Fall and the first tastes of winter continue to duke it out across North America. With occasional bursts of cold and spurts of snow continuing in this week’s forecast, it’s a reminder that winter, truly, is not far away.
When visiting a ski resort for the first time, most people check out the trail map to plan their day. But whereas 30 years ago it was a paper map, today it is likely to be on a smartphone or computer.
Colorado’s mountain resorts roll out the fun carpet during the summer, especially for families with children. Base areas abound with entertainment for the younger set, while most resorts put kids on the mountain for outdoors activities, like mountain biking and tubing.
Choose a mini-bowl to ski at Sun Valley. (Sun Valley/Facebook)
Few experiences on a mountain rival pushing off down a massive alpine bowl, with nothing in your way and infinite lines to follow. And the Rocky Mountain resorts have many to choose from.
The whiskey is lined up in Park City. (High West/Facebook)
Catching a cocktail after a long day on the slopes has been a winter tradition since the beginning and, recently, the distillers are making the good stuff right at the resorts.
Ready to go after landing in Aspen. (Aspen-Pitkin County Airport/Facebook)
This season, it will be easier than ever to hop on a plane and head for where the powder is freshest in Colorado.
Vail Resorts is working to keep Northstar snowy. (Vail Resorts/Facebook)
Vail Resorts will aggressively pursue a comprehensive sustainability commitment, called “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint.” This undertaking commits to zero net emissions by 2030, zero waste to landfill by 2030 and zero net operating impact to forests and habitat.
Hangin' on at Snowbird coaster. (Snowbird/Facebook)
As summer hits its full stride across the West, mountain resorts put their hot-weather activities front and center – including a plethora of mountain coasters that rush down trails and slopes.
Hit Mary Jane up for more spring. (Winter Park/Facebook)
Just when Colorado resorts prepare to shut down winter operations, snow storms roll into the Rockies -- and forcing a trio of mountains to keep their lifts running longer than scheduled.
Resorts still open in the Centennial State report more than a foot of snow since the beginning of April – with some adding two feet or more. While temps warmed unseasonably in March, they cooled significantly once April arrived to not only produce new snow but also slow the annual slushing-up during the spring skiing period.
Vail has announced it will a week longer to April 17, due to two feet that have fallen in recent days. The majority of the front side of the mountain – plus Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls – will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ski school will run private lessons only.
Over the hill at Aspen Mountain, diminishing snowfall in March – 30 inches total – made the scheduled closing date of April 16 realistic; however, another 17 inches in the first week of the month pushed the shutdown to April 23.
Operating hours will shift to 10 a.m.-5 p.m. to take allow slopes to warm up in the morning and to take advantage of longer days – unless a powder day shows up and lifts crank up at 9 a.m.
Top-to-bottom skiing will be served by Silver Queen Gondola, Ajax Express, FIS and Ruthie's lifts.
While the bulk of Winter Park closes on April 23, the bumps of Mary Jane will be ready for spring skiing and riding until April 30.
A family heads down Village Way (Winter Park Resort/Chris Wellhausen)
Sometimes, you just want to get onto a trail and just go … and go … and go. Fortunately, U.S. ski and snowboard resorts have just the ticket for those who need a leisurely slide down the hill.
Obviously, Europe has us beat hands down, but the U.S. has got length, too. So SnoCountry.com went looking for the longest ski runs in the country -- those under a single name -- and came up with this sampling.
Vail boasts the longest run in Colorado, its famous Riva Ridge trail. Nothing gets you from top to bottom at the Colorado resort more readily than Riva Ridge. It’s mostly blue and black, starting near the summit and winding 4-1/2 miles to the Vail Village base area.
At Snowmass, if you’re at the top of Elk Camp and want a long cruiser at the end of the day, skiers and riders can link several blue runs off Elk Camp summit into a 5.3-mile cruiser to the bottom of Two Creeks chairlift. The run covers East Branch run, which is one of the longest single-named trails on the Colorado mountain.
If you’re at the top of Winter Park and don’t have the legs for anymore blacks or blues, as someone how to get on long and languid Village Way run that starts at the top of Parsenn Bowl. Mostly blue at the top, Village Way winds down more than five miles down onto the main front side of the Colorado resort.
Vermont’s largest resort Killington also claims the East’s longest single run, a 10-mile cruise called Juggernaut. The trail starts at the top of Killington Peak and courses right along the ropes at ski area boundary. Rating begins as a blue but transitions to a green slide to the base of the Sunrise Village triple chair. A recent trip by SnoCountry resulted in a 45-minute trip from top to bottom.