Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Colorado by Horseback: A Great Riding Adventure

In the late 1700's, residents of Colonial America finally started to move west.  When we think of the migration of these early settlers, a typical picture comes to mind:  covered wagons pulled by horses, accompanied by riders astride horses to guard against danger.  Sure-footed and strong, horses could handle the task of bringing settlers and their belongings to the early American west, and were able to easily navigate over rough terrain.  And just imagine the first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains from the back of a horse!  Not to mention the rough trip through the Continental Divide to continue further west from what is now Colorado.

Even today, there is nothing quite like seeing the breathtaking beauty and grandeur of the Centennial State on horseback.  Whether exploring commonly visited areas, or venturing to places unattainable by car or bike, horseback riding is a favorite pastime of locals and visitors alike.  Why not plan an equestrian adventure during your Colorado bed and breakfast getaway?

Autumn is on the horizon, and is the perfect time to see Colorado by horseback!  Crisp air, beautiful fall foliage mixed among the evergreens, and sun shining for at least part of almost every day makes for an unforgettable riding experience.  From the back of a horse, you can see hidden vistas, easily ascend foothills, and explore miles of our state's plains and grasslands while feeling that you're part of something so much bigger than yourself.  Most outfitters offer rides geared to every level of expertise, from "greenhorn" to experienced.

Northeast Region
  • North Sterling State Park offers a 3.5 mile trail on the South Shoreline for those bringing their own horses to the state.  The trail follows the shoreline at the edge of the grasslands and offers views of the lake, and a relaxing ride.
Southeast Region
  • Vogel Canyon near La Junta offers four trails through sandstone formations and shortgrass prairie ranging in length from 1-3 miles.
  • Castlewood Canyon State Park in Franktown currently offers just one 1-mile trail for horseback riding, however additional trails should be completed in the near future.  This small canyon holds Cherry Creek, and offers a more rocky environment.  This park is home to several raptor species, so keep an eye out as you ride!
Front Range Region
  • Roosevelt National Forest and the Poudre Canyon offers riding along streams through aspen and pine trees and into the hills.  Beaver Meadows Stables offers trips in this area.
  • The area west of Fort Collins features both flatland riding, and climbs into the rocky foothills for amazing views!  Try Tip Top Ranch for 1-2 hour rides.
  • Estes Park surrounds you with blue skies, amazing views, and fresh air.  Estes Park Outfitters guides tours near the northeast side of Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Idaho Springs offers the Arapaho Forest, mountain views, and beautiful surroundings.  You can also take some more interesting rides:  A&A Stables offers an 1800s graveyard ride, a Full Moon Ride, and Gambling rides to Central City, along with more standard options.
South Central Region
  • Of course, the Garden of the Gods is a gorgeous riding location among vertical outcroppings of sandstones, conglomerates and limestone.  Academy Riding Stables in Colorado Springs is the primary outfitter in Garden of the Gods, leading one- to two-hour rides through the park.
  • The rolling foothills near Victor and Cripple Creek offer stunning views of the mountains among the high grasslands.  Rides can take easier routs among the gentle slopes, or can climb into the foothills proper.  Grey Wolf Ranch offers trips in this area.
  • The Pike National Forest contains a number of mining sites, and is ground zero of the 2002 Hayman Fire: the largest wildfire in the history of the state, burning over 135,000 acres.  The Forest is also home to Pike's Peak.  M Lazy C Ranch offers rides through the west side of this National Forest, while the Stables at the Broadmoor offer trips through the east side.
  • Brown's Creek Falls in the San Isabel National Forest offers a number of waterfalls along trails.  Try Deer Valley Ranch and Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Stables for trips in this area.
  • The Salida/Poncha Springs area features the Sangre De Cristo Mountains.  Enjoy views of several "fourteener" mountains, the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and the San Louis Valley.  Try Granite Mountain Outfitters for great trips in this area.
Northwest Region
Southwest Region
While this partial list of locations and outfitters may give you an idea of what you can find, this is far from comprehensive!  Your innkeepers will have information on additional outfitters and ride locations in the immediate area.  Riding adventures are available in every part of our state, making it easy to incorporate into any area vacation.  Most outfitters are open throughout the year, so whenever you travel to your favorite Colorado inn, chances are good that you can enjoy some time exploring our state on horseback.  As always, your BBIC innkeeper will have your room ready for a fitful night's rest after your horseback adventures!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Colorado Wineries and Events Offer a Perfect Vacation for Wine Lovers

