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Driving on I-70 between the mega-resorts of Copper Mountain and Vail you crest 10,600-foot, Vail Pass, which gets a ton of snow because of it’s elevation and location right in the middle of the state. The west side of the highway is a popular spot for snowmobile use, as well as a starting point for some 10th Mountain Division Huts. The east side of the highway is a haven for human-powered ski touring.  Uneva Peak, at 12,520, is a perfect objective for a first visit to Vail Pass. The grade to the summit is relaxed, and 2,000 vertical feet of elevation gain is realistic for most weekend warriors. There are abundant slopes on which to play depending on weather, avalanche danger, and motivation levels. The south and west slopes are good for basic decision making, but the north and east are a bit more complicated.  To get there, follow I-70 to Vail Pass, and park on the west side of the highway. There is a ranger station, and day use will cost $6 per person. Chat with the rangers, get a handle on current conditions, and feel good about where your money is going. Cross the overpass and start skinning right at the summer trailhead.  

Backcountry Destinations: Colorado

As touring gear gets more sophisticated and bomber, backcountry skiing is gaining popularity across the country. But, for a variety of very good reason, it can be intimidating. And finding appropriate entry-level trips can be hard. To help make the transition to touring, we’ve got some beta to get you started. Each month, Donny Roth, owner of Alpine Ambitions, will share a few destinations that are great starting points for skiers looking to get out and explore. The first installment is from Colorado, check back soon for ideas from other states.

Rebecca Selig, Vail

Vail, Colorado: Nine Inches of Powder

Need proof that winter isn't over yet? Here are shots from Vail this weekend—when nine of inches of snow fell on Friday night, dawning bluebird Saturday and Sunday. The best part: After skiing powder, you can take a shot of Limoncello from an ice luge at the top of Vail's Blue Sky Basin.

Racers on the Gothic Mountain Tour

Gothic Mountain Tour

Test your mettle in this skimo race outside of Crested Butte, Colorado.

The rising sun casts a breathtaking glow on the south face of Buffalo Mountain, the approach route.

Silver Couloir Dawn Patrol

Last week, a couple Skiing Magazine staffers decided to make some turns before work. They bagged the Silver Couloir, a steep, 2,500 foot stripe down the northeast face of Buffalo Mountain in Silverthorne, Colorado. Conditions were all time for this classic Summit County line, they found blue skies and buttery, boot-top powder. Not a bad way to start the day.

Loveland, Colorado

Loveland, Colorado: Ski Powder for $30 Until May 2

It's still snowing in Colorado—Loveland Ski Area is reporting eight inches of new snow in the past 48 hours. And here's the best news: If your mountain is closed for the season, bring your season pass from any other mountain to Loveland and they'll give you a lift ticket for $30. Closing day at Loveland is May 2.

Sheepshead Cabin Look

Sheepshead Cabin

A sled skiing adventure in Colorado's San Juan mountains.

If you are looking to tackle a super long 15-20 day trek on the West Coast, check out the whopping 223-mile John Muir trail that runs from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney, mostly in conjunction with the Pacific Crest Trail. If you just want a taste, hike a Yosemite classic, the Vernal and Nevada Falls trail. This section of trail has everything—waterfalls, canyons, slabs of granite, conifers, and incredible vistas. The eight-mile loop is no secret, but if you get an early start, you’ll be able to avoid other people as well as the heat. From the Happy Isles Shuttle stop #16, which you can catch in front of the grocery store in Yosemite Village, follow the dusty path along the Merced River for less than a mile towards Vernal Falls. Go across the footbridge, going right on the Mist Trail where all the tourists who came to see the falls in flip-flops will fall behind. There are spectacular views of the water cascading down over Vernal Falls. At the top of the overlook, there are some awesome wading pools. It is tempting to slip in for a welcomed relief from the hot summer, but resist the temptation because swimmers have been known to be caught by the swift current only to meet disaster on the way down the falls. After a head dunk, perhaps, continue ascending to another few switchbacks to see Nevada Falls. Turn right to follow the John Muir Trail southwest back toward the valley and past more waterfalls and wading areas.

Best Backpacking Trips

Looking for one more late summer adventure? Here are our favorite multi-day backpacking trips in ski country.

Historically, Snowbird has Utah's longest ski season, and this year's projected closing date is Memorial Day. For skiers looking for late-season powder and spring corn, the resort offers a $299 Spring Pass good through closing day. Current ski-and-stay lodging packages are $99 per person (double occupancy). Book at www.snowbird.com.

April Storms Bury Snowbird

Snowbird Resort has reported four and a half feet of powder within the last week and says 30-40 more are predicted to fall in the next few days. Ski-and-stay deals start at $99. What are you waiting for?