Best Rafting in Colorado

Best Rafting in Colorado

Some of the best rafting in the world exists among Colorado’s rivers. From easy, family-friendly trips to advanced whitewater rafting adventure, Colorado’s rivers have it all. Colorado’s rafting season runs from May through September, with the fastest and highest waters occurring earlier in the season and milder flows occurring in the later months. For more advanced rafters, the early months in the season, May and June, provide some of the most exhilarating rides, with the winter snow melt creating the most active whitewater adventures. August and September bring milder and more leisurely rides when the water flow subsides, allowing rafters to enjoy the beauty of the canyons and gorges they float through.

There are a couple dozen viable rafting rivers in Colorado that provide great adventure and fun for rafting enthusiasts. Here are five of the most popular ones that span the spectrum of excitement allowing time on the water for experienced adventure seekers and those looking for the equivalent of a nice stroll in the park.

The Arkansas River is one of the nation’s most popular rafting rivers running through some of the state’s most beautiful geologic landscapes. It cuts through central Colorado canyons and drops 5,000 feet in elevation in the first 125 miles, creating conditions for all rafting experience levels. The Browns Canyon National Monument section offers scenic, family-friendly rides. The Bighorn Sheep Canyon and Royal Gorge stretches offer much more advanced rides. Departure cities include Buena Vista, Salida, and Canyon City.

Colorado’s namesake, the Colorado River, provides some amazing sightseeing between the hard-charging rapids that can be found on this great river. Divided into upper and lower sections, the Colorado River can be accessed from the following cities: Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Kremmling, Breckenridge, and State Bridge.

For those with rafting experience and a sense of adventure, the lower Animas River offers challenging Class IV and V rapids considered among many as one of the toughest commercially rafted rivers in the country. The Animas River is most typically accessed through the city of Durango.

Outside Telluride and near Placerville, one can access the San Miguel River and raft through some amazing and diverse landscape, such as alpine forests and desert red-rock walled canyons. Beautiful and exhilarating, the San Miguel River is known for its Class II and III rapids and popular for family trips.

The Roaring Fork River is also split up into two sections, the upper and lower Roaring Fork, with the upper section known as “Slaughterhouse” for is extremely challenging rapids, and home to one of the state’s few commercially rafted waterfalls. The lower section is very popular with families and beginning rafters due to its calmer waters and wonderful scenery. Rafters often depart from locations in and near the city of Aspen when floating on the Roaring Fork.

To help plan your rafting trip, please refer to the International Whitewater Difficulty Rating Scale below and ensure you are aware of the water’s condition when you hit the river.

 

  • Class I: Moving water, riffles, small waves
  • Class II: Easy rapids, waves, clear channels
  • Class III: Large waves, obstacles, narrow passages
  • Class IV: Long rapids, unavoidable waves, many obstacles
  • Class V: Violent rapids, extremely difficult, unseen hazards
  • Class VI: Unpredictable, dangerous, nearly impossible to run

 

For a list of Colorado state certified rafting companies and outfitters, please visit the Colorado state tourism website at http://www.colorado.com/activities/colorado-rafting. The site is interactive and allows you to narrow your search by region and city.

Poncha Springs History

Poncha Springs, Colorado is a quaint, small town located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains near the center of the state. Located in Chaffee County, just west of Salida and east of Monarch Ski area, Poncha Springs is often called the “Crossroads of the Rockies”. There are nearly 100 hot springs around Poncha Springs, and the town is known for its access to a large number of outdoor activities that can be had in the region ranging from skiing, rock climbing, and mountaineering to rafting, fishing, and dog sled rides.

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The area known today as Poncha Springs was first inhabited by the Ute Indians well over 250 years ago. The Ute used the area for hunting and camping grounds. Spanish explorer Juan Batista de Anza led a military expedition over Poncha Pass in 1779, marking one of the first known recorded dates of other travelers in the region beyond the Ute. In the years to follow, French trappers and fur traders are known to have settled in the area. In 1806 Lt. Zebulon Pike spent Christmas day in the area, and Kit Carson was noted to have passed through Poncha Springs in 1832.

