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Echo Mountain: Denver’s Easiest Backyard Getaway

View from Echo Mountain

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Echo Mountain – Alec Stowell

If you had a ski area in your backyard, you’d probably get a lot more days in, right? Well, that’s the case for residents of Denver and the front range with Echo Mountain. Destinations are plentiful up I-70, but the closest and most affordable destination to Denver is Echo Mountain, which is just a short drive up Squaw Pass.

From the time you start up I-70 West towards Grand Junction, you only have approximately 30 minutes to go before you can be skiing and riding. You just exit at the Evergreen Parkway, then from there take a right onto Squaw Pass until you arrive. The parking lot takes you right up to the base so getting on the mountain is hassle-free. It’s the easiest drive to a mountain that I’ve ever experienced. This is especially convenient for residents or guests of Denver who have busy schedules and don’t have the time to spend hours driving to and from ski areas.

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Echo Mountain – Echo Mountain

The views are gorgeous, too. It’s right in the gateway of the Rockies adjacent to Mt. Evans, so how could they not be? On a clear day, which is what I was fortunate enough to have, you can get a great view of the Continental Divide.

The affordability is really what draws its crowds though. In my one day there over the last week, I spoke to two out-of-state tourists who chose the mountain for its pricing. This mountain is included in the list of eligible mountains if you have one of Colorado Ski Country’s ‘GEMS Cards’. If you buy online at least 24 hours in advance, weekday tickets for adults (ages 16-64) are only $58 and weekday tickets for children (ages 6-15) are only $32, with any guests younger than that getting in for free. If you buy online 24 hours in advance for weekend tickets, it’s only a few bucks more than that, for both adults and children. That’s pretty tough to beat.

They also offer affordable ski and snowboard rental packages for both adults and children so if you’re coming in without gear, that’s no problem. Full ski or snowboard packages are only $40 for adults and $30 for children, which includes everything you’ll need for the day, except goggles and warm clothing.

Another thing that Echo Mountain really prides itself on and entices visitors from all around is their affordable night skiing. For the people that get caught up in their 9-5 work life and never feel like they have the time to get out there and ski or ride, this could be the best option for you. Wednesday through Saturday, they offer night skiing from 4:30-9 PM for only $30 for adults and $19 for children. They do want to stress, however, that only intermediate terrain is available during night skiing, so this may not be the best for beginners just starting out.

Speaking of beginners, that brings me to this point – this mountain is AWESOME if you’re trying to learn how to ski and ride. They love being a beginner’s mountain and have great terrain and great staff for doing so. They have a designated beginner’s area where you can spend your day just getting your legs comfortable on skis or a board. It’s easy to walk right up to,  it’s groomed really well and has a conveyor lift to bring you right back to the top. Also, on hand, are staff members ready to help out with any questions or concerns you have. Besides, if you’re a beginner, it makes sense that you would go to the most affordable destination.

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Echo Mountain – Alec Stowell

All that being said, that doesn’t mean experienced skiers and riders can’t have a great time at this mountain. The mountain offers a range of blues and blacks to try to accommodate skiers and riders of all levels. They also offer a terrain park which I found to be awesome for my own level. I am admittedly very inexperienced on the parks, but I took the opportunity at Echo to try to improve. They have two boxes, two rails, and five jumps to choose from to fit a variety of needs.

If you have a family member who’s not quite ready to make the jump to learn to ski or ride, that’s okay; They also offer tubing for affordable rates as well. It’s right on-site and they make it as easy as possible. The most you’ll pay per person is $30 including tube rental, but they also request that everyone make reservations well in advance to avoid any surcharges and to arrive 30 minutes prior to their designated time slot.

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Tubing at Echo Mountain – Alec Stowell 

The overarching theme of this mountain is, no matter who you are or what your skill level is, you can find a way to have fun. If you’re someone like me who likes their fair share of double black’s, this may not be the best spot for you. But even so, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to push yourself and make the best out of it. In my single visit there, I feel like I really improved on hitting boxes and other simple terrain park skills.

So, if you’re a Denver resident or somewhere else close by in the front range and you’ve been itchin’ to get some turns in, consider Echo Mountain as your mountain of choice. You’ll find it extremely convenient to get to, super affordable, and a place to have fun for all. If you’re a beginner, this is an outstanding place to learn and get comfortable. If you’re an experienced skier or rider but are looking for an affordable way to get some snow, this is an awesome choice.

As always, get out there, have fun, and be safe!

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.

Consistent Snow in Colorado Ski Country Delivers Double Digit Totals

Loveland Ski area

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Loveland Ski Area – Casey Day 

A consistent snow cycle in January has delivered Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) member resorts soft and deep snow conditions across the state with Silverton Mountain in southwest Colorado picking up 25 inches of snow in the past week.

Nearly every ski area in Colorado has seen snowfall from this storm cycle with Aspen Snowmass receiving up to 20 inches. Elsewhere, Powderhorn and Sunlight Mountain enjoyed over one foot of fresh snow. Telluride Ski Resort has been blanketed in 13 inches of powder while Steamboat, Copper and Monarch have reported 12-14 inches of new snow. Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Ski Area are enjoying 13-21 inches of fresh snow while 5-15 inches of snow has fallen at Granby Ranch, Eldora and Wolf Creek Ski Area.

With additional snow in the forecast through January and snowpack above average, skiers and riders can expect great snow conditions across Colorado Ski Country. 

To receive daily or weekly snow reports from CSCUSA member ski areas, click here.

