during which Bonanno will cook dishes based on recipes from legendary designer Christian Dior’s little-known cookbook, “La Cuisine Cousu-Main.”

“That includes a visit from Florence (Müller), the curator behind the new Dior exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, who will be talking about the connection between food, fashion and design,” Corrigan said.

Feeling couch-locked? For $150-$300, curator Deanne Gertner from Hey Hue will visit your home with a pop-up gallery of locally made, original pieces. She’ll give you a one-hour consultation (available only in the seven-county metro area) and let you pick out something to put on your wall before she leaves.

On the other end of the spectrum is Planes, Tastings and Automobiles, a custom experience in the tiny town of Paonia, about 200 miles southeast of Denver in Delta County. For $750 per person, you can tour the city by airplane and, after landing, explore its wineries and agricultural heritage while being chauffeured around in a 1928 Buick, then dine and carouse at Leroux Creek Inn, which will serve a five-course, organic dinner sourced from local farms and ranches.

For a few dollars extra, you can add various other custom, one-on-one experiences — such as artisanal jewelry making or DJ’ing at the local radio station.

“I’ve been working in experiences for such a long time, and there’s just this kind of bubbling up that’s happening with them in society right now,” Corrigan said. “I overhear people saying, ‘I don’t want or need any more stuff. I want to do things. I want to make memories.’ So this is about rethinking what we put value around, and how we can connect with people through that.”

A few small products from Meow Wolf and renowned typographer/designer Rick Griffith (of Denver’s Matter; he also designed the F.U.N. cart and its logo) round out the offerings. But F.U.N. is mostly about food, art, architecture, drawing classes, history lessons, private museum tours, and pastry and booze celebrations.

For the full menu, visit Milk Market (1800 Wazee St. #100) during the pop-up shop’s operating hours, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 23. denvermilkmarket.com

U.S. women’s national soccer team to play match in Colorado ahead of 2019 World Cup

The U.S. women’s national soccer team is headed to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City as part of a 10-match ”Countdown to the Cup” tour in advance of the quadrennial women’s World Cup next summer.

The defending cup champions will play Australia here on April 4. The World Cup will be held in France, June 7-July 7.

Two of the key players for the U.S. team are local products Mallory Pugh, a forward from Highlands Ranch, and Lindsey Horan, a midfielder from Golden. Tickets go on sale next Thursday at 10 a.m. through altitudetickets.com.

The national team has played five times before at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the home stadium for the Colorado Rapids, with four wins and a tie. Two of the 10 games on the tune-up tour will be played in Europe, with the remainder being played in the U.S. in stadiums spanning the country from Los Angeles to New Jersey, beginning in February and culminating in May.

“We are playing tough games in Europe, which is vitally important, and also get to play quality opponents in front of our home fans at venues all across the USA,” national team coach Jill Ellis said in a release. ”It will go fast, but these games will be a major factor in pushing us to be at our peak once we arrive in France next summer.”

Australia made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2015. The U.S won its third World Cup title that year, defeating Japan, 5-2, in the championship game after beating Germany, 2-0, in the semifinal match.

Gear shop Feral reborn in old movie theater after $100K crowdfunding

Thanks to a swell of community support in a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $100,000, Feral mountain gear owner Jimmy Funkhouser will unveil the store’s new location Saturday morning with a grand re-opening that will include free pancakes.

“I don’t really know exactly how I’m going to feel, but I know it’s going to be emotional, particularly because this shop was built directly by support from the people who will be here Saturday,” Funkhouser said.

Funkhouser opened Feral in a Tennyson Street bungalow in 2016 but was forced out this year when his landlord decided to redevelop the property in the rapidly gentrifying Berkeley neighborhood. Landlord John Horvat bought the building for Feral’s new location — a former movie theater and music store that was built in 1908 – but Funkhouser had to come up with $95,000 to renovate the building’s interior. The crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo exceeded the goal.

The move not only allowed Funkhouser to remain in business, but it was also a major expansion that will allow him to carry a lot more inventory than in the past. The old store was 700 square feet, and the new one is 4,400. The old store had seven employees; now Funkhouser employs 10 with expectations of 12-15 next summer.

The new store is located at 3936 Tennyson St. At first the inventory will include tents, sleeping bags, apparel, accessories and maps. Funkhouser said he plans to add climbing gear and footwear next summer and intends to add backcountry ski gear next winter.

Saturday’s grand re-opening will begin at 10 a.m.

“The cliché is always, ‘We couldn’t have done it without you,’ ” Funkhouser said. “In our case, that is literally true. The shop was literally built by the community.”

Red Gerard, Chloe Kim and everyone else you’ll see at this year’s Dew Tour in Breckenridge

compThe boarders. The skiers. The neon goggles. The Dew is back. Y’all ready for this?

The Dew Tour returns to Breckenridge Dec. 13-16, bringing with it some of the world’s best boarders and skiers.

I’m talking Colorado Olympians Red Gerard, Alex Ferreira, Gus Kenworthy, Arielle Gold and Birk Irving (youth Olympian). There are plenty of great non-Coloradans, too, I guess. (I’m looking at you, Chloe Kim, Danny Davis, Julia Marino, Ben Ferguson, Jamie Anderson and Spencer O’Brien).

Women’s ski and team ski competitions will be held Thursday, Dec. 13. The women’s ski modified superpipe final will take place Friday morning, followed by women’s snowboarding and team snowboarding. Men’s ski will be Saturday. Sunday will host the finals for men’s ski modified superpipe, men’s snowboarding jump and jib, and women’s snowboarding modified superpipe. A full schedule is available at dewtour.com.

The Motet will headline the Saturday night concert, where tickets range $40-$500 at Riverwalk Center in downtown Breckenridge.

The Dew Tour is (as always) free. Dec. 13, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Dec. 14-16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The concert is Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center in downtown Breckenridge and tickets range $40-$500 and can be purchased at dewtour.com/snow/concert.

Snowboarding


Men’s slopestyle

  • Red Gerard
  • Mark McMorris
  • Chris Corning
  • Max Parrot
  • Marcus Kleveland
  • Darcy Sharpe
  • Stale Sandbech
  • Mons Roisland
  • Sebastien Toutant
  • Tyler Nicholson
  • Kyle Mack
  • Yuki Kadono

Men’s modified superpipe

  • Danny Davis
  • Scotty James
  • Ben Ferguson
  • Ayumu Hirano
  • Jake Pates
  • Louri Podladtchikov
  • Raibu Katayama
  • Chase Josey
  • Pat Burgner
  • Gabe Ferguson

Men’s streetstyle

  • Brandon Davis
  • Jesse Paul
  • Frank Jobin
  • Darcy Sharpe
  • Anto Chamberland
  • Dylan Alito
  • Zak Hale
  • Kyle Mack
  • Nate Haust

Women’s slopestyle

  • Jamie Anderson
  • Anna Gasser
  • Spencer O’Brien
  • Hailey Langland
  • Klaudia Medlova
  • Julia Marino
  • Enni Rukajarvi
  • Silje Norendal

Women’s modified superpipe

  • Chloe Kim
  • Arielle Gold
  • Maddie Mastro
  • Jiayu Liu
  • Queralt Castellet
  • Haruna Matsumoto

 

Skiing


Men’s slopestyle

  • Henrik Harlaut
  • Oystein Braaten
  • Andri Ragettli
  • Ferdinand Dahl
  • Evan McEachran
  • James Woods
  • Alex Hall
  • Alex Beaulieu-Marchand
  • Gus Kenworthy
  • Teal Harle
  • McRae Williams
  • Oscar Weste

Men’s modified superpipe

  • Alex Ferreira
  • David Wise
  • Noah Bowman
  • Aaron Blunck
  • Simon D’Artois
  • Birk Irving
  • Torin Yater-Wallace
  • Kevin Rolland
  • Nico Porteous
  • Gus Kenworthy