Preceding the first homesteaders of this area, Colonel Thomas T. Fauntleroy led an army out of Fort Massachusetts to engage the Ute Indians in 1855 between Salida and Poncha Springs. In the early 1860s prospectors arrived, two of which, Nat Rich and Bob Hendricks, built the first cabin in Poncha Springs, which still stands today. Rich’s son James was the first white person documented as being born in Poncha Springs in 1867, the same year the area was designated an election precinct.  Poncha Springs History

In the mid-1870s the town saw a boom in construction, with the town incorporating in 1880. The building of the railroad that same year attracted settlers and the population grew to over 2000 in those years. Sadly, a major fire in 1887 destroyed many of the wood framed structures. The town seemed to be plagued by structure fires off and on for years, but one building that still stands is the Poncha Springs Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was built in 1883 and today serves as the city’s town hall and museum.

The hot springs were a popular attraction for years in Poncha Springs, bringing many notable visitors to the area to include Ulysses S. Grant and Jesse James. Eventually Donald Hartwich took over the springs and ran them until 1935. Shortly thereafter, the springs were capped and the hot water pumped to Salida, which has owned the springs ever since.

Today the quiet town of Poncha Springs is supported by farming and tourism and offers residents and visitors a glimpse of the natural beauty that makes up the Rocky Mountains. A great destination for outdoor enthusiasts and wilderness adventurers, Poncha Springs and its surrounding communities offers many a wealth of activities and is known for its hospitality.

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Mountain Town Jobs

In a Rocky Mountain state like Colorado, there are lots of mountain towns. If you are thinking about moving to this beautiful state and are wondering what the best Colorado mountain town jobs might be, we can help. One of the best ways to get a feel for mountain life is to visit the area you are considering as your new home, and check out the available jobs in that town. Places like Salida and Buena Vista have been growing over the last several years and offer a lot of new opportunities. A lot depends on exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to a job. Are you looking for something part time, or do you want to start or continue a specific career?

If you are looking for a position with growth potential, keep in mind that mountain towns tend to be small, therefore growth opportunities may be somewhat limited when compared to a larger city. This is not to say that career opportunities don’t exist in mountain towns, just that you may want to do your research before deciding on where to call home.

Some career paths to consider include the following:

  • Law enforcement. Always a need in any town or city, law enforcement offers the chance to start small (as a deputy, for instance) and work your way into upper management positions within the department or county.
  • Quality firefighters are always a need for any mountain town, and a great career opportunity as well. With the abundance of trees and brush, mountain towns are always in need of protection from potential fire damage. If this is a career path that interests you, quality firefighters are always in need. There is often many opportunities for volunteer firefighters in rural areas of the state.
  • Emergency Medical Technician. EMTs are another possibility for mountain town jobs. As with police and fire departments, quality medical personnel who are trained to help in emergencies are a welcome resource in any town.
  • If you dream about snow, you love being outdoors and cold doesn’t bother you, a ski resort job might be just the ticket. From ski instructor to seasonal bus drivers, ski resorts offer a host of possibilities for mountain town dwellers. Most resorts have a strong online presence, and you should be able to contact a human resources (hiring) director via email or telephone to learn more about what positions are available, and the qualifications necessary. Many resorts offer employee housing on the resort grounds, which makes commuting easy and convenient. Some resorts offer year-round positions as well, with summer activities available for tourists when the snow disappears for the season.
  • Hotels and restaurants. With the influx of tourists most mountain towns expect, jobs at local hotels and restaurants are another good choice. Whether you have experience or want to start at entry level and advance, both hotels and restaurants offer growth opportunities for the right candidate.
  • Good teachers are always welcome in any small town, and mountain towns are no different. Whether you work in a charter school, private school or public school, there are lots of opportunities to offer your skills and abilities as a teacher in a mountain town. Be sure to check out the specific requirements for teaching licenses and certifications in the state of Colorado, as well as what is required by the local school district (even if you want to start out as a substitute teacher).

