Daily Archives: December 10, 2013

GoForIt

Go For It, YOU’RE GOING TO WORK IT OFF ON THE SLOPES ANYWAY

SONNENALP
Ludwig’s buffet is a bounty of good eating from made-to-order omelets with the freshest ingredients to bacon, eggs, sausage, French toast and even to-die-for pastries. Linger over a cup of dark-roasted coffee and ease you way into the day. Ludwig’s in Vail Village is open for breakfast daily from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. with its famous brunch on Sundays until midday.

CAFE 163
Looking for a gluten free breakfast? Café 163’s gluten-free pancakes are reason to get out of bed. The triple-stack of pancakes is whisked to perfection before coming to life on the griddle and are served steaming with butter and syrup. Truly a special treat. Open every day for breakfast at 8 a.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALPENROSE
Create dining memories with Vail Village’s German- and Austrain- inspired Alpenrose Restaurant.  Build your own crepe with savory ingredients like the mushrooms, eggs, and bacon seen here. Whether you visit this cozy Vail staple at breakfast, lunch or dinner, this is your guilty pleasure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIMINI
Oatmeal brulee is a spin on your mother’s classic oatmeal. Rimini’s Oatmeal Brulee has a hint of maple syrup swirled throughout and is topped with caramelized sugar, fresh fruit and nuts—think of it as an elevated comfort breakfast. Rimini is located in Beaver Creek and Lionshead and is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and decadent gelato.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOB’S PLACE
Bob’s Place in Avon is home to hearty breakfasts—a meal that will keep you fueled all day long—and a favorite is Crab Eggs Benedict. The lump-meat crab is piled high on a toasted English muffin, layered with eggs poached to perfection and topped with avocado and just a dollop of hollandaise sauce that brings all the flavors together to melt in your mouth. Bob’s is open everyday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NORTHSIDE CAFE
Maple bacon, Oreo and vanilla crème, lemon crème with Fruity Pebbles… do we have your attention yet? These are just some of the doughnuts you will find handmade fresh each morning at the Northside Café in Avon. The locals know too; if you are still dreaming of doughnuts when the last chair shuts down, there are two-for-one doughnuts anytime after 2 p.m.

BAKERY AZTEKA
Authentic fresh Mexican…for breakfast? Si, Señores and Señoritas. And, if you have never tried authentic Mexican pastries or the best raised glazed doughnut in town, stop by Azteca Bakery in Edwards – rápido! You will be glad you did.

MOUNTAIN CUPCAKES
If you find yourself lucky enough to be in Vail Village and have a growling stomach, stop by for a piping hot breakfast burrito to tame the beast. They also have hot cinnamon buns that will send your taste buds into a frenzy. Oh, and don’t forget to stop by après for a salted caramel cupcake; it’s a vacation-worthy treat.

BONJOUR BAKERY
This authentic French bakery is a little gem located in the Edwards Riverwalk. Stop in for a flaky yet soft croissant so perfect it will appear in your dreams later.  Whether you desire the sweet or the savory, Bonjour Bakery has you covered. From pastries to homemade soups and fresh bread, this stop is a must!

 

AllThingsString

All Things String

“A beautiful three-day gathering in the heart of the Vail Valley.”

It’s a festival whose time has come: bluegrass music, craft brewing and two passionate music-industry pundits. Add in a stunning venue (Beaver Creek as a backdrop, not bad), three stages and the three-day event is a fiddler’s dream. The WinterWonderGrass Festival, deemed all things string by event co-organizer and long-time local Scotty Stoughton, is just that… a gathering of like-minded fans of amazing bluegrass music and the art of craft brewed beers.

“For this festival, I wanted to get back to my roots and roots of the Colorado music scene, to take on an event to promote and produce acoustic roots music. It’s Americana, a little country, but primarily bluegrass,” Scotty says.

The way Scotty waxes poetic about the festival, the beauty of not only where we live but the overall Colorado music scene, it’s obvious the Winter WonderGrass Festival is much more than a job for both Scotty and his partner, Jennifer Brazill.

Between the two of them, they know music. Jennifer managed bands for more than a decade-most notably for the Dave Matthews Band. After sitting in greenrooms for a “zillion hours”, she realized that managing bands wasn’t where she wanted to go.

