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Weekender: Spring Skiing in Summit County, Colorado

Raymond Patrick

Photo: Raymond Patrick

Getting There and Around

Denver International Airport has daily flights to and from most major cities. To reach Breckenridge, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin, take I-70 west for about 100 miles and then follow signs (Breckenridge at exit 203, to Highway 9 south; Keystone at exit 205, to Highway 6 east; Arapahoe Basin just past Keystone on Highway 6). If you're heading to Arapahoe and the weather is clear, take the scenic hairpins of Loveland Pass (exit 216 off I-70).

Resort Express (800/334-7433; $49) runs a shuttle service from the Denver airport to Summit County resorts. For travel within the county, hop the free Summit Stage (970/668-0999), which makes stops at all major resorts, or the free Keystone Resort bus (970/468-2316), which leaves four Keystone locations for the Arapahoe Basin every half-hour.

Where to Eat

Alpenglow Stube Outpost Lodge, North Peak, Keystone; 970/496-4132; dinner for two $160. Start with two gondola rides up Keystone's 11, 444-foot North Peak, add a six-course New American— meets—Bavarian meal, and mix in a blazing fireplace, and the result is magic. If a heavy dinner seems like overkill, go for Sunday brunch instead.

Café Alpine 106 E. Adams Ave., Breckenridge; 970/453-8218; dinner for two $100. The pretty yellow and green Victorian sits just off Breckenridge's frenetic main street, but the inside is calm and sophisticated. The menu changes daily, but it's hard to go wrong here. Past highlights have been Rocky Mountain trout meunière with crisp okra, and capellini-wrapped walleyed pike with grilled portobello mushrooms. After 5 p.m., whet your appetite with seared tuna sashimi from the tapas menu.

Keystone Ranch Keystone Golf Course, Soda Ridge Rd., Keystone; 970/496-4161; dinner for two $144. Though it's in a 1930's log homestead, the Keystone Ranch is anything but rustic. Oriental carpets, antiques, and fine china set the stage for an elegant six-course meal, including Arctic caribou over foie gras, and roast rack of Colorado lamb with minted couscous. While you have dessert in the parlor by the colossal two-story stone fireplace, keep an eye out for grazing elk.

Ski Tip Lodge Montezuma Rd., Keystone; 970/496-4950; dinner for two $116. The menu changes every day in the intimate dining room of the town's best B&B. The four-course dinner starts with hearty soups and breads and continues with New American entrées: hickory-smoked tenderloin, and prairie quail stuffed with foie gras.

Blue Moose 540 S. Main St., Breckenridge; 970/453-4859; breakfast for two $10. What every ski town needs is a Blue Moose—a no-nonsense spot where unflappable waitresses play to stereotype. They never fail to spot a nearly empty coffee cup while cheerfully slinging eggs, sausage, and plate-sized pancakes at gleeful customers.

Breckenridge Brewery 600 S. Main St., Breckenridge; 970/453-1550; dinner for two $30. A lively pub with a crowded bar that gets rolling just after the lifts close and is still going strong well past midnight. Have a rich, sweet Avalanche Brew—one of six beers made on the premises—along with your burger or buffalo wings.

Après-Ski

6th Alley Bar At Arapahoe Basin base lodge; 970/468-0718. On a sunny spring afternoon, there's nothing finer than sipping a cold one on the deck at A-Basin's wildly popular bar. Compare stories of killer bumps with your fellow skiers (in shorts and T-shirts), and then hop a shuttle safely back to your hotel. Snake River Saloon 23074 Hwy. 6, Keystone; 970/468-2788. A classic lounge with rock-and-roll and blues bands, a pool table, and draft beer. It's a requisite first stop for carloads of revved-up, sunburned yahoos coming down off a long, hard day at A-Basin.

Kickapoo Tavern River Run Village, Keystone; 970/468-4601. Ribs, burgers, nachos, and Colorado microbrews are all served on the deck, where checking out the beachwear-clad skiers and riders is a local sport.

Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina 22869 Hwy. 6, Keystone; 970/262-9185; also at 600 S. Park Ave., Breckenridge; 970/453-2071. Both the Keystone and Breckenridge locations hum at happy hour, when free snacks are accompanied by wicked margaritas.

What Else to Do

When your knees can take no more moguls, work on other parts of your body. Summit County has two spectacular indoor public recreation centers: one in Breckenridge (880 Airport Rd.; 970/453-1734; admission $10), the other in Silverthorne (430 Rainbow Dr.; 970/262-7370; admission $8). Breckenridge has climbing walls and tennis courts; both have gyms, lap pools, baby-sitting services, and classes for adults and children.

The Breckenridge Ice Arena (189 Boreas Pass Rd.; 970/547-9974; admission $5), opened last July and has indoor and outdoor ice rinks. Sign up for skating lessons at any level, or just slap on some rentals ($3 per session) and show your stuff during open ice time.

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