Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dining Options on Frisco's Main Street to the Rockies

This blog is the first in a series on Summit County dining. Many of the restaurants are members of the Summit County Restaurant Association and their menus, opening times etc. can be found on and these members are highlighted in red in this article. If not listed here a dining establishment can be found in the business directory under dining on the web site for the Town of Frisco at and these restaurants are highlighted in blue.

Frisco's Main Street is just a mile long from Highway 9 to the exit off  I70. The dining options packed within that mile are as varied as they are enticing.

Starting at the junction with Highway 9 and the beautiful Town of Frisco sign, on the opposite side of the street is the Backcountry Brewpub and Pizzeria at 720 Main Street, phone 970-668-BEER (2337), serving lunch and dinner, and their own award winning beers with locallly appropriate names including Wheeler Wheat, Ptarmigan Pilsner, Switchback Amber, Telemark Ipa and Peak One Porter, with seasonal brews also available.

On the same side of the street and actually in the same building is Abbey's Coffee also at 720 Main Street, phone 970-668-8710, serving coffee and ice cream with free WiFi - the barrista will give you the code on request.

One block up and downstairs is Ollie's Pub and Grub at 620 Main Street, phone 970-668-0744. This is Frisco's sports bar with lots of big screens to watch your favorite team and a game room for the kids while enjoying inexpensive pub food, with daily lunch and dinner specials. The $2 Burger night on Wednesdays is a local favorite and there are daily drink specials.

In the same mini mall if you would like a quick take out meal is Peppino's Pizza and Subs at 610 Main Street, phone 970-668-5128.

Across the street is the Kemosabe Sushi Bar at 605 Main Street, phone 970-668-2100, focusing the freshest sashimi and nigiri along with unique, western-influenced rolls.

Right next door is the Silverheels Bar and Grill at 603 Main Street, phone 970-668-3045, serving great aged steaks, fresh seafood, rocky mountain trout and southwestern specialties. By the side of the street is the Ore House, the restaurant's stand alone bar. 

There are no restaurants on the 500 block of main, but on the NW corner of 5th and Main is The Fifth Avenue Grill (formerly Farley's Chophouse) at 423 Main Street, phone 970-668-3733, serving dinner with the finest handcut steaks and chops (lamb and pork) with prime rib, fresh seafood, ribs, vegetarian entrees and daily specials.

On the same side of the street at the front of the newly remodeled Frisco Mall is Himalayan Cuisine at 409 Main Street, phone 970-668-3330, serving an authentic Indian and Nepalese dinner menu as well as a daily lunch buffet.

Upstairs in the Frisco Mall is Upstairs at Johny G's at 409 Main Street, phone 970-668-5442, Frisco's sports and music bar, with DJs and dancing on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, serving New York style pizza and other menu items.

Across the street is a great breakfast, lunch and ice cream spot called Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe at 408 Main Street, phone 970-668-3997, with fresh baked breakfast items, homemade soups and deli sandwiches for lunch, as well as ice cream and milk shakes. 

Back across the street on the NE corner of 4th and Main is Pika Bagel at 401 Main Street, phone 970-668-0902, serving breakfast and lunch bagels and hot and cold beverages, for take out or sit down inside or on the patio in summer with a great view of Peak One and Royal Mountain.

The 300 block of Frisco Main Street has the most restaurants. On the SW corner of 4th and Main is Bagalis at 320 Main Street, phone 970-668-0601, a wine bar with seasonal Italian food, where you are able to create your own pasta dish.

Vinny's at 310 Main Street, phone 970-668-0340, with a Euro American menu based on the availability of seasonal ingredients, and was voted the best new business in Summit County in 2009.

The Boatyard Pizzeria and Grill at 304 Main Street, phone 970-668-4728, serving lunch and dinner and specializing in contemporary American cuisine including Mediterranean, Southwestern, Pacific Rim and Traditional American, with an excellent bar for happy hour and brunch on Sundays. Defnitely a favorite of Summit County locals.

On the north side of the 300 block is Prost at 313 Main Street, phone 970-485-0020, new for 2010 and featuring German sausages and beers in a casual dining atmosphere.

Further up on the north side of the street is Tuscato Ristorante Italiano at 307 Main Street, phone
970-668-3644, serving dinner with northern Italian cuisine with fresh seafood, steaks and pasta.

On the next block on the south side of the street is The Moosejaw at 208 Main Street, phone 970-668-3931, a locals' favorite since 1973, with late night menu, satellite TV, game room, patio seating, horseshoes & pool, with affordable pub food, including burgers, chicken sandwiches and fish & chips.

Just west is Frisco's newest restaurant, The Lost Cajun at 204 Main Street, Phone 970-668-4352, featuring Louisiana Cajun food, including gumbo and beignets.

Across the street is Deli Belly's at 275 Main Street, phone 970-668-9255, serving deli sandwiches and hot dogs.

On the 100 block right next to the gas station is a great breakfast and lunch spot the Log Cabin Cafe at 121 Main Street, phone 970-668-3947 featuring hearty, homestyle meals for breakfast including Huevos Rancheros and Eggs Benedic, with a great lunch menu as well.

Tucked back from Main Street a little and across 1st avenue from the Summit Daily is the Blue Spruce Inn at 20 Main Street, phone 970-668-5900, featuring class Colorado dining in two settings. The historic saloon has nightly specials, live music and pub food. The dining room features great steaks, fresh seafood, pasta and wild game specials, with an extensive wine list.

A little further up Main Street and closer to I70 is The Frisco Depot at 311 West Main Street, phone
970-668-0585, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with homestyle cooking.