Men’s streetstyle

  • Keegan Killbridge
  • LJ Strenio
  • Quinn Wolferman
  • Magnus Graner
  • Alex Bellemare
  • Tim McChesney
  • Sean Jordan
  • Alex Beaulieu-Marchand
  • Alex Hall

Women’s slopestyle

  • Johanne Killi
  • Kelly Sildaru
  • Tess Ledeux
  • Maggie Voisin
  • Elena Gaskell
  • Giulia Tanno
  • Sarah Hoefflin
  • Mathilde Gremaud

Women’s modified superpipe

  • Cassie SHarpe
  • Kelly Sildaru
  • Brita Sigourney
  • Maddie Bowman
  • Devin Logan
  • Annalise Drew
  • Sabrina Cakmakli
  • Abigale Hansen

Snowboarding

  • Burton: Danny Davis & Red Gerard (team captains), Takeru Otsuka (jib), Mark McMorris (jump), Ben Ferguson (modified superpipe)
  • Capita: Scott Stevens (team captain), Johnny O’Connor (jib), Nikolas Baden (jump), Chase Josey (modified superpipe)
  • DC: Likka Backstorm (team captain), Sebbe De Buck (jib), Mons Roisland (jump), Toby Miller (modified superpipe)
  • Nitro: Knut Eliassen or Jeremy Jones (team captain), Marcus Kleveland (jib), Sven Thorgren (jump), Markus Keller (modified super pipe)
  • Rome: Bjorn Leines (team captain), Frank Jobin (jib), Stale Sandbech (jump), Rene Rinnekangas (modified superpipe)
  • Salomon: Chris Grenier (team captain), Jesse Paul (jib), Judd Henkes (jump), Ryan Wachendorger (modified superpipe)

Skiing

  • Volkl: N/A (team captain), Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (jib), McRae Williams (jump), Hunter Hess (modified pipe)
  • Atomic: Jossi Wells (team captain), Gus Kenworthy (jib), Fabian Bosch (jump), Beau James Wells (modified superpipe)
  • Faction: N/A (team captain), Alex Hall (jib), Mac Forehand (jump), Antti Ollila (modified superpipe)
  • K2: Joss Christensen (team captain), Colby Stevenson (jib), Ferdinand Dahl (jump), Birk Irving (modified superpipe)
  • Armada: N/A (team captain), Henrik Harlaut (jib), Torin Yater-Wallace (jump), Tanner Hall (modified superpipe)
  • Head: N/A (team captain), Jesper Tjader (jib), Evan McEachran (jump), Aaron Blunck (modified superpipe)

Finding Santa: A dozen places in Denver (and beyond) to see St. Nick

Between decorating, lighting displays and shopping, shepherding your kids to be delighted (or terrified) by Santa Claus is a ritual that remains central to the holiday experience for many families.

But wherever you land on the joyous/emotionally scarring side of the divide, it’s nice to know you can find Santa in more places than ever this year. Here are a few we found for metro-area residents that combine convenience, holiday heritage and even a bit of innovation.

Note: While most of the photo sessions are free, photo and video packages — which offer various formats and sizes — can run up to $50, so be willing to shell out for the custom experience. Events continue through Christmas Eve.

Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms
Location: 8500 W. Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton
Santa hours: 4:30-8:30 p.m. through Dec. 23 (last entry at 7:30 p.m. nightly)
Website: botanicgardens.org/events/special-events

Immerse yourself in a winter wonderland while greeting Santa, Mrs. Claus and real, live reindeer at this offering from Denver Botanic Gardens — which doubles as a walkable holiday-light show and shopping excursion. Admission includes pictures with Santa, someone named Snow Man and the reindeer; crafting with Mrs. Claus; a hayride; the light display; Santa’s Cinema on Elf Boulevard; and entry into the workshop featuring (naturally) an assortment of craft vendors. Kids and adults (ages 3-65) are $20, while seniors and members of the military are $15; kids 2 and under are free.

Pro-parenting tip: Dress for the weather and expect lines and parking delays if you arrive at peak times (around 6 p.m.) Grab tickets in advance online or at the visitor’s center of the downtown/York Street Botanic Gardens location, because there’s a good chance they’ll sell out on-site.

Santa’s Flight Academy at Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Location: 3000 E. 1st Ave., Denver
Santa hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 23; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Christmas Eve
Website: shopcherrycreek.com/holidays

Photos with Santa are just one of several options at this marquee holiday-shopping destination, which also offers “flight-crew membership” with a personalized cadet badge, plus the chance to try on a virtual flight suit and learn how to operate the sleigh. That’s all on top of the simulated snowfall and a kid-friendly holiday-light display. Note: Reservations are not required, but Santa breaks daily at 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Pro-parenting tip: Visit shopcherrycreek.com/holidays to create your child’s cadet badge ahead of time so you can pick it up as soon as you arrive.

Santa’s Wonderland 2018 at Bass Pro Shops
Location: 7970 Northfield Blvd., Denver
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. photos and 5-7 p.m. crafts Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. photos and noon-5 p.m. crafts Saturdays; and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. photos and noon-5 p.m. crafts Sundays, through Dec. 24
Website: basspro.com/santa

If most Santa photo ops leave your kids wanting more, Bass Pro’s blizzard of fun ought to impress even the Grinchiest of them. Offerings vary slightly among Bass Pro and Cabela’s five Colorado locations, but the Denver (Stapleton) location offers pretty much everything you could want out of a brief trip to the North Pole: rotating interactive projects (this week: Color a Wood Elf), sundry standing-craft and activity tables (arcade games, toys, Lincoln Logs, etc.), Christmas letter-writing, and a simulated winter environment in which to experience it all.

Pro-parenting tip: Photos are free, but stop by the Bass Pass Ticket Depot to secure a time slot for Santa.

Santa’s Workshop at Park Meadows
Location: 8401 S. Park Meadows Center Drive, Lone Tree
Regular hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sundays
Special hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 8 and 23; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 14-22; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Christmas Eve
Website: parkmeadows.com/events

Given the popularity of Park Meadows’ Santa photos, be sure to make a reservation before you go. Also, check to see if there are other holiday-themed goings-on, such as Pet Night (5-8 p.m. Dec. 10 and 17) or Ugly Sweater Day (all day Dec. 13), to ensure the kids aren’t the only ones having fun.

Pro-parenting tip: Reservations and photo purchases are not required to visit with Santa, but if you want to get a jump on either, visit celebrateyourholiday.com.

Santa HQ at FlatIron Crossing
Location: 1 W. Flatiron Crossing Drive, Broomfield
Santa hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 10; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 10-23; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Website: fllatironcrossing.com/events

The base of the Grand Staircase at FlatIron doubles as Santa’s home in Broomfield, where kids can take pictures, visit Santa’s Magical Observatory (which offers additional photo ops), scan yourself at the Naughty or Nice O’Meter, and create — and star in — custom Elfie videos. Because this is Colorado, there are also pet photos, and because it’s 2018, there’s an all-day Ugly Sweater-themed day on Dec. 13.

Pro-parenting tip: Make your reservations online in advance. And if you bring your pets, be sure they’re cats and dogs only — leashed or in a pet carrier.

Holidays at The Orchard Town Center
Location: 14697 Delaware St., Thornton
Santa hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sundays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Christmas Eve
Website: theorchardtowncenter.com/events

Santa arrived during Thornton’s Winterfest to take over “his brand new winter wonderland experience in Town Center Square,” according to The Orchard. And that’s where he’s staying every day until Christmas Eve — minus the occasional (3-4 p.m.) reindeer-feeding breaks each day.

Pro-parenting tip: Visits are free, but photo packages and reservations can be found at celebrateyourholiday.us/orchardtc.

Breakfast with Santa at Downtown Aquarium
Location: 700 Water St., Denver
Hours: Seating begins at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 8, 9, 15, 16 and 22-24
Website: aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumdenver

What’s our old buddy Santa doing at the Downtown Aquarium? You can ask him yourself at these festive breakfasts, which feature not only Saint Nick, but also the aquarium’s mascot, Sharkey. You may even catch Santa swimming with the fish while you dine on the buffet.

