Skiing in Switzerland

Growing up in Switzerland, I never understood what everyone's fascination with the Alps was. Being surrounded by mountains was all I knew and I wanted to experience the big city life instead.  Things changed very quickly though, once I moved to Illinois - the flattest state in the U.S. I miss mountains a lot! Every time Kyle and I go back to Switzerland, we like to spend some time in the Alps and go skiing if there is snow and the weather conditions are reasonable.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

I have been to a few ski resorts in Switzerland but grew up exploring the hills of Crans-Montana, a ski resort in the French part of Switzerland, in the canton Valais. It's a two hour drive to get there from Bern and you can either drive via Lake Geneva and stop in gorgeous Montreux and visit Chillon Castle on the way, or you can drive through the Bernese Alps and take the Lötschberg car train which is a fun experience by itself. If you have never heard of the car train before, check out this video. The first time I took Kyle there, he was stunned.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Crans-Montana is 1,500m or 4,920ft above sea level and from there you can access the glacier Plaine Morte which is 2,927m or 9,600ft above sea level. Because the ski resort faces south, you often get the sunniest skiing conditions and best views of the Alps and the Valais.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

You can even see the Matterhorn from Crans-Montana, although you'll only see the backside of it which makes it difficult to recognize.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

After a bumpy ride up in the cable car, Kyle and I couldn't wait to finally hit the slopes and go skiing in Switzerland for the first time in 4(!) years.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Shop My Skiing Outfit

 

Many of the items I'm wearing, I've had for years. My jacket is from H&M and I linked similar ones below. My goggles are by Arnette and you can get them on Amazon still.


 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

The morning was a bit foggy but it cleared up soon and we were lucky to get the most beautiful views and blue skies!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

We were happy to notice that skiing is like riding a bike, although our legs were starting to get sore. After a few runs, we even had enough confidence to go down a double black diamond run but regretted our choice as soon as we looked down the hill. Check out my Instagram stories if you're curious to see the run!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Arguably, the best part about skiing is getting away from the busy city life to enjoy a day in the snow and sun.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

And while you're out there enjoying your day, make sure you stop by one of the slope bars and restaurants and enjoy a glass of gluhwein and local charcuterie.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

For all the non-skiers amongst us, I can still highly recommend a visit to Crans-Montana. You can take the cable car to the slopes to enjoy the views or stay in the resort town, to go ice skating ...

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

... go on a walk around the lakes ...

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

... and enjoy the holiday decorations.

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Have you been skiing in Switzerland or would you like to go? Where is your favourite place to go? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - My favorite resort and views of the Alps
Skiing in Switzerland - My favorite resort and views of the Alps

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 


 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

After a fairly rocky first night to our trip (which you can read about here), we were eager to get back into the rhythm of things and prove to ourselves that we could actually do this whole camping thing for days on end. After all, there is nothing more motivating than waking up with views of cheerful flowers for days.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Our next destination was near Silverton, Colorado, but to get there we first had to conquer Cinnamon Pass.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

The views heading up the pass were breathtaking as we got our first glimpse of the high alpine area of the San Juan Mountains.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Cinnamon Pass

 

Cinnamon Pass is on the southern portion of the famous Alpine Loop. This 65 mile (105km) “loop” is not to be taken lightly though as it is 4x4 only, far from civilization, and crosses two high mountain passes.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Cinnamon Pass

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Cinnamon Pass

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Cinnamon Pass

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Cinnamon Pass

 

Shop Bettina's Look

Earlier in the summer, these alpine basins are overflowing with alpine wildflowers, however, we were a few weeks too late to experience them.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Cinnamon Pass

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Cinnamon Pass

 

The road was rough and bumpy, but worth the drive when you can conquer the pass and are rewarded with views like this. At least it was worth it for me, Bettina may have other ideas. Our Toyota Tacoma performed extremely well again and we had no issues getting up the steep and rocky roads.

This post is not sponsored by Toyota in any way but we can highly recommend Toyota as we didn't have any problems with the truck throughout the trip.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Cinnamon Pass

 

Clearly, I'm overwhelmed with excitement that we managed to make it to the top.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Cinnamon Pass

 

We reached the top of Cinnamon Pass at 12,640 ft above sea level (3,853 metres) in the early evening, and so we had the whole place to ourselves! We couldn't resist stopping to take in the view and to make sure we remained hydrated. Voss was so kind as to provide us with their flavoured water for our trip, which are incredibly refreshing! My favorite flavour is Lime Mint but Bettina swears by their Lemon Cucumber water.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Voss Water

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Voss Water

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado - Voss Water

 

The road downhill on the other side was even rockier, but we were soon setting up camp again hoping for a better nights sleep. This was our second night camping remotely in an area with nobody else around (except for perhaps the odd deer and bear). Luckily we had a much better sleep that night, and with the sun warming up our campsite we packed up our tent and were headed into town.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Silverton is a town that appears to be stuck way back in the past, but in a good way. The town was founded back in the 1870’s as a center for the numerous silver mines that were operating in the area. Back in the day, this town was booming, with thousands of prospectors scouring the hills for gold, silver, and everything in between.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

The town has managed to preserve most of its architecture and feel from that era.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

We enjoyed walking the streets, feeling like we were on a film set, window-shopping, and also having a connection back to civilization.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

With buildings like these, you can just imagine what it would have been like to be here over a hundred years ago.