Look for the next blog that will feature the Frisco restaurants on Summit Boulevard, south of Exit 203 from I70 located on Highway 9.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Shopping in Summit County

ChristKindlMart - Silverthorne
Holday Arts Market - Breckenridge
Snowflake Challenge
Frisco Wassail Days
The Outlets at Silverthorne
Another great article below by Caddie Nath in today's Summit Daily. I was thinking of writing about the same thing, but Caddie seems to be on my wave length about sharing what is going on in Summit County. Not only is there great shopping right now, but there is also a lot happening in the entertainment world, particularly with music. Check out in the events and entertainment sections for all the details.
What I like about many of the activities currently in Summit County is that they are benefitting a number of worthy causes in the county - and after all is that not what the holidays should really be about? High Country Activities just wishes there were more hours in the day to attend all these fun events, but there are mounds of fresh powder out there to be skied as well. I am not sure it is ever going to stop snowing this winter. I must also rush to Walmart to Adopt an Angel and buy a toy for a needy child to be distributed by Summit County's various police forces - what a great program.
If you do need to still do some of your holiday shopping why not check out some of the following options?

Summit Stop: Holiday Shopping Extravaganza

It is Sunday and somewhere someone, in their fresh-powder skiing or snowboarding bliss, momentarily forgot that it is nearly halfway through the month of December. With less than two weeks left before Christmas, some shoppers have already geared up into panic mode. But in Summit County, even as the holidays creep ever-closer, there is no need to panic. Because just beyond the slopes lies a winter wonderland of shopping options. So if you have made your turns in for the weekend, take Sunday afternoon and join the hustle and bustle for a few hours. With glowing snow-capped shops, twinkling with lights and set against a breath-taking mountain backdrop, shopping in Summit County is a world away from the average holiday mall madness. In fact, you might really enjoy it.

Find something one-of-a-kind Holiday Markets

Summit County becomes a hot bed for the little temporary villages overflowing with unique gifts around this time of year. Today, there are holiday markets in both Silverthorne and Breckenridge, offering hand crafted goods as well as seasonal food and refreshments. The Summit County Christkindlmart, at the Outlets at Silverthorne, offers a European shopping experience. Camped out in tents, vendors offer everything from jewelry, scarves and hats to artwork, mead and bees wax candles and soaps. Pick up some hot apple cider or German beer and stop in to the central tent to enjoy the live music. Over in Breckenridge, the third annual Holiday Arts Market is the place to find ceramics, photography, textiles and paintings. Both markets also offer the opportunity to spread a little extra holiday cheer. Sales at the Breckenridge Holiday Arts Market, open in the Fuqua Livery Stable from 12 to 5 p.m., will support the Arts District. The Silverthorne Christkindlmart, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will benefit Breckenridge's Christ Lutheran Church preschool and early childhood program.

Find variety Downtown Breckenridge and Frisco

Shopping on Main Street in Breckenridge or Frisco is a bit like stepping back in time. The pace is a little slower and the holiday atmosphere unmistakable. Both of the little towns offer a wide variety of shopping options that house countless gift ideas. Most of the stores are independently owned and operated, presenting an opportunity to meet locals as you browse their wares. Both Frisco and Breckenridge boast adorable toy stores, book shops and mom-and-pop clothing and winter wear businesses. In Breckenridge, as you stroll Main Street enjoy creative window displays (a competition among the merchants) and snow sculptures, art crafted by teams vying for first place in the Snowflake Challenge. In Frisco, take advantage of the last day of Wassail Days by stopping in to one of the participating stores or restaurants for a steaming mug of the traditional European cider. And again, an afternoon shopping in downtown Frisco or Breckenridge spreads a little extra holiday cheer to the local community. Shopping locally owned businesses returns more money to the local economy than shopping at chain stores. Plus, when you're hungry and ready for a break, both towns offer a great selection of excellent (and warm) restaurants.

Find an excellent price The Outlets at Silverthorne

The Outlets at Silverthorne bring together big-name stores and surprising prices in one unique shopping location. With over 50 well known outlet stores, most offering lower prices than their main location counterparts and many, special holiday season sales, it's a great place to pick up gifts without breaking the bank. The outlet stores are divided into green, red and blue color-coded villages and a free shuttle transports shoppers between the villages.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Summit County Breweries

Summit County has many breweries and this article written by Caddie Nath appeared in the Summit Daily News on Sunday November 28, 2010 Unfortunately it was not put on their Twitter feed or I would have shared it that way, so I hope the newspaper is okay with me publishing their great article on local breweries on the High Country Activities' blog.
Among High Country brewers there seems to be an understanding that the best beers in the world are those brewed in the searingly fresh air and pure icy water of the Rocky Mountains. Maybe they're right, maybe not, but their theory is definitely worth investigating. A trip to Summit County would be incomplete without a refreshing sampling of what might be the best beers in the world, each featuring the unique and adventurous spirit of the mountain lifestyle and all hand-crafted in one of the four local micro-breweries. So for those who can be drawn away from the slopes or the trek home for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, a brew tour of Summit County might be the perfect way to finish off an awesome ski weekend. 

Breckenridge Brewery

The tour begins at the Breckenridge Brewery, located on Main Street at the very south end of town. A Breck institution, the brew pub is the self-proclaimed oldest in the county and highest (by elevation) in the country. Unlike other breweries, which keep tanks in back rooms or behind glass walls, Breckenridge does their brewing right in front and over the heads of customers sitting at the bar, with towering holding tanks greeting visitors as they enter. The brewery prides itself on its inventive line and often has something new and experimental on tap for the adventurous drinker. Brewers Jimmy Walker and Matt Darling's current project is a Belgian series cultivated from the brew pub's most popular beers. The Belgian flavor of the month is the Trademark Triple, which follows the brewery's popular Trademark Pale Ale, but contains Trappist yeast. The Triple, a lighter brew, blends citrus with a spicy finish for a full, unique flavor that Walker calls “funky.”

“It's kind of cool because it shows you what a yeast will do to a beer,” Walker said. “It's a learning experience.”

Their seasonal beer is the malty Christmas Ale. Sometime in the next month the Breckenridge Brewery will introduce the Double Chocolate Stout, which, from someone who got a sneak preview, is creamy, smooth and satisfying. Walker promises Stout-lovers will “freak out” over it.