Pro-parenting tip: While adults cost $20 and kids (ages 3-10) cost $14, the price of each admission includes a 50 percent-off aquarium exhibit ticket and validated parking.

St. Nick on the Bricks
Location: Downtown Boulder Visitor Information Center, 1301 Pearl St., Boulder
When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 22
Website: boulderdowntown.com/light-up-the-holidays

Given the pedestrian traffic along Boulder’s ever-popular Pearl Street Mall, Santa would be crazy not to visit. Bring your own camera because photos are free and reservations are not required. Kids 10 and under (with an accompanying adult) can also take a free ride on the 100-percent electric Tebo Train, a.k.a. the Snowflake Express, which chugs along Pearl Street and boards in front of the Capitol One Cafe at the corner of 13th and Pearl streets (where you can also grab free hot chocolate samples). The last train leaves at 2 p.m.

Pro-parenting tip: Look up the area’s shops and restaurants beforehand so you can use the Santa visit as either the incentive or reward for the little ones, who may get a bit ornery from the walking and waiting.

Saturdays with Santa in Olde Town Arvada
Location: Olde Town Square, 57th Avenue and Olde Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada
Hours: Noon-3 p.m. on Dec. 8 and 15
Website: oldetownarvada.org/saturdays-with-santa-and-holiday-market

Another free, bring-your-own-camera event, Olde Town’s Santa visits are surrounded by holiday activities and shopping options — the biggest and closest being the Olde Town Holiday Market. Kids visiting with Santa get a free sugar cookie from Rheinlander Bakery, while Colorado Home Realty is handing out the free hot chocolate. There’s also free, live entertainment in the form of Arvada Chorale (Dec. 8) and bFlatirons (Dec. 15).

Pro-parenting tip: Pop over to the market for local food when the kids get hungry — and get your knives sharpened, buy some handcrafted candles, clothes, jewelry and soaps, or check out the toys while you’re at it.

Santa at Town Center at Aurora
Location: 14200 E. Alameda Ave., Aurora
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 24
Website: towncenterataurora.com

In addition to the free, annual Cookies With Santa event from 1 to 3 p.m. on Dec. 13 — which features a story time and letters to Santa — the jolly old man will be set up daily for free photos to combine with your frenzied shopping.

Pro-parenting tip: This year offers a FastPass for Santa photos, which is available through Dec. 21 and costs $8 for daily visits and $10 on weekends. You can also use it to pick up online orders and photo packages via santafastpass.com.

North Pole, Colorado: Home of Santa’s Workshop
Location: 5050 Pikes Peak Highway, Cascade
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through Dec. 24; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and closes at 4 p.m. Christmas Eve
Website: orthpolecolorado.com

This historic amusement park west of Colorado Springs specializes in year-round cheer, so you better believe they’re ready for the holiday season. Kiddie and family-friendly rides, shows, activities and gifts all surround the main event: Santa’s House. Visit with him there and the staff will snap a photo with your camera. It’s likely not going to be the only thing you’re leaving with.

Pro-parenting tip: Admission is $24 for attendees aged 3-59 (free for 2 and under, and for 60 and over), but if you get a group of six or more together, you save $2 per person; 10 or more and you save $5 per person.

Santa on the Square
Location: Lincoln Hall Lobby, 1415 Larimer Street, Denver
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays; noon-6 p.m. Sundays; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Christmas Eve
Website: larimersquare.com/event/santa-on-the-square-3

Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit one of Denver’s most historic shopping/dining districts and pose for free photos (be sure to bring your own camera) while handing out free treats for the kids. Don’t leave the pets at home on Dec. 8, as “Paws and Claus” invites dogs and cats to pose with the red-besuited couple — with suggested donations benefiting Denver Animal Shelter.

Pro-parenting tip: Larimer Square can be pricey, so stop by the pedestrian- and tourist-friendly 16th Street Mall (about a block east of Larimer Square) for more affordable snacks and drinks, or the Christkindl Market at Skyline Park (Arapahoe and 16th Streets) for traditional German wares and refreshments.

Ski for free on Sundays at a historic Colorado ski resort

Nothing beats the freedom of skiing and snowboarding quite like skiing and snowboarding for free.

For the second year, historic Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs will offer free skiing on Sundays this season. (Sunday skiing also is free on Howelsen’s nine cross country trails.) Prior to last season, free skiing was offered one Sunday a month in the previous two seasons.

Howelsen Hill is a modest area with a rich history dating back to 1915, making it Colorado’s oldest continually operating ski area. It has 17 alpine trails with a 440-foot vertical drop served by a double chairlift. The venerable complex has produced dozens of Olympians, 22 Colorado Ski Hall of Fame members and 13 National Ski Hall of Fame members.

Skiing there can be entertaining, too, because you might get to see kids from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club training on the only ski jumps in Colorado.

Howelsen is owned by the City of Steamboat Springs, which is in discussions with the winter sports club to replace the chairlift because of erosion on the mountain. The chairlift is named after Moose Barrows, a Steamboat native whose spectacular crash in the downhill at the 1968 Winter Olympics became part of the intro video for ABC’s famous Wide World of Sports shows to illustrate “the agony of defeat.”

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Seven places to grab slopeside food while skiing in Colorado

By Kelly HepburnSpecial to The Denver Post

A full day on the slopes can cause your body to burn though some serious calories. Staying fueled and hydrated are key to being able to make it to the end of the day. Gone are the days of cups of noodles and smashed PB&Js. Here are a few spots to really satisfy those snack attacks, without taking too much time off the hill.

Taco Beast

The Taco Beast debuted on the slopes at Steamboat this year. (Provided by Steamboat Ski Resort)

Mountain: Steamboat
Where to find it: Roaming around the mountain. Follow it on Instagram using hashtag #tacobeaststeamboat to find its current location.

Street tacos, or shall we say “trail” tacos, made their winter debut for the 2018/19 ski season. The taco-equipped snowcat remained stationary at the base of the mountain this summer, but began roaming the mountain on opening day, taking “slopeside” dining to the next level. The Taco Beast features a variety of tacos, including beef barbacoa, elk chorizo, pollo asado and a veggie option, Esquites (Mexican street corn, off the cobb), as well as a variety of Mexican sodas.

Waffle Cabin

Waffle Cabin at Winter Park Resort offers Liège-style Belgian waffles, plain or drizzled with creamy smooth Belgian chocolate. (Carl Frey, provided by Winter Park Resort)

Mountain: Winter Park Resort
Where to find it: Three locations: in the village, next to the Olympia lift and next to the Gemini Express lift

Take a mouth-watering journey to Belgium without leaving the ski resort. Waffle Cabin offers Liège-style Belgian waffles, plain or drizzled with creamy smooth Belgian chocolate. Grab one in the village before getting on the chair at the base, or ski in to scoop one up next to the Olympia Lift. Wash it down with a hot cocoa, coffee or cider. A sugar high may just give you that extra energy boost you needed to get a few more runs in.

Koko’s Hut

The deck of Koko’s Hut offers views of the Ten Mile Range. (Tripp Fay, provided by Copper Mountain Resort)

Mountain: Copper Mountain
Where to find it: At the top of the new Kokomo Express Lift

Kokomo is no longer kokoslow — the new express lift will zip you right up to Koko’s Hut for a quick snack in four minutes. Offering traditional favorites such as grilled cheese, hand pies and (unsmashed) PB&Js, this beginner-friendly lodge is a great option for newbies to recharge and take in the incredible views of Copper Mountain and the Ten Mile Range.

