Saturday, January 5, 2013

Colorado adventures good substitute for 2013 resolutions

originally appeared in The Denver Post:

I've made my annual "eat less, exercise more" resolutions for the new year. These are perennial promises to myself; some years I execute them better than others. For 2013, I've added travel resolutions to the mix.

Sure, I'd love to spend 10 days with my husband in Tahiti in an over-water bungalow — but that's a travel dream. And it's likely only going to happen if we win the lottery or after we've paid two kids' college tuitions.

Instead, I've come up with some manageable adventures in Colorado that I think my family can accomplish in a year. Let's see how many of these we can tick off in 365 days.

Visit Telluride and Crested Butte: I've lived in Colorado since 1994, but I've never been to either of these mountain towns — a travesty for someone like me who likes to ski and hike!

Ideally this summer, I'll make the day-long trek along West Maroon Trail from Aspen to Crested Butte with a girlfriend or two. Then we'll have our husbands pick us up, spend the weekend in Crested Butte, and drive home.

Soak in Dunton Hot Springs: In lieu of Tahiti, I'd "settle" for a weekend at Dunton Hot Springs. Years ago friends visited the year-round resort, raving about its private natural hot springs, and it's been on my wish list ever since.

Though the upscale property welcomes children, I think my husband and I (sans kids) would best appreciate the fine dining and cozy log cabins. Also on my radar: nearby sister property Cresto Ranch, whose luxury, safari-style tents debut to visitors this spring.

Spend the night in our pop-up camper: Admittedly, I like nice hotel stays. I appreciate room service, hot showers and sheets that are nicer than the ones I have at home. However, there's something to be said for roughing it in the outdoors with s'mores around the fire and storytelling in sleeping bags.

We've made some amazing family memories on camping trips in Rocky Mountain National Park, at Colorado National Monument and on Steamboat Lake, but for some reason, last summer we didn't use our beat-up pop-up camper at all. I'm eyeing Turquoise Lake Recreation Area near Leadville, but open to suggestions for a new-to-us camping spot.

Hike a 14er with the kids: Last summer my husband and 12-year-old daughter hiked to the top of Mount Sopris, certainly an impressive feat, with its rock fields, high-alpine ridge trail and frustrating false summits. However, this massive mountain that looms over the Roaring Fork Valley tops out at just less than 13,000 feet.

I'd like the entire family to summit a true Colorado fourteener, perhaps one of the mountains recommended for novice peak baggers: Mount Bierstadt or Mount Sherman.

Play at a dude ranch — again: Among my family's favorite in-state vacations a few years ago was a stay at Elk Mountain Ranch, where the staff's down-home, friendly, welcoming nature made me want to take up residence to become a wrangler — and I'm not a horse person!

I appreciate the easy, all-inclusive nature of a dude-ranch stay, where one fee covers accommodations, gourmet meals and a plethora of activities, from trail rides and fishing to archery and river rafting. No televisions, limited cell service, a whole lot of family togetherness in the outdoors. That's my kind of trip.