“It was an amazing experience,” Jennifer says of managing bands and traveling with them. “But I started working with Scotty and it’s been incredible.” In other words, Jennifer is not looking back and is excited for this year’s WinterWonderGrass… and what it can become for years to come.

Scotty, meanwhile, has been producing, promoting, writing, singing and playing shows in the Vail area for 20 years, and as part of Bonfire Entertainment has been involved with many different national music events. Experience plus timing brought success to the first WinterWonderGrass, and it’s quickly becoming the place to be for music in the mountains.

“We are lucky enough to be in this emerging music scene, it’s such a hot bed of unique and forward-thinking music,” Scotty says. “Colorado has always produced great string and jam music, which has influenced modern, wave, electronic and rock music. We are at a really massive point in Colorado music history.”

Hence the inaugural festival that took place last year at Crazy Mountain Brewery in Edwards. Even with only grassroots marketing, the line wrapped around the block by 3 p.m. when doors opened.

It might’ve been that the price of the ticket included beer samples from the valley’s and state’s best craft brewers. Or it might’ve been that there is no other outdoor music festival like it around. Or perhaps it’s an all-age groovefest.

“We launched this whole thing very grassroots, I don’t think either one of us realized how successful it would be right out of the gate,” Jennifer says with a laugh. “We’re really thankful. It made us realize there is a niche that could really grow. Bluegrass music and craft beer are big, together, it’s a huge force.”

There is a definite community vibe to the overall event, which is just the way Scotty pictured it. “I wanted something more the old style, back to the reasons we all came here: Listening to great acoustic music, after skiing, having a great beer to end your day,” he says.

Although the festival has outgrown its original space, the duo is quick to say they are growing the event thoughtfully, keeping a small-town feel with big names.

“We want to grow it slowly and specially and provide a wonderful experience for everyone who comes, whether bands, concert-goers, locals and visitors alike,” Scotty says. “They all get to experience something special.”

Something special indeed. They’ve expanded the venue to Nottingham Park in Avon for 2014, added a day, will be bringing in at least 20 craft breweries and are being sought after by big music-industry names to play. What big names? Bands with serious followers: Leftover Salmon, Green Sky Bluegrass, The Infamous Stringdusters and Elephant Revival. They promise 20-plus national, local and regional string bands altogether.

“It’s so fun. It’s a big dance party,” Jennifer adds. “The music spans all ages, it’s a really cool genre of music.”

Just remember to bring your dancing boots: last year the festival was graced with a huge snowstorm on Sunday night. Instead of sending the audience flurrying away, it just added to the specialness of the event—kids danced with their parents who bonded over the elements with the help of good beer, music and snow.

This is one winter event you won’t want to miss.

get-a-RUSH

get a RUSH with a QUIRKY emerging SPORT

You might have noticed something different on the slopes in Vail last year. Out of the corner of your eye, you saw someone zip up to the lift line, hop off, pick up his board and walk to the chair. Only later that day, while sipping a beer at The Red Lion, did it hit you that the guy didn’t have any bindings, and his board was a really funny looking double-decker thing. What was it exactly, and how did it work?

You are not alone with your questions. Bi-deck snowskates have been around for several decades – from Burton’s early budget-model Junkyard “snow deck” to the high-end boards produced by snowskate-specific companies today – but they have only recently been gaining popularity and widespread acceptance at resorts. The name “snowskate” itself has long been a source of confusion: in the past it has applied to everything from single-deck “trays” to cross-country skis to odd little hybrid ski/ice-skate-type footwear. Today the term applies most often to the bi-deck snowskate, composed of a skateboard-like deck mounted via metal trucks to a ski, it resembles a stacked or two-sided skateboard and rides like a snowboard without bindings.

Snowskating has recently exploded in popularity, with rider groups, manufacturers and competitions springing up across the U.S. and Canada as well as in Japan, Norway, France, Austria, Germany, Argentina and even Dubai. Resorts across the globe – including those in Vail and Beaver Creek – have responded by opening their doors to the quirky sport. While preferring the term “snow deck,” Beaver Creek’s Chief Operating Officer Doug Lovell says bi-deck snowskates have definitely been “an emerging industry trend and we’ve been aware of them for several years.” Snowskates had already been permitted at some of Vail Resorts’ other properties in Colorado and Tahoe, he says, before Vail and Beaver Creek officially put out the welcome mat in the 2011-2012 season. And while some resorts still limit snowskaters to certain runs or chairs, Vail has given them open access at all of its affiliated resorts. This is a move that has not gone unnoticed – or unappreciated – by the burgeoning snowskate population.

