| SkyHiNews.com

Local air balloon tours touted as top in the country

A Fraser resident checks out one of Grand Adventure Balloon Tours' baskets on June 6. The local ballooning company ranked second on USA Today's 10 Best Air Balloon Rides in 2021, making the list for the third year in a row.
Courtesy Sue Castellion

Known for dotting the bluebird skies above the Fraser Valley with rainbow kaleidoscope and lime green alien balloons, Grand Adventure Air Balloon Tours was recognized as one of the best ballooning experiences in the country for the third year in a row.

On Friday, USA Today’s annual reader’s choice 10 Best competition released the results for best hot air balloon rides, with Grand Adventure coming in at No. 2, rising in popularity over 2020 and 2019, when the ballooning company ranked third.

Run by locals Sue and Jack Castellion, Grand Adventure offers tours year-round of the spectacular local views like Rocky Mountain National Park, the Fraser Valley, the Continental Divide and the Colorado River.

Grand Adventure beat out balloon companies in the Napa Valley, Las Vegas, Basalt and Asheville, North Carolina. Having previously flown in Napa Valley and other parts of California, Grand Adventure co-owner Sue Castellion can confidently say Grand County offers some of the best balloon rides.

“I think people have finally found us,” Castellion chuckled. “The area is beautiful and some of the best for ballooning. The landings are great for ages 4 or 5 and up.”

Grand Adventure offers rides every morning year-round, weather permitting. Co-owner Sue Castellion said Grand County is the best place to take a balloon ride.
Courtesy Grand Adventure

No two flights are the same, with chances to see wildlife, float alongside peaks and reach heights of 1,000 to 3,000 feet above Grand. Pilot Captain Jack, who has flown in the area for over three decades, also shares the history of ballooning, Native American stories and environmental and historical highlights of the area during the ride.

“We’ve been seeing antelope, coyotes, owls, all kinds of things (this year),” Castellion said. “At the highest altitude, we’re looking at peaks in the Gore Range, the Flat Tops in Steamboat, Rocky Mountain National Park, all of that good stuff.”

With his experience in the area, Castellion said Captain Jack is known for offering gentle rides, typically at sunrise for the best weather. The mountain valley inversions also provide slightly warmer temperatures in the sky than on the ground, making even winter rides comfortable.

“He’s very skilled,” she said. “I call him the wind wizard. He has a perfect safety record.”

While Grand Adventure has helped guests celebrate birthdays, engagements and anniversaries, Castellion said a ride in the sky is ideal for any occasion or just to enjoy a new adventure.

“It’s a great way to see the area,” she said. “People who have lived here for a long time will go up and say ‘wow, I didn’t know it laid out like that’ or ‘I thought I knew the area, but now I really do.’”

Guests can choose from the kaleidoscope balloon seating up to 12 people or the alien balloon that fits four or five people.

Following the tour, guests enjoy a celebratory champagne toast, a tradition that is over 200 years old. Grand Adventure also includes a launch picture and a commemorative certificate for aeronauts with every ride.

Regardless of whether guests want to see Grand in its blooming spring splendor, lush green summer, colorful falls or magic white winters, rides are available every day of the year, weather permitting. For more information, go to www.grandadventureballoon.com.