Every mountain town will have its own unique set of needs when it comes to employment, with some offering more than others. As mentioned above, it’s always a good idea to research the job and career opportunities in the town you are most interested in, and make a visit or two to the area before packing up and making a permanent move. If you would like some local insight into Colorado mountain town job and real estate possibilities, give us a call today at (719) 539-6682 or drop us an email at realestate@firstcolorado.com.

What to know when buying a home

Things Mom Never Told You About Buying a Home

Most of us learned a lot of what we know from our moms. But there may be some things mom never told you, like what you need to know about buying a house. A lot more goes into buying a home than just finding one you like and signing on the dotted line. Here are some things you need to know before you start house hunting.

  1. Get your credit together. Your credit report shows your diligence, or lack thereof, in paying your debts on time. That’s a big deal with lenders. Institutions, like people, who loan you money like to know you will be able to pay it back. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies for a copy of your credit report, which will provide your credit score. If you spot errors, contact the agencies directly to correct them.
  2. Set a budget, and stick to it. The first step in this process is to contact a lender to see how much house you can afford. The lender will pre-approve you for an amount based on your income, debt, and credit. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by looking at houses that are outside your price range. A general rule of thumb for calculating how much house you can afford is to remember your monthly home payments should not exceed 36% of your gross monthly income.
  3. Save for a large down payment if possible. Although there are several down payment assistance programs available, especially for new home buyers, the truth is the more you put down, the smaller your monthly payment will be. Assistance programs may help get you into a house on the front end, but your monthly payments will be larger than if you put down at least 20%. If your down payment is less than 20%, you will likely need to purchase private mortgage insurance, which protects the bank if you fail to make payments.
  4. Be prepared for fees. Even if you have down payment assistance, you still need to have cash for closing costs and other fees, such as home inspection, appraisal, loan fees and title search fees. If your savings can’t cover these costs, you can withdraw up to $10,000 (though you shouldn’t need this much) from an IRA or 401 (k), or accept a cash gift from your parents up to $14,000.
  5. Get a home inspection. This is one of those costs that you definitely want to plan for, as skipping a home inspection is never a good idea. Inspections normally don’t take more than an hour or two, and can save you from purchasing a problem. Make sure you know the deadline date, and have the inspection done prior to that date. If the inspection uncovers significant defects or potential problems with the house, this is your chance to negotiate the price, or walk away from the deal if you decide that’s the best course of action. Without an inspection, you may be in for some nasty surprises after you move in.

For more information on purchasing your first home, give us a call at (719) 539-6682 or contact us at realestate@firstcolorado.com. We promise we won’t tell your mom.

2017 Colorado Events

The Best Colorado Events for 2017

There are literally hundreds of amazing events and festivals in Colorado every year, which makes picking “the best” an arduous, not to mention subjective, task. To tackle this, we’ve picked twelve unique and fun Colorado events, one for each month of the year, to highlight for your perusal and enjoyment.

Each event offers exciting activities and an opportunity to get away from the homestead and take a day or weekend out to enjoy Colorado at its best.

January:
Estes Park Winter Festival – Estes Park – Saturday & Sunday, January 14th & 15th, 12pm – 4pm
The Estes Park Winter Festival takes place over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend and includes live music and everything from chili cook-offs and craft wine and beer tastings to kids’ activities like the bungee run, to outdoor adventures, like a climbing wall and outdoor fat bike course. Something for everyone, this festival is set in beautiful Estes Park and is filled with fun for the whole family.

February:
Colorado Garden & Home Show – Denver – February 4th – 12th
This nine-day event held at the Colorado Convention Center is touted as the region’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious garden and home show. Talk to industry experts and find out the latest ideas and trends in landscaping, gardening, and home improvement. The event showcases 11 professionally landscaped gardens and features representatives from over 650 companies to glean ideas from.

March:
Frozen Dead Guy Days – Nederland – March 10th – 12th
This quirky, world-renowned festival honors Bredo Morstol, who is in a state of suspended animation and housed in a Tuff Shed on dry ice high above this little mountain town. Featuring 30 bands in heated tents and outrageous events like coffin races and costumed polar plunges, this event is fun-filled and action packed.

