(photo: Jeremy Swanson)
Looking for ways to vacation like you live here? Or play like a tourist in your own backyard? There’s nothing like howling at the moon to make any night an adventure.
Our notion of Nightlife evolves after kids. In the beginning, it’s all about grabbing a few winks between middle-of-the-night feedings. Soon we reach the sticky fingers stage of discovering restaurants where it’s okay for Papa to stroll with toddler and margarita while Mama eats peacefully, trading places in time for a second round.
Before long, we’ve cultivated our babysitter lists and it’s a whole new Winter Nights ballgame – until kids reach the golden age of childhood when they’re able and eager to accompany us on our adventures. Soon enough, they’ll climb that hill faster than we can and race down ahead of us. This only makes it more fun to get out with them and howl at the moon. Along the way, we collect intel from other parents about best places to go, things to do and can’t-miss fun. Here’s our after-hours to-do list from one end of the Valley to the other.
As soon as Jack Frost shows up to help, the Silver Circle Ice Rink will reopen this winter after some back-and-forth with the City about synthetic ice v. the real deal. While you’re there, warm up at CP Burger, which is as family-friendly as it gets, serving Colorado beef, salads and milkshakes (spiked, if you’d like, for Mom & Dad).
Full Moon Uphill = parents + teens + friends. Skin or snowshoe to the Cliffhouse at the top of Buttermilk Mountain. Free hot chocolate around a cowboy cauldron, giveaway swag, dinner and cash bar followed by a moonlit top-to-bottom. Bring extra layers, headlights, and reflective clothing.
Winterskol Fireworks photo: C2 Photography
On most Fridays from late December through March (+ extra special holidays nights) head to Snowmass Ski Area to honor the Norse God of Snow — Ullr — with Ullr Nights, a night time, winter wonderland party at Elk Camp. Evening gondola ride, tubing, Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, snow biking and dinner followed by s’mores and hot chocolate by the bonfire (above, credit: ASC; and cover photo of snow biking by Jeremy Swanson).
The Snowmass Village Ice Rink is an easy destination with night skating and hot beverages around the fire pit after free s’mores and before dinner at Slice, where kid-friendly meets the aprés crowd until it’s time for a real culinary treat.
Basalt + Willits
Looking for a night out inside with the kids? Book Movieland tickets in advance online as weekend and holiday nights will often sell out, especially for new release films. You’ll always find at least one show for younger audiences.
Before the show, take your pick of family-friendly, quick and easy dining spots. Sure Thing Burger serves local beef and free soft serve cones to every kid. New York Pizza has the same delectable pie that Mom & Dad discovered late-night in Aspen 20+ years ago, only grown-up now in a downvalley location. El Korita is the Mexican place mentioned on the previous page, known for its authentic menu and kid-cool vibe.
Night Hockey has a near-cult following under the rodeo lights at Gus Darien Arena. The rink is open Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights, from 7:30–9:00 PM for big kid/grownup pick-up games. Definitely wear your full body armor. Or, if you’re only into watching, that’s fine. Bring a thermos and gather with other hockey moms and around the fire pit.
Or, for a more sociable time on the ice, go the Carbondale’s 4th Street Rink (above), which is strung with lights and mellow enough for boot-sliders of all ages. Because of nearby store windows, leave hockey pucks at home.
On a clear, bright night try a nighttime cross-country ski up the road from Redstone to Coal Basin. The slight and steady climb is gentle both up and downhill. Dog-friendly, non-groomed and typically good snow coverage. Bring headlights.
Afterward, head to the Redstone Inn (above) for ski-attire-appropriate dining in the grill. Start with their hot-buttered Grand Marnier and save room for the warm chocolate brownie dessert.
Don’t ski? No problem. You can find plenty of adrenaline thrills this winter at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park where weekend hours extend to 9:00 PM. The Alpine Coaster and other rides are lit with holiday lights.
Anyone who has arrived in the Valley at night in December via I-70 has seen the Hotel Colorado’s grand light display. (Above, credit: Visit Glenwood). Make time to go inside to see the Hotel’s Victorian-era lobby decked out in holly, lights, ribbons and classic holiday scenes and tchotchkes. While you’re there, try the restaurant’s grown-up lobster mac-n-cheese.
By: Kathryn Camp
LOOKING FOR something else to do?
Ticks in Colorado
Facts and local knowledge about our least favorite “trail buddies” – TICKS!
Dream Pool Design Contest
Time for a new pool in Carbondale.
C-19 & Local Swimming Pools
Parenting During Turmoil
An interview with art therapist Helena Hurrell
MP’s Diversity Booklist
Summer Reading 2020
A summer-long series about loving this place while flattening the curve.
Summer Camp Planner
Find the latest COVID program updates for summer camps and classes. Camps are happening!
Up-cycle an empty pet food bag for this easy project.
Roaring Fork Nature Parks
A “Wild at Heart” map of nearby places to discover (or rediscover) with your child.
