In the past week, “social distancing” has become an integral phrase in our lexicon. As a global pandemic settles like a blanket of inversion haze over our normally happy valley, the usual forms of entertainment like concerts, dining out, and even lift-served skiing are no longer options. Cabin fever looms, and the need to soak up some Vitamin D and get some fresh air has never been more pressing. As such, here are some ways to enjoy the sunshine and snow with social distancing firmly in place.
Take a nature walk
Walking Mountains Science Center is one of the valley’s best amenities. The non-profit, whose mission is “to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education,” has four campuses. Though the facilities are currently closed to the public and all events are canceled, the trails at Walking Mountains Science Center remain accessible. “They are beautiful outdoor havens allowing for recreation and activity when people are discouraged from being in large crowds,” says Paul Abling, marketing and communications director at Walking Mountains.
Click in to skinny skis
Though Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts are closed, the 13K of Nordic rails at the Vail Nordic Center near Vail Village are open to the skinny-skiing public. Also consider Minturn's Maloit Park, located at the southern end of town, also offers free public access to FIS sanctioned Nordic skiing trails. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned pro, these trails are fantastic for sampling skinny skis (snowshoes are welcome, too).
I want to ride my bicycle
Now that ski season is over, maybe you’d rather get out and pedal. If you have a fat bike, go roll some local snow. In addition to the 13K of fat bike trails at the Vail Nordic Center near Vail Village, the EagleVail Nordic Trail provides more than 8K of free and open-to-the-public groomed winter fat biking trails. In Edwards, the Homestead “L” Open Space is open for biking, including fat biking, year-round. These trails are not groomed, offering more of a challenge for cyclists.
Minturn's Meadow Mountain offers snow-covered miles perfect for uphill enthusiasts, whether you’re on skis with skins or snowshoes. A steady climb gives way to epic views; the descent rewards skiers with potentially untouched powder stashes and wide-open turns. Vail Pass is another good option for backcountry beginners. If you’re heading into the backcountry, make sure you’re carrying the necessary safety equipment and check terrain conditions before you go.
Bottom line: Keep your desire to recreate in perspective with the current public health crisis that is straining the resources of Eagle County’s public health system; if you get into trouble in the outdoors, call or text 911 and someone will come to your aid, but understand that your rescue will take resources away from where they are needed most right now. So have fun out there, but dial back your objectives, and be a good citizen. We’re all in this together.