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The GEMs Card: What Is It?

Echo Mountain - Alec Stowell
Echo Mountain – Alec Stowell 

Colorado Ski Country USA is all about getting people on the mountain whether you are an avid skier, a beginner, a child or a grown adult, or maybe you just haven’t been on the mountain in awhile. That’s okay! The GEMs card is for you. One of the great ways Colorado Ski Country USA tries to get people on the mountain is by offering a unique GEMS card at an extremely affordable price which gives you great deals at some of Colorado’s favorite ski areas.

So, what exactly is this GEMS card and what does it offer?

Good question. The GEMS card basically offers two different deals, one that may be more ideal skiing with a friend or one that works better for a day on the mountain by yourself. With the GEMS card, you can get two, 2-for-1 lift tickets or two 30% off lift tickets at 9 Colorado ski areas. If you want to use the 2-for-1 deal on a day with a friend or the 30% off discount on a day by yourself, that’s okay too. Arapahoe Basin has a special deal for $79 midweek & $99 weekend lift ticket pricing. This amazing deal is only $42 too, so basically, it’s a no-brainer for those only planning on getting a couple of days on the mountain. You can use a GEMs card two times at EACH of the 10 ski areas listed which means, there’s the possibility of skiing at a discounted rate for 20 days! 

The 10 resorts included in this steal of a deal are Arapahoe Basin, Cooper, Echo Mountain, Eldora, Granby Ranch, Hesperus, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn and Sunlight.

Arapahoe Basin:

This one is a crowd favorite and one of my favorites because it actually feels like you can ski here all year long. It’s known to have the longest ski and ride season of any mountain in Colorado and sometimes in all of North America and the spring bluebird days are hard to beat. They have terrain for everyone, but it’s especially enticing to intermediate and expert skiers who are looking to get after it. The Beavers and Montezuma Bowl have all you could ask for as an experienced skier – an abundance of steep terrain, chutes, tree runs, and moguls. It also gets some great snow, being that it’s tucked away just over Loveland pass on the Continental Divide.


Cooper is the very definition of authentic skiing, with the softest snow surface in Colorado. Cooper has terrain variety for all abilities, including the finest learning and beginner terrain in the country, up through epic powder, glades, and bumps. Cooper has the friendliest smiling faces ensuring the most family-friendly atmosphere you’ll find. We have no lift lines (unless you consider a couple minutes a “lift line”). We have a ski and ride school that will get you on the snow and having fun or tweak your skills to take you to the next level in our renowned ski and snowboard lessons and clinics. Cooper has plenty of tasty food & bev options in the cafeteria, and an Irish Pub for lunch and apres-ski fun that would make Katie O’Rourke herself blush. And guess what? You can afford it. And you can afford to bring the whole family, too.

Echo Mountain:

If you’re a Denver native or just visiting Denver and want to get a quick and affordable day of skiing in, this is your best bet. Located less than an hour from Denver and off the beaten path of I-70, this is a great mountain to escape to and get some turns in. It’s got beautiful views of the Continental Divide and you don’t have to experience the crowds you face at other ski areas. They also offer night skiing five nights a week, so if you get caught up in the craziness of life, that’s okay – Echo Mountain will accommodate. If you only have a few hours to ski, come for a half-day or the evening. Either way, this hidden gem is a great option for many.


Considering I’m a student at CU Boulder, this destination has become by go-to mountain. Just 45 minutes west of Boulder in Nederland, this mountain is fun for everyone. Their Little Hawk Mountainside is a great place for beginners to get comfortable but also offers a few blue runs for when you’re feeling up to the challenge. Their Challenge Mountain boasts a variety of terrain but is heavily saturated with expert terrain which makes it a great place to go get better. Just a short catwalk from the Alpenglow lift, you can get to the Corona lift which is my personal favorite. From there, you can take your pick from groomed steep runs, intense mogul patches, and tree-runs where you can seemingly get lost at will.

Granby Ranch: 

Located just 90 miles west of Denver, Granby Ranch is a family-owned ski resort designed and operated with families in mind. The resort is laid out with two mountains, east and west, each offering different types and difficulties of terrain. While the East side is largely green and blue, the West side offers some more challenging blues and blacks, but all trails lead back to the base area, so family and friends can easily meet back at the same place.


Just minutes from downtown Durango—11 miles west on Highway 160—Hesperus Ski Area offers 26 trails on 60 skiable acres, with 150 inches of annual snowfall. The double chair takes skiers and riders up to the 8,888′ summit for over 700 feet of vertical. Known as the largest night skiing operation in the southwest, Hesperus also offers tubing, rentals and ski school lessons. Hesperus is also home to the renowned Hesperus Ski Patrol. Did you know they are the only all-volunteer patrol in the state of Colorado?


Loveland has been a Colorado favorite for as long as I can remember. Just before the Eisenhower tunnel on I-70, this ski area wraps around the interstate and offers a great day on the mountain for anyone. Loveland Valley is a completely separate area for beginners, so don’t be deterred if you think this mountain is just for experienced skiers and riders. Loveland Basin is the area for the more experienced skiers and riders, and it offers pretty much whatever you’re interested in. With over 1,800 acres of terrain and bowl skiing to die for, this is just another destination to consider with your GEMS card.


Looking for an authentic Colorado ski area experience? What Monarch boasts in annual snowfall, it lacks in crowds, so you can find ample powder stashes. Receiving close to 350 inches of snow per year, there is normally not a bad time to visit Monarch. With 8 lifts and 53 trails, what could be better to do than explore this GEM.


Powderhorn is one of the most family-friendly resorts you’ll find anywhere in the West. Tucked alongside the northern edge of Western Colorado’s beautiful Grand Mesa – the world’s largest flattop mountain – we offer breathtaking views and over 1,600 acres of mountain terrain. Powderhorn’s location provides over 250 inches of light powder snow each year, and 70% of their runs are beginner or intermediate, ideal for any family of skiers or snowboarders. Recent upgrades include the 2015 launch of a new high-speed quad lift – The Flat Top Flyer – that gets you to the top in just 6 minutes!


Sunlight gives you a full day of skiing for about half the cost of the mega-resorts. You’ll park for free, walk to the lifts, and never stand in line. Without the crowds, the powder lasts for days. All 67 trails lead right back to the lodge where you can stow your brown bag lunch or pick up something hot at the grill.


The overwhelming message here is that you should get the GEMS card because not only is it super affordable and a great deal, but it gives you access to some of these incredible ski areas and memories for a lifetime.

Oh, and it’s not too late to take advantage of this deal for this year either. Sales on the GEMS card are still continuing through the end of February, so there’s no better time than now to get out there and make it happen. There’s still plenty of season left to have a great time for all skiers and riders.

As always, have fun and be safe out there!