Tucked along the northern edge of the world’s largest flat-topped mountain in Grand Mesa National Forest is Powderhorn Resort, a western Colorado favorite. With over 1,600 acres of mountain terrain, gorgeous glade skiing, and jaw-dropping views, Powderhorn’s location means it boasts more than 250 inches of light powder snow each year.
And this season, Powderhorn’s big news is tiny: tiny homes, that is. The resort has rolled out the first phase of on-mountain lodging: 6 tiny homes that can sleep a crowd, nestled right at the base of the mountain. These tiny homes go big on efficient designs, sustainable accommodations, and maximum comfort. Sleeping four to eight guests, depending on your selection, these tiny homes come equipped with a full bath, kitchens, and community firepits with comfortable Adirondack chairs just perfect for catching up on the day’s events over a s’more or adult beverage.
Each home has a different layout and features to accommodate your travel needs but they’re all just steps away from the main chairlift. Whether you’re relaxing with a hearty, homecooked meal or gathering with others around the warm firepit, these tiny homes provide the perfect basecamp, making it easier for you to stay and play at Powderhorn Resort.
Exciting New Ski Country Restaurants Take Foodies to New Heights This Ski Season
A great day on the slopes isn’t complete without a delicious meal and this season, Colorado Ski Country USA member resorts are serving up an incredible array of cuisines and new foodie experiences. Whether you’re tucking into a hot slice from Echo Mountain’s Two Miles Pie pizza truck or indulging in mountaintop après at Winter Park’s Sunspot Mountaintop Lodge, you can find the perfect meal for your best day on the slopes. Check out the new offerings that will be available this season while you’re taking advantage of the best snow in the country!
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Steilhang is a brand-new alpine hut serving Colorado-made specialty German Sausages, Colorado-brewed German draft beer, and soft pretzels and strudel made by Denver bakeries. Located on-mountain sitting just above the tree line, this will be a place to grab a quick, tasty meal and cold bevy while resting your legs for another trip into Montezuma bowl.
Il Rifugio will reopen this winter after a complete renovation and expansion project. North America’s highest-elevation restaurant offers European-style menu options. This is the perfect place for a relaxed, gourmet lunch with stunning 360-degree mountain views.
Buttermilk’s base area restaurant is now called the Buttermilk Mountain Lodge (formerly known as Bumps). The space has undergone a top-to-bottom remodel that includes a new entrance, new interior finishes, an updated servery, a new bar area and a renovated outdoor space. The outdoor bar and grill has also been renamed The Backyard and includes wood-burning fire pits, electric seating areas and an outdoor bar and grill. Buttermilk’s updates set the stage for a welcoming, laid-back community atmosphere.
Getting in on the pub action is Ski Cooper’s new base-area spot called the Timberline Taproom. An updated menu this year features a variety of smoked meats prepared onsite. With additional outdoor firepit seating, the Timberline Taproom is the perfect stop to refuel while enjoying a day the slopes at one of Colorado’s oldest ski areas.
Celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, Copper Mountain is celebrating with specially-crafted food and beverage items including a 50th Anniversary cocktail and pastries. And if you’re looking for the best bites to refuel and get back on the mountain, you can swing by Sendy’s Food Truck for a specially crafted selection of tasty street tacos and to-go burritos.
Steamboat Ski Resort
The changes powered by Steamboat’s Full Steam Ahead project include The Range Food and Drink Hall whichwill offer four new eateries with a variety of options for guests. Opening mid-winter, Sunshine Bowl Ramen, Twister Tacos, Why Not Sweet Spot, and Pioneer Pie will be located on the main floor, with the second floor featuring an outdoor deck space overlooking Steamboat Square and the resorts’ lower mountain. Did I forget to mention there will be a full bar on each floor?
Summer has arrived in the Colorado high-country and Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) member resorts have planned a season filled with concerts, festivals, and activities for guests of all ages.