 

Links to Resort Webcams:

Arapahoe Basin: http://bit.ly/ArapahoeBasinCams

Aspen Highlands: http://bit.ly/AspenHighlandsCams

Aspen Mountain: http://bit.ly/AspenMountainCams

Aspen Buttermilk: http://bit.ly/AspenButtermilkCams

Cooper: http://bit.ly/CooperCams

Copper Mountain: http://bit.ly/CopperCams

Eldora: http://bit.ly/EldoraCams

Granby Ranch: http://bit.ly/GranbyRanchCams

Loveland Ski Area: http://bit.ly/LovelandCams

Monarch Mountain: http://bit.ly/MonarchCams

Powderhorn: http://bit.ly/PowderhornCams

Purgatory: http://bit.ly/PurgatoryCams

Aspen Snowmass: http://bit.ly/AspenSnowmassCams

Steamboat: http://bit.ly/SteamboatCams

Sunlight: http://bit.ly/SunlightCams

Telluride: http://bit.ly/TellurideCams

Winter Park: http://bit.ly/WinterParkCams

Wolf Creek: http://bit.ly/WolfCreekCams

Winter Park Resort http://bit.ly/2g3DTsF

Wolf Creek Ski Area http://bit.ly/2zo5xd2

Cooper|Chicago Ridge: Skiing on the New Double Black Diamonds

Ski Cooper

Cooper - Scott Rappold
Cooper|Chicago Ridge – Scott Rappold 

By R. Scott Rappold

I’m at Cooper Ski Area and frankly I’m scared.

It’s an odd sensation up here. This mountain isn’t known for difficult terrain. In fact, for 77 of the 78 years it’s been in existence, it has offered no runs rated double-black-diamond. 

Amazing views? Wide-open groomed avenues? Affordable prices? A family-friendly vibe? Yes to all of the above, but no true challenging, expert-level terrain.

All that changed a few days before my visit in early January, when Cooper dropped the ropes on the Tennessee Creek Basin on the mountain’s backside, 70 acres of double-diamond skiing, with no easy way in or out. 

As I was to discover, this terrain is no joke, and ski area managers hope it will be a game-changer in attracting expert-level skiers to Cooper. 

A small mountain 

The first challenge was actually finding the new terrain. 

I rode the 10th Mountain Double Chair from the base after parking for free just 100 feet from the ticket office. That in itself is rare in skiing today, since at many resorts you have to shell out $20 or park miles from the base and take a bus (and then ride a gondola to ride a chair lift and finally ski…)

It turns out this chair spills out too low on the mountain to access Tennessee Creek Basin, so I rode the fun open groomers to the bottom of Piney Basin Triple Chair. At the top, at 11,757 above sea level, I finally saw my destination. 

The lack of double-diamond terrain has long been a concern by Cooper skiers, says ski area manager Dan Torsell. 

“We have probably the best intermediate runs and lower-level, beginner type terrain in the country, which lends itself to getting families in,” says Torsell. 

“We’ve kind of found through the years that say a family was to come for a five-day vacation and there was a diverse level of skiers within the family … They’re happy here for a little while but they would lose dad or mom or whoever the higher-level skiers were to some of the other areas that have steeper terrain.”

Of course, you can’t change the fact it’s not a steep mountain. But you can change where you let people ski.

The Tennessee Creek Basin has long been eyed as such an opportunity. Torsell says it’s within the area’s U.S. Forest Service permit boundary and has been explored by ski patrollers over the years. 

Work began in earnest this past summer when Cooper thinned and flew some 2,000 trees out by helicopter. They also built a T-bar lift to bring skiers back to the front side.

And that was basically it. No lodge, no restaurant, no wide-cut runs, no grooming. 

No easy way down

At first, I wasn’t sure the terrain was actually open. I saw not a single person emerge at the top of the T-bar and “closed” signs on some of the trails. 

After confirming it was in fact open, I hopped on Motherlode, the only single-diamond run, with plans to hop on High Road, the only blue run, to get a feel for the area before plunging in. 

But the blue was closed and I found myself back at the Piney Basin chair – the wrong drainage. 

Torsell explains that Cooper chose to close the blue run for safety reasons. 

“In the first couple days we were open back there we had a bunch of curiosity seekers, which I get, but we ended up with a couple people getting stuck at the bottom of the lift and we had to make arrangements to get them out,” he says. “We had hoped that people would be prudent and selective about going down there, realizing they were going to have to head back up on some very steep terrain on the T-bar.”

That’s right, it was getting back up that was the problem. T-Bars aren’t as common in skiing as they once were. A T-shaped support hooks the skier from behind and pulls the skier up by a rope. Unlike a chair lift, the skis stay on snow. Staying upright on one can be a challenge, especially on a steep pitch, especially on a snowboard. 

With no intermediate trail, he says, only expert skiers would go down there. 

After studying the map I realized my mistake and tried again. 

A natural forest

Back at the top, I skied through the T-bar line and went down the run marked Powder Stache. To call it a run in the traditional sense would be a misnomer – more of a narrow trail through the thick pine forest. 

It hadn’t snowed in a while but I still found soft snow and untracked stashes as I gingerly worked my way through the forest. It was like nothing ever before at Cooper – quiet and remote, and I kept the T-bar in my peripheral vision in case I needed to bail.

I needed to bail. Did I mention these are very tight trees? Fear got the better of me, fear of the unknown. Fear of skiing into a tree. 

So I finished my run on Maverick, which is essentially the T-bar line, reaching the bottom 720 feet later. 

I’ve ridden many T-bars in my time and had no trouble, but I could understand how an unsuspecting beginner might have difficulty. I spent another hour exploring the forest and its steep, narrow chutes. This is definitely difficult terrain and I vowed to come back here and explore on a powder day. 

Torsell hopes the terrain makes Cooper a more attractive destination for skiers of all types. 

“The seasoned skiers who want to challenge themselves, we’ve just never had anything for those folks and now I think we do. We kind of have the whole package,” he says. 

“We’re certainly not the largest resort in the state but now with this terrain, we’re providing the same quality, the same diversity of product as everybody else.” 

Scott Rappold

R. Scott Rappold is a journalist with more than 20 years of experience, including 10 at The Colorado Springs Gazette, where he wrote about skiing, hiking, camping and all the things that make Colorado great. He is now a full-time ski bum who writes when he needs money for beer or lift tickets. He lives in Colorado’s beautiful San Luis Valley. Read more of Scott’s stories here

How to Have the Best Day Possible on the Mountain by Yourself

20190113 Loveland DustinSchaefer (5)

20190113 Loveland DustinSchaefer (5) 0
Loveland Ski Area – Dustin Schaeffer 

A great day skiing and riding on the mountain is commonly enjoyed with friends or family, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be. Skiing or riding by yourself can be just as fun and rewarding experience as going with someone else or a group. If the reason you’ve missed out on a few days this year is that you’ve had nobody to go with, consider following some of these pointers I’m going to give and go by yourself – I assure you, you won’t regret it.

