We love traveling in the “off” season and have reaped the benefits of discounted adventures around the world. As exciting as these quests can be, they also tend to be hit or miss. Venturing to the Caribbean during the first week of hurricane season might offer substantial discounts and spectacular beaches but your vacation can quickly turn into an episode of Storm Chasers. There are also times when being a week early (or late) means missing something big. For example, traveling to Bavaria the week before the Christmas Markets open is much less expensive but have you really seen Munich’s Marienplatz if the beautiful wooden carvings from Oberammergau or gingerbread men from Nuremberg are not there?
Despite a rare disappointment, we still find traveling in the off-season has many benefits. We recently spent a week in the Colorado Rockies during “mud season” … the local term for the very short period between the end of ski season and the start of summer activities. We spent the last week of May in the town of Vail and had a fantastic time. The town was very quiet but also very welcoming. The local proprietors appeared happy to have a lull and to spend time talking with the few visitors who were in town. They seemed to enjoy the opportunity to engage in a dialog, a luxury that is not possible in the high season … you know … time is money and all of that. We enjoyed amazing weather, which of course made the week even more enjoyable and allowed us to participate in some great outdoor activities. Our first adventure was a mountain bike outing. Our tour operator (Vail Wheel Base) provided the bikes, helmets, and transportation from Vail to the start point. We mountain biked from Vail Pass into the town – a 17 mile downhill ride during which we descended about 2500 feet. The views along the way were absolutely spectacular.
After conquering the mountain we decided to take on a more adventurous feat for our next challenge and completed the Hanging Lake hiking trail. Although the trail is only a little over one mile from the parking lot to the lake, you gain more than 1000 feet along the way. Despite or perhaps because of the difficulty of the hike, the Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock were two of the most impressive sites we have seen for a long time.
Of course Mud Season is not just about outdoor activities. Many local restaurants offer incredible deals. We enjoyed some of the best seafood we have ever eaten at Montauk Seafood Grill … and better yet, all of the entrees were 51% off … a great deal for great food.
Now there are some negatives to visiting the Rockies during Mud Season. There is a lot of construction and detours (but not much traffic). Many places are closed or operating on a reduced schedule. Nevertheless an adventure during Mud Season is great value and much less stressful than the peak seasons (pun intended). Enjoy the mud.
This post was also published on Kiss from the World.