Summer in Colorado means bluebird days, breathtaking scenery, and endless opportunities for adventure. This summer CSCUSA resorts will offer something for everyone including mountain coasters, alpine slides, scenic chairlift and gondola rides, downhill mountain biking, hiking, disc golf, rafting, ziplining, paragliding, festivals, events, and more.
See below for a sampling of the exciting events Colorado Ski Country resorts have to offer this summer. Visit resort websites for additional details and activities.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Arapahoe Basin will host ‘Bikes, Brats, ‘N Brews’ this July, combining the now infamous ‘reverse enduro’ uphill mountain biking race, and A-Basin’s summer Festival of the Brewpubs for a day of bike riding, beer drinking, brat eating, and live music in the Mountains. The event kicks off the morning of July 30th with the bike race, followed by the festival in the afternoon.
On September 17th and 18th Oktoberfest at A-Basin returns for live music, dancing, beer, and pretzels in the high-alpine foliage. Guests can relax on the grassy lawn with friends, family, and pups and take advantage of free chairlift rides all weekend. For more information visit arapahoebasin.com.
The Aspen Snowmass Bike Park opens on June 21st, featuring more than 25 miles of purpose-built, diverse gravity trails ranging from beginner-friendly and flowing singletrack to dynamic and challenging technical descents. Guests can also find opportunities to learn from the industry’s best bike pros, with bike lessons, clinics, and camps available to riders of all ability levels. Snowmass is also home to the Lost Forest, an immersive on-mountain activity center located at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola. The Lost Forest includes a 5,700-foot track alpine coaster, a three-hour zipline and skybridge tour, ropes course, and climbing wall. Miles of hiking trails, a high-mountain fishing pond, and disc golf makes the Lost Forest an adventure for guests of any age. For more information visit aspensnowmass.com
The largest gathering of the summer is back for a second year at Copper Mountain. From September 9th through 11th, Union Peak Festival returns, celebrating the convergence of sport, community, and art with three days of live music performances, interactive art installations and booths, sports demonstrations, and community gatherings. Union Peak Festival has a heavy hitting lineup of free music, featuring X Ambassadors, Cold War Kids, and AJR. For more information visit coppercolorado.com
Granby Ranch will be open Wednesday through Sunday (and holiday Mondays) all summer long for golf, fly fishing, dining, sight-seeing, and of course, award winning mountain biking. Granby Ranch is planning an exciting docket of events and programming for all ages, including the Rocky Mountain Music Series, kicking off July 2nd with 40 Oz to Freedom and Twang is Dead. For more information visit granbyranch.com
The Steamboat Free Summer Concert series returns this year for concerts all summer long. The series is a family-friendly gathering for locals and visitors, and will feature five concerts across the season with several national artists. For more information visit keepinitfree.com
A local favorite, Powderhorn will host their annual Gears & Beers Festival and Downhill Race on August 20th. The event will be full of scenic lift rides, live music, downhill mountain biking, and the beauty of the Grand Mesa. For more information visit powderhorn.com
This summer Purgatory will host free live music every week, and signature events from the Mountain Archery Fest and Carve War’s Chainsaw Art Competition, to Summer Brew and the Mushroom Wine Dinner. For competitive cyclists, Purgatory continue to develop podium-quality terrain for new sporting events, including the Downhill Rockies race series in August. For more information and a full schedule of events visit purgatory.ski/events.
Steamboat is excited to bring back Sunset Happy Hours this season every Thursday and Sunday starting June 30th through September 4th. Ride the Gondola to the top, take in the scenery, enjoy the culinary delights, listen to live music, and toast to the sunset overlooking the Yampa Valley. Sunset Happy Hour pricing is available for $25 for non pass holders, and free for 22/23 IKON pass holders. For more information visit steamboat.com.