Embrace It

The first thing that totally sets the tone of your day alone is just to embrace it. This is your chance to take it all in, get better, and go enjoy the mountain at your leisure. You’ll be on your own time schedule. If you approach the day with a bad attitude or with the mindset that you’re not going to have as good of a time, then you’re setting your day up for failure.

Enjoy the Preparation

Because you’re on your own time schedule, you can take as little or as much time as you want to get ready in the morning and getting to the mountain. That is, only if you are your own transportation; otherwise, you may be on the time schedule of a bus transportation service. If you are driving yourself to the mountain you can wake up when you choose, enjoy that cup of coffee, and make a hearty breakfast if that’s how you like to start your ski days. You can completely eliminate the morning stress that sometimes comes with a ski day with a group of people.  If you are using a bus transportation service, you can still enjoy all these things, you might just have to set your alarm accordingly.

Appreciate the Drive, Don’t Dread it

I know that for many, the biggest hassle of going skiing or riding is finding the right transportation method. Either you don’t have a reliable vehicle, or you just don’t like driving. If you don’t have a reliable vehicle, then you may have to rely on a bus transportation service. Either way, it’s critical to enjoy the drive. I mean, it’s hard not to, but whether you’re driving or not, take the time to take in your surroundings. The Rocky Mountains have some of the most beautiful sights in the world and really taking the time to appreciate them will create a positive outlook on the day. It doesn’t hurt to listen to your favorite music playlist or a good podcast either.

Set Some Goals for Yourself

It’s always good to set goals for yourself, whether you’re going by yourself or with others. However, it may be easier to accomplish the goals that you set when you’re out there all by yourself. You may not have the competition aspect of pushing yourself against your friends or family, but you can always compete with yourself and try things you haven’t before. That doesn’t mean ski or ride irresponsibly and do anything unsafe, but you can always find little ways to improve.

If you have the Ikon Pass, you can use their new app to track your day; this will allow you to see what runs you hit and how many times you hit them, how fast you went on each run, what lifts you took, how many miles you’ve traveled, how many vertical feet you’ve gained and how many hours you’ve been skiing. This can be a helpful tool when setting specific goals.

Take Your Time, Take It All In

As much as you still want to push yourself, it’s okay to take your time. It’s all about finding the right balance. You have no one that you’re waiting on and nobody that’s waiting on you, so ski or ride the mountain at your leisure. If that means stopping frequently to snap a cool picture, go for it. If it means taking an extra-long lunch to enjoy the day’s weather, all the power to you. It’s your day to enjoy.  And just because you’re out there by yourself, doesn’t mean you can’t make some new friends. The days I’ve gone by myself are when I find myself the most social and having the best conversations with strangers on the lifts. Going by yourself also means you can call it a day whenever you want, obviously unless you are relying on a bus service to transport you home.

Après-Ski as You Please (Responsibly, Of Course)

It was your day to enjoy the mountain, so it’s your day to après-ski as you please. If you like to enjoy the end of your ski days with an après-ski drink, then have at it, but just remember to drink responsibly, especially if you are driving. If your idea of après-ski is ordering a bunch of appetizers at the lodge and pigging out, that’s a good option too. Whatever your idea of après-ski is, enjoy it because it can be a great ending to a great day. Just remember to keep track of time if you are one of the skiers or riders using one of the bus transportation services.

Reflect on Your Day

The drive home can be just as enjoyable as the drive to the mountain, even if it’s dark outside. If you’re driving yourself, you can take the time to mentally reflect on your day and how you went about accomplishing the goals you set for yourself. If you’re not driving yourself, you can also reflect on your day but without the hassle of driving. If you think you got some good footage of the day, you can take this time to look back and see how it turned out. I tend to think if you don’t reflect back on your day in some way, you are missing the opportunity to better prepare yourself for the next time you get out on the mountain.

The moral of the story is, just cause you’re not going with friends or family, doesn’t mean you can’t have a great day. I guarantee if you follow these simple pointers, you’ll find yourself really enjoying skiing or riding by yourself, barring no major issues. So, get out there and give it a try. Besides, the more days you can spend on the mountain the better.

Only have a half day? Hit these Front Range ski areas

Eldora Mountain

Eldora Nov22 PowderDay TomWinter 021
Eldora Ski Area 

It’s a myth that going skiing and snowboarding in Colorado has to involve an early morning wake-up call and a full day on the mountain. Sure, the 6 a.m. alarm is worth it on some days, like holiday weekends, when there’s fresh powder or new terrain opening. But is it possible to just sleep in on the weekends every once in a while?

Yes, it is. If you’re recovering from a long week at work, have breakfast or brunch plans, or just generally don’t want to sacrifice a full day of your weekend to the mountain, you have options. Many Colorado ski areas offer a half-day ticket for what we like to call the “second shift” – arriving as the morning skiers depart and setting yourself up for a glorious afternoon on the slopes.

I swear by the second shift for a few reasons. Half-day lift tickets are less expensive, leaving some money left over for après ski at the bar. It’s easy to find parking right near the lifts as the first-chair chasers and families start to vacate the parking lot in search of lunch. And afternoon skiing offers optimal conditions when the sun warms the snow and you can sometimes get away with light layers.

If you’re a Denverite ready to give second shift skiing a try, I recommend these five Front Range ski areas.

Loveland Ski Area

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Loveland Ski Area – Dustin Schaeffer 

Loveland tops the list of half-day ski destinations for a few reasons. First, location. Loveland is one of the closest ski areas to Denver, giving you less time in the car and more time on the mountain. It’s also one of the more affordable half-day tickets, only $75 during the regular season, and grants access at 11:30 a.m., offering 4.5 hours of lift access at a discounted rate.

Loveland also wins on flexibility with the Flex Ticket, which provides skiers and riders lift access for any 4 consecutive hours at the half-day rate of $75. Guests can ask for Flex Ticket at any ticket window and will initially be charged the full-day rate. If guests return the Flex Ticket within 4 hours, they will receive a $17 refund.

