Slippery slopes

Mountain travel guide • February 2001
Claire Martin

Skip the skis--and the crowds--the next time you hit the slopes. About a two-hour drive northwest of Denver, you'll find new ways to slide downhill. The best part is that you don't need to hassle with ski congestion.

Sleep in, wait until the traffic has eased, then head out for a little snow biking at Silver Creek Golf & Ski Ranch near Granby. It's a giddy, goofy experience that combines sledding, mountain biking, and skating. Silver Creek is one of the few ski areas that offer this wacky activity.

Like a bike, the frame is sleek and narrow, though runners replace wheels. You perch on a springy, elongated seat and control balance and speed with miniskis on your boots. The resort's East Mountain has a quad lift that serves skiers, snowboarders, and snow bikers.

For a late lunch or early dinner, head to the nearby Inn at Silver Creek, where Paul's Creekside Grill serves salmon tempura, crabcake with sushi rolls, or a luscious Thai noodle bowl that will give you a second wind for a different kind of adventure.

From Silver Creek head about 8 miles south to the Fraser Tubing Hill, just up from U.S. 40 in Fraser, behind the shopping square. You'll find a steep slope, a rope tow, and a warming house that rents inner tubes of radical proportions. Each tube accommodates one adult and one child, and the ride uphill is nearly as fun as sailing down: You latch the hook on your tube to the rope tow and sprawl across for an enjoyably bumpy ride.

Dress warmly: Fraser is one of Colorado's coldest towns. The warming hut sells snacks and hot drinks if you need a break. The tubing hill is open until 10 p.m., so take your time, watch the stars fill the night sky, and head home after the après-ski traffic lets up on eastbound Interstate 70.

CONTACT: Silver Creek Golf & Ski Ranch: $20 snow bike rental, $37 lift ticket, $5 ages 15 and under; 63331 U.S. 40, 2 miles south of Granby; (888) 283-7458 or (970) 887-3384. Paul's Creekside Grill: 62927 U.S. 40; (970) 887-2484. Fraser Tubing Hill: $12 per hour, $10 ages 7-12; County Rd. 72, just off U.S. 40 in Fraser; (970) 726-5954.