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

While the town is fairly small, it’s easy to fill a day exploring, and we both had a great time. (Can't get enough of Silverton? We also share a few glimpses of the town here.)

 

Stepping Back in Time in Silverton, Colorado

 

Have you been to an old mining town before?

 


 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

I have been wanting to visit Colorado for years and this desire for pristine wilderness, majestic peaks, and the great outdoors has only been further amplified by our life in the flattest state in the United States. We literally couldn’t be further away from the mountains that we both grew up with at our doorsteps.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

The simple way to solve this problem would be to jump on a plane and arrive in Colorado a few hours later.  However, we rarely do simple. My plan was to drive the nearly 2,400 km (1,500 miles) to our destination in the San Juan mountains in southwest Colorado. My decision to drive was primarily driven by (get it?) our plan to camp, offroad, and explore the more remote regions of Colorado that would require our 4x4 Toyota Tacoma and camping supplies. I say "my decision" because I love to camp but had to convince Bettina to tag along.

We own a Toyota Tacoma and were extremely happy with its performance throughout the trip. This post is not sponsored by Toyota but we can highly recommend them.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park - Offroading in our Toyota Tacoma

 

We began our drive west early on Friday, beating rush hour out of Chicago and continuing on the 8 or so hours to Lawrence, Kansas where we spent the evening visiting friends.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park - Offroading in our Toyota Tacoma

 

The next day, we spent hours staring at the rolling hills of Kansas and the endless wind turbines as we made our way to the Colorado state border and eventually to Colorado Springs.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

The First Day of Offroading

 

We started our adventure at the Garden of the Gods park, which was so stunning, I could write an entire blog post about it. If you haven’t been, the park is very close to Colorado Springs and is a great place to walk and hike while exploring the interesting rock formations.

 

Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs

 

Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs

 

Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs

 

Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs

 

Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs

 

Heading south we had a short 45 minute drive before what we considered the true beginning of our offroading experience when we turned off the paved road. Our first offroading adventure would be to conquer Medano Pass as a test of our rusty 4x4 driving abilities and trial run for the days to come.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park - Offroading in our Toyota Tacoma

 

We aired down the tires and took in the fresh Colorado air before proceeding up the dusty forestry road. (For the less offroad experienced among you, airing down the tires reduces your risk of punctures to the tires as you drive over sharp rocks. It's crucial though to get the tires back to normal pressure once you get back on the pavement for proper handling and safety.)

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park - Offroading in our Toyota Tacoma

 

We came across a few obstacles that we had to stop and take a second look at before proceeding, but the trail was otherwise perfectly manageable and a lot of fun.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park - Offroading in our Toyota Tacoma

 

Towards the end of the trail, there were a number of creek crossings which could fill your truck with water if they are deep enough. We didn’t fully appreciate the depth of the water of one particular one until we were smack in the middle of the river with no turning back. The water reached the bottom of the doors of our truck!  This is what it looked like on the Jeep that went through just after us.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park - Offroading in our Toyota Tacoma

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Arriving at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Our destination goal for the day was the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It is a special place where you can freely explore the 30 square miles (78 square km) of dunes and the tallest sand dune in North America, at 750 feet (229 metres).

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Nearing the end of the trail we could see glimpses of the sand dunes in the distance, and the road turned to sand as well, which was a fun challenge to drive on.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

We decided to hike up the sand dunes but almost didn't make it! Bettina and I weren’t yet used to the higher altitude and hadn't eaten much yet that day, which is mainly a way of saying that we're totally out of shape.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

The views from the top were absolutely breathtaking and definitely worth the effort.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

 

It was perfectly quiet out on the dunes, and the setting sun cast golden light across the area.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

We set up camp for the night in a primitive site nearby, with nobody around.

 

Tenting in Bear Country

 

Driving up to our site, we came across a few bear warning signs. Having camped in the Rocky Mountains, we are no beginners at camping in bear country and know to follow the bear rules. The most important of which is to lock all your food items and toiletries in the car and leave nothing at all outside that will attract bears. And yes, bears love toothpaste so make sure you lock it up as well.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Not all travels go exactly as planned. This was our first night camping in our tent in a while, and also one of the worst nights we had.

To start off, it was windy which causes the forest to make a lot of noises that your brain can’t always justify as ‘just the wind.’ Next, it rained a couple times throughout the night. While we stayed completely dry, the noise of the rain did wake us up each time.

 

Blown Away at Great Sand Dunes National Park

 

Lastly, we had a few visitors to our camp in the early morning. At around 4:00am we were both awake and could hear something moving around our campsite. It was still very dark outside and fairly quiet except for the noises we were hearing. We both held our breath and listened intently for quite some time. Tents provide a false sense of security against anything that may want to ruin your night. I mustered up the courage to see what was out there, and so we very slowly and very quietly prepared our headlamps and flashlights on our phones for a surprise attack on whatever was out there.

Unzipping the tent I quickly flashed the lights all around and found six eyes reflecting sharply back at me, about 20-30 feet away. Three deer were nonchalantly enjoying an early breakfast around our tent and didn’t seem to be bothered by us being there. After shooing them away, we got a bit more sleep but overall had a very restless and sleepless night. A great way to start off almost a week of camping…

Have you had a rough night camping in a tent before? What was your experience?