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Featured Festival: Hops & Harley 2017, Berthoud, Colorado

As many of you know, I’m a passionate dog-lover. I believe strongly in the dog/human bond and that’s why it’s inconceivable to me that some people abuse these wonderful animals. Puppy mills are a form of abuse. If you have any doubts, read the story of the little puppy mill rescue dog that inspired Hops & Harley.

Hops & Harley 2016 (4)

Five years ago, the first Hops & Harley occurred in the taproom of City Star Brewing in Berthoud. Today, the event is held at Fickel Park and has grown into a festival that attracts dog and beer lovers from around the country; after all, Harley, who passed away last year, is quite famous. His work as a spokesdog against puppy mills eventually resulted in him becoming the 2015 American Hero Dog.

Featured Festival Hops & Harley photo by Emily Sierra

Harley

City Star Brewing is the host of Hops & Harley and 100 percent of the proceeds from the event go to Harley’s Dream, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness and educating the public about the commercial dog breeding industry (aka puppy mills).

Hops & Harley 2016 (3)

While puppy mill tales are sad, Hops & Harley is a celebration. This year’s event features live music from Bonnie & the Clydes and Woodbelly Bluegrass Band. Food trucks will be in attendance, along with activities for children and for dogs. In addition, attendees will enjoy a photo booth, doggy doppelgänger contest, Painting & Pints, and they’ll have a chance to learn about puppy mills.

Hops & Harley 2016 (2)

Of course, no Hops & Harley is complete without beer. City Star will be pouring a variety of their craft beers including Harley’s Wheat, and a personal favorite of mine, Spirit Hound Distillers from Lyons, will provide cocktails.

Hops & Harley is kid-friendly, dog-friendly and free, so pack up the entire family and head to Berthoud on Saturday, June 24.

Hops & Harley

June 24, 2017 | 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Fickel Park, Berthoud, CO

Admission: FREE

Visit Hops & Harley’s online

Like Harley on Facebook

Like City Star Brewing on Facebook

#HopsandHarley

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Featured Festivals spots on HeidiTown are paid advertisements. If you’d like to have your festival or event considered for a feature contact TheMayor@HeidiTown.com. Thank you!

Featured Festival: Loveland Fire & Ice Festival, Feb. 10-12, 2017

This fest has fireworks and fire arts, ice sculptures and light shows, bands and singers and so much more. No wonder Loveland Fire & Ice Festival won the Downtown Colorado, Inc. Governor’s Best Festival Award 2016.

Featured Festival Loveland Fire & Ice Festival, courtesy photo

Courtesy of Loveland Fire & Ice Festival

The amount of things to do at the Loveland Fire & Ice Festival will make your head spin. It truly has a little something for everyone. Whether you like live music or are looking for entertainment for the kids — toddler or teens — this festival has got you covered.

In addition to the festival’s fireworks show that occurs every evening throughout the three day festival, and ice sculptures that dot the downtown landscape, there is a new event happening at this year’s Loveland Fire & Ice Festival.

It’s the brand new Brewing & Distilling Arts event. In addition to a carved ice bar that will be on display, local craft beers, ciders, wines, sangria and specialty moonshine will be available to taste via a token system.

The Brewing & Distillery Arts events, which happens daily throughout the event, is sure to liven up this already joyous festival. Check here for specific times and token sale information.

At its core, Loveland Fire & Ice is a family festival. Children will enjoy a carousel and carnival games. There are also carriage rides available to both families and sweethearts.  

Featured Festival Loveland Fire & Ice Festival, ice sculpture, courtesy photo

Photo courtesy of Loveland Fire & Ice Festival

If you love live music, you won’t want to miss this festival.

The musical lineup on the event’s Main Stage is filled with bands that will keep festival attendees dancing in the streets of Loveland to the sounds of classic rock, blues and pop.

There will be three more places to listen to music over the weekend including the Cleveland Performance Stage, Lincoln Performance Stage and Jefferson Performance Stage. The festival’s website has a complete lineup of performers on each stage on their Attractions page.

Visitors can also shop at Loveland Fire & Ice Festival in the event’s Marketplace featuring multiple vendors and exhibitors.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival 2015. HeidiTown.com (9)

Should all this excitement make you hungry, visit the Food Truck Food Court which will host 13 different vendors selling everything from coffee to waffles.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival is an extravaganza of fun and an affordable way to entertain the entire family.