Car Camping at Lake Powell
YOU DON’T NEED A BOAT TO ENJOY A GETAWAY TO THE WARM WATERS OF LAKE POWELL. By Brian Edmiston I made my first trip to Lake Powell when I was in high school, and I was quickly hooked by its beauty – its starkness, colors and clear blue water. Even when I was in college at CSU, we’d make the long trip from Fort Collins to fish and boat and do all the (really dumb) things that college kids do. It’s such a special place. When my daughter turned two I was ready to head back out and approach camping at Lake Powell from the family perspective. We’ve never rented a houseboat – car camping is great for a low-budget getaway, and a chance to experience the quieter side of Lake Powell. It takes a bit of adventuring to find “your” perfect spot. That’s part of the fun. Best Beach Camping These areas have graduated shorelines and shallow waters, perfect for wading with small children. 1. HALL’S CROSSING A 25-minute ferry ride connecting southern and northern sides of Utah Hwy 276 at Hall’s Crossing Marina and Bullfrog Marina. The ferry accommodates cars, trucks, RVs and trailers. UPDATE: The ferry is […]
Mothers Day Tribute
Three local women who exemplify Julia Ward Howe’s Proclamation of Peace.
A tragic fact of nature? Or way to find your wings?
Good Sports: Lacrosse
With the ROARING FORK LACROSSE CLUB, everyone is included and “it’s just fun.”
Helping Hands: Lucky Day Animal Rescue
This foster-based rescue group helps connect pets with their forever families.
MP Trail Map: Winter Hut Trips
A family-friendly guide to planning an adventure to one of Colorado’s backcountry huts.
Writing By Hand
What can parents do to help their children learn this life skill?
A mother redefines HEALTHY after her daughter’s Leukodystrophy diagnosis
DIY: Upcycled Owl
Spread your wings to make this cuddly stuffed owl designed by Handmakery’s Ami Maes.
Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail System
MP Trail Map: A guide to Roaring Fork Valley cross-country ski trails.
Meet local eco-chocolate maker Mark Burrows.
Helping Hands: Roaring Fork Valley Kids Who Care
Act Locally: A student-led effort to save Sea Turtles and Rainforests.
Good Sports: Challenge Aspen
Q&A with Special Olympics and NASTAR ski racer Tanner Jadwin
Nighttime Family Staycation
Wintertime fun after dark with the kids.
DIY: Spa Day
Make your own bath time bliss at home.
The McBride Internship: Kenya
Roaring Fork Valley students visit Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
Good Sports: Ski Racing
For this mother and her daughters, skiing is among their earliest memories.
Giving the best present of all: Ourselves
Helping Hands: LIFT-UP
Can you feed your family breakfast, lunch, and dinner for $4 per person per day?
Helping Hands: The Farm Collaborative
Farm-to-Table meets Food Insecurity
Q&A: Honeybee Play
Q&A with the teenage creators of a new original musical
Helping Hands: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folklórico
An award-winning after school dance program that’s about more than dancing. It’s a cultural bridge.
Getting Into College
Making sense of college admission statistics
Good Sports: BMX Biking
Crown Mountain Park’s bike racing facility has expanded into a world-class race course.
Harvest Road Trip
Drive Highway 133 from Carbondale to Hotchkiss and make new friends at our nearby farms.
Helping Hands: Way of Compassion Bike Project
One man’s trash is, indeed, another man’s treasure.
MP Trail Map: Mount Elbert
Your child’s first fourteener can also be Colorado’s highest peak.
Good Sports: Sailing
Aspen Rec Department’s Don Sheeley Sailing School
Find Yourself in the Lost Forest
Discover Aspen Skiing Company’s Lost Forest adventure park.
DIY: Skateboard Swing
Turn a discarded skateboard into a big backyard hit.
MORE to FIND in the LOST FOREST
Lots to do in the Aspen Snowmass Lost Forest
DIY: Portraits of Your Children
How to capture magical frame-worthy photos
Helping Hands: Colorado Animal Rescue
C.A.R.E. can help you figure out what kind of adoptable pet is right for you and your household.
Good Sports: Baseball
A Glenwood Springs High School graduate and college baseball recruit shares what he learned at the ballpark.
Homelife Recipes: Backyard Burgers
Q&A with Jerilyn Nieslanik about how to avoided the dreaded hockey puck burger
MP Trail Map: Hartman Rocks
High desert mountain biking between Crested Butte and Gunnison
Citizens of the World
Roaring Fork High School students become world travelers through an all-inclusive club
Where to find Wildlife
Learn about the untamed creatures you might encounter in our mountain forests and meadows.
The Art of Being ENOUGH
A Motherhood Manifesto
Yampah Mountain High School’s Teen Parent Program
A campus in Glenwood Springs where each student is met exactly how they are.
LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Roaring Fork Valley Schools
A community-wide PRIDE parade + other other Valley-wide efforts to welcome everyone.
Good Sports: Soccer
Reflections from an Aspen HIgh School midfielder and member of an elite all-valley women’s team.
MP Trail Map: Navajo Rocks
A family-friendly mountain biking destination near Moab, Utah
Helping Hands: Mountain Valley Developmental Services Greenhouse
A nonprofit gardening center where developmentally disabled adults work (and bloom).
Homelife Recipes: Passover Seder
Rabbi Emily Segal of Aspen Jewish Congregation reflects on this sacred meal (and shares her recipe for Matzah crack)
Good Sports: Black Belt
A RFHS student and Rising Crane Training Center Cuong Nhu black belt shares her accomplishment.
MP’s Cover Artists: Lily and Elana Royer
Meet the mother-daughter creative team behind Lilybart
DIY: Chinese New Year Dragon Puppet
Step-By-Step instructions for making a fun puppet at home.