Telluride will be open all summer long for world class mountain biking, hiking, and the inaugural season of their Telluride Racquet Club, a one-of-a-kind center featuring four tennis courts, four pickleball courts, and a fully-equipped Tennis Pro Shop. Telluride will also open their mountain biking terrain to class 1 e-bikes, giving a great opportunity for guests of all abilities to get on the mountain, and allow passionate Telluride riders to cover more ground. For more information visit tellurideskiresort.com.
Winter Park Resort
Along with the world-class Trestle Bike Park, Winter Park has a full slate of fun summer events for the whole family. Guests can join Winter Park for Mountaintop Happy Hours, movie nights at the gazebo, and live music every Saturday in Winter Park Village. On June 25th, Winter Park will host TheBigWonderful Beer Fest for a full day of music, 20+ Colorado Breweries, and over 40 craft vendors offering a variety of apparel, jewelry, fashion, and more! For more information visit winterparkresort.com.
Ski Industry Honors Standout Employees at Colorado Ski Country USA Double Diamond Awards
DENVER – June 10th, 2022 – Colorado Ski Industry leaders gathered at the 59th Annual Meeting and Double Diamond Awards yesterday to celebrate the outstanding performance of ski area employees. Awards were presented to on-mountain and guest services professionals for their exemplary commitment to their resorts, their guests, and the ski industry as a whole.
The Double Diamond Awards were held at the Hotel Clio in Cherry Creek after the CSCUSA Annual Meeting.
Kannon Thompson, Monarch Mountain
Groomer of the Year
Starting as a new operator 7 years ago, Kannon moved up the ranks at Monarch Mountain by taking initiative on special projects and additional loops. With Kannon leading the grooming operations at the start of the season, Monarch was able to open 22 groomed runs on just 22 hour notice, far exceeding the 9 that were expected.
Patrick Cooke, Aspen Mountain
Snowmaker of the Year
Over his years at Aspen Mountain, Patrick has been instrumental in the enhancement of the resort’s snowmaking platform, installing new lines, pumps, and communications upgrades. The excellent product Aspen is able to produce is a testament to Patrick and his team’s knowledge and dedication. Members of his crew are thrilled to work with him, and say they will continue to come back to his team year after year.
Brian Tedoldi, Steamboat Resort
Terrain Master of the Year
Over his two seasons at Steamboat Ski Resort, Brian Tedoldi has proven himself an instrumental part of the Steamboat team with his enthusiasm, passion for the terrain parks, and his unmatched desire to continue learning. Although an injury kept him off the snow this year, Brian still found creative ways to be productive and be a key member of the terrain team. His supervisors believe that his attitude, positive mindset, and leadership skills are no small part of Steamboat’s success this season.
Michael Zehnder, Copper Mountain
Food and Beverage Professional of the Year
Michael Zehnder is a key part of Copper Mountain’s food service success. Michael began his career at Copper in 2020, and this past season took on the leadership of Sawmill Pizza & Taphouse, a brand new Center Village bar and restaurant. Under his direction, Sawmill almost immediately became one of Copper’s most popular dining locations, receiving excellent scores for the food quality.
Tom Hickok, Winter Park
Instructor of the Year
For the past 24 years, Tom Hickok has taught generations of Winter Park guests how to ski. Tom is consistently raved about by his guests and has no shortage of returning students eager to continue to ski. When not teaching students, he is supporting his fellow instructors as a mentor, leading training clinics both on and off the snow – totaling 158 hours of peer training this past season. Tom’s commitment to the professional development of himself and his peers is the reason Winter Park’s instructors are more thoroughly certified than ever before.
Lindsay Wiebold, Arapahoe Basin
Patroller of the Year
Lindsay has been a valuable member of the Arapahoe Basin team for nearly four years, starting as a Stage 3 patroller in October 2018. Since then her determination and work ethic has been exemplary, earning her the role of Supervisor in 2021. Her eye for detail and initiative has been noticed by her peers, earning her ‘A-mazing’ recognition, the resort’s award for excellence among their employees.
