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.
Once there was a time when you reached age 60, you'd skied for free. Then you had to be 70. And now, at a half-dozen Western resorts, 80 is the new 60.
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.
Gettin' to the ridge is top priority at Silverton. (Silverton/Facebook)
You’d expect the offseason around Silverton Mountain to be more about tourist trains, wilderness backpacking and RV touring than on-the-snow news. But the summer of 2017 has been busy time for the powder-only ski and snowboard area tucked into a crease of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.
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.
Winter’s cold is loosening its grip on the Rockies as the sun stays in the sky longer, and skiers and snowboarders begin to shed a few layers of clothing. The coming of March also means it’s time to party in the out-of-doors at Colorado resorts.
Quite clearly, the future of the ski and snowboard industry will rely upon a younger generation that wants to get onto the slopes and trails at a winter resort.
More than a few people likely called in sick with the powder flu in and around Salt Lake City this week as a couple of feet of powder fell on the Wasatch – and quickly.
Many a Colorado skier or snowboarder first learned to carve it up at one of the smaller mountain resorts around the state. Carrying on this tradition, these “local hills” offer multi-day clinics for kids who are beyond the beginner stage and want to get better … fast.
Getting young skiers and snowboarders onto the slopes is a key to the future health of U.S. winter resorts – and why you see so many Kids Ski Free deals.
Many season passes add extra value through discounted rentals, food, ski shop apparel, and other perks, but several Heartland season passes also include alliances with western and eastern ski resorts. Check them out. There are some good benefits if you’re planning a ski vacation outside the Midwest this winter.
More than 6.4 million skiers and snowboarders flocked to the slopes of Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) member resorts for the 2012-13 season.
Following a slow, dry start to the season, the Pacific moisture express has arrived in Colorado, dropping fresh inches of fluffy powder at locations across the state.