Mar 202011
Authors: Jesse Benn

It’s Friday; spring break starts after class ¬¬–– if you bothered to come to class –– and in a panic you realize you have no plans. As nice as that couch looks right now, by Monday it’ll be time to get out.

In honor of procrastinators across campus, here are a few budget-friendly, last-minute “spring” break ideas close to home.

Backcountry skiing

Everyone knows Colorado is a mecca for skiing and snowboarding, but with costly lift tickets, resorts can be prohibitively expensive for some. However, places like Loveland Pass provide easy, free backcountry access. All you need to do is get there.
However, some additional precautions must be taken in the backcountry compared to resorts.

“The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone going backcountry skiing for the first time is to come prepared,” said Luke Schwerdtfeger, a CSU sophomore and a member of the outdoor club, in an e-mail to the Collegian. “Travel with friends or acquaintances who know what they’re doing, and you’ll learn a lot.”

Another thing that novice backcountry adventurers should keep in mind is that there is no avalanche mitigation like what you see at the resorts. People who are used to skiing and riding at resorts often get lulled into a false sense of security when venturing into the backcountry.
“Backcountry skiing can be dangerous so always carry your beacon, probe and shovel, and know how to use them,” Schwerdtfeger said.
Avalanche danger starts on slopes 30 degrees or steeper.

According to the Forest Service National Avalanche Center’s website, “Many of us like to ski and snowboard on slopes steeper than 30 degrees and that puts us in avalanche terrain … if it is exciting it is probably 35 degrees or steeper.”

Check out the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s website for more information before venturing out into the backcountry for the first time.


Another way to enjoy the end of winter over spring break is to try snowshoeing, an activity that doesn’t require any special skills like skiing or snowboarding, for the first time.

“Snowshoeing is a great way to experience the outdoors in winter and is something I highly recommend to someone looking to get into the backcountry in the snowier months,” Schwerdtfeger said.

Snowshoeing opens up areas and landscapes in Colorado that few people ever get to see, particularly during the winter.

“It allows you to travel relatively easily across deep snow and into some really awesome parts of Colorado that many people never get to see,” Schwerdtfeger said. “On a beautiful day, in my opinion, it can’t be beat.”

Due to the selection of trails and expert advice, in addition to its proximity to Fort Collins, Rocky Mountain National Park is an ideal destination for a snowshoeing journey.

“There’s plenty of snow right now,” said Ann Schonlau, a park volunteer working in the information center.

She also pointed out a guided ecological snowshoe walk put on by rangers throughout much of the week.

Guided events like this and the many others are included in the cost of admission: $20 per vehicle for the week.

For the eco walk, you need to make a reservation by calling 970-586-1223.

Schonlau said the National Park Service website offers a wealth of information for those planning a trip to RMNP.

“Once they get here students really need to come by one of the visitor centers too,” Schonlau said. “That way they can get any questions they have answered and an update on the current snow and weather conditions.”
The website for the National Park Service is

Staff writer Jesse Benn can be reached at

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