A few months ago, we told you about our state's beer and breweries.  But what of wine lovers?  If your tastes run towards the grape instead of the grain, you'll be glad to know that there are almost as many wineries in Colorado as there are breweries!  Believe it or not, there are over 40 individual vineyards and meaderies perfecting their vintages, and nearly a hundred locations waiting for you to have a taste in almost every part of the state.  And now is a great time to plan your Colorado wine-tasting getaway to your favorite bed and breakfast inn!

Colorado's warm and fertile valleys and plateaus catch plenty of mountain runoff and are warmed by over 300 days of sunshine a year.  Add to that our low humidity and cool nights, and you have the makings for ideal vineyard conditions.  Outside of California, it just doesn't get any better for grape-growing west of the Mississippi.  Grape harvest is traditionally in September, If you're into the wine trail experience, we have four of them that you can follow: the Front Range, Heart of Colorado Wine Country, Four Corners Region, and Pikes Peak and the Arkansas Valley Region wine trails.  Or just choose one or two near your vacation destination, and enjoy the fruits of Colorado's vineyards against the spectacular natural beauty of our state.

And let's not forget the events!  Throughout the state, and throughout the year, we offer a wide variety of wine-related events that feature grower representation, wine-and-food pairings, tastings, seminars, and more!

August 10, 2012:  The 6th Annual Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits Festival.  Concentrates on wine, spirits, and other related topics.  Featuring a Trade Day for anyone who makes their living from work related to libations, a seminar by Maximilian Riedel (CEO of Riedel Crystal), and a Red Wine Experience (also by Maximilian Riedel).  Of course, wines will have a large presence at the event.

August 18, 2012:  3rd Annual Bootstraps Western Winefest, Evergreen.  Outdoor wine-tasting event featuring 21 wineries from around the state and, food, and vendors.

August 25, 2012:  Front Range Wine Festival.  Something new for the Front Range!  Area wine vendors, music, food, and sales.

September 15, 2012:  Colorado Mountain Winefest in Grand Junction.  The premier wine celebration in the entire state, this event celebrates local wineries with over 50 in attendance from all over the state.  Live music, tasting, sales, seminars, and demos.

October 8, 2012:  Odd, Offbeat & Obscure Wines in Fort Collins.  Not your usual wine event, featuring lesser-known wine types from around the world.  Our guess is that you might see Xinomavro, Muscat, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztaminer, Moschofilero, and similarly lesser-known wine types.

November 7-10, 2012:  The 8th Annual Denver International Wine Festival.  This event focuses not
only on Colorado Wines, but from wines around the world.

December 8, 2012:  Wine, Chocolate and Cheese Festival in Ouray, CO.  Just in time for Christmas, taste Colorado wines, and try creations from great chocolatiers and cheesemakers.  Buy presents for friends, family, and even for yourself!

June 14-16, 2003:  Aspen Food and Wine Classic.  Food & Wine Magazine presents cooking demos, wine seminars and tastings, trade-related information, and appearances by celebrity chefs during this annual event.

August, 2013:  Steamboat Wine Festival in Steamboat Springs.  We just missed this year's event, but you can make plans now for next year! Arguably one of the largest in the state, this premier event welcomes winemakers, culinary masters, and guests.  Over 100 food, wine, breweries, distilleries, and product offering vendors are in attendance each year.  Enjoy cooking demos, seminars, tastings, and outdoor fun!

This is by no means a comprehensive list.  Check with your bed and breakfast innkeeper for information on other wine-related activities in your vacation area.  Another great source for event information is the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology.

With so many wineries and events throughout the state, Colorado is a great destination for a wine-lovers' getaway.  Or, visit a choice few area wineries during your vacation visit!  Member inns of the Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers association will be happy to host your stay.