Cooper

Cooper Mountain View - Scott Rappold
View from Cooper|Chicago Ridge – Scott Rappold 

At Cooper, an adult half-day ticket for access from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. is $49, while a half-day ticket for a child costs $33. Cooper is a great family-friendly mountain near Leadville, and while it might be a little bit of a stretch for a day trip, it’s easy to fill a weekend in Leadville with great family-friendly activities and still hit Cooper for a half day. Plus, you can’t beat that price.

Copper Mountain

1.6.20 Copper Mountain Morning Sunrise
Copper Mountain Sunrise 

Copper Mountain is another great choice for a half-day adventure, with naturally divided terrain that appeals to beginners and experts alike. Whether you’re planning to stick to groomed blues or you want to ski the steeps, Copper has something for everyone. 

Copper’s half-day tickets offer skiing and riding beginning at noon. For the 2018-19 season, the maximum adult half-day ticket rate was $120, but considerable discounts are available if guests purchase online in advance.

Winter Park Resort

12.18.19 Winter Park - Karen Mahar
Winter Park Resort – Karen Mahar 

Another great mountain close to the Front Range, Winter Park offers a half-day ticket which grants lift access starting at 12 p.m. Prices vary throughout the season, so you’ll want to call ahead for more information.

Winter Park is a great choice for skiers and riders who are eager to leave I-70 behind, and with its seven territories, you can find runs for any type of skier here. Don’t forget about Mountaintop Après before you leave for live music, food, drinks and breathtaking views every Thursday through Saturday.

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

12.14.19 Beavers Opening and Pali Terrain 47
Arapahoe Basin 

Arapahoe Basin, a fan favorite among Front Range skiers, offers a half-day ticket called the Afternoon Delight. A-Basin is well-known for its location perched high on the Continental Divide, which brings great snow conditions and helps the ski area stay open from October through June most seasons, and sometimes all the way through the Fourth of July. Arapahoe Basin is your best bet for a half-day ticket in the early or late season, hands down.

The Afternoon Delight is good for an afternoon (1 p.m. – 4 p.m.) of skiing or riding. The cost of the lift ticket varies throughout the season and starts at $32.99. Guests can save money by purchasing lift tickets in advance online.

Bonus – Echo Mountain

Echo Mountain 0
Echo Moutain 

Rather than an afternoon half-day ticket, Echo Mountain offers a separate ticket for night skiing, which is available four nights a week Wednesday – Saturday. Echo Mountain is the closest ski area to downtown Denver, making night skiing accessible as an after-school or after-work activity.

A night skiing ticket grants lift access from 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. and cost $30 for an adult or $19 for a child.

Kathryn Robinson is a native Floridian who transplanted to Colorado for graduate school and never looked back. She learned to ski for the first time in her early twenties and now she counts down the days until winter. When she’s not on the slopes, she’s working full-time in Denver, hiking, kayaking, or playing with her dog Riley.

College Students – It’s Time to Learn To Ski or Ride

Purgatory - photo by: Eric Berry

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Purgatory Resort – Eric Berry 

Here’s the thing

There’s no right or wrong time to begin your ski adventures and try to start skiing or snowboarding. Sure, it may be easier to learn when you’re young, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a stab when you’re older. Some of this advice that I’ll be giving will apply to all ages, but this is specifically geared towards college students looking to get up on the mountain and have a good time.

Whether you need advice on how to save some money or just beginner tips when you’re actually on the mountain, I’ll do my best to cover both. After all, not every beginner is the same and thus have different areas of need.

Determining a Budget

This is the first step that is the foundation for your ski season. Skiing can a rather costly sport but if you’re smart about your spending you can save some money here and there. In determining your budget, it’s important you’re honest with yourself about how much you plan on going skiing. If you’ve never been or only been a handful of times and want to give it another shot, it might not make sense for you to invest in a season pass right away. Instead, you can spend some time researching what day pass works best for you depending on where you live. There are plenty of great deals out there depending on the time of year and there are always other options as well like going with a friend with a season pass and getting a discounted buddy ticket or just going for a half-day to lower the cost a bit. Colorado Ski Country also offers a variety of deals on their website including the GEMS card where if you go play on one of the lesser travelled GEMS resorts, you can get two 2-for-1 lift tickets or two 30% off lift tickets.

The cost of the ticket is just one factor you have to think about when determining a budget, however. You also have to consider the cost of gear and what your best options are for getting good stuff. This includes the essential ski/snowboard gear (skis/snowboard, boots, poles, etc.) but also the right clothing and attire to make sure you’re comfortable and warm on the mountain.  For many Coloradans, at least one of their family members has skied somewhere down the line and has hand-me-downs that you can borrow that are good quality and will save you the cost and hassle of having to rent or purchase gear.  If you can take advantage of this, you definitely should – I’ve gotten some great gear from hand-me-downs. Otherwise, if you think ahead of time, you can find highly discounted ski and snowboard gear in the summer. If you’re trying to take advantage of skiing or snowboarding this season, then your best bet might be to just rent gear from whatever resort you’re attending.

Transportation

Actually getting to the mountain can be a big struggle for college students as many of them don’t have vehicles and if they do, they aren’t great vehicles for snowy conditions and potentially icy roads. If you’re in this boat, I’d highly encourage trying to coordinate a carpool with friends that have the right vehicle for the job. Everyone can split the cost of gas money and it’ll help relieve some ski traffic congestion as well. If you don’t have immediate friends that you know are going, often times your school’s ski and snowboarding clubs help organize carpools for students.

Another great option is finding a bus service that works for you. CU Boulder, CSU, and DU all offer their own unique bus transportation services on select dates that’ll give you a hassle-free day. There is also an RTD service for CU Boulder students that will get them to Eldora and back.

If none of these are ideal for your situation, there are other bus services offered in Denver like the Front Range Bus and the new Snowstang Bus service which I can attest to and say it was a great way to get to and from the mountain without worrying about driving.

Once You’re on the Mountain

My best advice for this section will be relatively generalized just because I can only speak from a skier’s perspective. I’ve gone snowboarding a few times but had my own share of struggles so I can’t give specific advice to beginner boarders.