The Breckenridge Brewery bottles its beers out of its Denver location, but all beers on tap in Breckenridge were brewed in-house.
Backcountry Brewery

Winding 10 miles north on Highway 9 from Breckenridge into Frisco, the next stop on the tour is the Backcountry Brewery, across from Lake Dillon at the very end of Main Street. The restaurant and brewery are upstairs, where guests will find beers that are pretty much as fresh as it gets. Owner Charlie Eazor promises the brews never see light or air until they flow from the tap and into the glass. His philosophy on beer is simple.

“I think you're supposed to enjoy drinking it,” Eazor said.

With five Great American Beer Fest gold medals in the bag, the Backcountry brews seem to be pretty enjoyable, from an easy Wheeler Wheat that will be a winner with lighter beer drinkers to the more intense Peak One Porter that's a favorite with the locals. But it's the Telemark India Pale Ale, a gold medalist, that really delivers. The copper blend of northwest hops goes down easy and tastes great.

For visitors looking to take their favorite brew home with them, bottles and Backcountry's signature pig kegs are available for purchase.

Dillon Dam Brewery

The tour continues across the Dillon Dam road or over the hill on Interstate-70 (the Dam road is closed at certain times of day and in bad weather conditions) to the Dillon Dam Brewery, just off Highway 6 in Dillon. The brewery is a local hot spot with a big bar and an energetic atmosphere. The broad variety of beers on tap makes it a good stop for groups with diverse tastes. With a selection that ranges from a light wheat to a no-nonsense Irish stout, the brews that fall toward the middle of the spectrum offer a unique opportunity for those loyal to one kind of beer to venture out of their comfort zone.

“Part of what we try to do is do something for everybody,” brewmaster Cory Forester said. “I love when I can surprise somebody. Ask for a sample and sometimes you're going to be surprised at what you might like.”

The Dam Straight Lager, a smoky smooth Great American Beer Fest silver medalist, is a good bet. The amber offers a full, caramel malt flavor that beer connoisseurs will appreciate, but has a relatively lighter body and isn't bitter, making it enjoyable for those who usually stick to the wheats and pilsners. Sweet George's Brown is another house favorite, owner George Blincoe said. True to its name the English-style ale is almost sweet and surprisingly smooth for its color. Look for a seasonal pumpkin brew coming soon to a tap near you.

The Dam offers bottled beers for those who want to take the flavor home and tours of the massive behind the scenes brewery can be scheduled ahead of time. 

Pug Ryan's Steakhouse and Brewery

The brew tour then heads up the hill on highway 6 away from the interstate, concluding on Village Place in Dillon at the infamous Pug Ryan's Steak House and brewery, named for an infamous 19th century bank robber. Warm and inviting with low ceilings and a wood burning fireplace, the little brewery is a favorite with locals and offers some of the most creative brews in the county. Where other breweries rely on the same base grains for all their beers and flavor the individual brews with different spices and strategies, Pug Ryan's takes variety and experimentation right down to the foundations of their beers. The brewery buys grains in smaller batches giving brewers the flexibility to switch things up more often and be adventurous with their recipes, CEO Travis Holton said.

“(With smaller batches) our brewer can craft each beer kind of like the recipe for a soup,” Holton said.

The Belgium style Saison, flavored with spiced coriander and orange, is a pleasant late-year seasonal and the Pallavicini Pilsner is a popular seller, but the Kitchen Sink Stout is not to be missed by anyone who appreciates a darker beer. The beer, aged seven weeks in a burnt oak whiskey barrel delivers a flavor that is complex and innovative. It begins as a traditional stout, strong and smooth, but slowly brings to life the smoked wood and whiskey tastes infused during the aging process. The stout is brewed only a couple times a year and this batch might only last through the holidays.

Pug Ryan's beers are canned, never bottled and available for purchase.

The SDN recommends anyone planning to take a brew tour of Summit County designate a driver or use the free Summit Stage transit system.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway

Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway
Dolores River
San Miguel River
Nucla Loop
Hanging Flume
Glenwood Springs

As I experienced the past few frigid days and a minus 11degrees this morning in Frisco, Colorado, I am reminded of the last of my three day trip to the western border of Colorado and the eastern border of Utah, on Sunday October 17, 2010.

I woke up in Bedrock to a beautiful alpenglow on the butte above my camp site and went to read the information about the Dolores River, that is only open for rafting for a short time in June. Apparently the historic Bedrock store at the end of the road I had gone down to the river was in the movie "Thelma and Louise."

We continued on Highway 80 to Vancorum. The road here was open range land and very straight with the river valley to the left and the Uncomapaghre Plateau in the distance.

In Vancorum we joined the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway by turning left and traveling north on Highway 141. I had taken this road going south on my way to raft the Grand Canyon in the fall of 2009, and this part of my trip was really the reason I had come west, as this road was so spectacular. I needed gas and some breakfast and so I turned off the road on the Nucla Loop but was a bit disturbed to find the name of the road was Calamity Road. I thought that the loop would bring us back to the Byway, but it actually starts north of Nucla and is a dirt 4X4 and mountain bike road up onto the Uncompaghre Plateau that comes out on the Byway way to the north. So I actually headed south to Naturita, a good sized town with the local highschool, a grocery store / gas station, some motels, and an airport. There were a lot of motorcycles parked at the motels. Highway 141 is a favorite fall drive for motorcyle enthusiasts.

The road from Vancorum north follows the San Miguel River a tributary of the Dolores. The stands of Cottonwoods along the river were a brilliant yellow, with very large bushes of Rabbitbrush along the road side.

