Dig This: Steamboat, Colorado, U.S.A.

Dig This: Steamboat, Colorado, U.S.A.

Play in an Adult Sandbox

Did you play in a sandbox when you were a kid? At Dig This, you’ll get to play in an adult sandbox, the nation’s first and only recreational heavy equipment, dirt-moving compound.

Feel the adrenaline rush as you take control of a Caterpillar 315 CL hydraulic excavator and start moving one-ton rocks around with subtle hand movements on the machine’s gears. Want to dig ditches or build a rock pile? It’s easy to do, even if you are a 120-pound (54kg) female. Just learn how the gears work and start carrying massive rocks around your playground. If you’d rather build a road or a runway to land a plane, which guys seem to like best, just choose to play with a D5G track-type dozer. The fellas start grinning from the moment they get in a bulldozer and begin building their own road to nowhere. Afterward, they shoot photos to their friends, who jealously e-mail back, “Wish I could do it.” You can!

Before you’re allowed to handle the real equipment, there’s an introductory session, during which Dig This’s New Zealander owner, Ed Mumm, or one of his staff, tells you about the machines and demonstrates how they work in a miniature sandbox. Then, a staffer sets you up in your machine of choice, demonstrates how the gears work, and goes over the safety procedures. Finally, it’s your turn. You operate the machine cautiously at first, perhaps dropping a five-foot-wide boulder you’re lifting while digging a ditch. But, after awhile, the feeling of pure power takes hold and you start digging up dirt or building a road more aggressively.

Participants get to operate an excavator, bulldozer, or skid steer loader at individual work sites, constructing roads, building dams, digging trenches, or creating whatever their mind envisions. Dig This offers a “First Tracks” 2-hour session for clients with limited time. It includes orientation, safety instruction, and about an hour of either bulldozer or excavator operating time. During the half-day session, participants get more than 2 hours of operating time on one of the machines. During the full-day session, participants get more than 4 hours of operating time and can split it between two machines.

Playing in the sand and rocks at Dig This is one of the most popular activities for vacationers who come to Steamboat to ski in the winter, or explore the mountains during the summer. Companies bring executives here for team-building exercises, and locals show up for birthday parties and anniversary outings.

Steamboat Springs is prettiest in the summer, fall, and winter. (Spring is mud season here and locals disappear.) In the winter, skiers and snowboarders flock to the slopes at Steamboat Resort, which coined the term “Champagne Power,” because the snow is so light. In the summer, visitors hike or mountain bike on trails threading the mountainsides, or play golf.

Dig This, 1169 Hilltop Pkwy. ( 888/DIG-THIS [344-8447] or 970/367-4402; www.digthis.info).
When to Go: Year-round.
Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden (26 miles/42km).
$$–$$$ Sheraton Steamboat Springs, 2200 Village Inn Court ( 800/325-3535 or 970/879-2220; www.sheraton.com/steamboat). $–$$ Hotel Bristol, 917 Lincoln Ave. ( 800/851-0872 or 970/879-3083; www.steamboathotelbristol.com).

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