Photos: Mustangs at Joe Shields Invite

West Grand seniors Austin Schake, right, and Alejandro Castanon finish first-second in the 110 meter high hurdles at the Joe Shields Invitational Friday night in Kremmling. Schake won in 16.50 seconds and Castanon came in second at 16.51.
Mustangs freshman Kai Edson competes in the high jump. His best jump cleared the bar at 4 feet, 8 inches.
West Grand freshman Tannar Smiley gets ready to launch in the shot put event. Her best throw went 21 feet, 2 inches.
Mustangs freshman Olivia Stefanik clears the bar during the pole vault event. She finished after clearing a height of 8 feet, 6 inches.
West Grand junior Landon Williams lets loose in the discus. He finished with a distance of 68 feet, 7.5 inches.
West Grand senior Iliana Castillo clears 8 feet in the pole vault, tying the personal record she set as a sophomore and giving her the best vault of her senior campaign during the Joe Shields Invitational on Friday in Kremmling.
Longtime Mustangs coach Chris Brown reacts after Iliana Castillo’s successful pole vault.
Iliana Castillo reacts after her vault.
Mustangs coach Chris Brown and Iliana Castillo walk away together after embracing for a quick hug following her successful 8 foot vault.
Mustangs junior Maddy Probst releases the ball in the girls shot put. She took fourth in the event with a distance of 27 feet, 4 inches.
West Grand junior Audree Miller finishes the 100 meter hurdles in 20.06 seconds.
West Grand sophomore Wyatt Howell takes off at the start of the fifth heat for the 100 yard dash. He took second out of 31 runners with a time of 12.3 seconds.
West Grand freshman Kai Edson clears the bar at 8 feet, 2 inches in the pole vault.
Fans cheer as Mustangs senior Angel Dominguez finishes the 100 yard dash in 12.90 seconds.
West Grand junior Sage Lechman closes in on the competition during one of the girls team relays.
Fans cheer on Austin Schake as he approaches the finish line during a boys relay. The West Grand boys won both the 4x100 and 4x200 meter relays Friday.
West Grand senior Joy Hast leads the 1,600 meter run ahead of North Park’s Samantha Westfahl. With Westfahl running for the Mustangs cross country team this fall, she and Hast were teammates earlier this year. Westfahl won the race in 6 minutes 8.44 seconds, and Hast took third at 6:16.33.
West Grand freshman Lillian Hufford comes off the blocks in the 400 meter dash. She finished in 1 minute, 11.03 seconds.
West Grand junior Galen Wilkinson painted his face chrome, similar to the “war boys” in “Mad Max Fury Road,” for the boys 1,600 meter run Friday in Kremmling. He finished third in 5 minutes, 36.9 seconds.
Coach Ryan Tripicchio cheers as West Grand’s Joy Hast and North Park’s Samantha Westfahl round the corner during the 3,200 meter run. Hast finished second in 13 minutes, 33 seconds.
West Grand senior Joy Hast runs under the stadium lights at WGHS during the Joe Shields Invitational on Friday.

West Grand seniors Rene Dominguez, right, and Angel Dominguez pass the baton during one of the nighttime relays at the 2021 Joe Shields Invitational at WGHS.

For more photos from the 2021 Joe Shields Invitational, find the Sky-Hi News on Facebook.

Colorado guides say they can’t get enough permits on federal land

Spindrift is lit up by the setting sun during a colorful sunset over Rocky Mountain National Park on Nov. 3, 2019 in Estes Park.
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post

Due to understaffing at the U.S. Forest Service and a cumbersome process, it can take several years and hundreds of work hours before Colorado guides receive a permit to take small groups fishing, hiking or do other recreational activities on federal lands.

To get around it, northern Colorado anglers drive customers 90 minutes into Wyoming because they can’t get a permit to fish in this state. In southern Colorado, the Forest Service has ignored permit applications, effectively prohibiting experts on dangerous 14ers like Blanca Peak and Little Bear Peak.

The result of this outdated regulatory system, according to frustrated outfitters and guides, is fewer trained experts in forests and limitations on Colorado’s famed outdoor recreation industry.

“Is hiking an environmentally impactful activity? No. Hell no,” said David Leinweber, owner and president of Angler’s Covey in Colorado Springs. “This is bureaucracy at the highest level.”

Read more via The Denver Post

Winter Park Resort, Trestle Bike Park open Saturday

Trestle Bike Park, featuring 40 miles of trails, opens Saturday. The park will host the USA Cycling 2021 National Mountain Bike Championships in July.
Courtesy Winter Park Resort

Winter Park Resort and Trestle Bike Park will open for the summer on Saturday, bringing back mountaintop happy hours at the Sunspot Lodge and Colorado’s longest alpine slide.

In preparation for opening, trail crews prepared top-to-bottom options at Trestle, as well as hiking options across the slopes of Winter Park. The resort’s gondola will run throughout the day and whisk guests to the Sunspot Lodge for happy hour from 4-7 p.m. on select Fridays and Saturdays.