The Coop

People grab food from The Coop. (Cody Mendoza, Breceknridge Ski Resort)

Mountain: Breckenridge Ski Resort
Where to find it: Walk-up window outside of Sevens restaurant at the base of the Imperial Chairlift on Peak 7

They say you are what you eat, but no one wants to be a chicken on the mountain. However, you can now get your protein fix at the grab-and-go express window at Sevens at the base of Peak 7. Ski in, stash your skis, grab your chicken and then fly the coop. Now we know why the chicken crossed the road… to get back on the chairlift.

Labonte’s Smokehouse BBQ

Labontes Smokehouse BBQ’s pulled pork sandwich. Mallory Van Zyl, Vail Resorts)

Mountain: Keystone Resort
Where to find it: At the base of North Peak and the intersection of the Santiago and Ruby Express lifts, accessed by skiing or snowboarding down.

Take a trip to the Outback, Keystone’s farthest and tallest peak, to — no, not have a Bloomin’ Onion — earn your turns for a real barbecue treat. Hike to incredible terrain or even take a snowcat to some of the best stashes, then ski or ride down to the base of the North Peak to grab some of the best bbq around. The secret is always in the sauce, but the house-smoked brisket, pulled pork, turkey and brats might spill the beans to your taste buds. Grab an Adirondack chair, soak in the sunshine and enjoy the tunes on the snow beach. As long as the lifts are running, Labonte’s will be open for business.

The Ice Cream Parlour

Beaver Creek’s Ice Cream Parlor also chocolate chip cookies. (Jack Affleck, provided by Vail Resorts)

Mountain: Beaver Creek
Where to find it: Inside the Ranch at the top of Haymeadow Park (via the Haymeadow Express Gondola, which is free to ride on foot)

Sometimes you may want to chill out after doing hot laps all day. Travel back in time to this vintage ice cream shop, where you will find single-scoop ice cream. Don’t blow this popsicle stand without trying their signature Cookie Time Milkshake, which boasts Beaver Creek’s famous chocolate chip cookies and a small-batch flavor from Boulder Ice Cream (find just the cookies for free at the base of Lift 6 at 3 p.m.). The Parlour also serves sandwiches and soups.

6th Alley Bar & Grill

Mountain: Arapahoe Basin
Where to find it: Base Area in the Mountain Goat Plaza

Liquid lunch? Why not? The infamous Bacon Bloody is like a meal in and of itself. The bacon-infused vodka is accompanied by most of the major food groups: a house-spiced tomato juice, a strip of bacon (that somehow it remains at attention and crispy until the end), a zippy pepperoncini pepper and topped off with an olive. There’s a reason why it has won best Bloody Mary in Summit County for the past six years. Grab one from the bar and head out to the deck, where you can get an epic shot of your Bloody Mary in front of the slopes. (Pro- tip: We would not advise posting this to your insta story if you called out sick that day…)

5 hot springs around Colorado to keep you warm this winter

As you ease into the earth-heated water, it’s hard not to feel like the mountains are giving you a close, cozy hug.

That’s what I thought as I slid into the hottest pool in the thermal caves at Indian Hot Springs. The water was 112 degrees Fahrenheit and I didn’t last long before climbing back out into the steamy, underground air.

After a few more dips, I retreated upstairs to the lush community pool to float and soak some more. Outside, it snowed and snowed and the traffic was thick on Interstate 70, but I had escaped, at least for a little while.

There’s no such thing as a bad hot spring in the winter, and Colorado is blessed with many options, near and far. There are a few that stand out as more accessible and deserve mention. Here are my top five:

Check out The Know Outdoors to see the full list. 

A convention dedicated to cats will be in Denver this weekend

Cat lovers, it’s finally time.

We’ve giggled over their stubborn nature and cried over their adorableness. We’ve watched the “Sail” cat video on repeat. We set up holiday decorations just so they have something to knock over.

And now, dear Colorado cat lovers, meow we have the opportunity to come together in our mutual love for felines at the inaugural Snowcats Cat Convention in Denver this weekend.

“Snowcats is basically a convention designed for cat people,” founder Brandon Zavala said. “It’s everything cat-centric.”

There will be vendors selling cat products, meet and greets with famous cats (Lil BUB, Baloo The Cat), a holiday cat sweater contest, “Body Pawsitive Cats and Yoga,” and a catchelor auction (Snowcats will auction off men who love cats for dates). There will also be live performances from MoShow (The Cat Rapper), Cat Man of West Oakland and Nikkita Kitty, among others.

The Kitten Lady, who gained fame for kitten advocacy, will be holding a workshop on constructing an outdoor cat shelter. There also will be educational events sprinkled throughout, such as panels about holistic cat health and another on combating feline urinary behavior issues.

The convention doubles as an adoption event with Denver Dumb Friends League, Feline Fix and Cat Care Society on hand, Zavala said. Tennyson Street’s Denver Cat Company will run a cat cafe with cats that are adoptable, but sadly, tickets for the cafe have already sold out.

So far, 1,800 people have purchased tickets, but Zavala expects that number to be closer to 3,000 by the time the weekend is through. And yes, you can buy tickets to bring your cat along, too.

Oh, and if you’re a big follower of local cat news, you may recognize Zavala’s name. He’s behind Apollo Peak, the company that sells cat wine, such as the Pinot Meow. (Don’t worry, the wines don’t include alcohol nor grapes, which are dangerous to cats, but rather catnip, beets, water and salt.)

The Snowcats Cat Convention will be Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the EXDO Event Center on 1399 35th St. Advance tickets cost $15 for you and $5 for your cat until Friday. (Cats must also be registered prior to the event at snowcatsconvention.com/feline-registration.)Tickets at the door cost $20. Meet-and-greet costs vary. Yoga classes are an additional $15.

Here are 5 Denver stage shows to get you in the holiday mood

Human faces, warm and in-person, are central to the holiday season’s appeal.

When we’re connecting with them through parties, gift-giving, caroling and kid’s activities, the season demands it. And stage musicals? They just happen to be based on the notion that live, in-person performances — where you can study the human face all you want — are the warmest kind.

Here are five of our favorite metro-area holiday stage shows to get you in the spirit of fellowship, or just spend a blissful couple hours away from everything.

“The SantaLand Diaries”
Did David Sedaris know what kind of a monster holiday hit he had with “The SantaLand Diaries,” the essay that recounts the gifted and award-winning humorist’s stint as a Macy’s Christmas elf? He does now, as its stage adaptation has become as much of a staple as the musicals, ballets and plays against which it stands out so starkly. The no-intermission, 70-minute show (no kids, please) is a straight shot of sardonic realness in a season filled with solemn surreality. And, let’s face it: Fits of laughter are rarely a bad thing, however darkly they arrive.

Various times through Dec. 24 at the Jones Theatre, Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street. Tickets: $30-$53, denvercenter.org

“Joaquin’s Christmas”
Since it was first written in 1975 — 20 years after its story is set — “Joaquin’s Christmas” has become a family favorite at Su Teatro, with writing and direction by Denver-theater lifer, cultural leader and Su Teatro artistic director Tony Garcia. The story follows a young boy (Joaquin) in Pueblo in 1955 as he pines for things just out of reach, set against the backdrop of striking workers (including his father), and aided by a talking dog with a cigar named Angel and a “magical abuela.” The play found life after a request for a children’s Christmas play from a pastor at the Denver Inner City Parish, according to Su Teatro, and it’s easy to see why this non-cookie-cutter production has endured amid the annual parade of same-y entertainment and other high-calorie, low-nutrition baubles.

Various times through Dec. 23 at Su Teatro Cultural & Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive. Tickets: $17-$20. suteatro.org

“Santa’s Big Red Sack”
Has it really been 10 years since “Santa’s Big Red Sack” debuted at the Avenue Theater? The sketch-comedy tradition will, sadly, end after this year, which makes these performances all the more worth seeing. Grab some dinner or a drink at one of the cozy, walking-distance bars or restaurants along 17th Avenue and settle in for a madcap show that spares no subject (or family member) in its survey of holiday fixtures, including “Santa’s reindeer, Christmas carols, bedtime stories, the Whos in Whoville, gift exchanges and goodwill,” according to the Avenue.

