Exercise body and mind on snowshoe tours with Yampatika | SteamboatToday.com

Exercise body and mind on snowshoe tours with Yampatika

A free and popular Yampatika Snowshoe Tour takes place at the Uranium Mine Trail every Friday. (Courtesy Yampatika)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Riding up the chairlift at Steamboat Resort or Howelsen Hill, do you ever look down and try to guess what animals scurried over the snow and left the tracks below your feet? Do you ever notice that two pine trees look different and question what they are?

Yampatika can answer those questions on their many snowshoeing tours, private or public.

There have been few changes to the programs amid the pandemic, from requiring masks during part of the tours and cutting participation from 12 to 10. The tours are filling up faster than ever, and Yampatika has been inundated with requests for private tours as well.

“Our demand for our private programs has tripled what it was last year. That’s where we’ve seen our biggest change,” said Joe Haines, executive director of Yampatika. “We had done more programs by the end of December this year than we had done all of the previous winter season. We’re doing two, three, four private programs a week. Unfortunately, we’ve had to turn down programs because we haven’t had a naturalist available.”

Long story short: plan ahead.

The private tours have been so popular because participants feel safe knowing their household and the guide will be the only people in attendance. People also seem to enjoy the flexibility in the private tours that allow families to determine when, where and how challenging the tour can be.

Additionally, they can note if they have a specific subject they are interested in.

Yampatika offers guided snowshoe tours at Legacy Ranch in the Yampa Valley as well as twice-weekly Youth Programs. (Courtesy Yampatika)

“They want to do something in their family unit that’s safe, relatively speaking, for COVID,” Haines said. “Family snowshoeing is a good, safe thing to do.”

Anyone can rent snowshoes from retailers in town and exercise their bodies, but Yampatika tours exercise one’s brain as well, filling it up with new information and ideas that they can then share with family or friends on their next snowshoe outing.

The public tours have been booked up quickly as well. Ski with a Naturalist at Steamboat Resort doesn’t fill up, since there are no reservations. The free program meets at the top of the Gondola at Steamboat Resort at 1:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday through March 11. The hour-long program takes skiers and snowboarders down the Why Not trail.

The Uranium Mine Snowshoe also is free, but requires registration. Uranium Mine is for those 16 and over and is moderately strenuous. Yampatika guides snowshoers up the trail at 10 a.m. every Friday. Participants will take in views of Fish Creek Canyon and the Flat Tops while keeping an eye out for moose that frequent the area.

On Saturdays, Yampatika offers an Emerald Mountain Snowshoe, another program for those 16 and older. Starting at 10 a.m., snowshoers take a short trip up the chair lift before strapping in and taking a hike on Emerald Mountain, one of the best places to snowshoe around the Yampa Valley.

Masks are required in the beginning of the tour and whenever the naturalist gathers the group for a mini lesson. While trekking through the snow, though, so long as people are spread out, masks aren’t required.

The most family-friendly snowshoe tour is the Saturday program at Yampatika’s Legacy Ranch. For a registration fee of $5, families, newbies or casual snowshoers will explore the land at Legacy Ranch, located right on the Yampa River.

“It’s one of the best values in town,” Haines said.

For the most adventurous snowshoers, there’s the Moonlight Snowshoe Tour, where participants can watch the moon rise over Mount Werner from Emerald Mountain. There is just one more this season Feb. 27.

Yampatika does all the hard work and planning, providing a list of what to bring and what to wear, and offers rentals.

Small groups or family units can safely explore the Yampa Valley with Yampatika Snowshoe tours. (Courtesy Yampatika)

To replace their typical youth programs, Yampatika has put together free, twice-weekly programs at Legacy Ranch for second through fifth graders.

“Kids still need to learn,” said Haines. “If we can contribute to that in our own way, it’s important for us to do so. Especially, since we can offer programs that aren’t just based on educational standards, but also some social interaction.”

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