“Vail and Beaver Creek were nice enough to give [us] full range on their mountains and it’s awesome,” says Matt Quam, a champion snowskater who has appeared in several Warren Miller films and logged over 150 days on the slopes last year. “I love these mountains,” he says, “and I’m super stoked on getting to snowskate them.”

Indeed, more and more people have been getting “super stoked” about snowskating in the Vail area according to Spike Eiseman, manager of the snowboarding school at Beaver Creek. “It had been really accepted in other areas – Washington State, Tahoe – for years,” he says, “but now we’re seeing a big boom in Colorado, lots of people.” While Eiseman used to take his instructors out on a private snowskating trip to Breckenridge once a year for a morale boost, as “a way to kind of find a new passion and love for the mountain,” he says they now can skate every day at work. Beaver Creek’s ski school had several dozen people take snowskating lessons over the past year and those numbers are only going to grow exponentially, in Eiseman’s estimation, as people gain more exposure to – and a better understanding of – the sport.

Until then, however, snowskaters are still a novelty wherever they go and find themselves enjoying a bit of celebrity on the slopes. Even average riders get followed by gawkers and fans, asked to pose for photos and peppered with incessant questions in every lift line. While some of the inquiries can be downright surreal – Quam was once asked if he was riding “one of those hoverboards from Back to the Future?” – the most common questions are pretty simple: “How do you stay on?” and “Can you really ride that thing down the hill?”  The answers are rather simple, too. A combination of gravity, balance, and grip tape keeps the rider on the board – much like it does for a surfer or skateboarder – while a leash attaching the board to the rider keeps the skate from getting away in the event of a bail out. And snowskates can indeed be ridden down any hill in any terrain and any conditions – riders simply drop their skate, ride off the lift and carve down the mountain.

Even intermediate snowskaters can hit moguls, powder or park features  – or simply take leisurely, arcing sweeps down the slopes – just like anyone else with a lift ticket – while the sport’s most celebrated riders and competition champs have been steadily pushing the envelope every year with more spectacular and complex moves.

“In the past two years I have seen a large amount of progress in trick difficulty,” says Sean Davis, a top rider in his own right and the man behind Strapless Entertainment, which produces snowskate videos and DVDs. “We are starting to see common skateboard tricks executed on a snowskate, everything from 360 kick flips and big spins to huge Christ airs and massive method grabs. We are also seeing more air time and the ability to hit average slopestyle features,” he says, noting that this has been made possible by the growth of the snowskate community in general and the vastly improved equipment of recent years.

Indeed, every snowskater concurs that the right gear is of paramount importance. While a few big snowboard makers still dabble in snowskates, most riders today favor skates created by small snowskate-focused companies out of cutting-edge materials and sophisticated, precisely engineered designs. For beginning snowskaters interested in jamming down the mountain and perhaps attempting a few park elements, a small to medium-sized board – a size 96 or 105 – would be an ideal place to start, while dedicated riders often assemble a “quiver” of different skates for changing conditions and riding styles. The size of the ski mounted under the snowskate deck varies according to the terrain ridden, with small skis fitting parks, tricks and general riding, while large skis carve all-mountain easily and float through powder, so a well-curated quiver contains a range of boards. Snowskate-specific companies like Boyd Hill, Pioneer, Predog and Ralston have obliged by producing a variety of sizes, widths and shapes, from super-small skateboard sizes to wide “phatties” to giant swallow-tailed powder skates the size of snowboards. A growing number of companies are also designing snowskate-specific leashes (retractable and coiled styles being some of the most popular) and increasingly high-tech hinged-style snowskate trucks. While experimenting with different brands, accessories, sizes and shapes is part of the fun, when ultimately committing to a skate or skates Quam says bluntly “don’t buy a snowskate from [the] big box stores online. You may pay more from a legit snowskate company,” he says, “but it’s been tested and proven to rip and last.”