Trish Sullivan, Steamboat Resort
Trish Sullivan has worked in the HR department at Steamboat for over thirty years, and was one of the first women to be appointed as a Vice President at the resort. She has guided Steamboat through four owners, seven new HR systems, and an increase of employees from 1400 when she started, to over 2100 today. She is a human resources expert, and has a deep wealth of knowledge on her ski area employees. She has been a great supporter of CSCUSA throughout her career, and her retirement leaves big shoes to fill.
Peter Rietz is an attorney who has spent much of his career dedicated to working with ski areas and ski area employees to improve safety and risk management. He has been a steadfast defender of the Colorado Ski Safety Act, and co-wrote the last two amendments of the Act. He was also a co-author of ‘Your Responsibility Code’, one of the most valuable and well known tools used to keep ski areas safe. He has a passion for ski safety education, is an avid skier, and is a Level III PSIA certified instructor. .
Colorado Ski Country USA Projects Record Skier Visits
Photo Credit: Aspen Snowmass
2021-22 Season Shows Recovery From Pandemic
DENVER, CO – June 9th, 2022 – Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) announced today at it’s 59th Annual Meeting that skier visits at its 22 member ski resorts increased by 14% during the 2021-22 ski season. CSCUSA is projecting a new statewide skier visitation record, edging out the previous record of 13.8 million visits in 2018-19 by a few hundred thousand. Skier visits during the 2020-21 season totaled 12 million.
Colorado saw a slow start to the winter, with many resorts not receiving significant snowfall until mid-December, causing several resorts to push back their opening dates. Once resorts opened, their teams were hit by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, resulting in staffing challenges just as skiers and snowboarders arrived for the holidays. Snow totals picked up in the second half of the season. A busy February, and a snowy March and April brought a welcome change of pace from the early winter months. Spring saw the return of live music, pond splashes and goggle tans as skiers turned out in force to celebrate the return of après ski.
“Despite the challenges our mountains faced early in the season, we are pleased to report that our business has recovered from the worst impacts of the pandemic,” said CSCUSA President and CEO Melanie Mills. “This winter’s visits have had a positive economic impact in our communities and in our state, while bringing with them challenges that come with growth in visitation,” continued Mills. “That this level of growth comes despite a dry early season and the very limited return of international skiers, is a real credit to the hard work of CSCUSA resort teams and to the warm hospitality of our mountain resort communities.”
The reason that skiers and riders from across the world come to Colorado every year is for the great snow, the unbeatable mountains, and most importantly, the world class hospitality provided by Coloradans on and off the mountain. CSCUSA acknowledges and thanks everyone in our state who helps make Colorado a world class skiing and snowboarding destination.
GRANBY RANCH ANNOUNCES EXTENSION OF THE 21-22 WINTER SKI SEASON TO APRIL 10, 2022
Resort Offering Discounted Multi-Day Lift Packs for April Dates
GRANBY, CO, March 15th, 2022 – Granby Ranch announced today that due to favorable conditions the winter 2021-22 season will be extended to April 10, 2022.
“Great snow conditions enabled by the new ownership group’s snowmaking investment combined with our team’s hard work has us making this decision for the benefit of skiers and riders still hoping to experience the mountain this spring,” commented General Manager Jace Wirth.
Granby Ranch also released a discounted multi-day lift pack product for spring skiing dates in April.
The Beach 3-Pack can be used any three days during the period of April 1 to April 10 and starts at $99 for adults. (Juniors ages 6-12 can ski for just $20 per day). The Beach 3-Pack can be purchased online at granbyranch.com. Additional information on all pass and ticket programs can be found online.
Monarch Extends Ski Season
SALIDA, CO — After receiving over two feet of snow in the most recent storm cycle, Monarch Mountain has announced it is extending its ski season. Monarch’s closing day will now be Sunday April 17, 2022.
“It’s important to us that we give our guests as much time as we possibly can on the hill. It’s clear that winter is not done with us yet, so we’re going to keep skiing and riding” said Marking Manager, Allie Stevens.
