POV: Riding the New Snowstang Bus Service to Arapahoe Basin on its First Weekend

Submitted by Alec Stowell on Thu, 12/19/2019 - 11:20

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The Snowstand Arrives at Arapahoe Basin - Alec Stowell 

As of December 14, 2019, the new and highly anticipated Snowstang service offered by Busting and the Colorado Department of Transportation began running. I was fortunate enough to experience its first trip up to Arapahoe Basin for an incredible day of powder. There were some inevitable bumps along the way due to inclement weather, but the promise this service showed is immense and should get all frequent skiers and snowboarders excited.

The Snowstang offers transportation to Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, and Steamboat Springs so that riders have a few different great options to get on the mountain. This service will run every weekend throughout the 2019-2020 ski season, as well as the Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidents Day holidays. For those looking for a quick day trip, you can get up to Loveland and Arapahoe Basin for only $25 roundtrip and if you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway, you can get up to Steamboat Springs Saturday morning and come back Sunday evening for only $40 roundtrip. They also offer one-way tickets if that suits your needs better. You can buy tickets to the Snowstang here

This service is an exciting new opportunity for skiers and snowboarders in the Denver area to be able to avoid the hassle of driving while simultaneously helping clear I-70 congestion. As someone who is a huge proponent of public transport, I was stoked to be among the first group of people to experience the Snowstang.

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Waiting for the Snowstang at the Denver Federal Center - Alec Stowell

My day began bright and early – I got my morning cup of coffee, a banana, all of my ski gear and set out to the Denver Federal Center where the Snowstang is scheduled to pick up for Arapahoe Basin at 6:40 AM. I arrived to a beautiful sunrise and in no time the Snowstang arrived with the bus already about half full from the scheduled 6:15 AM pickup from Union Station. There were large storage compartments underneath the bus which conveniently fit all of our gear so the bus ride could be as comfortable as possible.

Upon getting on the bus, I was one of the last people on, so I took the last row of seats. I was able to place my backpack, helmet and goggles in the overhead storage compartments which was really nice. Everyone was really friendly, but how could you not be? We all could foresee a beautiful day of skiing ahead of us. The bus driver came by and gave every one of us a cliff bar in case we had forgotten to eat or didn’t have time prior. After taking off, the restroom offered onboard became a huge convenience for many of the passengers, so that was a nice touch as well.

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Inside the Snowstang - Alec Stowell

The first leg of the trip was struck with some heavy traffic but otherwise went as smoothly as one could imagine. Some passengers slept, while others chatted, were on their phones, or read. With WIFI and USB/Power outlets offered onboard, getting work done or scrolling the internet was a great way to pass the time. The views were gorgeous, as they always are going up I-70. This made for a very pleasant morning.

There was a short mishap near Loveland Ski Area due to a Loveland pass closure, but we were expeditiously back on I-70 headed towards Dillon for the final leg of our journey. We got to A-Basin a little later than expected, but that was hard to even think about with the amount of snow that they had gotten and were expected to get over the course of the day. We were greeted by A-Basin workers who gave everyone on the bus a $25 gift card to their mountain which we were able to use on anything. That went toward my lunch.

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Arriving At Arapahoe Basin - Alec Stowell 

The rest of the day was absolute bliss – the photos really don’t do it justice. The snow was incredible, and a good chunk of the mountain was already open. Montezuma Bowl wasn’t yet, but The Beavers was, and everyone I spoke to was really happy about that. I managed to get a full day in and really got comfortable with the mountain. It’s no wonder they call A-Basin ‘The Legend’ because it really is a tucked away hidden gem. Also, it’s no surprise that it can open so early and consistently be open all the way into the summer months.

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Fresh Powder and a Free Refill Kind Of Day at A Basin - Alec Stowell 

I took about 30 minutes to cool down after getting off the mountain before getting ready to get back on the bus. As the time approached the 4 o’clock departure, I got my stuff gathered and headed toward the shuttle stop. Others were already waiting, and the bus arrived about 10 minutes early to make sure everyone had ample time to get loaded up and comfortable before leaving. Again, on the way out, A-Basin employees gifted us all $25 gift cards to their mountain which we could use on anything all because of the bumpy start. The customer service really surprised me, especially considering the troubles we faced weren’t really avoidable.

The road conditions had gotten worse over the course of the day, so we had been told that they sent in their best driver for the ride back, so safety was no concern. We took our time heading back toward Dillon to get on I-70 and much of the bus chatter was all revolved around the amazing ski day everyone had. Unfortunately, as we arrived in Dillon, we were notified that there was a crash in Silverthorne which blocked our eastbound I-70 access.

Although disappointing, the Snowstang driver was awesome as he pulled into the City Market parking lot in Dillon which had shops and restaurants all around it. So, while we were temporarily stuck, everyone was able to refuel, get snacks and stretch their legs. The driver was super communicative about the updates on the crash and he had been in close contact with CDOT to make sure we were the first to know when we could get going.

Not long after getting the update that the crash had cleared, we were on our way back and it was a very comfortable ride home. We arrived back at the Denver Federal Center in an efficient manner and everyone unloaded quickly with the help of the bus driver. It was a long day, but it was well worth it.

There are always going to be some expected issues to face at first when running a brand-new service like this, but the way these issues were handled were very customer service oriented and professional. I never once feared for my safety which is likely not something I’d be able to say had I driven myself that day. Being able to load up in the bus and relax in whatever way I wanted to until arriving at the mountain was a liberating and really nice feeling. The potential this bus service has for people in the Denver area is huge and I encourage everyone to give it a chance. I managed to get a great full day of skiing in all for an affordable price, without any hassle of driving or concern for my safety.

How can you beat that?

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Alec Stowell

Alec Stowell is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is majoring in Journalism and minoring in Business with a focus in entrepreneurship. He was born in Glenwood Springs and grew up skiing in the roaring fork valley. Being active and exploring the outdoors has always been a huge priority to him - everything from skiing, basketball, mountain biking, hiking, and more have all been hobbies of his for as long as he can remember. Early in his education, he discovered a passion for writing and so when the opportunity came along to both ski and write, he was ecstatic. After graduation, he hopes to still be able to pursue a career in which he can combine his passion for writing and the outdoors, but is still figuring out what the future holds. For now, he is looking forward to making the most out of his ski season with Colorado Ski Country.

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