Featured Festival Loveland Fire & Ice Festival, fire performer, courtesy photo

Photo courtesy of Loveland Fire & Ice Festival

Loveland is located just 52 miles north of Denver, 58 miles south of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and is just minutes from Fort Collins. It’s easy to join in the free fun in downtown Loveland this February.

 

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival

February 10-12, 2017

Loveland, Colorado (downtown)

Admission: FREE

(with the exception of some ticketed events)

LovelandFireandIce.com

Loveland Fire & Ice on Facebook

Follow Loveland Fire & Ice on Facebook

#LoveFireIce2017

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Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.

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Kickin’ it at the Pro Rodeo in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

There are still two weekends left of the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, and you don’t want to miss this authentic, Wild West showdown.

Kickin’ it at the Pro Rodeo in Steamboat Springs. Bronco riding. HeidiTown.com

As a West Coast gal, raised in a tiny town in Washington State, I’ve been to my fair share of rodeos. And this summer I had the opportunity to attend the Pro Rodeo in Steamboat Springs as part of my Steamboat Summer Boat List trip. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, this little rodeo, that runs every Friday and Saturday night, July 17 through August 20, 2016 is one heck of a show.

Kickin’ it at the Pro Rodeo in Steamboat Springs. Bull scares photographer. HeidiTown.com

This bull had this photographer scrambling to get out of the arena.

Today, the town of Steamboat Springs is best-known for its champagne powder, but this ranching region of Northwest Colorado is home to more than a few real life cowboys, and there’s evidence that rodeo competitions have been taking place in town for more than 100 years. Continue reading

Kids bored this summer? Let HeidiTown help

Since the beginning of summer break, I’ve seen dozens of my friends complaining on Facebook about their kids’ boredom and asking about interesting ways to keep them busy this summer.

Kids bored this summer Let HeidiTown help. The living Farm, Paonia, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

The Living Farm, Paonia, Colorado

I’m not a mom, so I’m not going to use this blog post to list arts and crafts projects or fun backyard activities to do with your kids this summer. However, I am going to shed light on a few free and low costs outings that are guaranteed to keep your kids entertained for at least a few hours.

Outdoor concerts

Nearly every town in Colorado seems to have a free concerts series happening this summer. Some cities, such as Loveland, have two (Thursdays and Fridays). See my recent post for Visit Loveland for details. Continue reading

Featured Festival: Loveland Loves BBQ, Bands & Brews

Loveland Loves BBQ, Bands & BrewsNothing feels as much like summer as a cold beer in one hand and a pulled pork sandwich in the other – welcome to Loveland Loves BBQ, Bands & Brews.

This event always takes place on the second weekend in July. Through the years, this free event has grown to become one of Northern Colorado’s premiere summer festivals.

On Friday morning, downtown Loveland starts to smell like delicious barbecued meat, and by the time the festival opens at 3 p.m., folks are ready to eat, drink and be merry. While it has a community-festival feel, Loveland Loves BBQ, Bands & Brews attracts lots of out-of-towners, as well as locals.

Loveland Loves BBQ Bands & Brews HeidiTown

Originally a barbecue festival, the event has grown to include more and more bands and has partnered with local brewers to feature Loveland’s exciting beer scene. All four of Loveland’s microbreweries will be represented, including Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland Aleworks, Big Beaver Brewing and Verboten Brewing.

Beer vendors at Loveland Loves BBQ Bands and Brews HeidiTown

Here’s how the event works. The barbecue and beer vendors take over several huge parking lots in downtown Loveland. It’s free to attend the event, but you will need to buy tokens for beer and food. Once you’ve got a pocket full of tokens it’s time to eat. I usually do a quick walk through to see who is serving what and then go back through to try a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

The stage is set up in the parking lot that borders Cleveland Avenue. Tables, chairs and shade tents are scattered in the area so that people may sit and enjoy the bands. It will be crowded, but if you’re patient, spots under the tents do open up.

A beer & a bbq taster at Loveland Loves BBQ, Bands & Brews HeidiTown

Live music occurs throughout the day and Saturday’s bands include Downtown Country Sound (12 p.m.), Dixie Leadfoot & the Chrome Struts (1:30 p.m.), Jerry Shaffer & the Darn Thirsty Cowboys (3 p.m.), The Indulgers (4:30 p.m.), Amplified Souls (6 p.m.) and That Eighties Band (8 p.m.).