Various times through Dec. 24 at the Avenue Theatre, 417 E. 17th St. Tickets: $28, avenuetheater.com

“A Christmas Carol”
No self-respecting Christmas stage-show list would be complete without this dramatic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel — not simply because of its enduring ideas about the community bonds forged by humbleness and generosity, but also because the Denver Center Theatre Company’s annual production is easily the region’s finest. Running through Dec. 21 at the Stage Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, this “Carol” features music by David de Berry with direction by Melissa Rain Anderson. As family-friendly as “The Nutcracker” and just as detail-oriented in its costumes and production design, the show is again offering near-daily performances (no Mondays, except for Christmas Eve) and weekend matinees for the little ones.

Various times through Dec. 24 at the Stage Theatre, Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street. Tickets: $40-$120. denvercenter.org

“Elf: The Musical”
Another film adaptation that has fast become a holiday tradition, this magical, family-friendly musical focuses on big-kid Buddy — a human raised among the elfs at the North Pole — as he departs to find himself in New York City, with all the attendant cultural clashes and absurd set pieces that follow. This colorful production, many performances of which are nearly sold out, also has plenty of value-added elements, including select performances with cast talk-backs and sensory-friendly performances for those with special audio-visual needs.

Various times through Dec. 23 at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. in Arvada. Tickets: $53-$87. arvadacenter.org

Hootie & the Blowfish + Barenaked Ladies = one of 2019’s biggest singalongs

Despite selling tens of millions of records during their mid-to-late 1990s heyday — and holding radios and department-store music playlists hostage for years after that — middle-of-the-road rockers Hootie & the Blowfish aren’t the type one might peg for a massive revival in the second decade of this fractious century.

But thanks to Hootie lead singer Darius Rucker’s ongoing success as a pop-country crossover artist, as well as the passage of time, which makes even things we used to mock feel familiar and respectable, Hootie is back with a vengeance.

Next summer the band will undertake its first tour in more than a decade, with a stop headlining the massive (17,000-capacity) Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre on July 11 with another ’90s-heyday artist, Barenaked Ladies.

“We’ve played with Hootie & the Blowfish a few times over the years, and it’s always been a good time,” said Barenaked Ladies vocalist/guitarist Ed Robertson in a cheeky press statement. “We’re thrilled they asked us to support them on this tour. I can’t imagine a better triple bill. Barenaked Ladies, Hootie AND the Blowfish?!! Sign me up! Wait, I’ve already signed up!”

Tickets for the all-ages Group Therapy Tour will cost $30-$129.50 and are on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 7 via axs.com.

The 44-city tour features a Citi cardmember pre-sale beginning today at 10 a.m. and running through 10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6. Visit citiprivatepass.com for details.

Fan club members of both bands can also access pre-sale: Hootie’s started today at 10 a.m., while Barenaked Ladies’ starts at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5.

Hootie, a two-time Grammy-winning group, also plans to release an album in 2019 through a new record deal with Universal Music Group Nashville — the same label-group where Rucker is currently signed as a solo performer, according to Rolling Stone.

11 places to get warm, boozy drinks around Denver, Boulder and beyond

Now is the winter of our discontent. Or not, if you have a hot, boozy cocktail in hand to keep you warm. (And, yes, content.)

Bars and restaurants along the Front Range are celebrating hot cocktail season by steaming up some delicious creations, and all you have to do, you lucky drinker you, is sip them. Because when it’s 12 degrees outside and the snow is falling, a margarita just isn’t gonna cut it.

Here are some spots to cozy up with a warm cup of spiked hot chocolate, loaded coffee, intoxicating toddy and mulled wine. They’re not going to drink themselves, people.

Avanti Food & Beverage has heat lamps on its patio to keep you warm, but you probably won’t even need them given all the body heat radiating off the cool kids crowded onto it. Throw in a couple hot drinks — such as the Finnish Hot Chocolate with vodka, milk chocolate, mint and whipped cream, or the Chamomile Hot Toddy with bourbon, honey, angostura and rosemary — and you’ll be downright sweltering. 3200 Pecos St., Denver, 720-269-4778; avantifandb.com

It’s possible that life doesn’t get any better than spiked hot horchata. Made with the comforts that are cinnamon, vanilla, milk, rice, almonds and Patron XO Café, Tamayo’s Spiked Horchata is pretty much Mexican hygge, if that were a thing (which it’s not). If you need a jolt of caffeine with your Mexican hygge (we’re making it a thing!), try the Cappuccino Tamayo, a frothy blend of espresso, Patron and Tuaca. 1400 Larimer St., Denver, 720-946-1433; eattamayo.com

After dealing with Interstate 70’s nightmarish traffic up and back to the slopes, you probably need a good laugh Comedy Works has an entire menu section devoted to hot, boozy drinks. The Nutty Irishman (St. Brendan’s Irish Cream, hazelnut liqueur, coffee and whipped cream) and Death by Chocolate (Godiva white chocolate liqueur and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream) will have you back in good spirits. (See what we did there?) 1226 15th St., Denver, 303-595-3637, and 5345 Landmark Place, Greenwood Village, 720-274-6800; comedyworks.com

Your go-to PSL (pumpkin spice latte for the un-basic) will look forever bland after drinking The Great Hot Pumpkin Cocktail at The Family Jones. Besides pumpkin, this lovely, warm concoction mixes up house-made rum, cherry bark vanilla bitters and amaretto. If that’s not cold weather-y enough, it’s topped with toasted pecan whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg. 3245 Osage St., Denver, 303-481-8185; thefamilyjones.co

Could there be a more ubiquitous hot cocktail than the hot toddy? Check out Pony Up‘s version, which blends local citrus clove liquor from Distillery 291, lemon, rye and agave. Wash it down with one of Pony’s spins on the French Dip. Because yes, you can definitely wash down a drink with a sandwich and, yes, we said spins, plural. 1808 Blake St., Denver, 720-710-8144; ponyupdenver.com

The Tatarian is a tree-themed bar (why the heck not?) and its Dragon’s Blood cocktail is a hot drink inspired by the Dragon’s Blood Tree. In case you’re wondering, is native solely to the island archipelago of Socotra off the coast of Somalia. The Dragon’s Blood (the drink, not the tree) is made with Navy-strength gin, apricot liqueur, lemon oleo, lemon juice, cinnamon tincture and dried fruits, and it will surely give you a lift. 4024 Tennyson St., Denver, 303-416-4496; thetatarian.com

The Bitter Bar is a Boulder favorite for its extra-long weekday happy hour (5-8 p.m.!), but its fireplace and hot drinks warrant a wintertime look. The Hot Buttered Rum, made with grass-fed and organic everything because this is Boulder, and The Bitter Bar Hot Toddy will get you nice and toasty. 835 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-442-3050; thebitterbar.com

On your way out or back to the mountains (or on your way out and back; who are we to judge?), stop at The Fort. The setting is pretty darn warm and magical even without the array of hot bevs (an array of teas to coffee-based cocktails) on its menu, including the Bear Hunter’s Tea with hot black tea and Barenjager honey spirits. 19192 CO-8, Morrison, 303-697-4771; thefort.com

Mulled wine was the original zero-waste drink. It got its start because the ancient Greeks (or Romans, depending on who you ask — Since they’re all dead, you’re out of luck) didn’t want good wine to go to waste, so they heated it up and added some spices to extend its life. Be a good, life-extending wine steward and grab a glass of mulled wine at Golden’s Miners Saloon. 1109 Miners Alley, Golden, 303-993-3850; miners-saloon.com

Over the years, Social in Fort Collins has served more than 20 different hot cocktail recipes, and its current riff on a Hot Buttered Rum may be one of the best yet. Called the Sleepy Hollow, it’s made with local spiced rum, pumpkin puree and pumpkin spiced butter batter. It’s rumpkin-rific. 1 Old Town Square #7, Fort Collins, 970-449-5606; socialfortcollins.com

The Block Distilling Co. changes its menu quarterly, so if you want to try The Cocktail Formerly Known As — a blend of the RiNo distillery’s autumn gin, spiced pear juice, lemon juice and cardamom bitters that’s magically heated with an espresso machine steam wand — get there before the first day of winter (the solstice is Dec. 21 this year). However, we’re confident whatever they conjure up for winter will be just as warm and tasty. 2990 Larimer St., Denver, 303-484-9033; theblockdistillingco.com

PHOTOS: Skiers compete in 2018 World Cup downhill race at Beaver Creek

Skiers from across the world zoomed down the Birds of Prey racecourse on Beaver Creek Mountain Friday during the World Cup’s downhill ski race. Beat Feuz, of Switzerland, won first with the time of 1:13.59, followed by Mauro Caviezel, of Switzerland, in second with 1:13.66 and Aksel Lund Scindal, of Norway, in third with 1:13.67. Americans Steven Nyman and Bryce Bennett tied for ninth with a time of 1:14.15.