One thing that I want to emphasize that a lot of beginner skiers and boarders make the mistake of is jumping into a run they’re not prepared for. Nothing will have you more frustrated and having a worse time than being on terrain you are not ready for and constantly taking a spill. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being honest with yourself and whoever you may be skiing with and just taking it easy to start. That means taking the well-groomed green runs and taking it slow.

When you approach your day with this mindset you can have a lot more time to focus on the fundamentals. One thing I always try to do each day I go up is improve and tighten my turns a little bit. Depending on your experience, this may mean different things. If you’re in the really early stages as a skier, this may mean working on your ‘french fry’ and ‘pizza’ as methods to get going and to stop. If you have a little more experience, this may mean working on carving your parallel turns. Whatever your situation may be, this is a good way to continue to feel more comfortable on the mountain.

If you are really new to skiing or snowboarding, it may be worth considering investing in lessons at the mountain. Sometimes they can be a little pricey but there are offers out there for 2-3 day lesson packages and they can be totally worth it when trying to master the basics. Also, it’s nice to have an experienced rider be patient with you and walk you through your strongpoints and weaknesses and help you improve in certain areas where you may be lacking.

Once you’ve gotten some experience and feel a little bit more comfortable with getting on chair lifts, getting down green runs and have your legs under you a bit, the next best advice I could give is to continue to push yourself. If you’re constantly hitting the same runs over and over you’re never going to see drastic improvement or feel like you’re getting significantly better. The old Einstein quote goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”, and that absolutely rings true when trying to improve your ski and snowboard abilities. Over time, if you incrementally try more difficult runs and continue to work on improving your turns, you’ll see results in no time.

Hopefully, this advice was helpful for those college students who didn’t even know where to get started but also for those who have had some past experience and wanted to get back into it. Just remember, it’s important to be honest with yourself in terms of both your budget and your abilities, that way you can have the most cost efficient and enjoyable time as you can on the mountain. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, worry about how you best can have a good experience while skiing or snowboarding.

 

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.

What’s Not to Love About Loveland?

Loveland Ski Area

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Loveland Ski Area – Dustin Schaeffer 

Loveland, meh, we’ll pass.

My family and I do it nearly every time we drive to our regular Colorado Ski Country resorts, and nearly every time, I gaze out the window, wondering what it would be like to skip the Eisenhower Tunnel land ski there. But before I bring my 6th and 7th-grade kids there, I wanted to track down a longtime Loveland Ski Area skier – Noelle Campbell – and have her answer a few questions about the so-called family-friendly vibe and what her overall feelings were on the ski area.

1. When—and why—did you start skiing at Loveland?

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Loveland Ski Area – Dustin Schaeffer

As a Colorado native, I moved back to Colorado in 2016 after 15 years of living in various ski resort towns nationally and internationally. Living in Golden at the time with two small kids, I found that Loveland was incredibly kid-friendly. It was also the closest, most affordable and most relaxed resort that also offered extreme expert terrain for my husband and me to ski. 

Loveland provides it all: expert terrain, an entire valley for beginners, cat skiing on the Continental Divide, family-friendly après—all for an affordable price. 

2. What makes it different from other ski areas, in Colorado and beyond?

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Loveland Ski Area – Dustin Schaeffer 

We love the laid back, low key atmosphere of Loveland. It’s the locals’ mountain with terrain for every ability and age! 

3. How is Loveland suited for families; what makes it family-friendly?

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Loveland Ski Area – Dustin Schaeffer 

Our family adores Loveland Ski Resort. With promises of hot chocolate and whipped cream at the end of the day, my kids have spent many days at Loveland practicing their skills with our family and with the very experienced Loveland Ski School. My oldest, now 7, learned to ski in the Valley and is now making turns down the Steeps off Chet’s Dream! My little guy, now 3, is learning quickly and will be skiing consistently with all of us before we know it. 

4. What are some of your favorite runs, and why?

“Visiting the Snow Stake off of Chet’s so I can see how much new snow fell!!”—Cora Campbell, 7

“Magic carpet!” —Kai Campbell, 3.

I personally love steep and challenging terrain, so anything off of Chair 9 or down the Steeps off Chet’s are my favorite. When I’m with my kids, we enjoy Mambo (off of Chet’s) and the South Shoots (off of Ptarmigan). Also, stop at Ptarmigan’s Roost for an incredible view, good food and a quaint old-time, ski-lodge atmosphere!

5. How about traditions and events at Loveland?

In the spring, Loveland offers great live music on the sunny deck at the Basin, which can’t be beat.  Popcorn, French fries, drinks, and friendly bartenders make the locals want to stay and hang out at Loveland long after the last chairs have stopped spinning. 

6. What would be your tips for a family skiing Loveland for the first time?

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Loveland Ski Area – Dustin Schaeffer 

If everyone is a beginner skier, I would highly recommend at least a day of lessons at Loveland Valley for everyone. The instructors are incredible, and everyone will have a day of fun. 

Loveland also offers a top-notch day-care center. We have enrolled our youngest in their daycare center while putting our oldest in ski school to allow my husband and I a day to ski challenging terrain. We were all incredibly happy at the end of the day! 

~ Sarah Tuff Dunn

Sarah Tuff Dunn recently moved to Louisville, Colorado, with her husband, Carlton, and their two children, Dillon, 12, and Harper, 10. They’re looking forward to exploring the world-class skiing in Colorado, aided by the Colorado Ski Country 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program. Sarah has been writing professionally for nearly 25 years and her work has appeared in The New York Times, SKI, Skiing and Powder, among other publications. Read more of Sarah’s stories here and follow along with her Colorado skiing journey here

Powder diary: A cross-Colorado trek and two big surprises 

Wolf Creek Ski Area

12.16.19 Wolf Creek - Rosanne Pitcher
Wolf Creek Ski Area – Roseanne Pitcher

By R. Scott Rappold

Editor’s note: Our mountain correspondent and resident ski bum R. Scott Rappold missed several deadlines, did not respond to emails and his voicemail was full. We tracked him down in Steamboat Springs, where he had been sleeping on various sofas since it started snowing in early January, and convinced him to stop skiing long enough to file this report. Numerous threatening references to his editors have been omitted. 