In addition to food, bands and beer, there’s also a marketplace where festival goers can do some shopping, a car show on Saturday, an interactive art competition at the Feed & Grain and more. It’s a great weekend to visit downtown Loveland, Colorado.

 Loveland Loves BBQ, Bands & Brews

July 12-13, 2013

Friday, 3 to 10 p.m.

Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Event Website

Event on Facebook

Cost: FREE

Do Durango, Part 3 – Get Touristy

Mayor’s note: I’ve written a three-part series on Doing Durango. Part one, published on 5/15, was all about beer and part two published on 5/29/13 was all about food. The final post is all about the touristy activities you shouldn’t miss.

beautiful haflinger horses and Dean from San Juan Sky Outfitters in Durango, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Beautiful haflinger horses & Dean from San Juan Sky Outfitters in Durango, Colorado.

When I visit a new place, I usually try to blend in with the locals, but I’ll be honest, sometimes being a tourist is a lot of fun. We did a lot of stuff in Durango that locals love to do, but we also got to play tourists on our nearly week-long stay.

Ride the Train in Durango

I’ve already written about our excursion on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad here, and it is, without a doubt, the top tourist activity in the area. In addition to the standard train ride they have special train rides, like the Dinosaur Train this month, package excursions and more. Go to Durangotrain.com for more.

Don’t miss the Durango Train Museum located at the train depot. It’s free to tour and has an expansive model train set up that kids (and adults) will enjoy.

An Historical Walking Tour of Durango with the Victorian Aid Society

As part of the conference I was attending, I got to participate in an historical walking tour of downtown Durango guided by the Victorian Aid Society. Anyone can book a tour with this organization, just go here. They even have a Facebook page.

On our historical walking tour with the ladies of the Victorian Aid Society. HeidiTown.com

On our historical walking tour of downtown Durango, Colorado with the ladies of the Victorian Aid Society.

I’ve been on a few historical walking tours and this one is top notch. I wish I’d written down the names of our guides, but thankfully I got pictures. These gals were wonderful storytellers, and that’s what makes a good tour. I don’t just want dates and names, I want the inside scoop, the nitty gritty, the lowdown – and these ladies deliver all that and more.

Take a Horse & Carriage Ride in Durango

I’ll be honest. I have never wanted to go on a horse and carriage ride. It just seemed way too touristy. However, when I was offered a ride by Dean of San Juan Sky Outfitters, I decided to take him up on it, and Ryan and I were so glad that we did.

Even though I’d never been on a horse and carriage ride, as soon as I boarded, I knew this going to be a ride like no other. First of all, Dean and his haflingers are real characters. Haflingers are small horses known for longevity and their excellent disposition. This ride so memorable because of Dean and his horses.

Dean taking some local kids home by carriage in Durango, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

The father of these two local kids, bartered with Dean to give the children a carriage ride home for a small fee. Gotta love a small town!

We boarded the carriage in front of the beautiful Strater Hotel and took off fairly quickly as the haflingers were excited, after all, we were their first passengers of the season.

Our 40 minute tour of historic downtown Durango was exhilarating and humorous. Dean’s stories were slightly different versions than those told by the ladies of the Victorian Aid Society, which only added to the entertainment level. Let’s call Dean’s version of the same stories told by the VAS, the “Cowboy Version.”

You do not need reservation in advance. Just show up and jump aboard. Or you can sign up for a carriage tour with Dean at the Strater Hotel.

Want more info on Durango?   Go to Durango.org.

Special thanks to the General Palmer Hotel for hosting us during part of this trip. Room 301 was a wonderful place to relax after a busy day of exploring Durango.

This trip was sponsored in part by Durango.org.

A stay at the Berthoud Inn in Berthoud, Colorado

I’ve been writing for the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor for 7 years, so I’ve had a long relationship with the town of Berthoud, Colorado. I’ve known about the Berthoud Inn, the only local bed and breakfast, but had never had the opportunity to stay there until I started helping out the owner, Mark Chaffee, with the Inn’s Facebook page.

Berthoud Inn in the snow HeidiTown

Berthoud is a charming town, and a visit there is a bit like going back in time. It’s a town where everyone still comes out to high school football games and the Homecoming Parade is one of the biggest events of the year.