The first place of interest I came to is the ghost town of Uravan This was the site of mining for Uranium and Vanadium (hence the name of the town) and the Vanadium Corporation of America, was founded in 1936. Both ores come from a yellow sedimentary rock called Carnolite. Uranium from the town was used during World War II for the Manhatten Project that lead to the development of the atomic bomb. Vanadium was used to harden steel - now Molybdenum is used and is also mined in Colorado at the Climax Mine on Freemont Pass in Park County and at the Henderson Mine in Summit County. At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s the town had over 200 mines. Uravan continued to thrive producing uranium for nuclear power plants until the 1980s. In 1986 the town became a superfund site and clean up continued until 2001. During the mining era the town produced 42 million pounds of Uranium and 220 million pounds of Vanadium. All that remains now is is a turn off and interpretive sign at mile marker 76.

I crossed over the San Miguel river and as it enters a deep canyon the road climbs onto the plateau above with plenty of Pinon Juniper and Sage Brush with the mountain sides dotted with mine tailings. At mile marker 81 is the Hanging Flume overlook and interpretive sign This area was discovered in 1776 when two Spanish friars, Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Silverstre Valez de Escalante set out from Santa Fe to find a route to California. The Dominguez-Escalante Expedition covered 2000 miles in the states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona. In the late 1800s the Montrose Placer Mining Company needed water for their gold mining claims and decided to build a flume to transport the water needed for their placer mines This flume would have to be ten miles long, and to complete the entire route at the proper gradient, the flume would have to cling to seven miles of sheer rock walls, at times suspended hundreds of feet above the river. The Hanging Flume is gradually being restored and was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2006. It is one of the World Monument Fund's 100 most endangered sites, along with such notable destinations as the Great Wall of China, Ellis Island and Mesa Verde.

Between mile markers 88 and 89 the San Miguel joins the Dolores River and the road enters the Dolores River Canyon that lasts until mile marker 100 with truly spectacular scenery.

Once the canyon widens out there are many beautiful farms including one for reindeer. At the town of Gateway where the road crosses the Dolores and it turns to the west to begin its journey to meet the Colorado River in Utah, there is the stunning Gateway Canyons Resort This is the junction of the Dolores River Canyon  and the Unaweep Canyon and the road turns to the northeast.

At mile marker 117 is the West Creek Picnic Area where I enjoyed lunch and Sawyer had a dip in West Creek.

Beginning at mile marker 121 is for me the most beautiful part of the trip. On the right hand side of the road is the northern edge of the Uncompaghre Plateau. Its slopes are a kaleidoscope of hues from the Scrub Oaks, Sage Brush, and Rabbit Bruish - pale yellow, green, brown, bronze and ruby red with splashes of bright yellow in the gullies from the Aspen trees. At mile marker 125 the Gateway Canyons Resort has their stables. The rest of the valley is filled with farms until mile marker 135. Unfortunately the valley is really wide and it was hard to obtain a good picture of the colors on the slopes but hopefully these pictures give an idea of the valley and the incredible vegetation along the roadside.

At mile marker 140 the Nucla Loop rejoins the highway winding down from the plateau. After the canyon the road climbs and at mile marker 147 there is a great view of the Bookcliffs to the north of Grand Junction and the Colorado River. The road finishes at mile marker 151 and joins Highway 50 and then I turned off on Highway 141 to Palisades. On Highway 6 in Palisades where I stopped to try and buy peaches but the produce was into the fall season with apples, pumpkins, chile peppers and gourds. As I crossed the Colorado River I had now finished my loop and would retrace my route on Interstate 70 back to Frisco, Colorado. As I passed Glenwood Springs I was able to catch a wonderful snowcapped view of Mount Sopris. Driving next to the Colorado River with the engineering marvel of the elevated part of Glenwood Canyon signified the end of my Fall and winter's approach and hopfully a great ski season for High Country Activities.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ullr - God of Skiing

So we are all thanking Ullr right now for the amazing conditions we are having for the opening of the Summit and Eagle County Resorts - Arapahoe Basin, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone and Vail. A- Basin, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain are open already, Vail opens on Friday November 19 with 550 acres and Beaver Creek opens the Wednesday before Thanksgiving on November 25.

But exactly who was Ullr and why do we invoke him when we get the kind of dump we are having right now and have been all week?

I found this article on the web. It was written in 2000 so there are some comments about skis that are outdated but you will get the point, even if it is written in a some what irreverent style.

Ullr - The Man, The Myth
by David McKee, Vancouver, BC.
October 2000
You know the feeling-you are on your skis working the rhythm, enjoyin' the speed, and suddenly for a few turns, you feel immortal.  The feeling is difficult to describe but perhaps you sensed a little inspiration from Ullr.the god of choice among Scandinavians and backcountry snow lovers alike.
Ullr, a.k.a. Uller, Ullin, Holler, Vulder, and Ull, is a pre-Viking era Nordic god and he kept fine company with the likes of Odin, Thor, and other esteemed deities.  Among his many skills, he was the god of skiing, archery, hunting, and was known to be quite promiscuous (which he may have inherited from his mother Sif, the Goddess of Fertility).  Sure, Ullr had some neat traits but in our world of plastic boots, cap skis, laser sights, and Viagra, it's easy to dismiss them as the quaint skills of some randy old god.  Nevertheless, think back to the days when being noted as a master archer was no slight task.
At the time, Ullr was competing with the likes of Thor, who brandished a hammer capable of shooting lightning bolts in battle (sort of like skiing old Karhu XCD's while your buddy is on a pair of AK Launchers).  Then there was Loki the trickster, who could assume the form of animals to deceive or escape the wrath of the gods.  Despite his lack of supernatural powers (aside from skiing), Ullr was the name invoked to warrant good luck when undertaking a duel.  His name, which means glorious or dazzling, clearly reflects his abilities, and myth has it he once held the seat of the highest god.  His character and the legends associated with it are pervasive throughout the historic tales of the Vikings, Goths, Saxons, and ancient Britons.  Basically, Ullr rules!
In addition to dueling, gods were also known to have a penchant for good times, and Ullr, when he was not out making fresh tracks, was known to flirt with the Goddesses on a regular basis.  His sexual prowess is legendary and if modern pop culture is any indication, then the goddesses may well have been sporting horns and pointy metal bras - necessitating some smooth talkin' and delicate moves on Ullr's part (and you thought the obstacle course on Survivor was tough).  As an historical aside: Ullr's sexual prowess seems to support archaeological evidence that polypropylene underwear has not existed until recent times given the effect sweaty polypro has on most folks' amorous inclinations.  However, most important to us snow lovers, Ullr is the god of skiing.  As the undisputed master of skis, he often used his skill to escape from foes or track down prey in addition to shredding fresh POW.  In a sport intimately tied with Scandinavian tradition, it is no wonder that in Norway there are a number of place names that incorporate the name of Ullr.
In the days of Ullr, skis were not entirely what we'd recognize today.  In fact, what we know as skis probably did not evolve until the last century.  In the time of the gods, skis were akin to two planks of wood - one wrapped with cord to provide traction.  As people were often hunting or at war, a single ski pole was often used, allowing a free hand for a weapon.
It is said that Ullr was such a great skier that he would streak across the sky leaving the brilliant stars as his trails (they obviously had some fine powder days).  Though very skilled, Ullr guarded his knowledge closely and refused to show the other gods how to ski.  Luckily for us, he let the secret out of the bag and we will all be soon celebrating his glory.  Next time you are trying to bash through some wind crust or plunge head first into fresh waist deep powder, be sure to invoke his name and remember - ULLR RULES!

