A 33-mile bike ride up 2,675 feet on a cold, wet island in Puget Sound in February may sound brutal. But tell that to the 4,000 cyclists who sign up each year for the Chilly Hilly on Bainbridge Island. “You can get an eyeful of the Seattle skyline, ogle a bald eagle, and soak in dreamy harbor vistas,” says habitual entrant Gordon Black. “If only all suburbs looked so good.” Bakeries are as abundant as conifers along the route, and the epic post-ride chili feed is a near-instant restorative. Mark your calendar for February 28 (entrance fee is $35). If a warmer weather version is more your speed, you can download the route map and DIY ride it anytime at squeakywheels.org.
Snow is coming early to the West this year. While El Nino recently brought in two feet at Tahoe, the Rockies are now getting an early-season dumping with projections upwards of 18 inches of snow over the next few days. Few ski resorts have opened their lifts yet, but it's not too early to break out your skins and start exploring the backcountry.
"It's sweet because the ski season is going off from now until June in some places," said Harrison Buck, director of BuckNaked Visual Works, a ski film production company based out of Crested Butte, Colorado. His suggestion? Start in Leadville, the highest incorporated town in the U.S. at 10,152 feet. The surrounding high-mountain passes make for a great variety of early-season runs above tree line. This weekend, try Independence Pass: before the road over the pass closes for the season you can drive to the top, pick your line, and ski on down.
Get outfitted with maps and avalanche gear at Sawatch Backcountry in downtown Leadville. There, knowledgeable locals will set you up and point you in the right direction.—Greer Schott Find out where to ski now with our guide this year's best deals, trails, and upgrades >>
When planning a trip to the National Parks you will inevitably have questions--and the National Parks Owner's Guide 2009, a comprehensive online trip planning tool from the National Parks Foundation, will help you answer them. How long will it take to hike to Fort Bowie and back in Fort Bowie National Historic Site? (At least two hours.) When's the best time to go to Guadalupe Mountains National Park? (After 11pm to see the stars.) What's the deepest lake in the U.S.? (Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park.)
The guide is fit for both the novice park goer and extreme explorer, complete
with must see sights, insider hints, detailed maps, and photos--all for free. "Every
citizen is a part owner of the National Park System, and this guide has
everything you need to get started planning your trip in one place," says Jamie Patten, senior vice president of the National Park Foundation. "Getting outside and into the parks has never been easier."
The last gasps of winter will howl across Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, and southern Wyoming this weekend, depositing some wet, heavy snow for spring skiers. But in the east, south, and much of the west, spring has officially sprung.
Timing couldn t be better for participants in Georgia s BRAG Spring Tune-up Ride ($65; brag.org). Based in Madison (once called the best small town in America), the riding weekend includes a century on Saturday. Consider it a tune-up for the Bike Ride Across Georgia, June 6-13. In North Carolina, meanwhile, paddlers are celebrating the spring run-off in style on the newly reborn Cheoah River (www.noc.com). The rivers nonstop technical action through Class IV and V rapids requires deft participation and more than a little hutspa from every paddler. Moving up the eastern seaboard, spring sun means softening snow on Mount Washington's Tuckerman's Ravine. The New Hampshire backcountry run has become rite of passage for all East Coast skiers (www.tuckerman.org) and one of our 50 Best American Adventures. On the left coast, meanwhile, clear skies and temperatures in the high 60s greet the 10,000 riders and 50,000 fans converging on Monterey, California for the Sea Otter Classic (seaotterclassic.com), North America's biggest cycling party. Those conditions continue inland, and, sure, they may feel a bit out-of-place on 14,179-foot Mount Shasta during the Winter Expedition Training course from SMS Mountain Guides (www.swsmtns.com). But we ll take the bluebird skies. It s still easy enough to remember the big-storm bluster of winter.
While it’s officially spring according to the calendar, we’ve still got winter on the brain. So with helmets protecting our brain grapes and an eye on the weather map, we look forward to another weekend in the mountains. Luckily, ma nature is rolling out the white carpet.
