After ten years of surfing and sailing around the world, Anton Rainold finally became a record-setter in an entirely different sport. In 2003, he transferred his skills to a cooler climate and became the first man in the US to open a snowkite-specific shop and school, as Summit Daily News reported. In the Colorado Kite Force shop, Rainold's team outfits shoppers for applications such as backcountry kiting, park and freestyle riding, or kiteboarding on the water in the summer. In the snow, they lead lessons for children and families, sharing techniques on how to stay safe, secure, and ready to lasso an adorable baby zephyr at any moment. After several hours, students are ready to strap into skis or snowboards, grab the control bar, and speed across the snow under the power of a majestic four-line kite.
Whitewater rapids can seem as menacing as great white sharks, but Whitewater Rafting owners Erik and Phoebe Larsson are out to dispel these unfounded fears. Since the company's first raft hit the waters of the Colorado River in 1974, it has maintained an impeccable safety record thanks to its experienced tour guides, each fully certified at the state and federal level in CPR, first aid, and on-river maneuvers. Many of the guides have been navigating these same rapids for more than a decade, learning intimate details about the river, from its twists and turns to its crippling phobia of alligators. First-time rafters can earn their whitewater bona fides on half-day treks, conquering the Class III and IV rapids of the Shoshone Rapids. More experienced adventurers can rent out boats, kayaks, paddles, and safety gear to embark on their own trips through the rapids.
The experts who lead Aspen Walking Tours blend history, research, and cultural anthropology in a trio of informative strolls, nourishing the minds of tour-takers with local factoids. These guides quarterback small groups during each trek through time, imparting stories and tidbits that they've researched themselves. The Aspen's DarkSide tour unearths the area's ghastly past, rife with ghosts, murder, and mayhem, and the Aspen's Past to Present tour details Aspen's evolution from a modest mining camp to world-famous resort. In the fall, rather than wearing shoes whittled from dry ice, visitors can experience real chills with a spooky saunter through the Ute Cemetery—Aspen's first burial ground—during the Walking with the Dead tour.
Breckenridge Stables' herd of more than 100 steeds trots along for scenic trail rides, Western-style lessons, and historical tours of the town. As horses deftly navigate the Tenmile Range, guides point out local wildlife along the continental divide, the imaginary line drawn when Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox broke up. During colder months, Breckenridge Stables' custom-built mountain sleighs keep passengers snuggly during sleigh rides as a team of belgian, clydesdale, or percheron horses canters through the Colorado air.
Breckenridge Distillery sits at 9,600 feet above sea level, where brew masters mix mineral-rich Rocky Mountain snow-melt water into bourbon, vodka, and other stiff libations. A 500-gallon Vendone copper pot whips up spirits in tandem with an open-top, Scottish-style fermenter—the two forming a better booze-promoting team than Al Capone and a basement. As guests meander through the storefront, they might sample the distillery's namesake bourbon, which boasts aromas of banana and brown sugar, or the namesake vodka, which yields notes of lemon cream and meadow flowers. With their $20 retail credit, tour-takers can bring products including mugs ($6), playing cards ($8), and flasks ($15) to the homes and recreational submarines of friends.
You and your snowfriend will have a choice of three tours: the 4:30 sunset tour (offered seven days a week) and the 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. tours (Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Whichever one you pick, a First Aid–certified guide will lead you down adventurous, ungroomed trails and treat you to awe-inspiring views of seven different mountain ranges. The low guest-to-guide ratio (typically 5:1) ensures that you won't get lost and have to fall back on the tauntaun-gutting survival skills you learned from watching Discovery Channel.