Where to begin? 

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Scott becomes one with the mountain when he is powder chasing 

The last week has been a blur. Did I really drop everything to drive 5 hours across Colorado, past no fewer than four other ski areas, in search of powder? 

Today was one of the best ski days of my life, two feet of snow at my home mountain of Wolf Creek in southern Colorado …. I should still be there, ripping powder and scoring endless face shots, but here I sit at this computer …. I should still be up there, braving the poor visibility and fierce winds with my friends who are still up there as I write this, skiing my lines and tracking up my powder. 

But here I am off on a tangent. 

It wasn’t like this here a week ago. Wolf Creek does boast the most snow in Colorado – 215″ so far this season – but like any ski resort, there are dry spells. Cruising groomers and hunting the last powder stashes are all well and good, and it’s always good to have a couple of days off the mountain to get work done and make sure my wife hasn’t left me. So like any ski bum, I can abide by the dry spells. 

What I can’t abide is when it’s snowing somewhere else in Colorado and I’m not skiing it. That’s exactly what happened Jan. 2-4 when northern Colorado resorts got up to 18 inches. The flakes didn’t make it south.

There are plenty of meteorological reasons storms hit some parts of the mountains and not others, but my degree is in journalism so I won’t try to explain them. I’ll just say it’s a hell of a thing when a storm misses your mountain. A hell of a thing. And I vowed not to miss the next one. 

Sure enough, by Jan. 7 more snow was in the forecast, and it looked like the storm would once again go north. So I decided I would have to as well. 

Making the plan

I have three rules for chasing powder: 

1) Never plan a trip more than 36 hours out. Mountain weather is difficult to forecast and long-term forecasts usually change so you want the best chance of being where the most snow will fall. 

2) Never pay for a hotel room. No ski bum can afford those, especially in high-end mountain towns. 

3) Always bring gifts for your host. Whether it’s someone you met online or a friend of a friend, you’re occupying their home and disrupting their life so bring a gift for God’s sake. 

It just so happens I have a friend in Steamboat Springs, which appeared to be in the bulls-eye for the upcoming storm. A few text messages later and I was packing my bag and loading the car for the long drive, 260 miles and three of the snowiest mountain passes in Colorado. 

Then I remembered the fourth rule of chasing powder: Make sure your spouse or significant other doesn’t mind. 

She didn’t, so off I went – after doing the dishes and laundry to ease my guilt for spending all our money skiing while she went to work. 

January 8

The snow was still a day away but I knew I wanted to be in place to get an early start on the powder day, so I left my home in Del Norte, in the San Luis Valley, around mid-morning, with a plan to stop by ski area Cooper, near Leadville, for a couple of runs to break up the drive. 

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The View from Cooper Mountain – Scott Rappold 

Cooper is known as a small, family-friendly area, which it is. It also has beautiful views of the two highest peaks in Colorado – Mount Elbert and Mount Massive – and great, wide-open, uncrowded groomers. An hour up here and I was refreshed for the second leg of my drive. 

It just so happened I had a cousin from Florida visiting Steamboat for the annual country music festival, and no, she and her friends wouldn’t mind if I slept on the couch in their condo for a night. 

As we caught up and tried to figure out if we had actually met in person before, moisture moved into the atmosphere over Steamboat. Water crystals began to freeze and attach to other crystals until the became heavy enough to fall to the earth. 

Snow. I almost cried it had been so long. 

January 9

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Steamboat Springs Lodging – Scott Rappold 

Unfortunately, we stayed up too late catching up over cocktails and rose slowly. By the time we got onto the gondola at 9:50 a.m., it looked like the 4 inches that fell overnight were tracked out. 

Steamboat is a massive resort, 2,695 acres, making it one of the largest ski areas in Colorado, so my cousin and I were still able to find plenty of powder stashes. She’s been coming here for years, while it was my first time, so she showed me around and I tried to learn the lay of the land. The sun was out, the snow was soft and I felt happy and content for the first time in many days. And for Floridians, she and her friends were pretty darn good skiers. 

Not wanting to wear out my welcome (and needing a more comfortable couch to sleep on) I headed for my friend’s house, where we talked and laughed and enjoyed too many beers and watched the next wave of snow move in. 

January 10 

Not wanting to risk missing the fresh powder, I woke up early instead of getting extra sleep like the day before. (Not that I didn’t stay up late enjoying cocktails with my friend. I just got less sleep than the night before.) 

I was somewhat disappointed. The snow report said only 6 inches and the snow in town had stopped. 

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Steamboat Springs

Chasing powder can be a crapshoot. You win some and you lose some and I decided it would be fun to ski anything fresh after the dry spell I had weathered. So we made for first chair, hopping on only a few minutes after the lifts started. 

Then came the surprise: It was still dumping. It was pounding snow, nuking snow. On my very first turn of my very first run, I knew all the effort and money and strain on my marriage was worth it. Steamboat is where they coined the phrase “champagne powder,” and it was indeed some of the lightest and fluffiest snow I had ever skied. And it was deep, waist-deep in spots. 

I let my friend guide me around. When the named runs were tracked out we made for the trees. When the trees were tracked out we hiked. I heard from several locals it was the best day of the season so far. 

I love it when a plan comes together. 

January 11

It was time for me to head home since the house was crowded and more guests were coming. Plus I could barely walk after skiing 30,000 vertical feet. 

I thanked my friend and repaid him for the hospitality by shoveling his driveway (not to mention buying most of the beer during my stay.) It was snowing heavily on the mountain with more on the way, but it was time to go home.

Plus, snow was on the way. The wind had switched directions and was coming from the southwest, which happens to favor southern Colorado. So I drove right past Copper Mountain, despite the fact it was snowing heavily, and Monarch Mountain too. 

Chasing powder is a crapshoot like I said. Would I come up lucky? 

January 12

As I woke up in my own bed, the Wolf Creek snow report said 1 inch. Better than nothing, I decided, and dragged myself out of bed. As it turned out, the snow was just getting going. The report was 5 inches by lunchtime and it kept coming. Of course, after such a long dry spell, there was crunchy snow underneath, but it was disappearing fast and I was just glad to see flakes back in the sky here. 

