At the end of a long Denver work week, my friends and I knew exactly where we wanted to be – on the slopes. So we took off work early, loaded up the car and set out for Echo Mountain, the closest ski area to Denver. Echo is only 35 miles from downtown, and the drive is a gorgeous trip up Squaw Pass Road with scenic mountain views in every direction. All told, we were strapping in to our boots within an hour of leaving Denver.
The snow was soft and forgiving, and we had a great time carving turns and listening to Echo’s epic playlist of old ’90s hits. There were no lift lines, but a fair number of skiers and snowboarders were out on the hill, including several families enjoying after-school laps and a few college students postponing homework for the thrill of a night spent on the slopes. The atmosphere was decidedly local, with a lot of friendly greetings and joyful exclamations to be kicking off the weekend with night skiing among friends at Echo. We took a few runs and then ducked into the lodge to warm up.
At only $34 per person for night skiing lift access, we had plenty of money left over for Braised Brisket Chili and cold beer. We had a great time warming up in the lodge by the fire, listening to the local’s stories and gearing up to end the night with a bit more skiing. We stayed until close at 9 p.m., among dozens of other skiers determined to get in one last run for the night.
We passed the lodge on our way back to the car, and Echo’s slogan stood out to me: Let traditions begin. I daresay they’re right, and Friday nights under the lights at Echo Mountain will be a tradition among my friends for years to come.