Tucked in among the mega-resorts of the Colorado Rockies you can find a 10-pack of lesser-known mountains that bring skiing and riding to their local communities -- and a taste of the sport's history in the Centennial State.
Here we go again! The second strong, early-winter storm has moved across the Rocky Mountain range in the western United States and Canada.
The morning dawns clear and cold, the eastern sunrise kissing the peaks on the Continental Divide. Up at Eldora ski area, Travis Brock has already been awake for hours. He’s the first cog in the highly professional machine that is one of the most important interfaces between the behind-the-scenes operations that make Eldora run and the more public positions of the resort. If Brock feels the pressure, he doesn’t show it. He’s got a mountain to open and it’s a holiday weekend. Time to rock and roll.
Here comes a nice taste of cold weather for many of us! Some resorts sit in just the right spot for heavy snow accumulations.
Copper to cut season pass price for next season. (Copper Mountain/Facebook)
The season pass battles are officially on for 2018-2019, and Copper Mountain has fired its salvo with an early-season pass priced about 25 percent lower than this season's top price.
All New Mexico resorts have discounted lessons. (Ski New Mexico/Facebook)
Ski and snowboard resorts all want more people on the slopes, and one way is to introduce newcomers to the sport.
First high-speed will get skiers and riders on slopes fast. (Eldora Mountain/Facebook)
The first high-speed chairlift on Eldora Mountain will debut this season, as the Colorado commuter mountain settles in under new ownership.
Selected days at Wolfie mean deep stuff on the cheap. (Wolf Creek Ski Area)
Going to college has many benefits for one’s future, but one perk for the present is a discount on season passes at Colorado ski resorts.
Kayak racing at Monarch (Monarch/Facebook)
As the end of another season is in sight, Colorado skiers and snowboarders go a little crazy knowing that they will soon have to find another way to fulfill their mountain jones. Such anxiety translates into a number of wacky spring traditions.
Beyond pond skimming and beer guzzlin', SnoCountry took a look around the high country of the Centennial State and came up with a sampling of the off-beat, unconventional ways to celebrate both the end of the season and the beginning of spring.
Eldora. Denver's neighborhood mountain has made a habit of returning to its roots every spring. The annual Eldora Retro Days kick off April 1-2 with folks digging through their closets for throwback skiing outfits – “onesie” powder suits, neon headbands, ski bibs, outrageous sunglasses. The resort is set to close the next weekend, and retro gear dominates the final week.
Monarch. The southern Colorado mountain combines its vernal celebration with the upcoming river boating season on the Arkansas River with its annual Kayaks on Snow race April 15. Adventurous paddlers navigate berms, banks and bumps before splashing into the traditional icy pond. The next day, April 16, is the last day of the season with a sendoff cookoff and tailgate party in the parking lot.
Loveland. At a mountain that doesn't plan to close until May, the party begins a month early with the "world's highest cornhole competition" April 1. Skiers and riders will form two-person teams and ride up Chair 1 to the Continental Divide. From there, they will toss bean bags into a hole at 12,700 feet – on hopes of setting a Guinness World Record for the activity.
Aspen Highlands. April 9 is closing day and, to finish off the season, the ninth annual Schneetag race goes full bore. Four-man teams build a "craft" that will slide down the main slope and across a small pond at the bottom. At the top, they perform a skit to exemplify the theme of their craft. Winners choose from a list of prizes.
Cut into the powder at Sunlight with discounts from Gems Card (Sunlight/Facebook)
For many years, a regular in the wallet of Colorado skiers and snowboarders has been the Colorado Gems Card – providing discount lift tickets at the state’s less glamorous mountains.
Before Epic, before Mountain Collective, before the M.A.X. Pass, there was the $25 Gems Card that gave skiers and riders deals on day tickets at eight off-the-beaten-track resorts – what some may call “smaller” areas but many see as more nostalgic and authentic. Among Gems resorts, only Loveland Ski Area sits on busy I-70, and it’s always been known as a locals’ mountain.
In hopes of attracting more folks to these hidden “gems” this season, Colorado Ski Country USA has increased the discounts on the card.
To wit: Previously, the Gems Card got its holder two-for-one tickets at Arapahoe Basin, Ski Cooper, Eldora Mountain Resort, Loveland Ski Area, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn Resort, Ski Granby Ranch and Sunlight Mountain Resort. In 2016-2017, the card holder can get the same deal twice at these resorts, plus 30 percent off day ticket twice during the season. Or, the holder can get one of each deal at all resorts.
The card costs $25 and can only be purchased online. There is a limit to the number sold, and photo ID is required when presented at a ticket window. Blackout dates are Dec. 18 to Jan. 3.
“The Gems card has been instrumental for savvy skiers looking for the best value, increased flexibility and access to more of our resorts all over Colorado,” said Colorado Ski Country USA President and CEO Melanie Mills.
The Christmas-New Years season at Colorado ski and snowboard resorts definitively says that winter is here for good, punctuated by traditional torchlight runs down the slopes, fireworks, Santa appearances and much more.
The old adage has held true this winter,: The more things change, the more they stay the same. So it is with the snow forecasts for this week across SnoCountry, as a persistent jet stream and high pressure ridge keeps any precipitation to the far north.