April:
Denver Auto Show – Denver – April 5th – 9th
Kick the tires, look under the hood, and check out the latest cars, vans, crossovers, hybrids, light trucks, and SUVs, at Colorado Convention Center in April. In addition to new cars, you’ll get a chance to see concept cars, customized vehicles, aftermarket features, and new car technologies.

May:
Telluride Mountain Film Festival – Telluride – May 26th – 29th
A yearly documentary film festival held on Memorial Day weekend, Telluride Mountainfilm showcases nonfiction stories about environmental, cultural, climbing, political, and social issues. In addition to great thought-provoking films, the festival features interactive talks, book signings, community events, a gallery walk, and outdoor presentations.

June:
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – Colorado Springs – June 25th
Join thousands of spectators for the 95th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where you can watch cars, trucks, and motorcycles race to the summit of this magnificent mountain. Spectators can take part in pre-race activities in the week preceding the race by observing qualifying rounds and attending Fan Fest in downtown Colorado Springs on the evening of Friday, June 23rd.

July:
Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo – Colorado Springs – July 12th – 15th
Going on 77 years, the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo starts off with a parade in downtown Colorado Springs and leads to four days of rodeo events and fun. The best athletes in rodeo compete for top prize money in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, and bull riding.

August:
Colorado Scottish Festival – Snowmass – August 4th – 6th
Snowmass Village is just outside of Aspen, Colorado, and the perfect venue to hold the Colorado Scottish Festival. Filled with Celtic music, this festival features Highland dancing, a Dogs of the British Isles exhibition, Scottish athletics competition, haggis tasting, and so much more.

September:
A Taste of Colorado – Denver – September 1st – 4th
Held in Denver’s Civic Center Park, this event will entice your taste buds and excite your other senses. With food from more than 50 of Colorado’s favorite restaurants and tons of music acts ranging from country to rock-n-roll, you’ll be sated and entertained as you venture throughout the event. There are plenty of activities for kids, too. Carnival rides, games, and educational exhibits will keep the little ones busy.

October:
Punkin Chunkin Colorado – Aurora – October 7th & 8th
This fun-filled fall event is one of the biggest pumpkin tossing competitions in the U.S. Featuring unique contraptions like air cannons and trebuchets, contestants launch pumpkins as far as they can for the top trophy. The family-friendly event also features live music, a variety of food vendors, pony rides, crafts, and face-painting.

November:
Denver International Wine Festival – Denver – November 1st – 3rd
Hosted at the Denver Marriot Westminster hotel, this event has been listed by Fodor’s Travel as one of the “10 Can’t Miss Fall Wine Festivals”. Included in the wine festival is a food-and-wine pairing competition, a tasting of 400 wines, beers, and spirits, wine education seminars, and a day tour of three local wineries and one distillery.

December:
Festival of Lights Parade – Colorado Springs – December 2nd
The 33rd Annual Festival of Lights Parade, held in downtown Colorado Springs, is enjoyed by thousands every year. With brightly and colorfully lit vehicles, creative and fun floats, marching bands, and an appearance by Santa Claus, this festival celebrates the holiday season in grand Colorado fashion.

Gifts for a First Time Home Buyer

For the first-time homeowner, housewarming gifts can range from the practical, designed to help them settle in to their new role, or to the decorative, creating ambience and that homey, lived-in feel.

Here are five ideas that span the spectrum and will give your new homeowner a hand setting up their first house and making it feel like home.

Picture Hanging Kit

Once all those prints, pictures, and artwork are unpacked, they need a place to go. Giving your new homeowner a picture hanging kit will save them a trip to the hardware store and help them start decorating their rooms and walls. A kit with a hammer, measuring tape, level, and assorted hangers and picture hanging nails is a nice idea and gives your new homeowner a hand personalizing their space and making it their own.

First Time Home Buyer

House Plants

A house plant or two will bring a little life into a new home. Some hearty, popular, and easy to maintain plant choices include the spider plant, peace lily, snake plant, philodendron, and rubber tree. A plant holder, hook, and ribbon are great ways to round out this green gift.

