Ski Colorado guide: Updates from resorts in the Rocky Mountain state

A skier takes on big powder at Crested Butte. (Crested Butte Mountain Resort photo)

A skier takes on big powder at Crested Butte. (Crested Butte Mountain Resort photo)

Compiled by Vickie Heath
The Denver Post

Where resorts have announced their single-day lift-ticket pricing, it is included. When not yet released, last year’s prices are offered for comparison purposes.

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Season:
Open now through early June.
Information: 888-272-7246; arapahoe basin.com
Terrain: 960 acres. 23 percent expert; 37 percent advanced; 30 percent intermediate; 10 percent beginner. 110 trails, 2 terrain parks.
Summit: 13,050 feet. Base: 10,780 feet. Vertical: 2,270 feet. Longest run: 1.5 miles.
Lifts: 1 high-speed quad; 1 quad; 1 triple; 3 doubles; 2 conveyors.
Lift tickets: Adult full-day, $67 (through Dec. 20), $87 (Dec. 21-Jan. 5), $82 (Jan. 6-April 27); youth (ages 15-18) $55 (through Dec. 20), $72 (Dec. 21-Jan. 5), $67 (Jan. 6-April 27); child (ages 6-14) $32 (through Dec. 20), $45 (Dec. 21-Jan. 5), $40 (Jan. 6-April 27); $25 allseason for seniors 70+; children 14 and under ski free Dec. 1-20; children 5 and under ski free all season. Season packages available, see website.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. (Black Mountain Express and Pallavicini lifts open 8:30 a.m. weekends and holidays).
Located: 68 miles from Denver, either via Interstate 70 west to Silverthorne (Exit 205), then 12 miles east on U.S. 6, or I-70 west to Loveland Pass (Exit 216), then 8 miles west on U.S. 6.

Aspen Highlands
Season:
Dec. 14-April 13
Information: 800-525-6200; aspensnowmass.com/aspen-highlands
Terrain: 1,040 acres. 36 percent expert; 16 percent advanced; 30 percent intermediate; 18 beginner. 122 trails, no terrain park. Summit: 11,675 feet. Base: 8,040 feet. Vertical: 3,635 feet. Longest run: 3.5 miles.
Lifts: 3 high-speed quads, 2 triples.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $117 (last year’s price) 
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located:
200 miles from Denver via I-70 and Colorado 82.

Aspen Mountain
Season:
Nov. 28-April 20
Information: 800-525-6200; aspensnowmass.com/aspen-mountain
Terrain: 675 acres. 26 percent expert; 26 percent advanced; 48 percent intermediate; no beginner. 76 trails, no terrain park. Summit: 11,212 feet. Base: 7,945 feet. Vertical: 3,267 feet. Longest run: 3 miles.
Lifts: 1 gondola; 1 high-speed quad; 1 high-speed double; 2 quads; 3 doubles.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $117 (last year’s price)
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily
Located: 200 miles from Denver via I-70 and Colorado 82.

Beaver Creek
Season: Nov. 27-April 20
Information: 877-204-7883; beavercreek .com
Terrain: 1,832 acres. 39 percent expert; 42 percent intermediate; 19 percent beginner. 150 trails, 3 terrain parks. Summit: 11,440 feet. Base: 8,100 feet. Vertical: 3,340 feet. Longest run: 2.75 miles.
Lifts: 2 gondolas, 11 high-speed quads; 1 triple; 2 doubles; 9 surface/conveyors.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $129 (last year’s price). Multiday tickets prices vary and are available on the website. Best deal: Epic Pass (epicpass.com)
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily (Hours extend over the season.)
Located: 120 miles west of Denver via I-70, to Avon (Exit 167). Enter roundabout, continue left going back under I-70. Go through four more roundabouts until the entrance to Beaver Creek.

Breckenridge Ski Resort
Season: Nov. 8-April 20
Information: 970-453-5000, 800-789-7669, breckenridge.com
Terrain: 2,908 acres. 36 percent expert; 19 percent advanced; 31 percent intermediate; 14 percent beginner. 187 trails, 4 terrain parks (25 acres), 1 superpipe. Summit: 12,998 feet. Base: 9,600 feet. Vertical: 3,398 feet. Longest run: 3.5 miles.
Lifts: 1 eight-person gondola; 3 high-speed six-persons; 8 high-speed quads; 1 triple; 6 doubles; 4 surface; 8 carpets.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $99 (last year’s price). Discounts and multiday tickets prices vary and are available on the website. Lowest price guarantee with 7-day advance purchase.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily early season, 8 a.m-4 p.m. regular season.
Located: 90 miles from Denver via I-70 west to Exit 203. Continue south on Colorado 9 to Breckenridge.