Illustration from an Icelandic manuscript
showing Ullr on his skis
and with his bow
Every January the Town of Breckenridge has a crazy Ullr parade down Main Street. Details are on the High Country web site at The parade is followed by the annual Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Competition to be held January 25 to 30, 2011. The sculptures will remain until February 6, 2011 weather permitting.
So join us in Summit County at one of our wonderful ski areas this winter and help celebrate our connection to Ullr, Norse God of Snow.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Where to Ski in Summit County

Arapahoe Basin
Breckenridge Ski Resort
Copper Mountain
Keystone Resort
Beaver Creek

Summit County, Colorado has four great ski areas within 20 miles.
Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort are owned and operated by Vail Resorts who also have Vail and Beaver Creek in nearby Eagle County. If you buy a lift ticket for either Breckenridge or Keystone you will also gain lift access to Arapahoe Basin. In addition if you purchase at least a three day Vail Resorts pass in either Breckenridge or Keystone, you will be able to ski one day at either Vail or Beaver Creek, four and five day passes give you two days, six days three days etc. If you need more information about the Vail Resorts lift tickets, check out the section on the lift ticket page of the High Country Activities web site at
There are ski shuttles that are available for booking to transport you to the slopes of Vail and Beaver Creek and High Country Activities is able to set up this reservation for you
Copper Mountain is independently owned, and has unique terrain that is naturally divided on the mountain into a beginner, intermediate and expert runs, with additional bowl skiing access.
Arapahoe Basin also sells its own lift tickets and is a great mountain for expert skiers with its high elevation and brand new bowl.
To learn more about which mountain might be right for you, the unique aspects of each of them, where they are located in Summit County and what is offered at each resort, the High Country Activities lift ticket page also has a detailed description.
If you would like to learn a bit of the history of all of the ski areas and the towns where they are located read the indvidual pages for Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek
With the new snow that Summit County is currently receving, High Country Activities hopes that you are excited to come and visit us, and that you will have a better idea of where you might like to spend your time skiing and riding.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Heading South on the Colorado River in Utah

Fruita, Colorado to Bedrock, Colorado
Colorado National Monument
Fruita, Colorado
Utah Scenic Byway 128 - Upper Colorado River 
Colorado Riverway Recreation Area
Fisher Towers Recreation Site
Big Bend Camp Site
Moab, Utah
Arches National Park
Manti-La Sal National Forest

Bedrock, Colorado

On Saturday October 16, 2010, my dog Sawyer and I were camped in the Saddlehorn camp site in the Colorado National Monument There was a beatiful view from our camp site.

View from the Saddlehorn Camp site
We took a nice walk to the scenic overlook and had great views down to the Colorado River Valley.

View from the Scenic Overlook at the
Saddlehorn Camp Site

Colorado River Valley, Fruita Colorado
and  Book Cliffs in the distance

We then drove out of the park, a steep descent with several tunnels and stunning views to Fruita,Colorado, crossing the Colorado River once again and heading back West on Interstate 70. We quickly crossed into Utah and then took the Scenic Byway 128 - Upper Colorado River from the town of Cisco, practically a ghost town, south This is a roller coaster of a road that winds its way down from a high plateau to the Colorado River valley. It becomes obvious when you are nearing the river as the stands of golden yellow cottonwoods begin to appear on either side of the river. As you once again cross the Colorado river at the historic Dewey Bridge you enter the Colorado Riverway Recreation Area This has really developed over the past ten years. There used to be one camp site at Big Bend only 7.5 miles from Moab, Utah, but now there are many sites for camping and picnics, as well as beautiful guest ranches and a winery: The Red Cliffs Lodge with the nearby Castle Creek Winery;  The Sorrel River Ranch & Spa;

Sorrel River Ranch & Spa

We then took a detour for an amazing hike in the Bureau of Land Mangement's (BLM) Fisher Towers Recreation Site

Fisher Towers
It was getting rather hot and even though I had water for Sawyer, he already has a thicker coat to live at altitude and so he became overheated and we did not complete the entire hike. It was really nice to be on BLM land, as some folks saw me hiking with Sawyer on a leash and told me that the rules were not the same as a national park and that he could run freely which he certainly enjoyed, exploring in the rocks and gullies. At our rest stop we saw a group of climbers on the towers and had an incredible view down to Castle Rock. 