This sport after all, is all about ease and freedom. The portability, unencumbered stance and limited gear of snowskating give it an economy and versatility that is addictively liberating. Snowskates don’t require specialized boots – or any particular equipment beyond a leash – and there are no dangling and dragging heavy boards. Riders cruise right off a lift and down the hill, so they never need to waste time strapping in and out, and they don’t clump around all day in heavy footwear. Riders say snowskates are lighter and more easily packed than snowboards, plus since they have no bindings and don’t require special shoes, they are easy to take backcountry or to keep in the trunk of the car for spontaneous shred sessions.  They’re also the bomb on crowded powder days, says Quam. “On a pow day anywhere, for anybody, it’s easy to walk through the crowds…You know the mad rush for first chair? No worries on a snowskate!”

In the end, it’s not hard to see how this edgy offspring of two X-Games favorites – skateboarding and snowboarding – has developed “legs” and an enduring appeal. “We’ve all lived in the Valley for years,” says Eiseman, “but snowskating is something that regenerates you – it makes the experts into intermediates, and you get that little rush again.”  For the moment the sport is holding proudly to a rough underground glamour – still clearly evident in its nascent films, blogs and magazines – but as it is increasingly being compared to “what snowboarding was 25 years ago,” it seems only a matter of time until everyone will be chasing that little rush again. Now’s the chance to be at the relative forefront of a sport, so if you’re ready, check out these companies: Fuse Snowskate Company, Parole Boards, Pioneer Snowskates, Ice Decks and Cold Trucks Ltd., and Predog Snowskates, which also produces events around the country if you’re ready to compete.

Skates are popping up in stores, lessons, rental shops and now on the slopes near you, so you may want to get your snowskate and get on it this season, before everyone in The Red Lion has one propped up outside already.

 

UpandOut

Up & Out: Lots to do in the Vail Valley

ALPINE SKIING & SNOWBOARDING

VAIL

Vail is a world-renowned destination for skiers and snowboarders. Once you experience its vast reaches of light Rocky Mountain powder, 300 inches of average annual snowfall and wide-open groomed terrain, you’ll know why.

From the seemingly endless and legendary Back Bowls to the user-friendly cruiser runs of Golden Peak and Lionshead, Vail can satisfy or challenge every level of skier. With 5,289 acres of skiable terrain and a vertical rise of 3,450 feet, Vail is the largest single ski mountain in North America.

Lift Information: Most lifts open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m., with the exception of the Back Bowls and Blue Sky, which close at 3 p.m.

Vail Snowsports School: Vail Mountain is home of the finest snowsports school in the world. With a tradition of excellence, it is committed to staying at the forefront of its profession by investing in technology, facilities and pros. The incredibly diverse staff brings a wealth of knowledge and skill with a guest-centered focus to help you achieve your goals and experience Vail Mountain like you never have before. Call 970-SKI-VAIL or visit www.vail.com.

Grooming: Vail boasts hundreds of acres of snowmaking and the largest fleet of snow groomers in the world. Grooming information is posted at Golden Peak, Vail Village, Lionshead and on-mountain information boards or visit www.vail.com.

Snow Conditions:
Visit www.vail.com.

BEAVER CREEK

There’s something special about Beaver Creek. From its heated sidewalks and quaint, European village to a diverse ski experience on a user-friendly mountain, you’ll soon be hooked.

Beaver Creek Mountain is actually comprised of Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead ski areas, forming North America’s only village-to-village ski experience. A well-balanced system of trail difficulty and 300 sunny days a year will keep you coming back. The vertical rise is 4,040 feet and the mountain boasts 1,625 skiable acres, so crowds are rare.

The Talons identifies Beaver Creek’s most advanced terrain reaching from the Birds of Prey and Grouse Mountain to Larkspur Bowl. Access to The Talons is identified by the three chairlifts rising out of the Red Tail Camp area and servicing primarily black/double-black diamond terrain. The Talons is certain to test even the most experienced skiers and riders.

Lift Information: Most lifts open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m. Free public parking is available in the Elk and Bear lots on Highway 6 in Avon, and free shuttle buses run continuously. Pay public parking is available at Village Hall and Market Square, both in Beaver Creek Village.