In July, the resort will host the USA Cycling 2021 National Mountain Bike Championships.

“Summer is looking up and we’re excited to welcome adventurers back,” resort spokesperson Jen Miller said. “Winter Park Resort is the perfect summertime mountain escape from the Front Range heat and crowds.”

E-bike tours and guided hikes through Rocky Mountain National Park can be booked through Winter Park’s adventure concierge program.

Activity day passes are $59 per person, putting course passes are $15 per person, gondola rides are $34 per person and disc golf passes are $20 per person. Trestle day passes start at $59 per person and can be purchased in two, three or four day packs.

For a full list of activities or to book tours, tickets and guides, visit www.winterparkresort.com.

June 5 Granby Rodeo Results

Granby Rodeo at Flying Heels Arena

June 5 event results

PEEWEE GOAT UNDECORATING — Lizzie Bruchez, 11.79; Paisley Hester, 17.93.

JUNIOR BARREL RACING — Tymber Mahon, 28.73; Cheyenne Kujala, 29.24.

JUNIOR POLE BENDING — Cheyenne Kujala, 28.93; Levi Kujala, 37.43.

JUNIOR GOAT TYING — Tymber Mahon, 13.94; Cheyenne Kujala, 25.03; Levi Kujala, 27.51; Paisley Hester, 120.19.

INTERMEDIATE BARREL RACING — Myka Grajeda, 18.81; Ashley Smith, 19.81; Flint Krempin, 21.41; Amber Hester, 21.45; Teagan Bruchez, 21.89; Penny Myer, 21.99; Stran Leachman, 22.41; Riley Mahon, 23.32; Lexi Petefish, 24.15; Luci Bruchez, 26.38; Emiliano Mendiola, 29.58.

INTERMEDIATE POLE BENDING — Luci Bruchez, 22.49; Jarrett Grajeda, 23.5; Amber Hester, 24.23; Flint Krempin, 25.69; Myka Grajeda, 26.86; Teagan Bruchez, 27.61; Riley Mahon, 27.92; Stran Leachman, 28.03; Ashley Smith, 29.48; Lexi Petefish, 31.61; Penny Myer, 33.64; Emiliano Mendiola, 38.13.

INTERMEDIATE GOAT TYING — Ashley Smith, 8.98; Luci Bruchez, 10.62; Myka Grajeda, 11.35; Lexi Petefish, 15.78; Riley Mahon, 17.09; Amber Hester, 18.03; Stran Leachman, 19.03; Jarrett Grajeda, 19.2; Rudy Mendiola Jr., 21.82; Ryder Linke, 25.55; Flint Krempin, 28.89; Emiliano Mendiola, 45.13.

INTERMEDIATE BREAKAWAY — Ashley Smith, 3.65; Rudy Mendiola Jr., 4.51.

INTERMEDIATE TEAM ROPING — Flint Krempin/ROBBIE CROWDER, 8.22; Riley Mahon/AMY MAHON, 10.66; Ashley Smith/RUDY MENDIOLA JR,12.45; Rudy Mendiola Jr./JAKE MAHON, 13.46; Luci Bruchez/DILLON KUJALA, 14.11; Stran Leachman/SAM KUJALA,14.58; Ashley Smith/SHAE MEEKS, 28.58; Myka Grajeda/RUDY MENDIOLA JR, 40.47.

SENIOR BARREL RACING — Sara Leachman, 20.36; Foster Krempin, 22.59; Sailor Fausle, 24.73; Hope Johnson, 24.91; Violet Barr, 25.72.

SENIOR POLE BENDING — Hope Johnson, 24.02; Foster Krempin, 24.43; Violet Barr, 26.85; Sara Leachman, 29.81.

SENIOR GOAT TYING — Foster Krempin, 19.74.

SENIOR BREAKAWAY — Foster Krempin, 2.52.

SENIOR TEAM ROPING — Sara Leachman/STRAN LEACHMAN, 17.52; Foster Krempin/ROBBIE CROWDER, 39.2.