In the Pacific Northwest, a storm could drop a foot of fluff on the Cascades and the Northern Sierra. Take advantage of the extra cushioning during Mount Hood’s Suds on the Slopes Festival. Sample enough of the Oregon's finest microbrews, and you may just wind up jumping in a lake–literally–during America’s Pond Skimming Championships. Moving more central, you can save on lodging and spend on après ski at the Sunriver Resort, which has a “stay free, ski free” package that adds up to just $280 for three nights and includes three days of lift tickets at Mount Bachelor.
Back East, powder hounds will be left wanting, but there's plenty of clear days and deals to be had throughout Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire. And in Tennessee, the skies should be clear and the rainbows active in the trophy stretch of the Watauga River, where you get 20-fish days, heck, 40-fish days at Watauga River Lodge. Casting distance from the river, the Watauga has spanking-new knotty-pine cabins for half the price of those Western gentleman’s fishing lodges. It’s a little taste of what’s next, when we we finally have to bid adieu to the winter wonderland. Enjoy the weekend!
A storm moving across southern Colorado and northern New Mexico will powder the course for Telluride Ski Resort’s Psycho 10K on Saturday. Registration starts at 10:30 at Priest Lake, and the race kicks off at noon. Up north in Montana, the skies will be much clearer, providing perfect viewing conditions for the Red Lodge Mountain Resort's National Finals Ski-Joring Races. Skijoring is the sport of skiing while being towed by a dog or horse. What else would you expect in rodeo country?
Meanwhile, further west, Lake Tahoe’s slopes could hardly hold any more fluffy stuff. They’ve accumulated 400 inches this winter, much of it in March. Matriculate in Alpine Meadows’ Steep Camps this Friday to learn to ski OB and take advantage of the resort’s open-boundary policy. Nearby Kirkwood Mountain Resort, which is offering ski and stay packages from $109, is also prepping for next weekend’s North American Free Skiing Championships. Book now.
Sunny Southern California is serving up blue skies and perfect road cycling weather. Take advantage by traveling to the kitschy, Danish-themed town of Solvang for the Solvang Century ride. The two-laners in the Santa Ynez Mountains, which link the wineries that seduced the oenophiles in Sideways, make for some of the best cycling in the U.S. Back East, a cold front should freeze the slopes, while providing perfect XC conditions out of Lapland Lake lodge in the southern Adirondacks, where owner and former U.S. Olympic cross-country skier Olavi Hirvonen has carved out his own slice of Finland: a 50K trail network, Finnish-style cabins, and two pet reindeer. Enjoy the weekend! —Michael Benoist
**While warming temperatures and scattered rains threaten to wipe much of the snow that accumulated in the East this week, the west—particularly Utah and Colorado—is getting hammered. Utah resorts are reporting as much as a foot of fresh snowfall Thursday morning, with plenty more on the way. “This cycle could bring as much as 20 inches before the weekend’s out,” says Jessica Kunzer of Ski Utah. Colorado is also knee-deep in fluffy stuff. Here’s how to take advantage:
Ski Six Resorts in One Day
Bragging rights don’t get much better than this: To ski six Park City area resorts in a single day, enlist a guide on the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour–who will provide the security clearance to drop ropes and jump lines in the course of skiing Deer Valley, Park City, Brighton, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird. The routes are almost entirely backcountry, but you don’t need skins or telemark skis. With a combination of lifts and judicious traversing you can link up with insanely fun powder runs, an average of two at each ski area. ($250, including lunch, equipment, and return transportation; skiutah.com)
For that Mogul-Lover in You
This weekend marks the second of Bob Barne’s two bump camps at Mary Jane at Winter Park Resort, where more than half of the 12,060-foot mountain’s 95 skiable acres are covered in moguls the size of VW Beetles. During the camp, Colorado’s famed mogul guru and some handpicked instructors work with groups divided by skill level, starting with indoor sessions and progressing through video stance analysis and lots of skiing. ($499; skiwinterpark.com).
Photograph by Craig DiPietro of Alta,Utah, courtesy of Ski Utah