Your Adventure Guide to Mud Season
Ahhhhhhh. Springtime in Colorado: those sloppy, unpredictable months when the groomers are lousy for skiing, many resort-town businesses shut down, and most trails are still too slushy to enjoy. Conventional wisdom says to avoid the mountains during April and May, but 5280 found 24 reasons—from sublime spa deals to epic bike rides to effortless fly-fishing—you should head for the hills right now.
Go Gravel Riding
In the world of cycling, roadies and mountain bikers don’t always agree. But if there is a happy medium both cycling and sbucultures can enjoy, especially in spring when trails are tender and susceptible to damage, it’s gravel riding. Typically, gravel/adventure road bikes feature beefier tires and more relaxed frame geometry than their road biking counterparts, and that means limiting loops to pavement isn’t necessary; hard-packed dirt is conquerable too. For example, the biennial Boulder Roubaix race covers 18.5 miles of back roads that are 60 percent dirt and 40 percent paved. The best-of-both worlds combo is precisely why gravel riding has become one of the fastest-growing styles of cycling over the past few years, according to Bicycling magazine. “Gravel riding opens up new route possibilities, new challenges on the bike, and in reality it’s safer,” says Eagle resident and team Topeak-Ergon endurance mountain bike racer Jeff Kerkove, citing the sport’s decreased exposure to traffic. The way we see it, that’s reason enough to hit the road, paved or not.
The best way to push yourself in a new activity is to distract yourself with great views. Here are some great locations to try gravel riding for the first time:
Aspen – Aspen’s Sun Dog Athletics offers two and four hour gravel biking trips through picturesque Aspen and Snowmass. Along the way you’ll receive instruction on proper braking techniques, shifting, body positioning and more.
Salida – For a quintessentially Western adventure tackle the 25-mile out-and-back fire road from Riverside Park to the former mining town of Turret. Soak in sweeping vistas of the Collegiate Peaks, and once you’ve checked out Turret’s historical structures, enjoy the rewarding downhill cruise to Salida.
Eagle-Vail – For killer views try out the Muddy Pass Loop, a 55-mile route split between paved and dirt surfaces that provides breathtaking panoramas of the Gore Range. At the end of your trip claim your reward: a burger and a pint at the Vail Ale House.
Stay for a Steal
April and May have long been snubbed by fair-weather snobs who avoid resort towns whenever the peaks aren’t glistening with multiple feet of lift-accessible snow or exploding with wildflowers. But there’s a major upside to all this, well, mudslinging: You can enjoy some of the most luxurious accommodations in the mountains for a fraction of what they would cost during Colorado’s more popular tourist months. As visitor numbers plummet during shoulder season—Crested Butte’s occupancy rate, for example, drops by about two-thirds—hotels offer tantalizingly low prices to entice guests to fill otherwise empty rooms. The city of Breckenridge reports that its average daily rate for lodging is about 50 percent lower during mud season, and some high-country hotels even offer specials specifically for Colorado residents eager to visit once the out-of-staters (ahem, Texans) disappear. Rates vary, but for the best deals, simply ask.
Here are some of the best deals 5280 found:
Beaver Run Resort, Breckenridge
Typical nightly rate during peak season: $250
Typical nightly rate during mud season: $95
Elevation Hotel and Spa
Typical nightly rate during peak season: $249
Typical nightly rate during mud season: $99
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
Typical nightly rate during peak season: $649
Typical nightly rate during mud season: $199
Cast From the Shore
Normally, fishing in Colorado’s high-country lakes and reservoirs requires making your way to their deep centers, but as the ice recedes during April and May, hungry and spawning fish can be found in shallower waters—no boat required. “Fish are in a very good mood when the ice cap goes away,” says Chad LaChance, founder of Fishful Thinker, a website and guiding company, as well as the host and executive producer of Fishful Thinker TV on Altitude Sports and Entertainment. “Everybody’s on the chow.” Even river trout—especially those living in mountain streams when the flow is low before the May runoff—are looking for tasty snacks. For fly-fishers, LaChance recommends streamers or egg patterns, which mimic the eggs trout are laying on the rocks this time of year; good conventional tackle choices include large hard plugs and tube jigs. For statewide stocking, fishing, and ice-out reports, visit the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website and fishexplorer.com—or simply cast from just about any rocky shoreline into one to four feet of water to haul in everything from lake trout to the Centennial State’s famed rainbows and browns.
Check out these spots for hungry fish:
Lake Granby – If you haven’t fished in a while and want to get back out there, Grand County’s Fishing with Bernie guide service is just the ticket. The program offers six to eight hour excursions where you hug the shoreline of Lake Granby in a 20 foot fishing boat learning about everything from the lake’s wildlife and ecosystem to lure selection and casting technique.
Dillon Reservoir – There’s only one public fishery outside of Maine in the Lower 48 where you can reel in arctic char, and it’s Summit County’s Dillon Reservoir. Rent yourself a tackle box, rod, reel and line for $20 a day at the Frisco Bay Marina and head to Windy Point Fisherman Park to try your luck at reeling in an arctic char.
Blue Mesa Reservoir – Blue Mesa boasts 96 miles of shoreline. The fish that inhabit it’s waters however can be something more to boast about. The lake trout that occupy these waters have a penchant for eating the rainbow trout that spawn along the rocky edges of the lake, meaning these trout grow to enormous size. The state record trout weighing 50.35 pounds was caught at Blue Mesa.
Read the original article by 5280 here to see even more activities you can do during mud season.