Buttermilk Mountain
Season:
Dec. 14-April 6
Information: 800-525-6200; aspensnowmass.com/buttermilk
Terrain: 470 acres. 26 percent advanced; 39 percent intermediate; 35 percent beginner. 44 trails, 2 terrain parks. Summit: 9,900 feet. Base: 7,870 feet. Vertical: 2,030 feet. Longest run: 3 miles.
Lifts: 3 high-speed quads, 1 double, 2 handle tows, 2 ski/snowboard school lifts.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $117 (last year’s price)
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located: 200 miles from Denver via I-70 and Colorado 82.

Copper Mountain
Season:
Nov. 1-April 20
Information: 866-841-2481; coppercolorado.com
Terrain: 2,465 acres. 18 percent expert; 36 percent advanced; 25 percent intermediate; 21 percent beginner. 140+ trails. Summit: 12,313 feet. Base: 9,712 feet. Vertical: 2,601 feet. Longest run: 2.8 miles.
Lifts: 1 high-speed six-person; 5 high-speed quads; 5 triples; 4 doubles; 8 surface and conveyor lifts.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $109 (last year’s price). Visit CopperColorado.com for discounts and multiday prices.
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday (base lifts until 4 p.m.); 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, holidays (base lifts until 4 p.m.)
Located: 75 miles from Denver via I-70 west at Exit 195.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Season:
Nov. 27-April 6
Information: 800-600-2803; skicb.com
Terrain: 1,547 acres. 16 percent advanced; 58 percent intermediate; 26 percent beginner. 121 trails, 3 terrain parks plus a snowboard/skier cross course. Summit: 12,162 feet. Base: 9,375 feet. Vertical: overall 3,062 feet (includes hike to The Peak); lift served 2,775 feet. Longest run: 2.6 miles.
Lifts: 4 high-speed quads; 2 fixed-grip quads; 2 triples; 3 doubles; 2 surface; 2 carpets.
Lift tickets: Nov. 27-Dec. 13: Adult $59; youth 13-17, $53; child 7-12, $32; 65+, $47. Dec. 13-20, Jan. 6-March 6 and March 14-April 6: Adult $98; youth 13-17, $88; child 7-12, $54; 65+, $78; Dec. 21-Jan. 5: adult $101, youth 13-17, $91, child 7-12, $56, 65+, $81; March 8-15: Adult $98; youth 13-17, $88; child 7-12, $54; 65+, $78. Children 6 and under ski free all season. Discounted lift ticket packages available by calling 800-544-8448.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily (High Lift and East River Lift close at 3:30 p.m.; North Face Lift closes at 3 p.m.)
Located: 230 miles from Denver via U.S. 285, U.S. 50 and Colorado 135.

Eldora Mountain Resort
Season:
Nov. 22-mid-April
Information: 303-440-8700; eldora.com
Terrain: 680 acres. 30 percent advanced; 50 percent intermediate; 20 percent beginner. 53 trails, 3 terrain parks. Summit: 10,800 feet. Base: 9,200 feet. Vertical: 1,600 feet. Longest run: 3 miles.
Lifts: 2 quads; 2 triples; 4 doubles; 1 Poma; 2 conveyors.
Lift tickets: (last year’s pricing) Adult full-day $79; child 6-15, $45; senior 65-74, $42; Senior Silver 75+ and children 5 and under, $10; adult half-day (starts at 12:30 p.m.) $64.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located: 45 miles from Denver via I-25 north to U.S. 36 west. Head into Boulder, then take Canyon Boulevard (Colorado 119) west. Follow 119 to Nederland. Turn left at the roundabout. Continue south on 119 for 1 mile. Turn right on County Road 130 and follow signs to Eldora.

