Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in early 2010.
VAIL, Colo. (CBS) – When most people in Colorado’s high country think of Cordillera they probably think of an exclusive private club, but it turns out you don’t have to be a homeowner in the complex or a member of the club to have access to the outdoors in this beautiful terrain west of Vail.
For even just a day anyone can find fun — and solitude — at Cordillera.
What serves as a golf course during the warmer months is transformed into the Cordillera Nordic Center in the winter. The center includes more than 6 miles of groomed cross country and snowshoe trails.
“It’s a rolling hilly course and if you’re an advanced skier, it’s the perfect place to come skiing because we’ve got this great terrain, and if you’re a beginning skier we’ve also got some more moderate areas where we can take you,” Cordillera activites director Lisa Isom said.
There’s also about 30 miles more of non-groomed snowshoe trails, and the complex also has a skating rink.
This quiet corner of the Vail Valley draws visitors from far and wide.
John and Ryioko Petersen have been visiting the area for several years from Iowa.
“Why would you ski anywhere else when you can come up here and enjoy a view, not have all the people, not have to worry with lift tickets or any of those things, and be able to enjoy such beautifully groomed trails,” John said.
Last month one group of friends all came from Dallas. That included Niven Morgan, who grew up in Louisiana.
“It’s very peaceful, very quiet, and the views are stunning and you don’t see them back home,” Morgan said.
Ronny LaPorte brought his family to Cordillera from Denver for a recent weekend. They stayed at the Lodge at Cordillera and found a great change of pace.
“We just came up for the day to enjoy the surroundings and do some sledding and some snowwhoeing,” LaPorte said. “We haven’t been here before, to be honest with you, and we wanted to try something new.”
At the end of the day some visitors enjoys the cozy, slow-paced sleigh ride that is led by draft horses called Percherons.
“Back in the day, these guys were the ones that plowed the fields, they would pull trees and they would clear roads,” Bearcat stables owner Leeds Butcher said. “This was all lettuce and potatoe fields back in the day.”
The sleigh rides past the 100-year-old Fenno family barn and ends at the Timber Hearth at Cordillera, where many enjoy scrumptious meals.
“It seems far away but it’s very close to the conveniences of Vail and Beaver Creek but it feels like you’re in another world,” Isom said.
It costs $5 per person to get on the nordic trails at Cordillera. They also provide rentals and lessons.
To get there take Interstate 70 past Vail to the Edwards exit. Follow Highway 6 west and look for signs to Cordillera.
To find out more about all the winter activities at Cordillera, call (970) 926-5588 or log on cordillera-vail.com.
To make reservations for a sleigh ride and dinner at the Timber Hearth, call Bearcat stables at (970) 926-1578 or visit their Web site bearcatstables.com.