Monarch intends to host its traditional closing weekend events. Kayaks on Snow will be on Saturday, April 16, at 11:00am, and The Gunbarrel Challenge will be on Sunday, April 17, at 1:00pm. More details for both events can be found at www.skimonarch.com.
Wings passes are still available “Ski the rest of this season and all next season” for only $569.
Spring season brings lots to celebrate on the slopes
Photo Credit: Aspen Snowmass
As we head into the months of March and April, skiers and riders can’t help but be reminded that the ski season is heading towards its end. But these months also signal spring skiing, what many say is the best time of year to be on the slopes. “Colorado has amazing spring skiing with the longer days and milder temperatures,” says Dana Tyler Johnson, Cooper Director of Marketing and Sales.
Here are a few other reasons parents say they love heading to the mountains for spring-skiing season.
A relaxed vibe. “Skiing in the spring weather is more of a laid-back affair,” says Cameron Grant, who regularly skis with at least one of his three boys, a teenager and two college-age sons. “The mornings are mellow because we wait for the snow to soften up a bit. That means that we sleep a little later and probably eat a better breakfast. We just have fun on the hill. We also take longer lunches and often find ourselves sitting out in the sunshine watching the skiers and boarders splash around in the slush.
Warmer Temps. It is warmer and sunnier in the spring, says mom of two daughters Johanna Ladis. “It feels like once spring youth sports start on the Front Range—usually around mid-March—the slopes get a little less crowded. Families are committed to staying in town for games or tournaments, which means fewer people on the ski mountains. And I can usually find good lodging deals for the week of spring break and/or March weekends.”
Fun festivals. March and April bring lots of unique festivals to Colorado’s resorts to ring in spring. As part of the Aspen Snowmass Bud Light Spring Jam 2022, March 25 through April 3, you can catch free concerts, night skiing, and banked slalom races. Eldora and Copper Mountain will both host their own Subaru Winterfest, a celebration of all things winter featuring even more live music, contests, and giveaways. You can get in on the action at Steamboat Springalicious as well, where you can expect hilarious and fun events and a boatload of fresh Champagne Powder. You can check out all these events and more here.
It’s just easier. Warmer weather means dragging less clothing and gear, and having an easier time getting ready for the slopes, says Carrie Goldin, who has a son and daughter. “I like spring skiing because it’s more enjoyable to spend time with the kids in nicer weather,” she says. “I feel like it takes the whining out of skiing.” Most importantly? “Better après-ski,” says Tim Nichols, who skis with his wife and three young boys. “It’s lighter longer and warmer, so you can stay outside and enjoy yourself afterwards.”
Colorado Ski Resorts Hit the Home Stretch with March Snow and Spring Activities
Photo: Arapahoe Basin
After a week filled with fresh snow and more on the way by the weekend, resorts in Colorado Ski Country USA are heading into the final stretch of the season with the best conditions of the year. The late February storm brought over 20 inches of snow to resorts in southwest Colorado, and provided Front Range resorts with a snow blanket to cover President’s Day weekend tracks. March and April are historically the snowiest months in Colorado, setting up a spring filled with powder and fun.
While the snow falls on the high country, Colorado Ski Country member resorts are preparing a full slate of concerts, festivals, dining experiences, and more for guests to enjoy. From the Front Range to the San Juan, skiers and riders will find no shortage of activities on and off the slopes.
See below for details at specific resorts:
A-basin’s famous Moonlight Dinner Series is back on March 19th for ‘A Night in Spain’. Diners can ski, snowshoe, or ride the lift under the stars to the mid-mountain Black Mountain Lodge for a chef-prepared meal that will transport tastebuds to another part of the world. Reservations are required.
On Friday, March 11, A-basin will host the first ever Steep Gullies Gauntlet in support of the Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG). Participants can challenge themselves to see how many Steep Gullies laps they can muscle while raising money for a new SCRG headquarters. The event will be followed by a taco bar dinner.
