Defrosting Nederland

Celebrate late winter with snowshoeing and a festival

Coffin race

A lively corpse celebrates after the coffin race

James Boone

Goofy T-shirts and a race through a snowy obstacle course while carrying a coffin will all be part of the oddball fun at the fourth annual Frozen Dead Guy Days in the old mining town of Nederland, Colorado. The festival is a tribute to Bredo Morstøl, who died in 1989 at the age of 89. He became the resident frozen dead guy―and the stuff of festival legend―when his grandson cryogenically preserved his deceased body under a ton of dry ice and placed him in a shed on the edge of town. Even without the frosty tomb, this quirky town 46 miles northwest of Denver is worth a family outing as winter turns to spring.

Arrive early and banter with the locals at Whistler's Cafe ($; 121 Jefferson St.; 303/258-7871); try the mountain muffin ― an English muffin brimming with ham, eggs, and cheese.

Fortified, stop to rent snowshoes ($20) at Guru Sports (20 E. Lakeview Dr.; 303/258-0900), then drive 14 miles north on State 72, turn left on Brainard Lake Road, and park at the winter closure gate at Red Rock trailhead (free; 303/541-2500). There's access to about 30 miles of well-marked trails; families will enjoy the easy Snowshoe Trail, a 5-mile round-trip route that passes Brainard Lake and offers views of the Continental Divide.

 

 

Back in town, a good bet for lunch is the Indian and Nepalese buffet stocked with vibrantly spiced curries at Kathmandu Restaurant ($; 110 N. Jefferson; 303/258-1169), which should get you fired up for a little local shopping. Start nearby at Off Her Rocker Antiques (4 E. First St.; 303/258-7976), a creaky, 109-year-old building filled with furniture, glassware, estate jewelry, and collectible pottery. Another good stop is Denim & Lace Boutique (211 State 119 S.; 303/258-9777), a women's shop overflowing with romantic clothing, funky jewelry, and unique gifts.

Before heading home, stop at Happy Trails/Cool Beans (101 State 119 S.; 303/258-3435), a cozy coffeehouse that rents cross-country skis ($20) and snowshoes ($10) and is also a bike shop. It's housed in a restored 1906 Pullman train car, and its steaming lattes will warm up (almost) anybody.

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