Our daughters had rented a beautiful home in Beaver Creek, Colorado for a winter ski vacation, however they had to cancel the trip because the mountain and all of the facilities, including rental homes were closed thanks to COVID-19 restrictions. Luckily, they were able to reschedule the rental for a July vacation and they invited us to go with them - it didn't take us long to say, "when do we leave?" On June 25th, the car was packed to the brim with bikes, golf clubs, bags, food, and beer and we set off on a fifteen hour drive to Beaver Creek Resort. Rather arrive dead tired, we decided to meet our Austin daughter and her family of five in Trinidad and then drive the rest of the way the next day!
Within a few minutes after arriving at Beaver Creek Resort and unloading our gear, we were sitting on the patio at the base of the Beaver Creek Ski Resort on a warm (75 degrees compared to 100 when we left Austin) clear summer day sipping margaritas. What a way to start a vacation. The next day our Dallas daughter and her family of four joined us and the party started!
First up on our activities agenda was a round of golf at Beaver Creek Golf Club - wow, what a spectacular course that we rated close to a perfect 10! The course plays down a valley sandwiched between two steep mountain sides with beautiful views of the mountains and down the valley into the town of Avon. The conditions were near perfect and the course threw a lot at us - huge sweeping bunkers, tight fairways, tough approaches to the greens, dramatically elevated tee boxes, and a cascading creek that comes into play on several holes. I usually rate a course's difficulty based on how many balls I lose - one ball lost is about average difficultly. Beaver Creek Golf Club devoured 7 of my golf balls - a 10 on the difficulty scale! Read our review of Beaver Creek Golf Club to learn why we rated this Robert Trent Jones course so high!
Next up on the agenda was a fantastic bike ride along a part of the 22 mile Eagle Valley Trail. The trail travels through canyons, along the Eagle River, and through several valley towns. We rode from Avon to Edwards on a beautiful portion of the trail that twists and turns along the edge of the Eagle River on a nice wide paved gentle roller coaster trail. Of course we can't ride more than 5 miles without stopping for some food and margaritas, which means we stopped in Edwards and enjoyed a good lunch and drinks on a patio overlooking the River. My ride back was a little wobbly to start but got better the longer I peddled! A fun, scenic, easy, and enjoyable ride on a perfect 75 degree sunny day!
On Tuesday, the 11 of us drove to Nova Guides at Camp Hale to rent some four seater Can-AM BRP Commander ATVs. Camp Hale was established in 1942 to provide winter and warfare training during World War II. We put on helmets and goggles, got five minutes of instruction, and set off in a blaze of dust in three four seater ATVs to explore the White River National Forest.
We started at an elevation of 9200 and raced up a narrow bumpy dirt trail to 12,000 feet. We stopped at the top of the trail for pictures, snowball fights, and to admire the stunning views - and to wipe the dust off our goggles. I started to lead back downhill to avoid the dust but was quickly passed by the other two ATVs and swallowed in their dust! Back in the valley we rode past scenic alpine meadows with wildflowers and grazing sheep and horses and along rushing brooks and small lakes. Our last stop was to take a short hike to a beautiful waterfall before heading back to return the ATVs.
Rafting The Colorado River
On Wednesday we met up with a high school friend of our daughters who now lives in Avon and he took us on a fun raft trip down a portion of the Colorado River with some gentle Class I and Class II rapids, cool clear water, and some beautiful scenery. Our friend brought a raft that he paddles while we enjoyed the ride and scenery - can't get much better than that. After an hour so we pulled onto a sandy beach for a lunch we purchased from a local deli and some cold beer and a swim in the cool river water - loved it! We had also rented two rubber duckies (inflatable kayaks) for the kids and they had a blast. Much too soon we were at the pull out area.
We were all sunburned the next day but that didn't stop us from heading to Copper Mountain Ski area for a 7 mile bike ride on the Copper Mountain to Frisco Bike Trail. What a fun trail - paved, mostly downhill (starts at an elevation of 9758' and descends gently to 9117'), and very scenic as it descends downhill beside the mountain and along the cascading Cross Tenmile Creek, past clear beaver ponds, beautiful wild flowers, and stunning mountain scenery! We ended up at the Frisco Bay Marina on Lake Dillon. Of course they had a grill with some appetizers and margaritas! I'm sure glad we had our car waiting at the Marina and didn't have to ride back uphill to Copper. What a fun and scenic ride!