We then headed back to Highway 128 and to the Big Bend Camp Site to let Sawyer cool off with a swim in the Colorado River. There were still folks out river rafting and further up river we also saw a stand up paddler. After stopping to get some food for dinner we headed into Arches National Park intending to camp there for the night. There was quite a long line of cars to get to the entrance and when I finally paid my fee I noticed a sign with "CAMPGROUND FULL".  I asked the park ranger and was told that it was a fall break for the Utah schools and that the park only did camping by reservation anyway. I asked him about going back up Highway 128 and camping there and he said that he would doubt if I would find a spot, and also the road was going to be closed in the morning for a half marathon. As I knew that the road back to Colorado went through a national forest, I asked him if he knew anything about that area and he assured me that I would find somewhere there. So I decided to drive to the campground at the Devil's Garden Trailhead. We had camped there as a family years ago and really enjoyed the hike to the Double O Arch and I knew I would like to see the scenery again. It was a spectacular drive passing by Balanced Rock, the one that was in the first Indiana Jones movie.

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park

We had a great view from an overlook to the Petrified Dunes,

and also to the Windows Section.

One can only marvel at these incredible rock formations in eastern Utah, that are repeated in Canyon Lands National Park just to the south and east of Moab and down to Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. This is just the beginning of the vast and unusual scenery that the West has to offer.
It was starting to get late so after turning around at the end of the road where there were so many cars parked, that I was glad that I had decided not to hike here, we headed back to Moab. This has really changed over the years too with tons of hotels and restaurants - it used to be a fairly sleepy town when my husband let outdoor education trips there starting in 1980. 
We headed south on Highway 19, that goes all the way to Arizona, to La Sal Junction, where we turned left on Highway 46 that heads 30 miles to the Colorado border up and through the Manti La Sal National Forest We ascended a winding forest road with spectacular colors in the river gullies. Then we came down from the high road to Colorado and the tiny town of Paradox on Highway 90 with a spectacular view of the Dolores River valley from the top. Of course we had not see any camp sites and the town did not even have a hotel or a Bed and Breakfast, just farms and a gas station that was not open to ask anyone. Next we came to Bedrock a town established in the late 1800s where the Post Office and the General Store were built on top of solid rock which had given the town its name. Just past the General Store with its one gas pump that was of course closed, as the sun was setting we crossed the Dolores River. Just before the river I saw a sign for a boat ramp for rafting access. There was a small road alongside the river on the eastern side of the bridge but it was marked private so I turned around, crossed back over the bridge and turned down the road on the other side of the river. We passed several abandoned trailers and a couple of houses with rusted vehicles and no lights, so I am not sure if anyone actually lives in Bedrock. The boat ramp was a picnic area with covered tables, a boat ramp to the river, a sign telling us that the river is only open to rafting for a short time in June, and two spectacular red rock buttes on either side of the river. It was certainly a beautiful place to camp but a bit deserted and scary to be myself with just my over friendly dog for a companion. But the next town was a long drive and for all I knew there could be nothing there as well.  So we settled down for the night - it probably did nothing to calm my nerves to be reading the "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" and I was up to the serail killer part. However we survived with no incidents and left at sunrise the next morning with a spectacular view of the alpenglow on the western butte.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Haunted House in Frisco, Colorado

Last night it was really fun to attend a reception and preview of the Town of Frisco's Haunted House hosted by the excellent marketing team of the town. The Haunted House is open from 6:30 to 10:00 pm Friday October 29 through Sunday 31.
The reception in the Frisco Information Center was really nice, and my neighbor Carol Bartoletti and I met some great people. The staff members attending were very informative and we even signed a petition to allow the Day Lodge at the new Frisco Adventure Park to have a liquor license. The park will have a tubing and jib hill opening in December, and the lodge has a great room with WiFi, perfect for parents to hang out while their kids are up on the hill. Wouldn't you want a nice hot chocolate with something in it, a beer or a wine, as you sit in front of the fireplace catching up on your e-mails? Seems like a no brainer to me.
Carol and I enjoyed chatting with Simone Belz, manager of the Historic Park and Museum Carol had just been to a bread baking class and they discussed the idea of adding historic interactive cooking classes to Frisco's Founders Day, the celebration during the 4th July holiday weekend of the history of the town.
We also met Brittany and Brain Anderson of Footprints Adventures Their story was profiled back in April in the Summit Daily Brian sustained a severe hiking accident and could have lost his foot due to the severity of the injury to his ankle. In the winter they work for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center that provides outdoor adventure for those with disabilities. This coming summer they will hold their first summer camp for teens 16-18 who have limb difference and limb loss. Brian had been the main volunteer helping the students with the construction of the Haunted House. With my connections to the disabled community in my previous role as Executive Director of the Colorado Wheelchair Tennis Foundation, we had a great deal to talk about and a lot of networking to share, and I look forward to helping them any way I can in the future. As a former special education teacher, Carol has some experience in grant writing, so she offered to help proof any of their efforts in this direction.
The networking at your local town events brings up many opportunities you might not have thought possible. So I encourage each of you to become involved with your local community if you have some time to give. The rewards will far outweigh the effort. But I digress - back to the events.
At 7:15 we all went outside to watch a Flash Mob. Now I had seen Frisco's Special Events & Marketing Coordinator Jaime Harmon's tweets during the day about this event and was luckily able to find her at the reception to find out what this was. I may have figured out how to blog and use, do Facebook and Twitter, but this one was over the head of this 55 year old. So a Flash Mob is when the social media networks give a call for everyone to gather in a certain place and then a dance or some other activity is performed This has been happening in large cities but this was to be the first one in a small town. Student dancers performed a great monster dance in the middle of 3rd Avenue to the Monster Mash tune and they were joined by all of the students from the Haunted House and some of the town's staff. I could not quite figure out the dance moves or I would have joined in.
Then it was our turn to be led to visit the Haunted House located behind the Information Center by Frisco Events Manager Suzanne Lifgren. The stars of this project are the students from the Mountain Mentors activity program as part of the Summit Cares program, that allows students to explore work opportunities.  They were amazing - they truly scared the ****** out of me. Their costumes are great and their acting suberb. Carol and I particularly liked the student having the fit chained to the operating table with cut off fingers in the surgical tray and the guy with the chain saw as you exit - but I do not want to give too much away and spoil the surpise or the scare factor. The Haunted House is $7 a person, $5 with a student ID, and there is a great deal - only $20 for a family of four. It is open to ages seven and up, any younger I think they might have nightmares - luckily I didn't last night! Proceeds from the house go to the Mountain Mentors program.
So come on out one and all - have fun and help a great program. Maybe make two trips to Frisco Main Street. Go to the Haunted House on a night other than Halloween and then come see High Country Activities in the Woods Cabin at the Frisco Historic Park on Halloween night for some candy.
Congratulations to the Town of Frisco and their staff and the students from Mountain Mentors for setting up a great event for the kids of Summit County and this one very scared baby boomer.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Heading West along the Colorado River from Frisco, Colorado