TIE DOWN ROPING — Foster Krempin, 15.44.

CHUTE DOGGING — Riley Mahon, 4.14; Foster Krempin, 6.23; Ryder Linke, 6.65; Stran Leachman, 8.16; Flint Krempin, 13.38; Riggin Cathcart, 14.09.

MENS BREAKAWAY — Rudy Mendiola, 5.28.

WOMENS BREAKAWAY — Peyton Crowder, 4.14; Tish Linke-Krempin, 9.78.

MIXED TEAM ROPING — Tish Linke-Krempin/Foster Krempin, 9.57.

OPEN TEAM ROPING — Robbie Crowder/Kelly Florian, 8.19; Rudy Mendiola/Tel Linke, 10.82; Rudy Mendiola/Rudy Mendiola Jr., 11.72; Gabriel Torres/Foster Krempin, 24.68.

LOCAL BARREL RACING — Kayla DeSanti, 19.1; Sego Krempin, 19.17; Julie Martin, 19.34; Lexie Petefish, 23.37; Scarlett Tioghman, 37.05.

Winter Park mountain bike race series opens registration

Winter Park Resort has opened registration for its Winter Park Classics mountain bike race series and individual races, which start on June 26.

After having to cancel the series last year due to the COVID pandemic, the resort is looking forward to relaunching the races. Winter Park Resort and the Trestle bike park open June 16.

June will have the Primal Point-to-Point race, July features the Rendezvous Race and August has the King of the Rockies race.

All races have categories for youth featuring six mile courses, beginners, sport, expert and professional. Beginners courses are 13-18 miles and the other category courses are 18-25 miles.

Series registration closes June 15, though individual registration will be open until the day of the race. Registering for the series will offer discounted rates and everyone who registers will get an official jersey. Register at winterparkclassics.com.

Winter Park Resort will also host the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in July and the Trestle Gravity Series.

EGMS boys track wins regional crown; girls team takes second

The boys track team from East Grand Middle School won the regional title this year and the girls team took second. The Cubs’ regional qualifiers are pictured here.
Courtesy EGMS

East Grand Middle School track completed an outstanding season at the Northwest Middle School Track Regional Championships in Craig on May 28.

The boys team wrapped up an undefeated season and was crowned regional champions. The girls team placed second.

Also, Leo Zuniga added to his EGMS school record-breaking performance this season. Earlier in the year, he beat Chris Bernal’s 2003 long jump record with a jump of 17 feet, 9 inches.

Zungia added his name to the record board a second time in the 200 meter dash by running the race in 24.56 seconds and capturing Zac Peterson’s 2004 record.

Leo Zuniga captured two records at East Grand Middle School this track season, one in the long jump and another in the 200 meter dash.
Courtesy EGMS

Regional Runners-up

Sydney Solomon — 1600 meters, 800 meters

Eli Boomer — triple jump

Alana Krueger — 100 meter hurdles

Silas Montandon — 100 meter hurdles

Jack Wadlington — 400 meters

Girls 4×100 Relay — Carrie Trzupek, Anna Lantermans, Abbie Verdejo, Alana Krueger

Regional Champions

Josie Nance — 1,600 meters

Jack Wadlington — 1,600 meters

Leo Zuniga — long jump, 100 meters, 200 meters

Boys 4×400 Relay — Luke Paugh, Jack Wadlington, Skyler Kerber, Marqes Pasillas

Girls 4×400 Relay — Anna Lantermans, Peyton Fosha, Josie Nance, Sydney Solomon

Peyton Fosha — 400 meters

Colorado ski resort operators turbo-charged technology last season, and many of the upgrades are here to stay

For many years, resort captains have been slow and steady with investment in technology. The behind-the-scenes stuff — wireless networks, point-of-sale and lodging reservation systems, online ticket sales — typically was overshadowed by flashy projects involving new chairlifts and terrain.

The coronavirus turbo-charged ski resort interest in decidedly unsexy technology, which is now a top priority. After a year of resorts doing everything they could to limit crowding with reservations, early purchasing, touchless retail interactions and mobile apps, the 2020-21 season will mark the moment the U.S. resort industry leaped into the modern world.