Howelsen Hill Ski Area
Season: Nov. 30-March 16 (conditions permitting)
Information: 970-879-8499; steamboatsprings.net/ski
Terrain: 50 acres. 10 percent expert; 40 percent advanced; 30 percent intermediate; 20 percent beginner. 15 trails, 1 terrain park. Summit: 7,136 feet. Base: 6,969 feet. Vertical: 440 feet. Longest run: 3,678 feet.
Lifts: 1 double; 1 Poma; 2 carpets.
Lift tickets: Adult full-day $20; youth 7-18 and senior 60+, $15; child 6 and under, $8. First Tracks Ticket (1-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday) $10; night ticket (5:30-8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 3:30-6 p.m. Tuesday and Friday) $10. Terrain park (no lift access) $10. One-way ticket $5. Nordic ticket (no lift) $13. All Access season pass: Adult $305, youth 7-18, $140; child 6 and under $50; 60+ $140. Alpine Only season pass: Adult $175, youth 7-18, $80; child 6 and under $35, 60+ $80. Nordic Only season pass: adult $150, youth 7-18, $80, child 6 and under $35, 60+ $80. Prices increase $30 each Dec. 1.
Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 1-6 p.m. Tuesday; 1-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 1-6 p.m. Friday. Closed Monday.
Located: 157 miles from Denver via I-70 west to Silverthorne (Exit 205). Then take Colorado 9 north 37 miles to Kremmling, then go west on U.S. 40 to Steamboat Springs (53 miles).

Keystone Resort
Season:
Nov. 1-April 20
Information: 970-496-4386; keystoneresort.com
Terrain: 3,148 acres. 57 percent expert/advanced; 29 percent intermediate; 14 percent beginner. 131 trails, 5 terrain parks. Summit: 12,408 feet. Base: 6,900 feet. Vertical: 3,128 feet. Longest run: 3.5 miles.
Lifts: 2 gondolas; 5 high-speed quads; 1 high-speed six-person; 1 quad; 1 triple; 3 doubles; 7 surface; 6 carpets.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $67-$114. One-day advance purchase. Multiday advanced purchase lift ticket rates available.
Hours: 8:30 a.m. (9 a.m. early season) and close at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. on night skiing evenings.
Located: 70 miles from Denver via I-70 west to Silverthorne (Exit 205). At the end of the exit ramp, turn left (east) at the stoplight onto U.S. 6. Go 6.2 miles into Keystone Resort.

Loveland Ski Area
Season:
Open now, through early May
Information: 303-571-5580, 800-736-3754, skiloveland.com
Terrain: 1,800 acres. 46 percent expert/advanced; 41 percent intermediate; 13 percent beginner. 93 trails, 1 terrain park. Summit: 13,010 feet. Base: 10,800 feet. Vertical: 2,210 feet. Longest run: 2 miles.
Lifts: 3 quads; 3 triples; 2 doubles; 1 Poma surface lift; 1 magic carpet surface lift (for ski school only).
Lift tickets: Early season pricing, through Dec. 13: adults $49, child 6-14, $25. Regular-season pricing, Dec. 14-April 13: adults $61, child 6-14, $27; child 5 and under free; 70+ season pass $89.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday and holidays.
Located: 53 miles from Denver via I-70 west at Exit 216.

Monarch Mountain
Season:
Weather permitting-April 13
Information: 888-996-7669; skimonarch.com
Terrain: 800 acres. 130 acres (16 percent) is hike-to terrain. The remaining 670 acres is 27 percent beginner, 30 percent more difficult, 43 percent most difficult. Hike-to terrain is 88 percent expert. 53 trails, 2 terrain parks. Summit: 11,952 feet. Base: 10,790 feet. Vertical: 1,162 feet. Longest run: 1 mile.
Lifts: 1 quad; 4 doubles; 1 surface lift; two conveyors for ski school.
Lift tickets: Adult $65; teens 13-15, $40; junior 7-12, $25; senior 62-68, $40; ages 6 and under and seniors 69+, free.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located: 157 miles from Denver via U.S. 285 and U.S. 50.

Powderhorn-Grand Mesa
Season:
Dec. 12-March 30 (could open earlier or stay open later, weather permitting)
Information: 970-268-5700; powderhorn.com
Terrain: 1,600 acres, 600 skiable. 30 percent advanced/ expert; 50 percent intermediate; 20 percent beginner. 63 trails, 2 terrain parks, 1 tubing hill. Summit: 9,850 feet. Base: 8,200 feet. Vertical: 1,650 feet. Longest run: 2.2 miles.
Lifts: 1 quad; 2 doubles; 2 surface.
Lift tickets: Adult full day $59; youth and senior $51.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located: 250 miles from Denver via I-70 west to Exit 49 south on Colorado 65. Go 20 miles on 65 and look for Powderhorn on your right.

Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort
Season:
Nov. 29-March 30 (extended season based on conditions)
Information: 970-247-9000; 800-525-0892; coloradoski.com/resorts/purgatory
Terrain: 1,360 acres. 35 percent expert/advanced; 45 percent intermediate; 20 percent beginner. 88 trails, 5 terrain parks. Summit: 10,822 feet. Base: 8,793 feet. Vertical: 2,029 feet.
Lifts: 1 high-speed six-person; 1 high-speed quad; 4 triples; 3 doubles; 1 magic carpet.
Lift tickets: Adult full-day $77; youth 13-17, $60; seniors 65-79, $66, super senior 80+, $30; child 6-12, $46.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located: 337 miles from Denver via US-285 South to US-160 West, to US-550 North.

Silverton Mountain
Season:
Dec. 21-April 13
Information: 970-387-5706; silvertonmountain.com
Terrain: 1,819 acres. 100 percent expert/advanced. 69 trails, 1 terrain park. Summit: 12,300 feet. Base: 10,400 feet. Vertical: 1,900 feet. Longest run: 1 mile. Plus heli skiing on more than 22,000 acres.
Lifts: 1 double.
Lift tickets: (regular season): Adult full-day $99-$139 guided; $49 unguided; all day guide (per person) includes lift ticket; $159 Heli Drops.
Hours: Vary; seasons go back and forth between guided and unguided. Call or visit website for schedule.
Located: 359 miles from Denver via I-70 to U.S. 50, to U.S. 550. Drive through the town of Silverton and turn left onto Colorado 110A for 7 miles.

Ski Granby Ranch
Season:
Dec. 11-April 6
Information: 888-850-4615; granby ranch.com
Terrain: 406 acres. 25 percent expert/advanced; 45 percent intermediate; 30 percent beginner. 41 trails, 6 terrain parks. Summit: 9,202 feet. Base: 8,202 feet. Vertical: 1,000 feet. Longest run: 1.5 miles. Night skiing 5-8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Jan. 3-April 5.
Lifts: 2 quads; 1 triple; 1 double; 1 surface.
Lift tickets: (regular season): Adult full-day $64; child 6-12 $44; senior 61-69 $49; kids 5 and under free, seniors 70+ $15.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located: 78 miles from Denver via I-70 to U.S. 40, Exit 232. Continue on U.S. 40 over Berthoud Pass, 15 miles north of Winter Park.

Ski Cooper
Season:
Dec. 14-April 6
Information: 719-486-3684, 800-707-6114; skicooper.com
Terrain: 400 acres. 30 percent expert/advanced; 40 percent intermediate; 30 percent beginner. 35 trails, 1 terrain park. Summit: 11,700 feet. Base: 10,500 feet. Vertical: 1,200 feet. 2,400 acres snow cat tour skiing on Chicago Ridge. Longest run: 1.4 miles.
Lifts: 1 triple; 1 double; 3 surface (including magic carpet surface lift).
Lift tickets: Adult full-day $47; child 6-14 $27; senior 60-69 $36; 70+ $24.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located: 110 miles from Denver via I-70 and U.S. 24.

Snowmass
Season: Nov. 28-April 20
Information: 800-525-6200; aspensnowmass.com/snowmass
Terrain: 3,332 acres. 30 percent expert; 17 percent advanced; 47 percent intermediate; 6 percent beginner. 94 trails, 3 terrain parks. Summit: 12,510 feet. Base: 8,104 feet. Vertical: 4,406 feet. Longest run: 5.3 miles.
Lifts: 1 eight-person gondola; 1 high-speed six-person; 1 six-person gondola; 7 high-speed quads; 2 quads; 3 doubles; 4 ski/snowboard school lifts (including carpets); 2 platter pulls.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $117 (last year’s price)
Hours: The Sky Cab opens at 8 a.m.; the Cirque lift opens at 10 a.m.; the Village Express opens at 8:30 a.m.; all other lifts open at 9 a.m. Last lift closes at 4 p.m. daily.
Located: 200 miles from Denver via I-70 and Colorado 82.

Steamboat Springs
Season: Nov. 27-April 13
Information: 800-922-2722, 970-879-6111; steamboat.com
Terrain: 2,965 acres. 44 percent expert/advanced; 42 percentintermediate; 14 percent beginner. 165 trails, 4 terrain parks. Summit: 10,568 feet. Base: 6,900 feet. Vertical: 3,668 feet. Longest run: 3.1 miles.
Lifts: 1 gondola; 1 six-person express; 5 high-speed quads; 1 quad; 6 triples; 2 doubles; 2 surface.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $80-$109 (last year’s pricing). Multiday ticket prices vary and are available on steamboat.com/tickets.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily.
Located: 157 miles from Denver via I-70 west to Silverthorne (Exit 205). Then Colorado 9 north 37 miles to Kremmling, then go west 53 miles on U.S. 40 to Steamboat Springs.

