In Seattle the coming of rain means only one thing, ski season is close to follow. Waiting for snow to powder the slopes doesn’t have to feel like such a chore. Many ski towns turn into relaxing fall getaways, quiet natural landscapes with crisp mornings, sunny afternoons, fall foliage, and the mountains all to you. Here’s your guide to a few shoulder season suggestions.
Estes Park, Colorado
Nestled at the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park offers shoulder season visitors empty trails for hiking and wildlife viewing. The YMCA Estes Park Center is a great place for families to stay for all of their mountain enjoyment. The ideal family set up has a roller rink, arts and crafts, a pool, walking paths and lots of other activities. Renting a cabin for Thanksgiving is a nice alternative to hosting at home. The nearby Estes Park Brewery is a good place to people watch and soak in the small town.
Lake Tahoe, California
Between the busy summer and winter tourist seasons Tahoe locals get to breath a little easier in the space that opens up as visitors depart. The high Sierra meadows, quacking aspen, and sunsets turn shades of gold as the mountains make their final preparations for the coming snow. In Tahoe, the winter doesn’t start slowly but rather bursts into existence with a sudden dark cloud- making everyday prior ripe with fall recreation such as mountain biking, climbing and hiking. Locals think fondly of the shoulder season and many consider it to be the most relaxed time of the year.
Manning Park, British Columbia
Just above the North Cascades National Park in Washington, Manning Park is a four season destination. High up on the mountain peaks and ridges the needles of the subalpine larches, a native conifer, turn bright yellow before falling off in winter. Contrast these golden needles with a blue sky and throw in a bald eagle and you quickly have one of the most beautiful mountain sights in the region. Early season snow fall will allow walkers to make light foot prints as the journey along a river.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
As one of the nation’s premier ski destinations, Jackson Hole has a special place in the hearts of many winter enthusiasts. Visitors during the fall can still hike, ride horses, fish, relax, and drink beer from a boot in a cowboy bar (not just cowboy themed an actual cowboy bar). Hot springs are best here in the fall and the region boasts several within a short drive. Granite Hot Spring is perfect for warming up on a cool day.