The Berthoud Inn & Events is located on a huge lot of land, just east of downtown. Built in 1888, the house is magnificent. In 1904, a local newspaper said of the home, “It has always been considered one of the most beautiful in the vicinity.” And more than 100 years later, it still is.

Berthoud is situated between Longmont and Loveland, about 45 minutes north of Denver and just 35 miles from Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. The Inn is within walking distance of everything the small town has to offer including restaurants, several day spas and a bit of shopping.

There’s also a brewery and that’s why we were there on a Wednesday. We were planning to defend our title as champions at Trivia Night at City Star Brewing.

We arrived at the Inn around 5:30 p.m. and a tour reveals seven themed rooms suited for a variety of guests. The Egyptian Room, in the basement, is probably the most interesting. It includes a tub the size of a small swimming pool, and some Egyptian costumes for those who may want to play a dress up.

The French Room at the Berthoud Inn HeidiTown

We stayed in the bright & cheery French Room at the Berthoud Inn.

The Inn also has a gigantic backyard that includes two stages and is home to the two tallest trees in Berthoud. Appropriate since the town’s nickname is “The Garden Spot.”  Small weddings are welcome here, and the space is pretty, even in the winter. I can easily visualize sitting on the wrap around patio during the summer with a glass of wine at my elbow and a book in my hands.

The sun setting on the Berthoud Inn HeidiTown

The sun setting at the Berthoud Inn.

After the tour we set out for City Star on foot, with a brief stop at the Brick Oven to order pizza. City Star lets visitors bring in food, and some places in downtown Berthoud will deliver your food directly to the brewery.

Trivia night has become popular and the brewery was packed. No problem for our team; we soundly beat everyone anyway. It probably helped that we had a team of nine very smart, very good looking people.

Breakfast at the Inn was a smorgasbord of culinary delights. Chaffee has owned the Berthoud Inn for 12 years, but before that he was the owner of multiple restaurants in Denver. There’s little doubt in my mind that his abilities as a chef is what truly sets the Berthoud Inn apart.

Our breakfast started with coffee and fruit in cream, and from there it just got better and better. Chaffee says he takes breakfast and “elevates it.” You may dine on strata with shrimp or poached salmon with a tropical fruit medley. He always serves eggs alongside, but your main dish may be more gourmet than you were expecting. It’s not unusual to have pork medallions with a savory sauce as your breakfast entrée – and be warned that portion sizes may have you skipping lunch.

Our breakfast concluded with cinnamon rolls served with a side of ice cream, so perhaps not surprisingly the dining experiences at the Berthoud Inn is what is most often referenced in their reviews on Trip Advisor.

Breakfast at the Berthoud Inn HeidiTown

Breakfast at the Berthoud Inn is a meal to remember.

The Berthoud Inn offers seven rooms in the main house, but also has a fully equipped, two bedroom apartment available for families, extended stay guests, business travelers, or those traveling with their canine companion. Since we were staying in the main house, we left our dog at Happy Tails Dog Ranch. Just five minutes from the Inn, I highly recommend Happy Tails. We’ve been utilizing their dog boarding services for a number of years. Learn more here.

To those of you who may have hesitations about staying at a bed and breakfast, please read my post, Dispelling Myths about Staying at a Bed & Breakfast. Bed and breakfasts are one of my favorite lodging options when I travel, and I think you’ll love it too if you give it a try.

The Berthoud Inn & Events is located at 444 1st Street in Berthoud, Colorado. Find them online at BerthoudInn.com or join their brand new Facebook page here.

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Please note: I am assisting the Berthoud Inn with their new Facebook page. Therefore, I received a free stay to experience firsthand everything the Inn has to offer.  

Skiing, pizza, dog sledding & more in Winter Park, Colorado

Winter Park Resort Sign Feb 2013 HeidiTown.comEach Colorado ski town has its own unique feel, and Winter Park feels comfortable. For many Coloradans, it’s comfy because they’ve been skiing there since childhood, but even for the Winter Park newbie, the town has a relaxed vibe. Maybe it’s a Grand County thing. Winter Park, Granby and Grand Lake are towns that make visitors feel welcome. No need for fancy clothes, the most recent ski gear or a brand new car, just come as you are and have fun.