Sunlight Mountain Resort
Season:
Dec. 6-March 30
Information: 800-445-7930, 970-945-7491; sunlightmtn.com
Terrain: 680 acres. 5 percent expert; 20 percent advanced; 55 percent intermediate; 20 percent beginner. 67 trails, 1 terrain park. Summit: 9,895 feet. Base: 7,885 feet. Vertical: 2,010 feet. Longest run: 2.5 miles.
Lifts: 1 triple; 2 doubles.
Lift tickets: Adult full-day $57; child 6-12 and young senior 65-79, $45; child 5 and under and senior 80+, free.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located: 10901 County Road 117, Glenwood Springs, 160 miles from Denver via I-70 to Colorado 82 south and County Road 117 to Glenwood Springs.

Telluride Ski Resort
Season:
Nov. 28-April 6
Information: 800-778-8581; tellurideskiresort.com
Terrain: 2,000-plus acres. 41 percent expert/advanced; 36 percent intermediate; 23 percent beginner. 127 trails, 3 terrain parks. Summit: 13,150 feet. Base: 8,725 feet. Vertical: 4,425 feet. Longest run: 4.6 miles (Galloping Goose).
Lifts: 2 high-speed gondolas; 7 high-speed quads; 1 fixed quad; 2 triples; 2 doubles; 2 surface; 2 carpets.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $69-$106; visit tellurideskiresort.com/pass
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located: 330 miles from Denver via I-70 to Grand Junction and go south on U.S. 50 to Montrose. Continue south on U.S. 550 to Ridgway, then turn right onto Colorado 62. Follow this to Colorado 145 and turn left. Follow the signs into Telluride.

Vail
Season:
Nov. 22-April 20
Information: 970-SKI-VAIL (754-8245); vail.com
Terrain: 5,289 acres. 53 percent expert/advanced; 29 percent intermediate; 18 percent beginner. 193 trails, 3 terrain parks. Summit: 11,570 feet. Base: 8,120 feet. Vertical: 3,450 feet. Longest run: 4 miles.
Lifts: 2 gondolas; 1 high-speed six-passenger; 15 high-speed quads; 1 fixed-grip quad; 3 fixed-grip triples; 3 surface, 6 conveyors.
Lift tickets: Single-day window $90-$129 adults, $63-$89 children (last year’s pricing). Discounts and multi-day tickets available on the website.
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily (early season), hours extend over the course of the season.
Located: 100 miles west of Denver via I-70.

Winter Park Resort
Season:
Nov. 13-April 20
Information: 970-726-1564; winterparkresort.com
Terrain: 3,081 acres. 55 percent expert; 19 percent advanced; 18 percent intermediate; 8 percent beginner. 143 trails, 6 terrain parks. Summit: 12,060 feet. Base: 9,000 feet. Vertical: 3,060 feet. Longest run: 4.9 miles (Village Way).
Lifts: 2 high-speed six-persons; 7 high-speed express quads; 4 triples; 6 doubles; 3 surface; 1 rope tow and 1 Village Cabriolet.
Lift tickets: Single-day window price $65-$109 (last year’s pricing). Discounts and multiday tickets prices available on website.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends and holidays. Eagle Wind closes at 2:15 p.m. Panoramic Express and Pioneer Express close at 3 p.m.
Located: 67 miles from Denver via I-70 to Exit 232, then U.S. 40.

Wolf Creek Ski Area
Season: 
Nov. 8-April 6 (could open earlier, weather permitting)
Information: 970-264-5639; ski report: 800-754-9653; wolfcreekski.com
Terrain: 1,600 acres. 20 percent expert; 25 percent advanced; 35 percent intermediate; 20 percent beginner. 77 trails, no terrain park. Summit: 11,904 feet. Base: 10,300 feet. Vertical: 1,604 feet. Longest run: 2 miles.
Lifts: 2 high-speed quads; 1 quad; 1 triple; 1 double; 1 high-speed Poma; 1 carpet.
Lift tickets: Adult full-day $58; child ages 6-12 and senior 65+, $31; adult half-day $45; child and senior half-day $24; child 5 and under, $6; 80+ free.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
Located: 246 miles from Denver via U.S. 285 and U.S. 160.