Frisco, Colorado through Glenwood Canyon to Glenwood Springs, Colorado and Grand Junction, Colorado
Colorado National Monument

I left Frisco, CO about 2:00pm on Friday October 15, 2010 for a short trip to western Colorado and over the border to Utah. I immediately hit a traffic jam at Copper Mountain but was rewarded with an awesome view of the back of the snowcapped Ten Mile Range.
Then it was up and over Vail Pass and on Interstate 70 past Vail, Colorado. There were only a few Aspen trees still with their leaves - the silver trunks always look so bare when the leaves have all been dropped. The turn after West Vail at exit 171 towards Minturn is the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway that runs through Leadville, Twin Lakes and on to Aspen. 
I70 then runs past Avon with the ski are of Beaver Creek and then comes out of the high central Rockies into the Colorado River Valley. The Eagle River joins the Colorado River in Wolcott, Colorado, and the interstate, and the river are also joined by the train tracks of Amtrak's California Zephyr that runs all the way from Chicago to San Francisco. In one valley you have road, rail and river all going in the same direction. The railroad was part of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad built in the early 1900s that is now the Union Pacific Railroad. This area of the Colorado River Valley is filled with some beautiful ranches along the winding river. Rather than Aspen trees, the large Cottonwoods have groves next to the river, and the altitude is now so much lower the trees are in their full fall foliage.

Just after Dotsero, Colorado the road enters Glenwood Canyon , where road, rail, and river are joined by a bike path. There are exits to scenic areas like the Bair Ranch and the Shoshone rapids and another to the hiking trail that leads to Hanging Lake I never cease to marvel at the geology of the canyon and the way the river has cut through the various layers of rock. The water is a beautiful deep green - there has not been much precipitation lately so there is very little sediment flowing in the current. There is still a pretty good flow to the river as water has to be let out of Colorado reservoirs to meet downstream obligations - those golf courses in Nevada and California do have  to be watered, Lake Powell needs to be filled and the Glen Canyon Dam needs a certain amount of water to create power for Arizona.
The canyon finishes at Glenwood Springs where you will find the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and the Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves as well as the historic Hotel Denver and Hotel Colorado on either side of the river.
My trip then follows the river with the Roan Plateau to the north and Battlement Mesa to the south until reaching Debeque Canyon where the James M. Robb Colorado State Park  has five different sections. The canyon is really beautiful and the freeway is right next to the river, with many willows and grasses on the riverbank that have turned to numerous colors from golden brown, to bright yellow to deep red.
The canyon emerges after entering a tunnel with the town of Palisades on the left, the "Heart of Colorado's Fruit and Wine Country" After traveling through the center of Grand Junction, Colorado and crossing the Colorado River numerous times, I finally reach my destination for the night at the Colorado National Monument I pay the park fee and ask about the camp site, that I had thought was close to the east entrance to the park, but that it the day use Devil's Kitchen picnic area and the Saddlehorn camp site is 19 miles on the other side of the park. The road is winding with tons of switch backs as it ascends to the top of the monument and the sun is sinking and directly into my face when it is not hidden behind rock faces. There are bends that I come around where the sun goes into shadow and the ground drops off the side of the road sometimes with no barriers and I cannot even see the road until the light adjusts.
Luckily there are markers on the side of the road and I am able to follow the white tips on those and not plunge down to the bottom of a canyon. It is needless to say very nerve wracking but the scenery is dramatic. Ute Canyon with its overlooks is particularly breathtaking from both sides as is Monument Canyon. The camp site is really good with great bathrooms, a picnic table and a charcoal grill at every site. It is pretty full. mostly with campers with California plates. The stars are really bright as we are up on top of the Uncompaghre Plateau and the night time temperatures are relatively warm.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Peak 1 with Peaks 7 and 8 of the Breckenridge Ski Resort
in the distance, part of the Ten Mile Range
When you are taking a walk at this time of year in Summit County, Colorado, and for me that means in Frisco, Colorado next to Lake Dillon, you are lucky to be able to enjoy views of the Ten Mile Range with
Peak 1 and the Breckenridge Ski Area in the distance. In the other direction is the Continental Divide with the 14,000 foot peak of Grays and Torreys, part of the majestic Rocky Mountains. These kind of views and then you have skiing at Arapahoe Basin, or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone or Copper Mountain, and if you want to drive a little you can enjoy activities at Vail and Beaver Creek.