On our final day, we took the chair lift with our bikes to the top of the of the Rocky Mountains at Beaver Creek Ski Resort. The view at the top of the ski lift was stunning and we followed that view through the trees down a green (the easiest) bike and hike trail. The trail twisted and turned all the way down the mountain and required hard braking with both hands the entire trip. We had so much fun we jumped on the lift and rode back down the mountain again. This time a couple of us took a steeper and much harder trail down. At the bottom our hands were so tired from squeezing the brakes so hard that we could barely hold our beer. Sitting in the warm sun, looking up the mountain and ski runs, sipping a cold drink, and listening to some live music was a perfect way to end our fun stay in Beaver Creek.
The next morning our Dallas daughter and her husband had to head home to start work on Monday - what a shame! We took her two kids and headed to Pagosa Springs for a few more days of vacation. Pagosa Springs is nestled in southwest Colorado at the base of the Continental Divide and surrounded by 3 million acres of national forest and wilderness areas. Pagosa Springs is best known for amazing hot springs, abundant sunshine, cascading waterfalls, a small town feel, lots of hiking and biking opportunities plus rafting, tubing, fishing, and kayaking on the San Juan River, a two stretch of which runs right through the middle of town.
We stayed at The Springs Resort & Spa so we could soak in their hot pools which are terraced along the San Juan River and offer stunning views of the River and the mountain ranges. Pagosa Springs is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the “Deepest Geothermal Hot Spring” which feeds the Resort's 24 pools with it's 130 degree water. The rich mineral water is regulated and fed to the soaking pools with temperatures ranging from 83 to 114 degrees - each pool is marked with it's temperature which is very carefully controlled.
Five minutes after checking in, the 9 of us were soaking in the pools, enjoying the view, and sipping a Pina Colada - hard to beat that. After enjoying a couple of hot pools we would jump in the swimming pool (only 84 degrees) or the San Juan River which was much cooler. The kids would body surf down the river while we continued to enjoy the Pina Coladas and some nachos.
The next day with wrinkled and wilted bodies thanks to too many hours in the hot pools, we headed to Pagosa Springs Golf Club to play two of their three nine hole courses. The three nines at Pagosa Springs are nestled among and surrounded by the San Juan Mountains and every hole has an amazing view. The course winds through majestic Ponderosa Pines, Blue Spruce, and Aspen. Some elevation changes, water on a couple holes, doglegs left and right, sand bunkers, uphill as well as downhill shots, and demanding putting surfaces make for a fun and challenging round. Read our review of Pagosa Spring's Pinon and Ponderosa Nines to learn more about each of these nines.
After golf, we were planning on floating down the river in a tube but were advised against it unless we liked our bottoms rubbing against the rocks!. So we rented tubes for the kids and they loved it - came back a little scratched up but had a great time. Normally, the river flows around 60 to 70 cubic feet per second this time of the year, but it was only flowing at 38 cubic feet per second. The kids were light enough that they could stay in the deeper parts of the river and not run aground too frequently. A riverwalk runs about a half a mile through town and along the river so the kids could walk and float as many times as they wanted. The river has three whitewater features and riverside hot springs along the half mile stretch that runs through downtown. The adults sat on a patio above the river watching the kids, enjoying some nachos, and, of course, some margaritas!
We had wanted to paddleboard and kayak down the river through town but the water was too low. So we rented inflatable kayaks and paddle boards and headed 30 miles to Navajo Lake which was recommended to us. We were expecting a high alpine, clear water, towering tree and mountain lined beautiful lake - like several lakes we saw driving driving through the mountains to Pagosa Springs. Wow, were we disappointed - no trees, more a desert type terrain than mountainous, and a rocky and muddy shoreline. In fact, after we inflated the kayaks and paddleboards, as we carried them out to the water we sank up to our ankles in mud!
There was a light breeze out of the west so we headed west into it so we would have an easy paddle home with the wind behind us. However, the paddleboards and kayaks lost some air and the wind shifted which meant we had a hard paddle back into the wind. Hot, tired, and disappointed we were ready for a cold drink and the hot pools of the Springs Resort!
All too soon it was time to pack the bags, leave the majestic mountains and cool temperatures and head home through the flatlands of Texas and into the 100 degree temperature.