We recently spent a weekend in Winter Park. I was covering Grand Park Dog Days of winter, a sanctioned sled dog race, and you can see all the photos here.

Pizza, pizza, extraordinary pie

Winter Park is a ski town, no doubt. It’s been a tourist destination since the 1930s when it was called Hideaway Park. In 1978, when the Winter Park Ski Area was being developed by the City of Denver, the town was renamed Winter Park.

Many Coloradans grew up skiing Winter Park, in fact, many of my husband’s earliest ski memories took place there. Folks are nostalgic about places like Hernando’s Pizza Pub, a joint that’s been serving up popular pies since the sixties.

HeidiTown dollar bill at Hernandos Winter Park 2013

We stopped in at Hernando’s on Friday night and the wait was 70 minutes – this place is busy year round, but the pizza is worth the wait. Pizza places are dime a dozen in ski towns, and Winter Park is no exception, but the pizza at Hernando’s is exceptional, plus, the 20,000+ dollar bills plastering the walls give it an ambiance all its own.

Earlier in the day I had fulfilled a childhood dream of dog sledding at Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park. This amazing experience merited a full blog post of its own, and you can read it here.

Dog Days of Winter Park Feb 2013 HeidiTown

The Grand Dog Days of Winter Park 2013.

The school bus shuffle

The free bus system in Winter Park is a great option, but navigating it can be a bit of a challenge. We stayed at Iron Horse Resort, a sweet ski-in ski-out property at Winter Park Resort. Unfortunately, in an attempt to go downtown, we got on the wrong school bus and proceeded to take a tour of the resort, eventually ending up back at Iron Horse.

After a quick discussion with the front desk, we discovered that during the day, you must take the bus to the ski village and then transfer to a bus that goes downtown. Starting at 5:30 p.m. there are buses that run from Iron Horse Resort to town every half hour or so.

We eventually made it downtown and enjoyed our pizza and our awesome waitress, Jill at Hernando’s. We managed to catch a bus back to Iron Horse, but got a quite a tour of Winter Park before getting back to our condo.

My tip for riding the Winter Park bus system is to always tell your driver your final destination, and don’t be in a big hurry to get there. Remember, it’s free, and if you are planning on having a drink or three with your pizza, it’s far better to ride the bus than to drive drunk.

the pool at Iron Horse Resort Winter Park Feb 2013 HeidiTown.com

The view from the pool at Iron Horse Resort.

The Iron Horse rocks & so does Ski Depot

We had a studio apartment at the Iron Horse, complete with bathroom, full kitchen and the most comfortable Murphy bed I’ve ever slept in. Our room was light, bright and comfortable. The property also has pool/hot tub facilities. What sells most people on Iron Horse is that it is a ski-out, ski-out property. You literally walk out, put your skis on and ski down the hill to the resort.

Most conveniently, Breeze at Ski Depot has a store downstairs at the Iron Horse Resort. This is where we got our ski rentals and the staff couldn’t be nicer – even on a crazy, busy Presidents Day weekend, they were friendly and fun. I even got advice on how to get off a ski lift without falling on my face.  

My husband skied two days, ripping it up on Mary Jane and having a hell of a good time doing it. The resort was busy and there were some lines on day two, when the top of the mountain closed due to high winds, but it was a beautiful ski weekend. As a below average skier, I didn’t spend long on the mountain, but had a great time watching GoPro Racing from the deck of the Derailer Bar, and drinking a bloody Mary complete with bacon garnish. Yes, bacon.

Grand County, where adventure awaitsBloody Mary with Bacon at the Derailer Bar in Winter Park Feb 2013 HeidiTown

So why Winter Park? With everything the town and resort has to offer, plus outstanding opportunities for more winter adventures within easy driving distance, such as snowmobiling in Grand Lake, cross-country skiing at Devil’s Thumb Ranch or tubing at CO Adventure Park in Fraser, Winter Park makes an ideal location for a winter getaway.

Recommended Links:

PlayWinterPark.com  …  On Facebook  /  On Twitter

AlpineResortProperties.com  …  On Facebook

VisitGrandCounty.com  …  On Facebook  /  On Twitter

This trip sponsored in part by Winter Park & Fraser Chamber.