The race was initially scheduled for Saturday but was moved to Friday due to snow concerns. The super-G race will now take place Saturday.

Check out the photos on The Know Outdoors. 

What you need to know if you’re looking to start fat biking this winter

Rick Hackett loved to ride his mountain bike. And there was a time, nearly five years ago, when he was resigned to being able to enjoy the sport for only a few months out of the year.

A short season was sort of a fact of life in Colorado for lovers of the outdoors. Those who love to hike the 14ers only had a few months as well, as did elk hunters or skiers and snowboarders.

And then he discovered fat biking four years ago. Now there is no biking season.

“It’s been a game changer for me,” said Hackett, 50, who works in public information for the Boulder County land use department and lives in Longmont. “Now I can go year-round. I used to love snowboarding. But I’d rather go fat biking. There’s no traffic and no crowds. It’s just me and my friends in the woods.”

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Fat biking may be the fastest-growing winter sport of the last five years both among avid mountain bikers such as Hackett and others looking for something to do in the winter other than spending $600 on a ski pass. Here are a few things that will help you get started:

• It’s just like regular mountain biking, but with fatter tires.

Fat biking began around 2007, when the Pugsley came out with comparably huge tires, said Jim Simons, 47, a resident of Winter Park and an avid biker. The Pug wasn’t a good bike back then, as it was heavy and didn’t grip the snow well, Simons said. Other models followed, and the sport changed for good in 2014, when bigger manufactures saw the potential and came out with light frames and big tires on the geometry of a regular mountain bike. Simons believes the Fatboy Crave made it possible for most to have fun, but other models exist now.

• However, there is a learning curve.

You could make a comparison between skiing and snowboarding, although the differences aren’t quite that far apart.

“When you crash in the snow, it’s softer, so it’s easier,” Hackett said. “But it’s not an easy sport to just pick up. There is a learning curve. I’ve had folks try it out and give up.” That’s because …

• The best fat biking conditions are the worst for skiing.

Those same people, like many who love snow, thought a good powder day would naturally be perfect. Nope, Hackett said. Fat bikers need to wait for that powder to get pounded down by hikers and skiers.

“If it dumps, you can’t ride in it,” Hackett said. “You need a packed surface. The best trails are those groomed by feet. The more people on it, the more trails get groomed. It’s great for us.”

• There’s lots of help out there.

Many bike shops now rent fat bikes and are happy to show you how to use them, Hackett said, and there are lots of groups on Facebook, including Front Range Fattys, to direct you to the best trails. Nearly every mountain town has a group full of people willing to help.

You probably want to start by renting, and many of the Fatty members (it’s the group’s name; we aren’t commenting on their weight) recommended Dave Chase at Redstone Cyclery in Lyons because he’s also a rider and busy advocate for fat bikes who coordinates weekly group rides and events and even helps groom trails.

But there are other places as well, including Evergreen Bicycle Outfitters, Alpha Bicycle Company (with locations in Centennial and Littleton) and Pedal Bike Shop, also in Littleton.

Many Fattys didn’t want to name specific places other than Chase’s place, so there are probably many others out there, Hackett said. These places are also good places to buy, and many will let you try out models for at least 24 hours.

“Most good bike shops that carry mountain bikes also carry fat bikes,” Hackett said.

• The bikes aren’t fat. It’s the tires that are hefty.

The bikes aren’t much different than mountain bikes, so you’re probably safe telling the store your bike size. However, the tires are HUGE, and that can surprise you and be a tight fit in your car. You need a big SUV, a truck or a rack that can handle a fat bike, said Sandra Marticio, a member of Fattys.

“They often get the bike to the parking lot and go, ‘Oh, crap. How am I gonna get this thing to the trailhead?’ ” Marticio said.

• Wear winter gear.

Fat biking can be cold — it’s mostly a winter sport, after all — and it can be tricky to dress for it, given that bikers tend to get hot when they’re climbing hills and cold when they’re screaming down them. Clothes you wear for skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing tend to work well.

Winter dressing means wearing layers. Basically, you want your clothes to be sweat-wicking against the skin with wind-resistant shells on the top. Whatever you wear in between depends on the weather and your comfort level.

“There are clothing companies and bike manufacturers making fat-bike-specific clothing,” Hackett said, “but I find that’s too warm for our steep trails. They seem to be made for colder Midwest conditions.”

• Chix. 

It seems funny in this modern age to say “women can also do this,” but there are special considerations for women, including (usually unjustified) fears of being left in the dust by the male riders, and so there are special rides available for women. Chix Ride is a good group to seek out if you are a woman and have some interest in trying the sport, Marticio said. Contact Ann Oliveria at ann@oliveria.com. There’s also a Front Range Fatty’s page for women on Facebook.

• Speaking of trails … .

Hackett and a group of friends traveled around the state a couple of years ago to ride fat biking trails, and while they found a lot of good ones, some of the best exist around the Front Range, including many in Longmont and Boulder. He also said difficult mountain bike trails, even the most technical, can be a lot tamer in the winter with a good coat of snow over them.

Hackett’s favorites include the Buchanan Pass Trail in Boulder County and the Waldrop and Snowshoe trails at Brainard Lake. Others include the Mud Lake Mountain Bike trail in Nederland, Staunton State Park, which has groomed trails, and many areas in Winter Park.

• Like snowboarding, it’s taken some time, but it’s starting to gain some mainstream acceptance.

That’s why people like Simons want to see hikers, snowshoers and, yes, even skiers working together. He believes one group benefits another. But not everyone sees it that way.

“The cross-country ski community is an older community, and there’s a strong contingent in that community that is anti-bike,” Simons said. “But we tend to like the single-track solitude of the winter woods, and most single-track goes unused in the winter.”

Simons admits the older bikes made ruts in the snow, but the newer models, the ones used by the bulk of the fat bikers, don’t do that. The motto in Winter Park among fat bikers is to “leave a flat track.”

“If everyone follows that, that eliminates user conflicts,” Simons said.

Even the hardcore mountain bikers have embraced fat biking as their winter sport. Ty Hall owns the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center nearby Ski Cooper, and has held winter mountain-biking races for fun. The center just celebrated its 18th year of those races, so Hall was on the forefront of winter biking, something he prides himself on. Those races attracted as few as 15 bikers when they began. Now, the race attracts more than 200 riders, and nearly all of them use fat bikes.

“It’s amazing how much faster you can do on those,” Hall said, “and how much you can cruise on them.”

• Fat biking offers the kind of solitude you won’t find at the ski resorts.

Ski towns are beginning to embrace fat biking as another way to draw visitors. In fact, people are incorporating yurts and other overnight locations into their fat biking trails. Instead of ski or snowshoeing trips, people are taking fat biking trips now.

