Hoppin' a ride on a snowcat to get off the piste and into the powder stashes of the backcountry is a popular pastime at Colorado resorts. But this season, there are fewer options than normal.
Colorado resort officials acknowledge that brainstorming for the 2020-21 season has stretched their minds more than ever. With Epic and Ikon pass protocols in place, the more independent mountains are rolling out their plans.
The effect of the coronavirus has rippled across the U.S., and the domestic ski and snowboard industry is no exception.
As all but a handful of U.S. resorts either suspend operations or shut down for the season, a number of them still permit skiers and riders to climb their slopes and get a few turns.
The first major snowfall in the southern tier of the Rocky Mountains brings welcome coverage to resorts in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and southern Colorado – just in time.
Though the weather has been slow to cooperate, summer is indeed coming to the Colorado Rockies – and with it, tons of recreational diversions for all to enjoy.
Pond skimming. Easter egg hunts. Crazy costume contests. Bands, BBQ and beer. And layers of sunscreen and lip balm.
With a boffo snow year all across the nation, the multi-resort season passes earned their keep in 2018-2019 as skiers and riders hop-scotched around. Now, those same passes are up for sale for next season.
First it was Tahoe, where a record-breaking February prompted most resorts to extend their seasons deeper into the spring. Now it's March, and it's Colorado's turn.
A number of double-digit snowfalls coursed across Colorado in early November, giving four resorts in Colorado and one in Utah a chance to open early.
Call it Epic-Lite or Ikon 2.0, but the southern Colorado-based Power Pass has taken off around the country, into Canada and across the seas.
Colorado ski and snowboard resorts took a short break after winter, but they quickly turned their attention to the burgeoning summer season – full of hikes and bikes and thrills of all kinds.
Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico plans to open December 8 and could get fresh snow just in time. (Angel Fire)
As December begins, some may have wondered, ‘Where is the snow?’ Well, there is some good news ahead for some fresh powder this week.
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.
Snow everywhere you look around Lake Tahoe these days. (Heavenly/Facebook)
Ah, just like the old days … The trio of Pacific storms that recently slammed into the Sierra left behind record snow depths and wind speeds as high as 100 mph and forced nearly a dozen Lake Tahoe resorts to shut down their lifts.
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.
April will be the cruelest month for skiers and snowboarders who want to stay on the slopes but must stand down as Colorado resorts begin to shutter for the season. But there's still plenty of sliding' and riding' left.