Finally, in celebration of 75 years of world class skiing, join Arapahoe Basin the first weekend in April for three days of celebratory events. Events include Skimo, a moguls competition, scavenger hunts, apres parties, and a 1946 themed dinner at the 6th Alley (costumes encouraged).
In celebration of 75th years of operation, Aspen Snowmass will host ASPEN 75, a live show at the Wheeler Opera House on March 11th & 12th. The live multimedia event in partnership with Pop Up Magazine will be a night of storytelling filled with disco, dynamite, thin ice, unlikely journeys, brotherhood, bootpacking, kitty litter, drunk dials, yodeling, and more as one and all celebrate 75 years of carving lines and creating possibilities.
The 22nd annual Bud Light Spring Jam festival will return to March 25- April 3, bringing a week of competitions, downtown concerts and parties to Aspen Snowmass. This year’s calendar includes a host of new and returning on-mountain competitions and events including the Banked Slalom on Snowmass, Terrain Park Boot Camp, Bud Light Mountain Challenge, KickAspen Night Skiing and the Anon 4 MTN Mission, in which teams will compete across the four mountains of Aspen Snowmass in a scavenger hunt adventure race. The Spring Jam will also feature the Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series throughout March and April, and the Bud Light Core Party in the streets of downtown Aspen, with Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats performing a free concert.
Aspen Snowmass Spring Concerts:
March 1: The Dip, Snowmass Base Village
March 25: The California Honeydrops, Aspen Mountain Gondola Plaza
March 26: Sea Billies, Aspen Mountain Gondola Plaza
April 2: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Downtown Aspen
April 8: Cash’d Out, Snowmass Base Village
Cooper will continue the popular ‘Ski with a Ranger’ program every Sunday through April 17th. Guests will ski around the mountain with a ranger from the US Forest Service, and learn about the flora and fauna of the area, learn how to identify tree species, and get a bit of history about Cooper and the 10th Mountain Division.
Copper Mountain, recently announced as a US Ski and Snowboard Team practice facility through 2025, will host the Special Olympics Winter Games on March 5th & 6th. More than 200 athletes will participate in alpine, cross country, snowboarding, and snowshoe events.
Subaru and Copper Mountain are thrilled to welcome back, Subaru WinterFest on, a one-of-a kind music and mountain lifestyle tour that invites friends, family, skiers, snowboarders, music fans, and dog-lovers alike to bask in their love of winter and adventure! Head to Copper to enjoy live music, Subaru swag, the latest in adventure gear, free snacks and beverages, activities for your pup, and amazing daily giveaways! Subaru WinterFest at Copper Mountain will be March 11th through the 13th.
Copper Mountain will also continue hosting Play Forever Thursdays throughout March, offering $99 lift tickets with a portion of proceeds benefiting various non-profits including the Summit County Rescue Group, Summit County Care Clinic, and the High Fives Foundation.
Eldora will host Subaru WinterFest, a celebration of adventure and all things winter, from March 4th – 6th. Eldora is proud to have an amazing lineup of artists, including Lissie, Pixie & The Partygrass Boys, Kind Hearted Strangers, and Lindsay Lou, all brought to you by Harmon Kardon. There will be plenty to sip on from Alpine Start Foods as well as s’mores and hot chocolate in the afternoon – not to mention daily giveaways and opportunities to test the latest gear from Mammut, Nordica Ski, Arbor Collective, Solo Stove, Dynamic Wax, Thule, Klean Kanteen, and more.
After two years off, the 4th annual Trick Ditch Banked Slalom presented by 10 Barrel Brewing Co will return to Eldora. Eldora’s Trick Ditch, home to one of Colorado’s first ever halfpipes, will yet again be the stage for a unique, fun, and fast banked slalom course where 150 riders will compete for their share of the $10,000 prize purse. Learn more at TrickDitch10.com
And every Friday-Sunday this spring, Eldora invites guests to chill in their 10 Barrel Snow Beach beer garden zone with our mobile pub, Lil’ Chugger. Kick back with family and friends and enjoy live music, 10 Barrel beers, and the glorious sunshine. Learn more at Eldora.com/events.