Beaver Creek Ski & Snowboard School: Graduates like to say the Ski and Snowboard School at Beaver Creek is the best in the country. Maybe any country. Certainly, it’s the only U.S. mountain to regularly host the Men’s World Cup. And uniquely, even some beginner trails are high on the slopes. Choose from private, adult or children’s lessons; alpine, snowboard, Nordic or adaptive. Call 970-754-5300 or visit
www.beavercreek.com.

Grooming: Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead have hundreds of acres of grooming. Grooming information is posted at the bottom and top of most main lifts and on-mountain information boards or visit www.beavercreek.com.

Snow Conditions: Visit
www.beavercreek.com.

ARROWHEAD

A wonderful family ski mountain just two miles west of Beaver Creek, Arrowhead can be accessed from Beaver Creek Mountain via the village-to-village interconnect.

Lift Information: Lift opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m.

Ski School: Arranged through Beaver Creek at 970-754-5300 or
www.beavercreek.com.

Grooming: Arrowhead has more than 90 acres of snowmaking and is extensively groomed.

Snow Conditions: Visit
www.beavercreek.com.

 

BACHELOR GULCH

Nestled between Beaver Creek and Arrowhead resorts, the peaceful setting and intermediate runs of Bachelor Gulch complement the more challenging terrain of Beaver Creek. Still largely untouched by big crowds, you’ll find it to be a relaxing and enjoyable alternative. Unless your lodging is in Bachelor Gulch, it can only be accessed by skiing or snowboarding from Beaver Creek or Arrowhead. A most enjoyable commute!

Lift Information: Lift opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 3:30 p.m. The lift is the only way out of Bachelor Gulch; no shuttle or car transportation is allowed for non-lodging guests.

Ski School: Arranged through Beaver Creek at 970-754-5300 or www.beavercreek.com.

Grooming: Bachelor Gulch is extensively groomed.

SNOWBOARDING & TERRAIN PARKS

Snowboarding is a billion-dollar-a-year industry that came of age at Vail and Beaver Creek years ago. Vail and Beaver Creek have become industry leaders by offering some of the most exciting and innovative instruction, terrain parks and equipment for snowboarders. Several exclusive snowboard zones on the mountain include runs, chutes and gullies. Beaver Creek boasts a halfpipe just off the Centennial run.

At Beaver Creek check out six distinct terrain parks, each with its own style and ability level. Visit www.beavercreek.com to find the locations and access points for Park 101, Zoom Room, Lumber Yard, The Rodeo, Half Pipe and BC-EX.

Change it up, that’s the word in the parks. And Vail’s three terrain parks are fresh every year. Graduate from Flight School to Aviator to Fly Zone, from box top rails and short steel rails to 30-foot and 40-foot step down jumps. Visit www.vail.com to find the locations and access points for Bwana and Pride Terrain Parks and Golden Peak Terrain Park.

SKI & SNOWBOARD RENTALS

Pepi Sports 476-5202

Know no limits – the crew at Pepi Sports will fit you with a Demo Ski Package, Demo Snowboard Package, Telemark Package, Performance Ski Package or Junior Performance Package. Top brands geared toward all abilities. Reserve online or visit the shop at 231 Bridge Street in Vail Village.

ADVENTURE RIDGE

Play all afternoon and into the night at the mountaintop activity center on Vail Mountain. Tubing, snowmobile tours, kids snowmobiling, ski biking, ice skating, snowshoeing, bungee trampoline, kids programs and much more. Bistro Fourteen serves lunch and dinner when your family is ready for a warm break. For rates and hours, contact Adventure Ridge at 970-754-8245 or www.vail.com.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

Sink your skinny skis into a smorgasbord of Nordic options throughout the Vail Valley. From the more than 30 kilometers of track with sweeping, panoramic views at McCoy Park atop Beaver Creek to the 15 kilometers of trails with views of the towering Gore Range at the Vail Nordic Center, there’s something for cross country skiers of every level. Cordillera in Edwards also offers miles of trails through stunning countryside.

