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Steamboat Springs

Colorado Revenue Continues to Grow, Economists Say

imagesColorado’s economy continues to outperform expectations, spurred on by tax revenue from stock sales, although unemployment remains high, state economists told lawmakers Monday.  The state’s tax receipts are expected to be $548.2 million, or 7.1 percent higher, this budget year than the prior year, according to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s economists. The latest quarterly forecast from state economists touched on familiar trends of past reports: Colorado’s economy is outperforming the national economy, but there remains caution because of the revenue growth is driven by taxes on one-time stock sales.  “We have clue after clue that what we’re dealing with is volatile revenue stream,” said Henry Sobanet, Hickenlooper’s budget director.  With the adjusted revenue numbers from December, the state’s general fund is expected to be $8.3 billion for the fiscal year that began in July. The general fund now exceeds the pre-Great Recession peak of $7.7 billion in 2007. The quarterly forecast released Monday afternoon will play a key role in the upcoming debate over the budget, especially as lawmakers debate an overhaul of the state’s system to fund schools. Lawmakers typically give final approval to the budget next month.  State legislative economists also delivered a separate forecast to lawmakers Monday with a similar outlook of cautious optimism for the state.  “I believe it is the spring of this recovery. However, know that storms can still happen in the spring,” said Natalie Mullis, the Legislature’s chief economist.

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No Snow Necessary: Ski Resorts Deliver Summer Fun

1374235970000-4x4Tour-1307190814_4_3“I came for the winter, but stayed for the summer.”

It’s a well-worn cliché employed by one-time ski bums who quickly grasped the appeal of ski-town living after the snow melted, the temperatures rose and the wildflowers bloomed.

In recent years, top ski destinations have beefed up their warm-weather offerings to lure visitors. Most large ski resorts offer world-class golf and mountain biking. Many are adding bells and high-altitude whistles like man-made whitewater parks, ziplines and much more. The bonus? Bargain rates at some of the region’s swankiest spots.

“In the summertime, travelers can experience the same luxurious lodging and dine at the same world-class restaurants for a fraction of the price,” says Dan Sherman of Ski.com, which sells mountain vacation packages. “We have found that travelers can snag deals with savings of up to 85-percent off the most expensive travel times in winter.”

Wow, you say? That’s what we thought, too.

Here are some places to spend a spectacular summer in the mountains.

Skiing’s Season Pass Revolution Now Includes Lodging

CBMR-FireworksIn the past two years I have covered the fast evolving world of season ski passes, which are a game changer for ski travelers. This trend just keeps getting better.

The main players I have profiled here are Vail Resorts with its Epic Pass, now good at 13 major resorts across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Michigan and Minnesota, plus partners in Austria and Switzerland. The other major option is The Mountain Collective, a package of discounted lift tickets across several independent powerhouse resorts including Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson, Alta, Snowbird, Whistler/Blackcomb, Mammoth and Alpine Meadows/Squaw Valley. There are also more niche regional products such as Utah’s Ski Salt Lake Super Pass and Colorado’s Rocky Mountain SuperPass.

So what’s the newest wrinkle in the world of ski season passes? Well at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, whose season pass already includes limited free skiing at Okemo in Vermont and Sunapee in New Hampshire, the town’s Nordic Inn has upped the ante considerably with an entirely new concept, combining a traditional season pass with 10 flexible nights of bed and breakfast lodging. This means you can make up to two 5-day trips to Crested Butte to use the pass and each time have a place to stay at no additional charge. Or you can break the ten days up however you want for multiple visits at any time from Nov. 20, 2013 through April 6, 2014, with no blackout dates, and extra days are available as an add-on at a 40% discount. If your schedule is flexible you can chase storms and come just for fresh powder. At the same time, Crested Butte Mountain Resort just lowered its regular adult season pass prices by more than 40 percent, just $599 for a full-season adult ski pass with no blackout dates.

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Steamboat Running Series Stretches out Saturday with Mount Werner Classic

080113_RunningFILE_t670Emily Conjura puts up with long nights, stressful days and zero financial compensation to put on a running race. Though to her and many runners, the 50-kilometer Mount Werner Classic is more than that; it’s a chance to give back. “I think what you realize is you not only need to take from the running community, but you also have to give back,” Conjura said. “I can’t run that far anymore, but when I could, I appreciated that there was someone to put on a race like that for me.”

The Mount Werner Classic, planned for Saturday, caught on to the running world’s ultramarathon trend last year when it switched to a 50-kilometer course — about 31 miles — that climbs to the top of Storm Peak and back down with 5,100 feet of elevation gain. “I think ultramarathons are kind of the up-and-coming thing like the marathon was in the 1980s,” Conjura said. Conjura credits the change in course length, along with talk floating around the running community, for an increase in out-of-town participants. She estimated about 75 percent of the runners are coming from outside of Steamboat, and she’s hoping they can help fill out the field.

Click here for the full article and the full Steamboat Springs Competitive Run Schedule.

Timelapse: Super Moon Rising Over the Rocky Mountians

imagesAstrophotographer Cory Schmitz braved a brown bear in order to capture some wonderful images of the full Moon rise on July 22, 2013. This composite shows a series of images of the moonrise, and below is a beautiful timelapse.

A series of photos combined to show the rise of the July 22, 2013 ‘super’ full moon over the Rocky Mountains, shot near Vail, Colorado, at 10,000ft above sea level in the White River National Forest. Moon images are approximately 200 seconds apart.