Howlesen Hill will continue to host Ski Free Sunday each week throughout the remainder of the season. Colorado’s most affordable Sunday lift ticket, families can enjoy a free day of skiing by visiting the Howelsen Hill lodge to pick up their ticket.
Monarch’s signature event, Kayaks on the Snow, returns in April on closing weekend (exact date TBA). Contestants in kayaks race head to head, like skier cross, down a specially designed course with berms, banks, and bumps, ending in an icy pond!
Monarch also recently launched the Wings Pass, a season pass good for the remainder of the 21/22 season and all of next season. The Wings Pass costs $569 and is available now.
Purgatory will be offering guests that purchase three or more consecutive days of lift tickets a free $20 resort credit for each day of their visit from Feb. 28th – April 3rd.
March at Purgatory is also prime time for Purgatory Snowcat Adventures (PSA). Owned and operated by Purgatory Resort, PSA is Colorado’s largest snowcat skiing operation with access to 35,000 acres of guided terrain. To promote guest safety, expert guides and cat operators manage the terrain and select the best possible lines in each zone and ensure untracked powder every time. PSA also offers dining excursions and three-times daily scenic snowcat tours.
Purgatory will hold a Pond Skim contest on April 3rd, a popular favorite for spectators and contestants alike with costumes, music, and beer from Ska Brewing. Prizes are awarded for the best skim (male and female), best wipeout, and best costumes.
Incredible Colorado bluebird sunny days, hilarious and fun events, along with a boatload of Champagne Powder® snow mean that spring will shine a whole lot brighter in Steamboat-Ski Town, U.S.A.®. The Steamboat Ski Area celebrates the close of the winter season with a festival including a boatload of Springalicious® festivities and free concerts.
April 10- Bud Light Rocks the Boat Free Concert (Dumpstaphunk)
On March 4th, Sunlight will host the 2022 Defiance Challenge, an endurance competition challenging teams of two to see who can ski the most runs over the course of 10 hours on the mountain. The current record was set in 2010 with a total of 49 runs and over 66,000 vertical feet! Learn more and register to compete here.
Winter Park Wonderland
It seems almost unfair to call Winter Park the prettiest resort I’ve visited in my quest to get back into skiing after 25 years away. With fresh snow having fallen overnight, every tree was dusted with picture-perfect powder, but even setting aside the unfair advantage the new snow provided, Winter Park is just pretty. I thought it entirely possible that I was imagining it or exaggerating the case, but no—Winter Park won Best Ski Resort in North America in 2018 and #1 Ski Resort in North America the following year. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who saw something special on these slopes.
With more than 80 years under its belt, Winter Park is Colorado’s longest continually operated ski resort and offers more than 3,000 skiable acres across 166 designated trails. And if that weren’t enough, the truly dedicated can find an additional 1,200 acres of off-piste options—that is, terrain without designated runs or marked trails. Off-piste is situated far from grooming equipment, but equally far from crowds. The overwhelming majority of Winter Park’s offerings are for those that know their way around a mountain—a full 74% of its slopes are designated for advanced skiers and up.
Despite being heavily weighted toward more experienced boarders and skiers, the remaining quarter of the park was more than enough to keep someone like me busy. A particular favorite was the all-too short Wildwood Glade run. Accessible from three(!) different lifts (Sunnyside, Super Gauge Express, and High Lonesome Express), this blue run cuts down a narrow pathway with a steep slope on the uphill side and what I took to be an impassable drop-off through thick trees on the downhill side. I was quickly disabused of that notion when a group of boarders dropped over the lip with hoots of glee and quickly disappeared out of sight. Maybe someday, I thought. But for the moment, I was perfectly content to stick to the track and enjoy the tranquil bliss of gliding through a just-shaken snow globe.
