Fly to Boulder, Colorado, to start your unique late-winter adventure. Fly a sailplane over the Rockies and then head to Nederland where you can ski at a little-known resort and party with the locals as they celebrate the real frozen dead guy in their midst.
The town of Nederland sits near the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains, 13.5 nautical miles west of Boulder Municipal Airport. Mile High Gliding offers glider rides and flight instruction out of Boulder. Take a scenic flight, introductory lesson, or go for your glider rating, which also gives you a fresh flight review.
So, what is this festival, anyway? Scroll back to 1989, when a man by the name of Bredo Morstoel died in his native Norway. Packed in dry ice, his body was shipped to a cryonics facility in Oakland, California, where he remained for four years, surrounded by liquid nitrogen. In 1993 “Grandpa Bredo,” as he is known to locals, was moved to Colorado, home of his daughter Aud and grandson Trygve, who kept him on ice in a shed above Nederland. Soon Trygve was deported due to an expired visa, and his mother followed. Their departure and a law against storing frozen human or animal bodies in a home created a quandary. A local reporter took up the cause, and, along with most of the town’s residents, convinced the Nederland City Council to “grandfather” Grandpa Bredo in, so to speak. Ever since, a team of volunteers has repacked 1,600 pounds of dry ice around Grandpa Bredo monthly to maintain his minus-60-degree temperature.
Frozen Dead Guy Days traditionally kicks off with the “Royal Blue Ball,” a night of dancing, live music, costumes, and spirits. Other than at the ball, when people dress up in Day of the Dead-ish costumes, bring comfortable layers and mud or snow boots. Saturday’s schedule includes the events mentioned above (see captions for more details) plus ice carving, a salmon toss, a Rocky Mountain Oyster eating contest, fix-a-frozen-flat, live vultures, beard contest, snowy human foosball, pancake breakfasts, and three music tents—one with zany bacon treats, bourbon, and brews. To see a bit of the action, look on YouTube.
While in town, don’t miss the Carousel of Happiness, which features 61 exquisite hand-carved wooden animals that took local resident Scott Harrison 26 years to carve. The restored 1910 Looff carousel turns to the music of a 1913 Wurlitzer band organ. Nature’s Own is a shop filled with fossils, minerals, and gemstones. And Tadasana Mountain Yoga offers good classes without making you feel like you need $100 tights. Fuel up with delicious coffee, sandwiches, pastries, or artisan tacos at Salto Coffee Works. Alternatively, you can try local-fave New Moon Bakery and Café. Crosscut Pizzeria and Taphouse serves wood-fired pies, while Kathmandu puts the focus on authentic Nepalese and Indian cuisine.
Just three miles west of Nederland, Eldora Mountain Resort offers downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and Nordic skiing. Opened in 1962, it has eight chairlifts, two surface lifts, four terrain parks, and 53 runs on 680 acres with a 1,600-foot vertical drop and plenty of runs for all skill levels. The Nordic Center offers 41 kilometers of groomed trails perfect for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and skate skiing.
Where to stay? Boulder is warmer and boasts amenities such as upscale restaurants and shopping, while Nederland, 17 miles west, keeps you in the mountains and close to the action in this otherwise quaint town. Nederland’s Boulder Creek Lodge looks like a giant log cabin; amenities include gas fireplaces, continental breakfast, and hot tub access. The Sundance Lodge and Café, 1.7 miles south of downtown Nederland, offers 12 log-cabin rooms with mountain views. A few miles up the canyon west from Boulder is A-Lodge, short for Adventure Lodge. Catering to an outdoorsy crowd, they offer creekside accommodations and a weekend shuttle to the Eldora ski resort. So, point your airplane to Boulder, join the fun at one of the most unusual festivals in the United States, and raise a glass to Grandpa Bredo. As they say in Norway, “Skål!”
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