Keystone Resort: Families come first at popular Colorado ski area

A family pauses takes in the view of North Peak on a run in Keystone. (Vail Resorts photo)

A family takes in the view of North Peak at Keystone. (Vail Resorts photo)

By Kyle Wagner
The Denver Post

It was 80 degrees on a sunny, breezy July day at Keystone Resort as Jessica, Lisabeth and Brendon Samuelson — ages 10, 8 and 5, respectively — used chalk to draw dogs and cats on the sidewalk in the gondola plaza play area at Keystone Resort. The Denver-based Samuelsons were in Keystone for the Kidtopia Kidfest event, but they have every intention of returning for their fifth winter as a family that skis Keystone.

“We just drive up for the day usually,” says mom Carol Lee, who grew up in Nebraska and spent winter weekends skiing most of the Interstate 70-corridor ski areas with her family. Dad Rob Samuelson doesn’t downhill ski; he prefers to strap on a pair of cross-country skis to head into the surrounding White River National Forest for some quiet time. “If we can swing it,” Lee adds, “we’ll stay the weekend for the kids’ school holidays, but sometimes those sell out really fast. But it can be worth it, because they get the free passes.”

Keystone’s Kids Ski Free program is slightly different from other ski areas in that it’s tied to lodging rather than adult lift tickets — kids get a free lift ticket for all of their stay starting the night of arrival, as long as the family stays a minimum of two nights, no other strings attached. Last season, the resort says it gave away more than 25,000 free tickets for kids (www.keystoneresort.com/kidsskifree).

It’s just one of many family-friendly amenities at this resort — the largest in Summit County, with 3,148 skiable acres — that sits 90 minutes from the Denver area.

“This idea of being what we call family-centric rather than family-friendly, it started with the founders,” says Keystone communications manager Laura Parquette. “I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We’re really proud of our commitment to families.”

As with so many Colorado resorts, Keystone, which turns 43 next month, was originally a logging and mining concern; it took its name from Keystone Mountain itself. Founder Max Dercum, who died in 2011, has a mountain named after him; he and his partner, Bill Bergman, who has Bergman Bowl as a namesake, were adamant that trails and lifts be named after the area’s rich history — famous runs such as Flying Dutchman, Wild Irishman and Paymaster take after mines; Saw Whiskers, Ball Hooter and Go Devil are logging terms.

Current owner/operator Vail Resorts took over in 1997, when Keystone and Breckenridge merged with Vail and Beaver Creek. Vail was vocal from the start about its intentions to make Keystone the most family-friendly resort in the country. Over the years, while other ski areas put their capital improvement funds into higher-speed gondolas and glading terrain, Keystone focused on the family, adding a weekly parade led by a professional float, building an enormous snow fort and snow maze at the top of Dercum Mountain, increasing the wagon fleet and, this year, adding golf carts to transport guests from the free parking lot, which also offers three rows of designated high-occupancy vehicle-only parking to get families to the mountain faster and more easily.

“What we’ve always liked here is that it just has this great setup and safe vibe,” says mom Lee. “And there are all of these long, easy runs where we might zig-zag around other people … but not worry that anyone is going to get lost or that we won’t all wind up together again.”

This year’s improvements include a new ski trail called the SchoolYard, designed to entice families to progress together as skiers and snowboarders in a fun atmosphere. The SchoolYard — which debuts when the resort opens Nov. 1 — has a signed entrance halfway down longtime green cruiser favorite Schoolmarm and will feature rollers, small moguls and other varied terrain.

Other changes this season are more subtle but intended to tweak concepts that were already in place, such as the renaming of the terrain park Freda’s Incubator, a small area near the SchoolYard for beginner or practicing riders and skiers looking to improve their skills. This year, the park will be called Easy Street, and like SchoolYard, the goal for the area is to encourage progression and practice.

“Everyone is certainly welcome, and we’re not going to exclude anyone, but obviously in areas like those, we’re aiming at a particular audience,” says Parquette. “Easy Street will be for those looking to play around on small stuff, or for those of us getting older and looking for less consequences as we try new moves. It’s a great way to hit a couple of boxes, try rails, do a small jump, in an area where you feel more comfortable and safe.”
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Loveland Ski Area set to open Thursday

Loveland Ski Area will open for the 2013-2014 ski and snowboard season on Thursday. Chair 1 will start at 9 a.m. and will provide skiers and riders with access to one top-to-bottom run. The trails Catwalk, Mambo and Home Run make up this opening day run, which is a over a mile long and nearly 1,000 vertical feet.