 

Personalized “Established” Framed Print

To commemorate their first home purchase, a framed print with their family name and the date they purchased their home is a great gift. To make it even more unique, a professional photo or painting of the home as the background for the print will be a memorable gift they’ll cherish for years to come.

 

Garden and lawn tools

It’s unlikely your new homeowner will have a snow shovel, rake, or hand tools needed to plant flowers around their new yard. A few select garden and lawn tools will set them up and prepare them to maintain and beautify their home in the years to come.

Gift Certificates

No matter what you think of, they’ll always be that “other” item they need. Extra batteries, smoke detectors, and spare keys are just some items new homeowners might find themselves without as they settle in. A gift certificate to your local home and garden or hardware store will help them save a little when those often-needed items come to light.

The Housing Market After A Presidential Election

Housing Market Trends After a Presidential Election

Regardless of which political party occupies the White House, every president has the power to shape America’s housing market and overall economy. History suggests that housing market trends after a presidential election are far more predictable when the outcome of the election is also more predictable. When there is marked uncertainty about who will hold the top office, that uncertainty trickles down into other areas. According to Mary Ann Bartels, Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Portfolio Strategy, if there’s one thing markets hate, it’s uncertainty.

Studies show that the uncertainty produced by a presidential race can ultimately have even more impact on housing than the actual outcome of the election. Departing two-term presidents cause a void that financial markets typically find unnerving. According to the Stock Trader’s Almanac, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained an average of 10.4 percent in the year before a presidential election since 1833, but only 6 percent during election years, with the first year of a new president’s term seeing an average gain of 2.5 percent, and 4.2 percent during the second year.

Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner says historically speaking, home prices continue to rise during an election year and the year after, although the rate of growth does typically tend to slow down. However, Gardner states he does not expect that to happen in 2016; he expects to continue to see “very robust” growth in housing prices this year.

When it comes to the mortgage industry, there tends not to be a rapid rise in interest rates during an election year or the year after. Gardner echoes Ms. Bartels in the opinion that markets do not like change. He states that as time progresses and we become familiar with the new president and their policies, the impact on the housing market will probably not be devastatingly negative. The current U.S. housing market is stronger in 2016 than it was four years ago, as is the economy in general.

What to do this season in Salida

With the coming cold weather still ahead of us, Salida has plenty of exciting events to offer in order to get you out of the house and out in our beautiful mountain town. From plays and concerts to holiday events, here are a handful of exiting activities to attend or participate this season in Salida.

From Friday, October 21 through Sunday October 22 the Stage Left Theatre presents Boston Marriage, an Edwardian romantic comedy written by American playwright David Mamet. The venue for this play is Salida’s SteamPlant Event Center. For more information, times, and tickets, visit www.stagelefttheatre.org.

Beginning at 6:00 pm on Saturday, October 22nd, The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA) and Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas (LTUA) are teaming up once again to bring an evening of film from Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. This documentary film festival showcases nonfiction stories about environmental, cultural, climbing, political, and social justice issues. This event is held at the Salida High School auditorium. Tickets are available online at www.mountainfilmsalida.brownpapertickets.com, and can be purchased at the GARNA and LTUA offices at 128 E. First St. or at Salida Mountain Sports, 110 N. F St., in Salida.

For those of you with children, bring your costumed little ones to the Columbine Manor (530 W. 16th St. Salida, CO) for Trick or Treat Street on Friday, October 28th between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, and enjoy this longstanding Halloween tradition.

Come to the Chaffee County Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 29th to watch the Ark Valley High Rollers (AVHR) Halloween Bout. This all-female roller derby event includes a costume contest, trick or treat circle of doom with candy for kids, and an audience participation half-time show. Tickets are being presold at Moonlight Pizza and Café Dawn, and can purchased at the door, based on availability. Doors open at 5:30 pm.season in Salida

On Friday, November 4th The Alpine Orchestra will be performing a “Salute to Veterans” featuring well-known military vocalist Sergeant First Class (SFC) Mario Garcia. This free concert (donations are welcome) begins at 7:30 pm and is held the Salida SteamPlant Event Center. Please come and celebrate our U.S. Veterans.