Cordillera 926-2200
McCoy Park 754-5313
Vail Nordic Center 476-8366

HELI-SKIING

You haven’t been skiing until you’ve been heli-skiing! Heli-ski runs are equivalent in length and steepness to what you’ll find at a typical Colorado ski area, but the snow quality with heli-skiing remains soft and untracked on every run. he experience is intimate and exclusive with a small, limited number of skiers on most days. here is no hurry to get first tracks, as only your friends and family will be able to ski it before you. Extra-fat powder skis now make the experience of heli-skiing obtainable for intermediate skiers and snowboarders.

HOT-AIR BALLOONING

Imagine floating serenely above the valley, as you pass slowly over enough to study details of the land, rivers, mountains and landmarks. Several balloon operations offer rides into the skies throughout the year. In addition to recreational outings, commercial balloonists offer rides for special occasions, particularly weddings.

Camelot Balloons   328-2290
or www.camelotballoons.com

Camelot Balloons specializes in year-round hot air balloon tours above Vail, Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch. Flights are in custom designed and crafted FAA certified hot air balloons. Pilots are FAA certified and experienced mountain aeronauts. Camelot is the oldest locally operating full time hot air balloon company with over 20 years of flying experience – and 20 years of happy passengers!

ICE SKATING & HOCKEY

The Vail Valley is rapidly becoming a haven for skaters of every description. From figure skaters to hockey players to recreational skaters of every level, you will find the ice to your liking wherever you turn. For a breath of fresh air and time out from the slopes, try outdoor skating on one of several local ice rinks,
Adventure Ridge 476-9090

Arrabelle at Vail Square 754-7777
Beaver Creek Village 845-9090
Dobson Ice Arena 479-2270
Eagle Ice Rink 328-2668
Nottingham Lake 748-4060
Solaris Plaza 476-9000

SLEIGH RIDES

What better way to see the sights than on a scenic horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow, surrounded by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Special moonlight excursions offer silent, snowy scenery and unparalleled romance.

SNOWCAT TOURS

Travel with ease through the winter backcountry in an enclosed and heated Snowcat. The thrill of powder skiing awaits. Enjoy tantalizing views of Colorado’s highest peaks and fresh powder you don’t have to share with the crowds. Several area guides offer tours, Chicago Ridge Snowcat Skiing
800.707.6114 or www.skicooper.com.

“Get High, Get Deep, Get After It,” with over 2,400 acres of treed slopes and open bowls in deep Colorado power.

SNOWMOBILING

A snowmobile trip through backcountry roads and trails is an adventure that awaits you during a morning, afternoon or full-day guided tour. It is an unforgettable Rocky Mountain backcountry adventure. Several local businesses offer these delightful drives!

SNOWSHOEING

A great way for the non-skier — or the skier who wants a day off — to discover the spectacular scenery that engulfs Vail, Beaver Creek and Arrowhead resorts is to strap on a pair of snowshoes and start walking. The adage, “if you can walk, you can snowshoe” has proved true for many a beginner snowshoer. This sport is increasingly one of the most popular ways to escape into the alpine world. Snowshoe gourmet picnic lunch and moonlight tours are offered throughout the season.

McCoy Park 754-5313
TrailWise Guides 827-5363
U.S. Forest Service 827-5715
Vail Nordic Center 476-8366

LEISURE ACTIVITIES

Avon Public Library 949-6797
Capitol Theater – Eagle 476-5661
Cinebistro @ Solaris 476-3344
Colorado Ski Museum 476-1876
Riverwalk Theater 476-5661
Vail Public Library 479-2185
Eagle Library 328-8800
Vilar Performing Arts Center 845-8497

BOWLING

Bowling is a great activity for families and friends of all ages and abilities. Interactive and fun, shake up your après ski routine with some competitive indoor fun.

bōl    476-5300

With a full service dining room and sixty-foot bar, we also have an ace up our sleeve with ten lanes of bowling glory. bōl’s sleek and modern design is one of a kind that help to make the establishment the most exquisite bowling alley in the world.

WILDLIFE & BIRD WATCHING

Wildlife abounds in the Rocky Mountains, and is especially visible during the winter months when animals come down to lower elevations. You’re likely to see deer, elk, eagles, fox and many others. Several area outfitters offer tours.

 

AstorCity

Astor City

A mysterious tiny town at the base of the Mount of the Holy Cross.