“We always had these plans for investment in technology, but COVID accelerated everything,” said Erik Forsell, head of marketing for Alterra Mountain Co., the Denver-based operator of 15 ski destinations. “We took a multiyear process and did it in like five months.”

The embrace of technology spread to every demographic and every industry during the pandemic. Shoppers who maybe were reticent about online purchasing quickly learned the ropes of e-commerce. The ski resort industry rode that wave with innovations that will remain a fixture in the ski experience.

“We see this as the new normal,” said John Lilley, who spent seven years building the buy-early technology that anchors Vail Resorts’ entire business plan. He’s now the chief information officer at Aspen Skiing Co.

To continue reading this article, go to ColoradoSun.com.

Raptors cause more Lumpy Ridge closures in Rocky

Rocky Mountain National Park announced more closures in the Lumpy Ridge area for raptor nesting.

The additional climbing closures will affect the Left Book, Bookmark and Bookmark Pinnacle because of aggressive behavior from nearby nesting Peregrine falcons. Falcons are known to dive at humans near their nest at speeds of up to 200 mph.

In addition, if falcons experience repeated disturbances near their nest, they will abandon it and leave any eggs to die.

“For the safety of both visitors and this federally protected wildlife species these additional climbing closures have been put in place,” a release from park officials said.

In February, Rocky closed many parts of the Lumpy Ridge and Loch Vale areas earlier than in previous years because of an uptick in nesting behavior. Closures include Cathedral Wall, Checkerboard Rock, Lightning Rock, Batman Rock, Batman Pinnacle, Sundance, Thunder Buttress, The Parish, The Book, and Twin Owls and Rock One.

Closures include all climbing routes, outcroppings, cliffs, faces, ascent and descent routes and climber access trails to the named rock formations. The closures are currently scheduled through July 31, but park officials may extend or shorten the closures based on nesting activity.

Check the park’s website at www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/area_closures.htm for updated information.

Grand County Fishing Report: Best bite for Grand Lake’s rainbow, brown trout comes early and on overcast days

Lake trout in Lake Granby have been biting small tubes, grubs and crayfish imitations tipped with a small piece of sucker meat.
Courtesy Fishing with Bernie

Here is this week’s Grand County fishing report.

Grand Lake: The water temp 44-47 degrees, and both inlets are flowing. Rainbows and browns have been biting well at the surface early in the morning and throughout the day when it’s overcast.

By mid-morning on sunny days, try fishing a little bit deeper in 10-15 feet of water. Lake trout are spread out in the water column with most being caught in 30-50 feet of water on small plastics tipped with sucker meat.

Williams Fork: Ramp hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Williams Fork is at 73% capacity, and the surface temp is 49 degrees early in the morning before warming to 52 by afternoon.

The lake trout bite is slow to fair. Juvenile lakers are biting well in 60-70 feet of water. Mature fish can be found in 40-70 feet, but the bite is tough right now. I’m seeing trophy class lakers break the surface, casting for them is hit and miss.

Northern pike are sluggish in the cold water and recovering from the spring spawn. Kokanee fishing is slow due to lack of population. Rainbow fishing is also slow since the lake hasn’t been stocked since 2019.

Lake Granby: Water temp has been 48-53 degrees. The bite has slowed a bit but is still good. Rainbows and browns are biting well in the inlets and rocky shorelines on spinners, and small natural colored crankbaits.

Lake trout are being caught in 20-60 feet of water. The transition areas between the rocks and mud have been good areas to concentrate on.

Small tubes, grubs and crayfish imitations have been the most consistent with the preferred color being different every day. Tip your jig with a small piece of sucker meat and keep it fresh for the best action.

The fishing report is brought to you by Fishing with Bernie. Owner Bernie Keefe and his team have been guiding in Grand County for more than 25 years. Randy H., Sam Hochevar and Dan Shannon contributed to this report. Go to www.FishingWithBernie.com or find Fishing with Bernie on Facebook or Instagram for more.