The annual Christmas Mountain Lighting & Parade of Lights held in historic downtown Salida is on Friday, November 25th this year and starts at 6:00 pm. The event is followed by a community gathering at the SteamPlant Event Center complete with free cocoa, cookies, and entertainment.

From Thursday, December 15th through Saturday, December 17th, at the SteamPlant Event Center, the Stage Left Theatre Company will present the heartfelt and hilarious Miracle on South Division Street. For ticket information and times call (719) 530-0933 or visit www.salidaSteamPlant.com

For a listing of more Salida fall events, visit the Salida Chamber of Commerce events calendar at www.salidachamber.org/salidaevents/.

The Beauty of Buena Vista

Make your home in Buena Vista, CO

The The Beauty of Buena Vista! Situated in the center of the state and at the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Buena Vista, Colorado is a picture perfect mountain town with magnificent views and thrilling outdoor activities. Aptly named, when translated from Spanish “Buena Vista” means “beautiful view”. And, given its surroundings, no other name would fit.

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Buena Vista is in the Upper Arkansas Valley. With the Sawatch Mountain Range to the west and San Isabel National Forest to the east, this small town is privy to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area which holds some of Colorado’s highest peaks, known as “14ers”.

The Beauty of Buena Vista

Settled in 1864, the water source provided by The Arkansas River has sustained Buena Vista’s agriculture based economy for over a century and a half. The wonderful residents and great location have kept it from turning into another “ghost town”, instead making it a hub for adventure and fun.

Today, Buena Vista is home to 2,700 residents who revel in its beauty and host thousands of visitors each year. With a thriving community made up of local shops, restaurants, and year-round events, this little town is not only a great place to visit, it’s a great place to live.

The town’s mountains, river, and wilderness area make it the perfect playground for adventurists and outdoor enthusiasts. The summer months allow for hiking, fishing, camping, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and so much more. Located within 90 minutes of eight major ski resorts, the winter months around Buena Vista offer alpine skiing, back country skiing, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling as just some of great snow filled activities. To recharge your batteries after a long day shopping, touring, or playing outdoors, Buena Vista’s natural hot springs are a great place to spend time and relax.

Gorgeous, relaxed, and with so much to offer, Buena Vista is the perfect place to put down roots, or just get away for a while and experience Colorado at its finest.
If you would like some more information about available real estate in the Buena Vista area, please feel free to contact First Colorado Land Office.

Year long Salida fun

Looking for Salida Fun? There is always something to choose from all year long. 

A great place to live or visit, the beauty of Salida, Colorado has much to offer. This cozy town located in Chaffee County is nestled in the Rocky Mountains about two and a half hours southwest of Denver, and two hours west of Colorado Springs.

Salida has a never ending number of outdoor activities to available to the resident and visitor alike. Monarch Ski Resort is just around the corner offering great skiing and snowboarding and the miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing is endless. If you prefer to just sit back and enjoy the beauty of this mountain paradise, enjoy one of the many restaurants or brew pubs during the day and lounge in the natural hot springs enjoying the night sky in the evening.

Located on the Arkansas River, the area attracts water enthusiasts from around the world for its fly-fishing, kayaking, and rafting. In June, the famous FIBArk (First in Boating on the Arkansas River) festival brings in the world’s finest whitewater competitors. The event includes multiple water sports for everyone from tubing to stand-up paddle boarding. Complete with a parade, FIBArk celebrates the outdoors at its best.

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In addition to water sports, Salida offers everything from zip-lining to 100s of miles of groomed trails. While hiking is a given attraction, many come to ride ATVs and snowmobiles on trails that were once old mining roads. Salida’s two snowmobile clubs also keep over 400 miles of groomed trails for the enthusiast.
Salida is host to festivals and events all year long. Every month there is something to do from art and wine festivals to the annual Christmas Mountain Lighting and Parade of Lights.
If you are looking for a beautiful location to spend a few days, or a lifetime, Salida, Colorado has everything you can dream of in a mountain town.