“Our snowmaking crew has done a tremendous job getting the mountain ready for Opening Day,” said Rob Goodell , director of business operations. “The snow guns are still firing and there is more snow in the forecast, so the first turns of the season are going to be exceptional.”

Loveland Ski Area will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on weekends and designated holidays.  Early season lift tickets are $49 for adults and $25 for children 6-14.

Snowboarding Dogggg opens Colorado’s snow season – again

Snowboarder Nate Dogggg, left, and his friends celebrate being the first ones on the lifts as Arapahoe Basin Ski area opens it's lifts for the first time this year. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

Snowboarder Nate Dogggg, left (in the red jacket), and his friends celebrate being the first ones on the lifts Sunday as Arapahoe Basin Ski area opens for the 2013-14 ski and snowboard season. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

By Austin Briggs
The Denver Post

ARAPAHOE BASIN — The streak of Nate Dogggg lives on.

For the 18th consecutive year, the 36-year-old Breckenridge snowboarder, who declined to give his real name, says he has been the first to catch a chair to the top of a ski lift on Colorado’s opening day.

“We do it for the fans, for those that couldn’t be here, and to build the legend of Nate Dogggg,” said Nate’s friend, Trailer Tom.

After Arapahoe Basin issued a news release late Friday morning saying it would be the first resort in the state to open, Nate, Trailer Tom and two friends showed up about an hour later to camp out for two days under the Black Mountain Lift to secure their spot and legacy at the front of the line.

Their patience paid off when, at about 8:25 a.m. Sunday, the lift opened to cheers, catcalls and a scrum of reporters as the 2013-14 ski and snowboard season kicked off.

Arapahoe Basin officials said they expected 1,000 skiers and snowboarders on the first day.

Under clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-30s, the line on the one lift serving one run quickly reached 400 people.

“People are so excited,” said Arapahoe Basin marketing director Leigh Hierholzer. “We’re honored to be the first in the state to get the season started.”

In 2009 and 2010, Nate Dogggg was on the first chair at Loveland; in 2011 on the first chair at Wolf Creek; and in 2012 on the first chair at A-Basin, according to news reports.

“I’ll start planning around the middle of summer, just calling people to see who wants to be on TV,” Nate Dogggg said. “I pack all my stuff and the second the press release comes out, I’m out the door.”

Hierholzer said Oct. 18 was slated to be opening day, but cooperative weather helped snowmaking operations lay an 18-inch base and move the date four days earlier than last year’s Oct. 17 opening.

Jenn Rudolph, spokeswoman for Colorado Ski Country USA, said a snowy spring ended last season on a high note, and that momentum appears to be carrying over into this year.

“We’re seeing a lot of optimism this year,” Rudolph said. “Members have reported robust season-pass sales, and long-term booking is filling up nicely.”

Epic adventure has a big payoff: free skiing, snowboarding for life

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass now includes 26 mountains in four countries, and the company is calling all globetrotting, Epic Pass-holding, die-hard skiers and snowboarders for The Epic Race – a season-long competition to visit each resort this winter. The first 10 people to complete the race will receive an Epic Pass for life.

“When we launched the Epic Pass with five resorts in 2008, I said our guests wouldn’t be able to out-ski or ride this pass,” said Rob Katz chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “Five years later, after adding three more countries and 21 additional resorts, we’re throwing down the gauntlet. If you can be one of the first to ski the world, you’ll ski for life.”

Starting Nov. 1, guests can register to ski the world by visiting www.snow.com/epic-pass/info/epic-race.aspx. Each racer will need to ski or ride all 26 resorts on the Epic Pass (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Eldora in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps, Minnesota; Mt. Brighton, Michigan; Verbier, Switzerland; Arlberg, Austria – St. Anton, Lech, Zürs, St. Christoph and Stuben; and Les 3 Vallées, France – Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle). Epic Racers will be asked to document and share their experience at each resort they visit to be eligible to win.

“If there was any doubt that the Epic Pass is by far and away the snowsports industry’s best and most comprehensive pass, the experiences these contestants share should put the question to rest,” Katz said. “What other pass allows you to enjoy the steep and deep of the Sierra Nevada, the amazing powder of the Wasatch, the majesty of the Rockies, the urban hills in Michigan and Minnesota, the interconnectivity of the French Alps and the world’s largest linked ski area, the unmatched off-piste skiing and riding of the Swiss Alps, and the birthplace of modern Alpine skiing technique in the Tyrolean Alps?”

