Where do you ski in Colorado? If you’re like many of us, you have a home resort that you return to year after year, week after week and day after day. Or maybe you come out to Colorado for a week or two each season and enjoy returning to the same resort.
Either way, you love your ski resort. You know every run, every roller and every glade. You know where to farm powder, but you’ll never divulge the locale. You’re plugged into the best pass and lift ticket deals and you’ve got your favorite spots for everything from sandwiches to sushi. If you’ve got kids, they’ve grown up skiing at this resort. It’s their second home.
So why would you try some place new?
1. Adventure: Going somewhere new is an adventure. It is fulfilling to learn a new mountain and try different terrain. But if you are looking to push the boundaries, check out the sidecountry adjacent to many resorts. Wolf Creek has both intermediate and advanced hike-to terrain, most of which can be reached in less than 15 minutes.
Crested Butte’s Outer Limits are known for testing the best on the World Freeskiing Tour, but when the powder is deep they are remarkably forgiving. Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands is our family’s favorite. Each year, as our sons grow taller the hike gets easier, and the skiing continues to be sublime. Highland’s sister mountains, Aspen and Snowmass offer their own adventures, from the Mine Dumps to Hanging Valley. Over at Buttermilk, the Winter X Games are an adventure unto themselves.
If cat skiing interests you, Ski Cooper and Monarch open their remote terrain to limited numbers for day-long tours. On weekends, Copper Mountain runs a free snow cat to Tucker Mountain on a first-come/first-served basis. Then, there is Silverton Mountain. Silverton has only one chairlift, no groomed runs and no cut trails. Guides lead you and your group to the best lines and snow and the adventure begins.
2. Challenge: While adventure and challenge often go hand-in-hand, I believe that challenge can also mean pushing yourself to learn something new.
If you’re an alpine skier, challenge might mean freeing your heels in a telemark clinic at Loveland and finding new challenges on those long by-passed green and blue slopes. Or, you might take a ski biking lesson at Winter Park or Durango. All Colorado resorts have excellent ski schools, but for the newest skiers, Ski Granby Ranch is an excellent choice with small classes, a family centered vibe and terrain that is perfect for learning.
If your brand of challenge involves competing, check out Eldora’s Nighthawks racing series. On six consecutive Wednesday nights, you can compete in downhill, telemark, snowboard, classic cross-country, skate cross-country and snowshoe events. At the Vail Resorts (Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge) try the new EpicMix racing program. Complete ten races and if you’re among the fastest at any of the resorts, you’ll be invited to ski with Lindsey Vonn in April at Beaver Creek.
3. Abundance: We are blessed in Colorado with an abundance of choice. With more than two dozen ski resorts, endless backcountry terrain and non-stop alpine beauty, you can travel the state all winter long and visit a different resort each weekend. While it will take some time to drive from Denver to Telluride, for example, make the journey a special occasion. You’ll never forget the skiing, the scenery or the town. And you’ll probably come back again next season.
Seek Out Values
Exploring new resorts doesn’t have to break the bank. Pick up a Colorado Ski Country Gems card for $10 and receive discounts at eight smaller mountains, including close-in favorite Arapahoe Basin and the western slope delights of Sunlight and Powderhorn.
If you’ve got children (or grandchildren) ages 12 and under, and you’re planning a week-long vacation, look into Steamboat’s Kids Ski Free program. Keystone has just launched a similar program for guests staying 2 or more nights in Keystone lodging.
Finally, if you are in Steamboat, make sure to check out the night skiing at Howelsen Hill. The oldest operating ski area in Colorado, Howelsen was founded in 1913. Since then, 79 Olympians have trained their way to excellence on its slopes and ski jumps.
Portions of this post originally published at Club Colorado, the Colorado Ski Country USA blog.
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