This time of year the grasses in the wetlands are
particularly beautiful. Summer in Summit County,
Colorado you may not notice the variety of the
grasses around Lake Dillon. However when the season
starts to change to Fall and the grasses become all
different shade of brown, you will notice the incredible

Wild grasses gathered in the wetlands of
Lake Dillon, Colorado
Close up of grasses with
lavender in the foreground
gathered from my garden

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Flower Dilemma

Last flowers in the rock garden

So I love flowers and plants - any kind. In bouquets at weddings, growing in the forest, in flower beds and rock gardens, house plants, and summer planters, window boxes and hanging baskets. I grew up in England and because of the climate you could just get a small cutting from someone else's garden, stick it in the ground and it would grow. My home town of Rugby wins awards every year for the hanging baskets on its main thoroughfare through town. My mother had an incredible perennial garden and collected cuttings from all over the place. She even took one cutting of everything from one garden to the other when we moved house - kind of her own Noah's Ark. Then I moved to Colorado, where the climate is oh so dry, we may have snow in June and then again in August, and there are a lot of temperatures below freezing. I love winter and everything it has to offer for the active lifestyle, but the flowers are gone. So every Fall I hang on to flowers. Recently a neighbor left for a trip to Europe and she gave me all of the planter boxes and hanging baskets that she creates herself every year. They are gorgous with lobelia

- one of my favorites with its vivid blue and purple and white pansies. Lobelia is anything but hardy and will be gone with the first hard frost - the pansies can resist a bit of cold. So for the past month I have checked every day to figure out the evening temperatures and every time the nighttime low is predicted at 34 degrees or below I bring all of my plants into the house (I had done my own plants for my main floor balconies as well) - a total of seven hanging baskets, plus three window boxes and two pots of double geraniums. I have also transplanted all the geraniums that were in my front little piece of garden and have them in planters to save them for next season. It is a true labor of love but it makes a mess that I have to constantly clean up and the house looks like a landscaping store. But you see there are tons of buds left on the plants and I cannot sabotage their growth. So inbetween working on the web site for High Country Activities I carry on my fight against winter's approach, even though I love winter and everything it has to offer, as one of my favorite places to hang out, and act as the protector of my natural friends. At some point I will have to let go but it will be a sad day. 

Living Room Plant Sanctuary

Buds waiting to bloom in planter

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Great Walk by Lake Dillon

My dog Sawyer and I had a wonderful walk by Lake Dillon in Frisco this morning about 10:00am. It had snowed during the night and I had woken up to the sunrise Alpenglow on Buffalo Mountain which was dusted with snow. By 10:00 most of it had melted but there was still some snow on Peak 1 and quite a bit on the Fourteeners of Grays and Torres up on the Continental Divide to the east. The melting snow had made a small stream that had intersected the dried up part of the lake and filled a small pool that disappeared a couple of weeks ago. I love the forest after precipitation, snow or rain. The pine trees are greener and drops of water cling to the ends of the needles, lit up by the sun like many diamonds. The berries on the juniper bushes are bluer and the moisture brings out the dusty blue color of the foliage. The scrub oak have turned to a tarnished copper hue, and some of the ground leaves in the grasses are bright red. The grasses are so many different yellows and browns. Here and there a few asters are still blooming, small lavender daisies hugging the ground. And a lone purple hairbell clings to a stem.

Met the guys finishing up the Summit County bike path resurfacing. They have built some great steps down off the path to the wetlands dog walking paths from the Prospect Point path. One of them is from Leadville and his grandmother bought a ranch south of town in the 1940s for running cattle and growing hay. It was originally homesteaded by two men from Sweden - probably the only hardy soles who could stand farming at that extreme altitude - Leadville is the highest incorporated town in the United States. The town has a big dispute going with the town of Alma, south over Hoosier Path from Breckenridge, that is higher but is not incorporated. I imagine that Swedish farmers, used to three months of almost 24 hour darkness, thought that Leadville was a great place to live. There are many ranches in Summit County whose water rights extend back to the late 1800s. I love living in a place with the history of the Ute Indians, the beaver trappers, the gold and the silver miners and now the ski industry. Growing up in Europe with its long history including the Roman Empire, the Renaissance and its modern wars, it is a different kind of history in the high country with pioneers who came to an unknown land to explore and make a living in rather harsh conditions. So the rest of us are just waiting for massive amounts of snow to fall, but for the guys doing the bike path, snow means that they have to leave the county and find work where the ground is not frozen.

I have to say that I meet all kinds of interesting folks walking Sawyer each day, and it is really great to live so close to Lake Dillon with its incredible views. No matter the season it is never the same on any given day. The whole county morphs with the weather and the light on a daily basis. What a great place to live.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ready for the Winter Season

So Annie Turri, of and I have spent about six weeks designing and writing the winter portion of the High Country Activities web site This has been a fun project for me as I love to write, and I am passionate about Summit County where I live and everything that this resort area has to offer guests. If you need web site design, Annie is great. My learning curve has been huge and not only have Annie and I figured out a great working relationship regarding the web site, but she has been educating me on Face Book business pages, Twitter, blogging, and RSS feeds, so I have at least a basic understanding of the all of the social media out there. She also sends me monthly diganostics to see how the web site is doing.

I have some great lodging partners to help me with referrals for customers and I believe have chosen the best companies in the area for my activity partners. I have worked with all of these companies for the past 11 years and know that they will provide awesome experiences for all of my guests.

Now we just need some snow. It has been unusually warm this Fall and is not cold enough at night as yet to make snow. With upper 70s during the day it would all melt anyway, even if the temperatures did drop below freezing at night. Some moisture is expected this coming week. Even though I am enjoying these balmy temperatures and still having my summer flower pots blooming for some extra Fall color, we are due for some good precipitation of the wet and white kind.

So start thinking SNOW and planning a winter vacation to Summit County, with four ski areas, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper and Keystone and two close by in Eagle County, Vail and Beaver Creek. Read about all of these ski areas and what they have to offer on the Lift Ticket page You are also able to read about the towns and resorts of Summit County on the town page Event information for the towns and resorts is coming soon.

Welcome to High Country Activities Blog!

Welcome to our first blog post for High Country Activities!

We hope that this blog can share our Summit County experience and expertise and help you plan the vacation of a lifetime for you and your family.

High Country Activities is your full-service concierge for the towns of Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne, Colorado and the surrounding area.  We offer complete custom vacation planning, activity bookings and guest services during either winter or summer for your Summit County vacation -- at no additional charge to you.

Book your Frisco, Dillon or Silverthorne airport shuttle transfers, activities, rentals and services, as well as your dining reservations with one simple call. Our vacation experts have years of local knowledge and insider tips to help make your vacation a one of a kind, custom experience.

What to do in Frisco, Colorado