An aerial view down the Eagle River Canyon to Astor Flats. Astor City would have been at the apex of the canyon, on the north side of the river.

(Inset) A large number of men and a few women gather for a picnic at Astor City in the late 1800s. The real question about Astor City arises in not where it was, but when it was founded.

The romance of the West is not complete without mention of mysterious places that are gone forever. In our own backyard, we have such a place and it remains as much as an enigma today as it was more than one hundred years ago…

 

Today that place in Eagle County remains shrouded in mystery and is likely the very first settlement in the area. It dates back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, ask an early Eagle County resident if they have heard of Astor City and they will scratch behind their ear and give a blank stare in response.

Was there really such a place? Where was it? Could there have been a city or mining camp that was once here and now gone forever? To find the truth, I began a thorough search of old records, newspapers, books and talked to several near-centenarians about Astor City. More myths than facts emerged.

In the West it’s often difficult to tell where history leaves off and myths began. Life in the nineteenth-century Rocky Mountains was rough-and-tumble, and most mountain folk were busy with traps, plows, and picks and pans. Stories were embellished, some simply invented. To those who could write stories, it was easy to interchange legend, myth and folklore. So it was with Astor City that a little bit of each came into play.

Astor City was first cited as a camp about six miles from Red Cliff at the base of Kelly’s Toll Road, which opened in 1879. At the time, early settlers reported old cabins still standing at the site.

Although there is nothing to substantiate the name, Astor City was supposedly named after fur trader, John Jacob Astor, and was considered the first trading post in Colorado. Here lies the first problem… or myth.

Astor created his fur trading empire after arriving in the United States in 1784 and established a trading post on the Pacific Coast. In 1812, forty-eight of Astor’s men crossed the Continental Divide and arrived at the fort. Nowhere, however, in their journals did they report traveling along the Eagle River; they traveled farther north, along the Snake River and Columbia Rivers.

When the United States went to war and Astor sold his fur company to the British Trading Company. Thus his fort and trappers disbanded. It is possible that some of the trappers made their way to Colorado and set up camp at Astor City, but no record of a fort along the Eagle River was listed in the Astor Company’s records. Thus it is unlikely the Astor Fur Trading Company founded Astor City.

An official government survey done in 1882 placed Astor City at N 39.5400 and W 106.40892. Today, that places it within Minturn’s city limits. It was also recorded that Astor City lay on the northwest side of Battle Mountain at the entrance to the Eagle Canyon within a circle of rocks. In 1883 and 1884 it appeared in the Colorado Business Directory and was listed with no post office and with a population of 25.

This much is fact.

Who constructed the first buildings remains a mystery. However, the structures at Astor City were described as a store, saloon, some tents and wikiups. The biggest structure was said to be of huge proportions and within a stockade made of large boulders. The ridge pole in the big cabin was three feet in diameter. Some cabins were built across the Eagle River but those were destroyed in a snow slide. Because Astor City was at the base of Battle Mountain, it was a logical place for a small settlement.

Walter Sturrock and Mike Flynn ran the saloon in Astor City. It was the first or last place to get a drink before or after tackling Battle Mountain and Tennessee Pass, which were tenuous endeavors. Walter, a native of Scotland, was a fun-loving, generous man, blessed with a rich baritone voice and was known to belt out My Wild Irish Rose to the enjoyment of his customers. The saloon was called the Saints’ Rest, most likely named after the old religious classic, Baxter’s Saints’ Rest.

References to the city appeared in the local newspapers. In 1880 two German prospectors searching on Battle Mountain got into a drunken quarrel at the saloon. In a duel, they killed each other. It took three days to haul their bodies to Red Cliff. No one was interested in a lavish burial for the men, so they were buried beside Kelly’s Toll Road on Battle Mountain. In June, 1907, the Red Cliff Blade reported the sad tidings of the drowning death of John Sanchez at the bridge at Astor City. John was returning to camp from work on the grade and crossing the foot bridge, leading his horse. A suspension cable broke and John and his horse plunged into the river. Neither his body nor the horse was found for several days.

Thus it appears that Astor City was in fact a town, albeit small, in Eagle County. Most likely when it was first built, the Ute Indian threat was real and the enclosure of rocks gave protection to the habitants and buildings.

