This week, there’s snow in Dillon, Colorado. Enough of it (man-made and otherwise) that Keystone Resort opened its gates earlier this month, and skiers took to the slopes. Three weekends back, however, the sun was shining, and it was a toss up whether or not to wear a jacket. The shoulder season in the mountains can be one of the best times for a visit. There’s no skiing, but enough snow that there’s no mountain biking or day-hiking either. Instead, the hotels and resorts offer off-season rates, and area restaurants entice hungry diners with nightly half-off dinner specials.
For us, it was the perfect time to try geocaching. Search the usual geocaching sites online and you will find dozens, nay, hundreds of caches hidden throughout Colorado. They run the gamut of difficulty from easy-to-find to requires-some-mountaineering-experience. My family is new to geocaching (we don’t even have a GPS receiver yet), so when we were invited to spend a day at Keystone Resort this fall to try our luck finding their caches hidden along the Snake River, it sounded like a great opportunity. I was thinking this would be a good way to find out if the kids would have fun geocaching before investing a lot of money in the activity.
Maybe you’re skilled at orienteering. Like me, you might read about using a GPS receiver to find a hidden “treasure” and think, “Isn’t that cheating? Wouldn’t it be more sporting to use a topo map and a compass?” Perhaps, but as an activity with kids, geocaching is a blast.
At Keystone, getting started couldn’t be easier. The resort rents GPS units with the three waypoints already programmed into the receiver. They are available from the Mountain Concierge at Keystone’s Riverside Village. With a quick tutorial on how to use the Garmin eTrex, we were on our way.
The Keystone Resort straddles nearly four miles of the Snake River as it descends from the high mountains on its way to the Dillon Reservoir. A walking and biking path follows the river connecting the various sections of town—West Keystone, Lakeside Village, Mountain House, River Run Village, and East Keystone. This path serves also to connect the three waypoints, which are found along the entire length of the path.
Though the path was clear, the caches weren’t just laying next to the sidewalk and we ended up getting our feet snowy and a wee bit wet.
The waypoints are spread from end-to-end along the Snake River path at Keystone, and we found the walking got to be a little much for a four-year-old and parents carrying a one-year-old. After finding the first cache, which contained promotional stickers, buttons, and other Keystone-branded swag, we retired to our condo overlooking the pond at Lakeside Village. Later at the other end of the afternoon, I went back and retrieved the car so the family could call it quits after tracking down the last box.
I am not sure how much geocaching you can do in the mountains in the winter, but keep it in mind for the spring, and we’ll keep you posted about geocaching, hiking, skiing, and other Rocky Mountain recreation on future trips to Colorado.