“It’s amazing how many people come to our Nordic center to ski, and then they go fat biking in the afternoon,” Hall said. “It’s not just a different way to enjoy cycling. It’s another way to enjoy the snow.”

But you can find that solitude even in places that seem overrun with people, such as the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, where people pack the trails in all seasons, especially the summer. Hackett enjoys riding with his friends on Tuesday nights.

“There are times when there’s not a single car in the parking lot,” Hackett said, “and it feels like we have the entire wilderness to ourselves. I feel all this gratitude. I just feel like ‘wow.’ And you can’t get that with skiing.”

Viewing World Cup racing at Beaver Creek might just rock your world

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to witness World Cup downhill racing up close, U.S. racer Travis Ganong has some insight that may pique your interest enough to check out the men racing this weekend at Beaver Creek.

“If you’ve never seen it before, TV does not do it justice at all,” said Ganong, who won a silver medal when the world championships were held at Beaver Creek in 2015. ”On television, you can’t tell how steep things are, how fast things are. It’s absolutely terrifying to stand on the side of the hill and hear one of us zip by going 70 or 80 miles per hour. It sounds like a fighter jet ripping by you. Even for me, as someone who does it, I hate standing on the side and listening to them go by because I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m doing that, too?’ It’s nuts.”

Admission to the races is free. There is a race arena at the finish with a grandstand, but spectators also can hike up a ways to the side of the course. Watching downhill or super-G will take up an hour or so of your day, and you can spend the rest of the day skiing or snowboarding. The downhill is scheduled for Friday at 10:45 a.m. The super-G, which has slower average speeds but still produces speeds in excess of 75 mph, is set for Saturday at 11 a.m. A giant slalom will follow on Sunday. Races will be televised on NBCSN and the Olympic Channel.

Ganong is from Truckee, Calif., and is one of the top U.S. downhillers. The Denver Post asked him to explain what it’s like to be a downhiller.

Q. Why is Beaver Creek so cool for those who go to see ski racing for the first time, as well as for you?

A. Beaver Creek is one of the most fun downhill tracks on the circuit. Every World Cup downhill track is different — different vertical from top to bottom, different pitches (slope angles). There’s big jumps, small jumps, rolls, side-hill fall-away turns. There’s big exposure, where you come over a roll and all you see is a town 2,000 feet below you.

Every week we show up to these venues and we have to figure out how to go as fast as possible from the top to the bottom, and it’s very competitive. The times are separated by hundredths of a second, which is crazy when you think about how long the tracks are, how many miles we’re going. We’re going two, three, four miles down this mountain, and to be separated by two-hundredths of a second is just mind-blowing.

RELATED: Ski officials juggle World Cup schedules with threats of coming snow at Beaver Creek

Q. You plan your racing tactics based on your experience on each course, and also how you find the course feeling in downhill training runs. How does that work?

A. It’s all about trying to figure out the line in each section, in each turn. It’s like a puzzle, trying to figure out what the speeds are going to be like coming into each section. Say there’s a section we’re coming into with a huge left-footed turn. If you’re going into that turn at 60 mph vs. 80 mph, it completely changes where you start the turn, where you end the turn, where the apex is. It’s a mind game as well as a physical game.

Q. What are the forces like on your body, racing at the highway speeds downhill creates?

A. We are our own suspension system, our own engine, and there’s no mechanical advantages except that our skis are levers and our boots give us connection to our skis. We are pushing more Gs than a fighter pilot, we’re going faster than you can go on any road in the U.S. without getting a speeding ticket, and we’re jumping almost as far as ski jumpers jump.

At the Sochi Olympics (2014), on the second to last jump, I jumped over 100 yards in the middle of a course where I was trying to negotiate turns and rolls and terrain features. It’s just a really complete sport where it’s mentally challenging, it’s tactically challenging, it’s physically demanding and there’s a lot of risk. The competition is really close, so you have to take those risks if you want to have success.

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Ski officials juggle World Cup schedules with threats of coming snow at Beaver Creek

Abundant snowfall in the Colorado high country has been a massive boon for Front Range ski resorts, but it has forced organizers of this weekend’s men’s World Cup ski races at Beaver Creek to juggle the schedule.

Officials canceled today’s downhill training run on the world-renowned Birds of Prey course, and the downhill race that was scheduled for Saturday has been moved to Friday. The super-G scheduled for Friday was moved to Saturday.

Because of its high speeds, downhill is the most exciting of the four ski racing disciplines, so World Cup organizers prefer to run downhills on Saturday to maximize worldwide viewership on television and at the race venue. The top speed at last year’s Beaver Creek downhill exceeded 80 mph. Super-G races are shorter with more turns and slower average speeds, although the top speed at last year’s Beaver Creek super-G exceeded 76 mph.

At nearby Vail, officials announced that Blue Sky Basin is now open, the second-earliest season opening for that area of the resort. Vail has nearly 80 percent of its terrain open now.

But at sister resort Beaver Creek, 12 miles to the west, with more snowfall expected over the next two days, race officials made adjustments to avoid complications from the weather. If they have to cancel a race, they would prefer it to be a super-G rather than a downhill.

“The philosophy here is that the downhill is the priority,” said race spokesman Tom Boyd. ”Given the weather forecast for more snow, we feel we have the best chance to get the downhill in Friday. Also, the weather forecast shows that we have a clear night leading into 11 a.m. tomorrow, which means we have a pretty good chance of starting our downhill with a clean course Friday morning.”

Race times are always subject to change when weather is a factor, but for now, Friday’s downhill is scheduled for 10:45 a.m., and Saturday’s super-G is slated for 11 a.m. Both races will be televised by NBCSN. A giant slalom is scheduled for Sunday.

7 things to do off-the-slopes this winter in Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Keep the sweats tucked away. Don’t get caught lounging this winter while Colorado waits. And in case you didn’t know, there’s way more than ski slopes out there.
Give the kids the gift of experiences this season while you check off these off-the-slopes must-dos for the whole family in Colorado:

1. Ice Castles

The wintry attraction is returning to Summit County, and with the creators in demand by towns across North America, the magic is never guaranteed to return. So take advantage now.

While lift lines build in Breckenridge and at Interstate 70 resorts beyond, visitors of Dillon find themselves in a dream-scape. Frozen cathedrals and spires soar around them, flashing all the colors of the rainbow. Little ones will enjoy the slides and tunnels while adult couples share a romantic moment. The plan is to open by late December. Guarantee entry by buying tickets in advance at icecastles.com.

2. The California Zephyr

All aboard the Polar Express! Actually, this is the California Zephyr, but surely, like those kids on their way to see Santa, you can enjoy a cup of cocoa as the train tours a winter wonderland.

The route runs between Chicago and San Francisco, but this portion between Denver and Glenwood Springs is what makes it among the country’s more scenic Amtrak trips, best enjoyed in the glass-paneled observatory.

You’ll start at Union Station, joining the tracks beside the Colorado River that braids through canyon walls dusted with snow. Be on the lookout for bighorn sheep on the five-hour journey to Glenwood Springs.

3. Snow tubing

The Frisco Adventure Park, taking tubing reservations now (970-668-2558), is a go-to spot, with lifts taking families to the top of 1,200-foot lanes. Bring your own sled and enjoy another hill for free. We recommend going during the town’s hot cider fest, Wassail Days, Nov. 30-Dec. 9.

No reservations required at the Fraser Tubing Hill, a nostalgic, family-owned spot near Winter Park. Or how about checking out Rocky Mountain National Park in the offseason? Hidden Valley is transformed into a tubing and sledding zone.

4. Apres dinner on a mountain

For the memories, it’s OK to live like a tourist.

The mountain resorts at Aspen and Crested Butte are ready to take you and yours by snowcat to fine dining above 10,000 feet. Cozy up in a blanket, taking in the alpenglow before the stars twinkle and the cuisine is served in a rustic atmosphere. If everyone in the family is 12 or older and confident in their ski abilities at night, another unforgettable option is Copper Mountain’s moonlight buffet.