 

A winter weekend in Grand Lake, Colorado

Welcome to Historic Grand Lake sign HeidiTown.comWe arrived in Grand Lake on a snowy Friday. The area had received three straight days of heavy snow, which made our first stop at On the Trail Rentals, even more fantastic. I previously wrote about this experience.

We were booked at the Western  Riviera  Lakeside Lodging & Events, soon to be world famous because on March 25, they will be featured on the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible. Much to my delight, because I’m a fan, the crew of Hotel Impossible was filming on the weekend we were in town.

We were staying in The Tree House, a huge two bedroom apartment overlooking the lake and just a short distance from the Western Riveria’s lake front property. It has a full kitchen, a living room and dining area with a fireplace. The master suite features a walk in closet the size of my first apartment, and the bathroom has Jack & Jill sinks.

Sunrise over Grand Lake HeidiTown.comWe thoroughly enjoy the purple and pink sunrises from our big front window each morning, and we had a front row seat to the fireworks show on Saturday night. I was in town covering Grand Lake Winter Carnival, one of the best little winter festivals I’ve attended in Colorado.

Scheduled for a guided snowshoe trek in Rocky Mountain National Park, we got up early on Saturday. The Fat Cat had been recommended to us by the bartender at The Lariat. They serve a $12 breakfast buffet on the weekend and the selection included Scotch eggs, a personal favorite. A table heavy laden with desserts caught our eye. It looked like something right off the pages of Bon Appetit Magazine.

My husband, Ryan, is a big fan of desserts. Big. He looked at me, eyes full of excitement and asked, “Do you think that’s part of the buffet?”

dessert buffet at The Fat Cat HeidiTown.com

It was. The Fat Cat will now always hold a special place in my Ryan’s heart, and mine too. We ended up there twice during our stay. We met and chatted with Sally, the owner, and felt like we’d discovered a home away from home. That’s how I feel about Grand Lake in general – it is genuinely comfortable.

At 9 a.m. we arrived at the Kawuneeche Visitors Center for our ranger led snow shoe outing with Ranger Barb. This was one of the best mornings ever, in part because Barb’s husband cut the trail for us. The scenery was breathtaking and it felt like we were snowshoers in a postcard. Barb is a gifted guide and amusing storyteller.  Ranger led hikes at RMNP are free, but you must make reservations by calling 970-586-1223.

Rocky Mountain National Park in the snow HeidiTown.com

After our hike we sped back to Grand Lake to enjoy Winter Carnival activities. During winter carnival the businesses along Grand Avenue sponsor snow sculptures and this year’s theme was Alice in Winterland, resulting in especially whimsical creations.

snow sculpture in Grand Lake HeidiTown.com

The bed races are the Carnival’s most famous event. Eager festival goers were already lining the streets when we arrived and I noticed right way that Grand Lake is probably one of the most dog friendly towns in a state full of dog friendly towns.

The bed races lived up to the hype. It was a seriously entertaining event and since Hotel Impossible was in town they entered a team complete with their own camera crew caught here in our video of the races.

Fireworks over Grand Lake HeidiTown.comAfter the events were complete we made a quick trip out to Grand Lake Brewing  which had moved out of town since our first visit. Their taster trays are huge and the staff is really nice. Back in town, we walked from The Tree House to Pancho & Lefty’s, another one of our favorite places in Grand Lake. It’s a super fun place that I mentioned in previous posts here on HeidiTown.

After a rather impressive fireworks show that we watched from our porch, we dined on delicious handmade pizza at the Grand Lake Bowling Alley.

Ryan at the Grand Lake Nordic Center HeidiTown.comThe next morning, after filling up at The Fat Cat once more, we headed out to the picturesque Grand Lake Nordic Center for a morning of cross country skiing.  The club house is beautiful and with 35 kilometers of groomed trails, you could easily spend a day here.

Sadly, we couldn’t. We had to head back home, but we’ll miss Grand Lake, and can’t wait to go back.

Author’s Note: Don’t miss the historic Daven Haven Lodge while you’re in town. It’s been open since the 1930s, and has had just three owners over the years. For a delicious steak, or all you can eat shrimp on Friday nights, make a reservation at the Daven Haven.

See more photos from this trip on Instagram at @TheMayorofHeidiTown.

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HOTEL IMPOSSIBLE featuring the Western  Riviera  airs Monday, March 25 on the Travel Channel.

