Riding the lifts and exploring the myriad types of ski and snowboard terrain at [R456R, Telluride] and [R330R, Durango Mountain Resort] is a rewarding way to spend a few days, or even week.

But after a while, yo-yoing the runs at even the best resorts can get a little old. So for a refreshing change from resort riding check out Silverton Powdercats.

This operation, which sits atop Molas Pass about a half hour from DMR and 90 minutes from Telluride and began its existence as El Diablo Snowcat, is a great way to get an introduction into riding the backcountry of Colorado's San Juan range.

Silverton Powdercats has a variety of terrain, from steep faces to tree shots to wide-open bowls - much of it above 12,500 feet in altitude -- for advanced-intermediate or better riders to explore.

The price is not that extravagant, either. It's $250 per person Monday through Friday which gets you nine to 14 runs (depending on the ability and desires of the group) per day. They also throw in a full lunch as well as avalanche beacons.

Another nice benefit is that the Powdercats guides arrange the last run of the day, usually around 3:30-4 p.m., that ends up back at the outfit's parking lot and obviates a long cat ride back home.