Rising up, straight to the top
Knowing full well that I wasn’t as resilient as I was as a 20-year-old, I’d spent a fair bit of time trying to prepare myself for the rigors of the sport.
As part of a larger goal to get in better shape, I’d spent two months leading up to this winter of ski adventures performing daily strength and cardio exercises; I’ve been fortunate to be working from home for the duration of the pandemic, so breaking away for a few minutes of home exercises has been logistically easy. It was nothing too intense and rarely more than 10 minutes a day, but I was committed to keeping up my streak and was definitely seeing results by the time I set out on my first trip.
Alas, it wasn’t enough.
I’d wracked my brain for long-ago memories of what body parts hurt after skiing so that I’d know what to work on—but I honestly couldn’t remember anything hurting back then (oh, to be 20 again!). Without a good idea of what I should be doing to prepare, I went with a gut feeling: squats for my quadriceps, sit-ups and jackknives for my core, a stair stepper machine for cardio, and the occasional wobbleboard while at my sit-stand desk for pretty much everything from the stomach on down.
The attempt to prepare was valiant, but ultimately insufficient. As anyone who shreds the gnar on the regular can attest, skiing is like, hard work, man. With how much I ached after my first day, I was happy I’d done at least something to prepare. I could only imagine the pain I would have been in had I hit the slopes cold.
Perhaps the most surprising ache was in my calves, and along with them, the muscle opposite them, a jerky-thin strip of muscle running alongside the shinbone called the tibialis anterior. Just as the calf pulls the foot into a tiptoe position, the tibialis anterior works the opposite way, lifting the toes off the ground. Both muscles are vital for balancing, but I would have thought that being encased in a rigid boot would render them immobile and more or less unused on the slopes. Nope. In hindsight, I wish I would have spent more time on my wobble board preparing these balancing muscles for the rigors ahead.
There and back again
Like most resorts, Winter Park’s main parking lot can accommodate only a fraction of the skiers that the mountain can, and so relies upon satellite parking and shuttle buses to ferry skiers from remote lots to the base of the mountain. It goes without saying that you should pay close attention to which satellite lot you parked in—and yet, here I am saying it. Winter Park seemingly has more individual parking lots than it has ski lifts, and it has a lot of ski lifts.
After parking, I had dashed to the incoming shuttle bus moments before it departed and completely failed to note which lot I’d parked in. I was the last one to board the packed shuttle bus, and as a standee, my view for the duration of the short trip was the back of a fellow rider’s helmet. I couldn’t see out a window and honestly had no idea how I’d gotten to the base village—nor precisely where I’d come from. Several hours of skiing later, I realized my mistake.
So it both goes without saying and yet also bears repeating: note which lot you parked in. It’ll save a lot of heartache later in the day, as well as a wasted bus ride visiting several of the lots that aren’t the one you’re looking for. Ask me how I know.
It was only after I got back home that I learned of what may well be a much better way to get there: the Amtrak Winter Park Express. The train makes the 56-mile run from Union Station in Denver without stops, and drops passengers off at Winter Park’s doorstep. Ski and board transport are included in the fare, which starts at $29 for a one-way trip. Travelers can kick back and relax in wide, reclining seats and drink in the scenery as they avoid all the I-70 and US-40 traffic. The train’s route passes through 29 tunnels as it makes the climb from Denver, culminating in the 6.2-mile Moffat Tunnel under the Continental Divide. It’s both the highest railroad tunnel and third longest in the US.
…With powder skiing for all
The National Sports Center for the Disabled helps athletes of all stripes embrace the great outdoors with adaptive innovations. From kayakers and rock climbers to skiers and equestrians, the NSCD provides more than 1,800 lessons to participants annually.
At Winter Park, that takes the form of private and group lessons in alpine skiing, ski biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
The NSCD has helped train nine US athletes participating in the Winter Paralympics, as well as athletes from New Zealand, Japan, Chile, Israel, and Great Britain—so don’t be surprised if someone in a sit-ski blasts past you with Olympian-level skills!