Sponsored by the  Grand County Colorado Tourism Board. Find them  on Facebook here.  and on Twitter at  @GrandCountyCo.  #VisitGrandCounty

Dog Sledding with Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park, Colorado

Throughout childhood I watched the Iditarod with pure excitement. I remember watching the late Susan Butcher dominate the race during the late 80s and early 90s. It was a sport that crossed gender lines and pitted human nature against Mother Nature, and Mother Nature sometimes won.

Dog Sledding Winter Park favorite shot HeidiTown

I was also a fan of the Iditarod because growing up in the Pacific Northwest I had several connections to people who ran the race; not close associations, but close enough to make me feel connected in a small way.

After reading the book “The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs & Men in a Race Against an Epidemic“ by Gay Salisbury, I developed a renewed interest in this race that had mesmerized me as a child. The book, published in 2005, is a nonfiction account of the 1925 diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska. Unable to reach the town by plane, sled dogs were used to race lifesaving serum to the people of Nome. At the time, this event captivated the nation and inspired the annual Iditarod Dog Sled Race.

This long intro illustrates just how much I’ve always wanted to try dog sledding, so when I got the opportunity at Sled Dog Rides of Winter Park this past weekend, I jumped at it. I was in town covering the Grand Park Dog Days of Winter, a sanction sled dog race, so it was the perfect fit.

Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park is located just three minutes outside of Fraser, or 12 minutes from Winter Park Resort. My husband, Ryan, and I arrived on a snowy and blustery Friday afternoon. Ryan’s uncle, Dean, joined us as well.

As we were guided to the area where the dogs are tied, all was quiet, but not for long. When the dogs realized that sleds were being set up the howls began. It was as if they were all saying, “Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!”

WP Dog Sled thumbs up HeidiTown

Ryan and I were bundled onto one sled, while Dean rode alone. Because our combined weight was significant, our team consisted of 12 excited dogs.

Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park has around 80 dogs, mostly Alaskan huskies. An Alaskan husky is a husky that has been bred with a variety of other breeds, so they all look a little different. Our team had one crazy Siberian husky named Yukon, while the rest were Alaskan huskies. Yukon is the dog in the video below that seems to be bouncing around and looking everywhere except forward.

Snuggled into a large blanket aboard our sled, we watched as our team was hooked up. This is quite a process and I kept thinking of the phrase, “herding snakes.” When the team was ready our musher, Laura, hopped on the back of the sled and we were off. The fast start was somewhat unexpected, and I was startled and tingly with delight all at the same time.

WP dog sledding HeidiTownWP dog sledding HeidiTown

Laura informed us that we were sledding in less than ideal conditions. With fresh snow and wind, the groomed trail was constantly being covered with snow, making the dogs’ job more difficult.

Even with a heavy sled and deep snow in places, our team ran their hearts out. As we flew through Grand County’s beautiful countryside Laura kept us entertained with stories and answered our many questions; her knowledge made this ride not only fun, but educational.

WP Dog Sled  through the woods HeidiTown

While going through a deep drift our sled slowly turned over and we had to bail. Ryan was especially excited about this little incident because he felt it made a better “dog sled ride story.” However, it’s not nearly as dramatic as it sounds. Once the sled was good and stuck, Laura had us roll off the side so the dogs would be able to pull the sled out of the drift. After that we got back on and were off again.

The ride took about 45 minutes and we covered around 3 miles. Dog sledding is exhilarating, and for dog lovers like me, there’s the added bonus of getting to meet the dogs after the outing.

WP dog sledding HeidiTown kisses

Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park operates winter and summer. During the summer the dogs pull visitors in modified golf carts or on specialized scooters. You can visit Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park at DogSledRidesofWinterPark.com or check them out on Facebook here.

For more information about visiting Grand County go to VisitGrandCounty.com. To keep tabs on everything happening in Winter Park go to PlayWinterPark.com.

See more photos of this dog sledding trip here. My husband took the following video or our dog sled adventure at Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park.

(NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS: You’ll need to go to HeidiTown.com to see video)

Below is one of my favorite Instagram from this dog sledding experience. This was one of our “wheel dogs” (meaning he was directly in front of our sled). I love that face! Follow me on Instagram @TheMayorofHeidiTown.

Sled Dog at Dog Sled Rides Feb 2013 HeidiTown.com

This trip sponsored in part by the Winter Park & Fraser Chamber.

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