Somewhere between dashing through the woods in a multi-horse open sleigh, schussing across pillowy pathways overlooking Lake Dillon, and spinning wildly down the monster-hill tube run, I started looking for the overhead dome. You know—that glass bubble encapsulating those perfect snow-globe scenes. I could see the silently drifting snowflakes alternating with bluebird skies over rugged snowcapped peaks. But it seems Frisco is no fantasy.
Normally, my family would be in Summit County to ski and snowboard the lift-assisted runs. And while Frisco is closely surrounded by Copper, Keystone, Breckenridge, A Basin and Loveland, this weekend getaway was all about off-slope winter activities. We found plenty, plus a cozy mountain town set in the middle of its own Colorado winter wonderland. Here’s how you can do the same.
Head to the Frisco Nordic Center to explore the center of the snow kingdom on skinny skis and peaceful trails. If you’re beginners like us, you’ll find plenty of options for lessons, from classic cross-country and the increasingly popular skate ski to skijoring clinics with your dogs. The center is run by Jim Galanes, a three-time Olympian, world champion and former U.S. Ski Team head Nordic coach. He and his crew will get you striding and gliding on the flats around the center. Then you’ll be ready for longer loops on the 27 kilometers (nearly 17 miles) of trail marked with green, blue and black difficulty ratings.
You might pass a few regulars cruising on their daily laps, but you’ll most likely find plenty of space to savor the peaceful, muffled silence. Well, silence minus the rhythmic whoosh of your skis and your not-quite-so-even breathing. There’s plenty of that snow-globe scenery, especially overlooking the lake, as you roll up and down through the gentle landscape, in and out of scattered evergreen forest. As you head back to turn in your skis at the Nordic center, you’ll glow with the inner warmth of an adventurous Viking.
Next up, head across the parking lot to the Adventure Center for an adrenaline shot on the Tubing Hill. Because you know it’s a popular spot, you’ve got a reservation for your hourlong sled-spree. Grab a big, blue monster-truck tube at the base, and walk onto the conveyor belt-style lift. At the top of the hill, you won’t be able to resist snapping a selfie or family portrait surrounded by panoramic Rocky Mountain peaks.
But enough gawking. There are choices to be made: Which 1,200-foot run to take? Mellower or steeper? Spin or straight? Do you want to go alone or connect a pod of four tubes with your companions? Aw, forget about it. You’re here to try them all. And whichever way you ride, you won’t get rid of that grin until long after your last run.
Come evening, it’s time to head back to the Nordic Center to check in for Two Below Zero Sleigh Rides. You can hear the sleigh bells jingling on the teams of draft mules as your ride arrives. Board your wagon and burrow under the heavy, fleecy blankets. You’ll pass through some of the same terrain you cross-country skied earlier, but the farther you go, you’ll swear you’re deep inside a vintage Currier & Ives scene.
Once you reach the backcountry dining tent, it’s peppermint schnapps or cocoa all around to take off the chill. Find your seat at the banquet tables for a savory three-course meal featuring top sirloin or grilled chicken. Just save room for the fresh-baked apple pie. You’ll recognize your servers as the wagon drivers; don’t worry, they wash up first.
As you finish your meal, entertainer David Peel breaks out his guitar and gets you singing along to Western sounds from the likes of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and, of course, John Denver. The interactive show draws the crowd together, and you’ll be smiling and back-slapping as you head back into the night for your return ride home.
Now the stars are out in full force. From another wagon in the distance, you can hear a group singing “Rocky Mountain High.” If you feel too cool to join in, just snuggle down under those blankets and watch the vapor trail of your breath drift up toward the glowing Milky Way. There’s no snow globe ceiling to stop it. Just the wide-sky quintessence of Colorado that you’ve found yourself surrounded by.
From Dec. 1-10, Frisco’s Main Street turns true holiday village with carolers, Santa and the 12 Sips of Wassail, when shops and restaurants offer free samples and compete for your votes for the best spiced yuletide beverage.
There are also midweek sessions for free tubing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and sleigh rides. Get the schedule of events at townoffrisco.com.
Don’t miss these must-do Frisco favorites.
Where to Stay
For true, local charm, aim to stay near Main Street. Summit Mountain Rentals has a large collection of condos. summitrentals.com
Head to Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe for breakfast all day. Get there early in the morning or you’ll wait in line for your baked-from-scratch delicacies. butterhornbakery.com
Someone in your group need some relaxing me-time? Hint: mom! Send her to Vive Float Studio for some curative, sensory-free bliss. vivefloatstudio.com