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What to do with those darn relatives?

Colleen O’Neil
coneil@postindependent.com
Horseback riding is an awesome activity for tourists. Here, native Pennsylvanians Caitlin Krulock and Morgan Glisan take a joyride in Marble.
Caitlin Krulock / Provided |

Last weekend, I got married in Marble. It was an amazing day — we had great weather, plenty of food and drinks and great music. The event itself wasn’t really challenging. We’d prepared for about a year for it, so everything went according to plan. But we had a bunch of family and friends visiting about a week before the big day. And then we were left with a quandary: what to do with all those people?

In case you’re facing the same dilemma — a bunch of sea level dwellers coming to see you at 7,000 feet and up — here’s a nifty guide full of activities to keep them occupied all day, but not so worn out they won’t be able to rally the next day.

1. Go for a walk. Most of the activities in the Roaring Fork Valley revolve around outdoor recreation, and that’s what people usually come here to do. But plan your destination according to your friends’ experience level. Once I made the mistake of taking two of my Ohioan friends on a hike on Independence Pass, and nobody had a particularly awesome time thanks to walking at 11,000 feet.

If you’re hunting for a fun hike, don’t get overzealous. Red Hill is a definite must-do for people who’ve just come from sea-level. If your friends are feeling a little more adventurous, give Sopris a shot. At the very least, you’ll probably make it to Thomas Lakes, which is beautiful enough.

2. Horseback riding. Although a lot of people have never been on a horse, it’s not difficult to go on a trail ride as a vacationer. Most companies who lead guided horseback rides have experienced, calm animals who are used to carrying people without many cowboy skills. Try OutWest Guides in Marble for a unique adventure in the mountains that doesn’t involve too much aerobic activity. OutWest offers one-, two-, and three-hour rides, as well as half day and full day rides. And if you’re really keen, you can go an overnight wilderness pack trip.

3. Hot springs. After a long day of traveling, maybe all your guests want to do is relax. Thankfully, there are a plethora of options here in the valley. Send them to Avalanche Ranch near Redstone for the scenic views, or to the Hot Springs Pool in Glenwood if they’d rather have the option to shop or eat dinner downtown after their soak.

4. Roadtrippin’. Even if your folks aren’t too excited about going on a long hike in the wilderness, they can still experience our beautiful landscape another way — by car. My uncle came to Colorado last week with his 10-year-old son, and they had an awesome time driving around Colorado National Monument. For a more local option, you could send your guests up to Independence Pass. My maid of honor even got to explore Paonia when she missed the turn to Marble and wound up driving over McClure. The drive was so beautiful that she didn’t even mind the extra two hours in the car.

5. Bike. There are cycling options for every ability level here. For an easy spin, try heading down the Rio Grande, or pedaling up Highway 133 into Redstone for ice cream. Most of my husband’s friends are avid mountain bikers, so he took them on more difficult rides—the most notorious of which was a backcountry route to Crested Butte from Carbondale. They were exhausted and starving by the end.

6. “Nightlife.” When someone asks me what I want to do at night, I usually respond that I’d like to eat something. I, like most mountain people, am obsessed with food. So eating after a long day outside is really important. Some of my favorite options are Slow Groovin’ BBQ in Marble, Mi Casita in Carbondale and the Glenwood Brewpub in Glenwood Springs. Those three restaurants cover the main food groups of outdoor-lovers: barbecue, Mexican and burgers. Trust me, your folks will love it.

If they feel like getting a little more done-up for dinnertime, take them out to Town or the Pullman, then head over to the Vaudeville Revue or the Crystal Theater for some after-dinner entertainment.

The main takeaway? Gauge your activity list based on your guests. Do whatever they think is fun — whether that’s shopping at farmers’ markets, taking long drives or going for painful bike rides in the mountains. You’ll have a good time no matter what.


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