Crane Festival Returns to Steamboat for 2nd Year

090613_CraneFILE_t670They are the biggest of their type. They can mate for life. Their mythology and symbolism are marked in cultures across the world. And they can dance. “They’re the best dancers in the animal kingdom,” said Nancy Merrill, the president of the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition and one of the co-organizers of the second annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival.

For Merrill, the meaning of the crane is deep and rich. They greet her every morning near her ranch in Hayden. And what started as an informal meeting of friends around this time of year eventually turned into a full-blown festival. “We thought it would be great to have a crane festival,” Merrill said. “It’s a great draw for bird watchers and nature lovers. But also, cranes are culturally transcendent. They have a great appeal.” The event made its debut last year in response to Colorado Parks and Wildlife considering a limited hunting season for cranes. After the proposal was withdrawn, Merrill and co-organizer Barb Hughes decided to turn their decadelong idea into a reality.

“We were very surprised by the turnout last year,” Hughes said. “We had people from 28 cities around Colorado and 12 states. That was with minimal publicity.” This year, with more time and planning, the second rendition is packed full of events across the Yampa Valley. Merrill and Hughes said that in the second year they wanted to showcase the cranes but also do it across the valley to help highlight the area.

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Colorado’s Top 13 Family Vacation Ideas for Summer 2013

indexSummer is just around the corner and you don’t need to look far to have a world-class vacation with your family. From theater hikes to Outhouse Races to free events galore, we have the inside scoop on All Things Colorado.

Aspen/Snowmass

It may be summertime but Snowmass has returned to the Ice Age with the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center that features the most significant Ice Age ecosystem find in Colorado history (and it’s free). Touch a mastodon tooth, marvel at a half-sized 6-foot Wooden Mammoth Skeleton, do a dig of your own or a daily Ice Age Discovery Hike by  Environment Studies.  Visit the Snowmass Rodeo on Wednesday nights (June 12- August 28) and sign up your kids for the Calf Scramble and Mutton Busting. Ride the Elk Camp Gondola up Snowmass Mountain where the Elk Camp Restaurant will open for activities including downhill biking, dinner, campfires, live music, movies, Stryder Park and Kid’s Playground on Friday evenings. Try your hand at some slopeside bowling at the new bowling alley below Venga Venga Cantina featuring eight full-sized lanes, a lounge area with full bar, wood-fired oven pizzas, upscale bar food and more. Then, get inspired at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, a stellar place for kids of all ages to take workshops that include sculpture, photography, painting, beading, and mask-making.

Click here to read about all the other fun Colorado towns.

2012-13 Skier Visits Creep Up by 4 Percent in Colorado

Arapahoe Basin Ski AreaColorado’s ski areas hosted 11.4 million skier visits last season, a nearly 4 percent increase over the previous season’s 11 million.

The 11.4 million mark, while an increase over the dismal and dry 2011-12 season, is the third-slowest season in the past decade, and the annual increase falls well below the national spike of 11 percent.

Colorado Ski Country USA, the trade group that represents 21 of the state’s 25 ski areas, reported 6.4 million skier visits in 2012-13, an increase of 3.8 percent, or 235,000 skier visits, over 2011-12. Vail Resorts’ four Colorado ski areas — Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek — saw about 5 million skier visits.

Colorado’s 2012-13 season started slowly, with weak snow and local skiers staying home. Storms in late December and late spring fueled a rebound in visitation. But it wasn’t enough to pull the state closer to the 12 million-skier-visit benchmark it reached in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Declining skier visits does not necessarily correlate to decreasing revenues, as evidenced by ski areas that saw increased revenues in 2011-12, which saw record declines in visitation.

Alaska Airlines Launches New Flights to Coincide with Ski Season

0alaska-airFrom the icy snow of Alaska to the icy snow of Colorado, Alaska Airlines is launching its first ever flights to coincide with ski season.

“This will be Alaska Airlines’ first Colorado ski destination, giving our customers in the Pacific Northwest the first-ever nonstop service to world-class skiing in the Western Colorado Rockies,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of marketing. “Steamboat is a family-friendly resort famous worldwide for its authentic western atmosphere and champagne powder snow.”

Alaska Airlines will begin new seasonal service between Seattle and Steamboat Springs/Hayden, Colorado, this winter. The twice-weekly flights will operate from December 18, 2013, through March 29, 2014.

Flights will take place on Wednesdays & Saturdays.

Click here for more information.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado: Five HOT Summertime Activities

IQ2A2110-141x200This charming resort town, also known as Ski Town, U.S.A.®, was originally just a summer destination, owing much of its allure to the 150 natural hot springs that dot the landscape.  Travelers as far back as 1880 came here to partake of the waters as well as the abundance of outdoor activities. The name of the town, in fact, was given by French fur trappers who thought that one of the springs sounded like a steamboat engine.

Summertime is still one of the best times to visit, and hot springs are just an appetizer in the smorgasbord of available activities. So here is my short list of the top five things to see and do.

Located just a short drive from the center of town, Fish Creek Falls is currently ranked as the #1 attraction on TripAdvisor. There is a $5.00 parking fee that provides access to a couple of hiking trails and the overlook trail is an easy, paved affair that is ideal for families with strollers or anyone using a wheelchair. This walk is quite scenic among the aspen trees and natural foliage and ends with a grand view of the 283-foot falls after about a quarter of a mile.

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