Traveling is nice, but there’s nothing like skiing your own mountain, where you know the terrain and the people and know you get to sleep in your own bed that night. 

Then came the next surprise. 

January 13 

I got up early, as usual, to a snow report of 5 inches overnight. Not a huge powder day, but on top of the previous day’s total, I knew it would be fun. 

I helped my wife get off to work (behind every great ski bum is someone earning a steady paycheck) and raced up to the mountain. The forecast called for up to 12 inches so I grabbed my powder skis. 

It was snowing hard as if two weeks’ worth of powder pleas by us locals had risen into the atmosphere and burst as snow. By mid-morning, the snow report was 14 inches. By late afternoon it was 19 inches. That made my local hill the snowiest ski area in Colorado (or, for that matter, Utah.) 

It was one of the best days of the season, every turn blinding and choking you with snow, which for powder lovers is a good problem to have. “Hero snow,” someone called it because you can turn so effortlessly any skier can feel like a hero as long as you don’t fall and get buried. It kept dumping so hard the morning’s tracks were covered after lunch. 

I will be going back tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. Because I thought of a way to end this story: 

“I wish I had worked more,” said nobody on their death bed ever. 

Scott Rappold

R. Scott Rappold is a journalist with more than 20 years of experience, including 10 at The Colorado Springs Gazette, where he wrote about skiing, hiking, camping and all the things that make Colorado great. He is now a full-time ski bum who writes when he needs money for beer or lift tickets. He lives in Colorado’s beautiful San Luis Valley. Read more of Scott’s stories here

Sweet Sensations – Where To Get Your Sugar Fix at Copper, Winterpark and Aspen

Camp Hale Coffee - Copper Mountain

Copper sugarlips
Suglarlips – Copper Mountain 

Tiny handcrafted donuts, incendiary hot cocoa, and nostalgic candy: Here’s where to get your sugar fix in Aspen, Winter Park and Copper.

Aspen

Fluffy Pow, Fluffy Pancakes

Some businesses in ski country threaten to shut down on powder days, a boon for their employees. But here’s an even better twist on the eight-inch rule: When it dumps more than eight inches overnight, the  Powder Pancakes program kicks in at all four mountains at Aspen-Snowmass. New this season, on big powder days, skiers and riders can fuel up on a hot stack of free pancakes at designated area restaurants. Powder Pancakes will be on offer from 10 to 11 a.m., anytime it the snow stake measures 8 inches or more overnight. 

The official Powder Pancake restaurants are Elk Camp Restaurant at Snowmass, The Sundeck at Aspen Mountain, Merry-Go-Round at Aspen Highlands, and Bumps Buttermilk. 

All Fired Up 

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Aspen Fire 

The Hotel Jerome is offering a new indulgent take on cocoa called Ice & Fire hot chocolate, and it’s served, with fanfare, in the hotel’s Living Room. To make the rich creamy drink, baristas pour homemade hot chocolate in a cup and top it with a hand-crafted marshmallow and a scoop of house-made sorbet. O.F.T.D. over-proofed rum is warmed in a Turkish coffee pot. At the table, the rum is set on fire and poured on top of the hot chocolate. Once the flame is out, the concoction is then mixed together and a dusting of cinnamon on top makes it sparkle just so. You’ll never drink Swiss Miss again. 

Pop-Up Sweet Shop and a Killer Dessert Menu

Beginning January 23, Hotel Jerome will also host a week-long pop-up shop in The Library with Baked, a classic American bakery with outposts in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Tokyo. After the pop-up week, the hotel will continue to carry the sweet treats for the remainder of the season. And be sure to look for the Sweet Vice menu at The Jerome’s Bad Harriet, which will go live this month with a lineup of decadent desserts. The Diablo Cupcake Trio features Mocha-Espresso & Sambuca, Double Chocolate Chunk & Death’s Door Wondermint Schnapps, and Sticky Toffee & Bailey Irish Cream.

Calling All Cookie Monsters

At Meat & Cheese, in addition to the meat & cheese board, the pâté board, and the biscuit board, you’ll find the eatery’s popular cookie board. Cookie options rotate daily, and the sweet treats are paired with vanilla milk. 

Not Just for Camping

I long-standing tradition in Aspen, guests at St. Regis Aspen Resort are treated to complimentary fireside s’mores in the hotel’s Fountain Courtyard daily from 4 to  5 p.m. 

Winter Park 

Candy as Carrot

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Treeline Treats – Winter Park 

A stop into Treeline Treats at Winter Park is the carrot I dangle with my daughter so she’ll ski a few more runs. Treeline Treats has bulk bins of Swedish Fish, Gummi Bears, sour rainbow stripes, and nostalgic candy like gumballs and jawbreakers. At $6.50 for a half-pound, you can get a decent-size baggie of candy for only a couple bucks. (Use your Winter Park or Ikon Pass for a discount.) Kids can whisper to a pal across the shop through a series of colored pipes that carry sound. Try a box of Bean Boozled, one of the shop’s top sellers. The box comes with a spinner that dictates the flavor of jelly beans you must eat. Hope for the “toasted marshmallow” jelly bean, but be prepared to endure “stinky socks” or “spoiled milk.” 

Winter Waffology

Peter Creyf and Ingrid Heyrman started selling waffles out of a pushcart in Boston’s Quincy Market in 1998. A lightbulb went off somewhere, and the duo approached ski areas with their breakfast turned grab-and-go concept. Turns out, skiers and riders like waffles. 

Winter Park has three Waffle Cabins, one in the village between the Burton and Columbia shops, a second at the base near the Gemini lift, and a third that’s on-mountain at the base of the Looking Glass and Olympia Express lifts. The cabins serve up Liège-style Belgian Sugar Waffles with the option of drizzling Belgian chocolate on top. It’s a portable sweet and buttery snack to keep you going on the slopes or as an après treat. 