Reservations might be tricky, but it’s worth calling Tennessee Pass Cookhouse and Sleep Yurts (719-486-8114). Start at the nordic center near Leadville, strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis, and trek through the woods to dinner. With full bellies, go from that yurt to the one with your warm beds.

5. Ice Caves

Of the many spectacles available to Coloradans every winter, this is too often missed. The town of Rifle is a typical flyby between Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs, but in the winter, a natural marvel here stirs the soul. Along Rifle Mountain Park’s Kopers Trail, water cascades over limestone cliffs until freezing into bluish curtains. Behind these, water has turned solid, forming slick floors, columns and icicles — fantasy caves.

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6. State Forest State Park

This is one of Colorado’s largest state parks, and it is perhaps the most stunning. It also is among the least visited. Trails are groomed for miles, perfect for cross-country skiing and taking in the grandeur of the Medicine Bow and Never Summer mountains and Nokhu Crags. Amid the rugged peaks and alpine lakes, you’ll understand why State Forest has been called “the little Rocky Mountain National Park.”
Oh, and did we mention moose? The state’s largest herd roams here, and chances of a sighting are pretty good. Stop into the Moose Visitor Center for most recent reports.

7. Ouray Ice Fest

Colorado will celebrate its ultimate ice climbing celebration Jan. 24-27. And everyone is invited, not just ice climbers.

The uninitiated could spend hours watching men and women scale the great sheets and daggers frozen in the natural gorge-turned-Ouray Ice Park. Among the clinics and demos, an area is set aside for kids to try out the sport.

And there’s plenty more fun to be had in “the Switzerland of America:” soaking at Ouray Hot Springs, free ice skating and sledding, and outfitters are lined up to show you San Juan Mountain beauty on snowmobiles.

Tickets for the real-life Mario Kart tournament in Denver are on sale now — and going fast

Toss aside your controllers, Denver. Tickets for real-life Mario Kart racing are on sale in 3, 2, 1… Go!

Australia-based Mushroom Rally is bringing its one-day Mario Kart racing to Denver on Saturday, April 6. Roughly 600 riders dress up as Super Mario characters and drive around a custom-made track for 30 minutes, collecting stars to earn prizes. The location of the track is kept a secret until race day.

But if you want to ride, you better move fast. There were only 100 tickets left as of Wednesday, according to Mushroom Rally.

The Mile High race will be one of 16 in the U.S. The top racer from each city will win a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the Mushroom Rally Finals.

Tickets cost $55 (there’s an additional $5.88 fee) and are available for tour hour increments starting at 9 a.m. and going until 9 p.m. Purchase them at dpo.st/mushroomrally.

Wahoo!

10 outdoor ice skating rinks in Colorado to check out this winter

Sing along, now: It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you go ice skatinnnnnng.

Alright, those aren’t quite the lyrics, but the sentiment is sound.

With the holidays upon us, it’s time to indulge in the best winter pastimes: sipping hot cocoa, singing carols and strapping a couple of blades to your feet and slicing across frozen water.

So grab your loved ones and check out one of these 10 outdoor ice rinks near Denver.

Check out the list on The Know Outdoors.

Historic log cabin above Snowmass Village hosts intimate dining on the slopes

SNOWMASS VILLAGE — There are two reasons I’ve found to board a snowcat.

One is to reach backcountry hillsides where seemingly endless powder lies deep and untracked.

The other is to escape the mundane and venture up the slopes to savor a gourmet dinner high on the mountain. That’s what my wife and I did on a ski outing to Snowmass.

Our destination was Lynn Britt Cabin, a historic log structure dating back to the early 1900s. It was built by Eric Erickson as a summer home for his family of five. Lacking horses to do the pulling, the logs were physically man-hauled from nearby aspen groves.

Now named for a ski instructor who died of cancer, the century-old domicile stands halfway up the mountain, sandwiched between the Blue Grouse and Velvet Falls ski trails. Years ago, we skied there for lunch on a sunny, bluebird day. We would now enjoy the place at night.

We met our snowcat taxies near the Snowmass Base Village fire pit, an easy walk from our condo at the Crestwood. Fellow patrons ranged from school-age children to gray-haired grandparents.

After a 15-minute crawl up the slopes in the wide-tracked conveyance, we arrived at the two-story log cabin. A hand-warming campfire blazed out front.

Inside, the structure featured the expected, mountain-rustic decor. Upper walls revealed bare-wooden beams, an elk-antler chandelier hung from the ceiling and the head of a bull moose gazed out from high on the front wall. From beneath the noggin of Bullwinkle’s buddy, a guitar-strumming singer performed covers of familiar, soft-rock classics.

“Feel free to sing along if you like,” he suggested to incoming guests. “And if you’re singing the same song as I am, that’s even better.”

We were in the first wave of diners. A half-hour later, the second wave arrived, which included a dozen visitors from Adelaide, Australia.

A fixed price covers a four-course dinner at Lynn Britt. Menus change daily with a few options offered for each course. Our choices included salmon pastrami or duck torchon as a starter followed by either butternut squash bisque or winter lettuces. For an entrée, we were given the option of roasted Arctic char, beef short ribs or ricotta cavatelli. Dessert selections included coffee panna cotta, almond butter anglaise or dark chocolate and Amarena cherry cake. As a burger, burrito and beefsteak sort of guy, my epicurean wife had to decipher what I was about to devour.

Service was relaxed and drawn out, allowing us to appreciate the atmosphere of the on-mountain retreat. Out the window, we watched the lights of grooming snowcats prowl across the mountain, and a frigid venture outside revealed a black-velvet sky studded with stars.

After finishing dessert, we had an hour to spare before the first return shuttle. We sat back and listened as the guitarist dipped deep into his repertoire of melodies. The combination of wine and altitude had loosened everyone up. What began as a quiet, upscale dining event turned into a festive revelry. People sang along to familiar tunes, and the front of the restaurant became an impromptu dance floor.

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A pair of school-age brothers began asking any willing female — including women old enough to be their grandmothers — to dance with them. As my wife boogied with a 12-year-old, I swapped stories and shared wine with the Australians.

At 9 p.m., snowcats arrived to haul the first wave of diners back to the base area. I looked at my wife, who shook her head with an emphatic, “no way!” We may have arrived with the first group, but we’d go back with the last.

I accepted another wine fill-up from the Aussies as my wife returned to the dance floor with that precocious 12-year-old.

If You Go

Lynn Britt Cabin hosts gourmet dinners on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout the season. Price is $135 for adults ($155 during Christmas week and Presidents’ Day weekend) and $90 for children 3-11. Beverages, tax and gratuity extra. Reservations (970-923-8715, bit.ly/1RziG5P) required.

Here’s how much Rolling Stones tickets cost for their Broncos Stadium at Mile High concert

With the fan pre-sale off and running at 10 a.m. this morning, passes for the Rolling Stones’ May 26 concert at Broncos Stadium at Mile High are moving fast — some wait lines showed 2,000-plus people, while others moved directly to the virtual window at exactly 10:01 a.m.

Now that we’ve had a peek at the prices, the tickets are actually (somewhat) cheaper than we expected: a general range of $49-$499, with special pit areas (more or less up against the stage) going for about $1,600 apiece.

I snagged four right off the bat in the general admission field area, although I was unable to buy more when I tried again. Despite having a good place in line, mis-typing the security code on the credit card flagged it via American Express and shut it down.

Check out these screenshots of the pricing page, which gives you an idea what the show will cost when it goes on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 30 (following another pre-sale at 10 a.m. MT tomorrow). A number of tickets have been reserved for Friday so that they remain available.

Tickets for the AEG Rocky Mountains-promoted show are available via ticketmaster.com.

A secondary market site, Barry’s Tickets, was already selling $375 tickets (Section 104, Row 38, not including taxes or fees) for prices ranging from $1,098 to $1,458 as of 10:40 a.m. on Nov. 28.

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