As the road over Battle Mountain and Tennessee Pass improved and the railroad made its way through Belden Canyon and on to Minturn, Astor City’s importance diminished. Like many other small settlements, it might have slowly disappeared entirely, except for one person: Orin W. Daggett.

Daggett originally homesteaded a ranch in Gypsum, became the postmaster in Fulford, tried mining in Cripple Creek and returned to Gypsum upon the death of his wife. After marrying a second time, Daggett moved to Red Cliff and acquired the Eagle County News and Holy Cross Trail. Through his newspapers, he championed causes for the betterment of Red Cliff, including promoting a major highway between Denver and Red Cliff over Shrine Pass, education, and the pilgrimages to Mount of the Holy Cross. Those pilgrimages began at Astor City.

Daggett had a personal interest in Astor City and the Mount of the Holy Cross. He had climbed the peak no less than eleven times, four of these frontal assaults. To further the interest in a major road coming to Red Cliff and to promote the Holy Cross Pilgrimages, Daggett wrote about Longfellow’s famous poem, “Evangeline”. Although fiction, Daggett reported Longfellow’s poem to be based on a tragic story of lovers separated after the forced evacuation of Arcadia in 1755.

The Evangeline-Holy Cross-Astor City legend was perpetuated by Daggett’s creative storytelling and interpretations of the epic poem. Through his weekly newspaper articles, Daggett claimed that Astor City gave Evangeline refuge and that in 1839 she climbed to the crest of Notch Mountain to view the cross, which reinstated her lost faith. Fact? Fiction?

When Evangeline left Nova Scotia in 1755 to find her beloved Gabriel, Longfellow gave her age as seventeen. This meant she would have been over ninety-nine when she made the ascent up Notch Mountain to view the cross. Also, Longfellow’s account of Evangeline’s travel across America placed her in the Ozark Mountains, and other than a mention of mountains, snowy summits and deep ravines, which is as close as Longfellow came to a description of Colorado, Eagle County, Astor City or Mount of the Holy Cross.

Daggett widely used his newspaper to support his stories about Astor City. He did this to draw attention to his proposed highway route over Shrine Pass and for the Holy Cross Pilgrimages, which began at the flats at Astor City. It was surprising that he was never called to task about his editorials, which were far from accurate, but at the time, Astor City, Red Cliff, Gilman and Belden were rough-cut mining towns and hardly the place for men to be studying Longfellow.

Many of the written accounts found today in ghost town books and travel logs, high school papers and history books, mention Astor City in conjunction with Evangeline’s improbable visit. Still it makes for a good story.

In old accounts, Astor City was placed on the northwestern side of Battle Mountain, where the gorge meets the flats. It was said to be built in a circle of rocks. While the double track was built in the canyon, newspaper reports state that several camps for railroad workers were set up on each side of the river and that it was a busy place.

Today the property is privately owned and access is difficult. Since the early days of Astor City, much has changed in the area. In 1907 a large steam shovel and dump carts were at work, helping with the grading for the double track for the railroad. Next the Gilman Mine constructed its trusses for their tailing ponds. More recently, work was done for the mine cleanup.

Where Astor City once stood has been completely absorbed by time and elements. Today one can find suspicious areas where it looks as though foundations for buildings might have been and large reddish rocks lay on the ground, making several large enclosures.

Was there such a place? Yes. Who first built it? Unknown
Where exactly was it? You be the judge.

Although it is not certain where the foundations of Astor City lay, for a view of the past and to conjure visions of traders and miners and saloon keepers, you can get close to Astor City. Drive through Minturn and take Tigiwon Road south. Go as far as a locked gate. From there, snowshoe up the road until you have views down the valley to the mouth of the gorge. There you will see various clusters of truck-sized boulders, trusses from the Eagle Mine and nothing else. Battle Mountain rears above you. Listen carefully. Let your imagination wander back a hundred years. Perhaps you can hear Walter belt out a tune at the Saint’s Rest or the low moan of the wind that could be Evangeline calling for her Gabriel.

Believed to be the first establishment in Eagle County and claiming to provide the traveler the first or last drink at the Saint’s Rest before the challenge of Battle Mountain, Astor City, fact or fancy, is now gone but not quite forgotten.