Pop-Up Shop

At Winter Park’s City Pop, choose from vats of cotton candy, rows of truffles, or an assortment of gourmet flavored popcorn. You’ll find standbys like White Cheddar and Kettle Corn, but don’t leave without sampling the Dill Pickle Popcorn. It’s sort of a love-it or hate-it flavor. Not to be missed is the giant hand-crafted peanut butter and caramel-filled chocolate cups. Reece’s cannot compare.

On the Way Home

On the other side of Berthoud Pass from Winter Park—on the way home for many Winter Park skiers and riders—Empire is the perfect place for a high-calorie pitstop. The Dairy King has soft-serve ice cream, and across the street, the eclectic Lewis Sweet Shop, an Empire institution for 70 years, has candy and ice cream but also deep-fried everything. Deep-fried pickles, okra, green beans, and even deep-fried mac ‘n’ cheese.

Copper Mountain

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Camp Hale – Copper Mountain 

Pop-Up Shop (Part II) 

Relatively new to Copper’s village is City Pop (see above; the chain is in Winter Park, too), perched in a rustic cabin-like building overlooking West Lake. The hand-crafted gourmet popcorn comes in 70 inventive flavors from s’mores to peppermint bark to butterscotch. 

New Pastry Chef

Thomas Janusz, who trained at Le Cordon Blue College of the Culinary Arts in Chicago, is the new pastry chef at Copper Mountain, and he’s cranking out a delicious assortment of freshly made pastries and sweet treats each morning at the Camp Hale Coffee & Wine Bar in Center Village. Janusz recommends the mocha cake. “It’s my rendition of the classic French Opera cake, which is one of the first “pastries” I learned how to make,” he says. The cake is made up of three layers of almond sponge soaked with coffee and simple syrup, with layers of coffee French-style buttercream and whipped chocolate ganache, all topped with a chocolate glaze. “It has remained my favorite for now for over 20 years, Janusz says. Grab a latte and a delectable goodie from Camp Hale’s pastry case to start your day—or a slab of French Opera cake and a glass of wine to cap the day. 

Fresh and Hot
Locally owned Sugar Lips Mini Donuts is a Copper Mountain institution. It’s located in a small log cabin with turquoise trim on the windows at the top of West Lake (look for the ice skaters). The delightful tiny donuts are made to order, served piping hot and dusted with toppings like cinnamon sugar. Sugar Lips also has ice cream and coffee drinks. 

Mountain Top Cookies and Crepe Stand

Locally owned and operated, Mountaintop serves up cookies, ice cream, candies, and crepes. Try the dipped cookies or a crepe with Nutella and strawberry. Gluten-free options are available. 

Helen Olsson is the author of The Down & Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids. She blogs about outdoor adventures with kids at maddogmom.com. Read more of Helen’s stories here.

Join In on the Fun at Copper Mountain’s Safety Fest

Copper Mountain - Curtis DeVore

1-19-19 (03) Safety Fest Curtis DeVore copyFlight For Life – Copper Mountain – Curtis DeVore 

Mark your calendars once again for the largest and most fun safety event of the season at Copper Mountain’s 11th annual Safety Fest presented by Nokian Tyres Jan. 18-19. As part of the National Ski Area Association’s (NSAA) Safety Awareness Month, Copper Mountain welcomes skiers, snowboarders and winter enthusiasts to a weekend of education, prizes and more.

From Saturday, Jan. 18 to Sunday, Jan. 19, Eagles Landing in Copper’s Center Village will transform into Safety Village with Nokian Tyres, Woodward Copper, US Forest Service, Summit Huts Association, ThinkFirst-St. Anthony, CMC Snow Science Program  and many more partners on hand to provide information about slope safety, winter driving, backcountry awareness and Copper’s safety initiatives.

In addition to the Safety Village open from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. each day, a variety of activities are scheduled throughout the weekend:

  • Nokian Tyres Green Tire Giveaway: Win a set of Nokian Tyres on Saturday by following along on Copper’s Instagram or Facebook stories as clues are shared on where the green tire may be hidden on the mountain. 
  • Flight for Life helicopter tour: At 10 a.m. on Saturday, meet the pilot and medics at the top of the Excelerator lift outside Patrol Headquarters and get a tour of Copper’s air-transport helicopter. 
  • Copper Avalanche Dogs in action: On Saturday and Sunday, watch Fido search and find a buried avalanche victim.  Takes place at 11 a.m. in Center Village and 12:30 p.m. in West Village.
  • Avalanche Airbag Demonstration: At 2 p.m. each day, meet at the CMC Snow Science booth in the Safety Village to watch an avalanche airbag demonstration.
  • Close the mountain with Ski Patrol:  Ever wonder how ski patrol “sweeps” and closes the mountain? Sign up at the Junior Ski Patrol booth and spend the afternoon clearing the slopes with the professionals.
  • Daily raffle prize giveaways: Guests who visit each safety tent will be entered into a daily prize drawing at 3:30 p.m. in Burning Stones Plaza. Top prizes include 2 nights lodging, season pass, parking passes, tubing,  ski tunes, helmets, restaurant gift cards and more.
  • Free hot cocoa: stop by Timberline Ski Patrol during the month of January. Get some insider tips from ski patrol as you sip your cocoa!
  • New Tobaggan Races:  Guest toboggan races at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. in Eagles Landing. Grab a friend and see who can be the fastest pulling their friend across the snow for prizes. 

For a full schedule of activities and events as part of Safety Fest, visit coppercolorado.com.

About Copper Mountain:

Located just 75 miles west of Denver, Colo. in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Copper Mountain Resort is an ideal vacation destination with a laid-back and inclusive vibe that represents the best of Colorado. Three pedestrian-friendly village areas provide a vibrant atmosphere with lodging, retail outlets, restaurants, bars and family activities. During the winter months, Copper’s naturally-divided terrain offers world-class skiing and riding for all ages and abilities. Each summer, the mountain transforms into an unspoiled playground for hikers, mountain bikers and those seeking a genuine Colorado experience. Copper Mountain Resort boasts curated events year-round and is home toWoodward Copper – a lifestyle and action sports progression center. Copper Mountain is part of thePOWDR Adventure Lifestyle Co. portfolio, a family-owned company that believes there is nothing better for your soul than to spend time with the people you love, doing the things you love