Epic Racers will be responsible for their own expenses in undertaking the Epic Race and no racer will be permitted to ski or ride more than one resort per day in the U.S. and two resorts per day in Europe to ensure they capture and enjoy the full experience of each mountain. Race winners receiving an Epic Pass for life will be able to ski or ride only the resorts operated by Vail Resorts in any given year. All rules and guidelines will be posted here on Nov. 1 and included in the registration materials provided to guests.

“The Epic Pass is more attractive than ever, not just because of the access it provides to 26 mountains in four countries, but also because of the unprecedented on-mountain improvements of $130 (million) to $140 million across our resorts for the upcoming season,” said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “Not since the opening of Blue Sky Basin at Vail have we seen such a significant terrain expansion at a Colorado ski resort as with the addition of Peak 6 at Breckenridge. We’re also adding a new high-speed six-person lift in Mid-Vail to get guests into the Back Bowls faster and opening a new on-mountain restaurant at the base of Beaver Creek’s famed Birds of Prey race course. And then there’s the fourth generation of EpicMix – Epic Academy – which offers a unique way to earn and share your accomplishments in our world-class ski and ride schools.”

Ski/snowboard season for Vail Resorts? In a word, ‘heavenly’

A snowboarder takes full advantage of the snow, slopes and scenery at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Christmas Eve. (Heavenly Mountain Resort photo)

Associated Press

Skier visits this season at Vail Resorts Inc.’s seven resorts in California and Colorado and have risen 5.5 percent from last season, with growth picking up through spring break and the Easter holiday, CEO Rob Katz said Monday.

Meanwhile, season-to-date lift ticket revenue, including

some season pass revenue, was up about 10 percent from the comparable period a year ago. Dining revenue was up about 13 percent, ski school revenue was up more than 11 percent, and retail and rental revenue was up almost 9 percent, the company said.

Exact revenues and skier visit numbers weren’t released. The results were for the season through April 14 and didn’t take into account the reopening of Vail and Breckenridge resorts last Friday through Sunday for one more weekend of skiing and riding after both resorts got hammered with new snow.

The results don’t include recently acquired Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mount Brighton in Michigan. Results were adjusted as if Vail Resorts had owned the newly acquired Kirkwood resort last winter too.

Katz said season pass sales for next season are off to a strong start. He didn’t release details.

Vail operates the Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone ski areas in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area; Afton Alps in Minnesota; Mount Brighton in Michigan; and the Grand Teton Lodge Co. in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Fewer and fewer places open for that last run of the season

With only three California resorts still operating — Mammoth Mountain, Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley — the 2012-13 ski/snowboard season has mostly wrapped up in the Golden State. It’s the same story elsewhere in the country. Here’s a status report:

Colorado
Aspen Highlands will open for one last weekend, this Saturday and Sunday. The resort has received more than 20 inches of new snow in the past week.

Loveland Basin will be open until May 5, and until then the resort is inviting skiers and boarders with passes from any other ski area to bring those passes to Loveland where they may purchase a lift ticket for $36.

Maine

Sugarloaf Mountain has an impressive 134 trails still open. No closing date has been announced, but the resort will be scaling back on its grooming efforts mid-week.

Oregon
Mt. Bachelor will be open daily through May 26, but only from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mt. Hood Meadows will be open daily through Sunday, then for one final weekend of the season, May 4-5

Utah
Alta has one final weekend, this Friday through Sunday.

Snowbird will be open daily through May 12, then it shifts to a Friday-Sunday schedule for the remainder of the season (likely until the end of May).

Vermont
Jay Peak, which is expected to close for the season on May 12, has 59 trails and seven lifts in operation.

Killington Mountain Resort– with two lifts and 39 trails open earlier this week – plans to be open every day until May 5, then weekends only beginning May 11.

Sugarbush Mountain Resort will be open daily through Sunday, then opening for one final weekend on May 4 to celebrate its Kentucky Derby/Cinco de Mayo weekend. Two lifts and 24 trails are currently open.

Skiing in Telluride a ‘heavenly’ experience

Skiing into Revelation Bowl at Telluride. Photo by Brett Schreckengost

By Richard Irwin, Savvy Skier
“To hell you ride!” At least, that’s one popular explanation of how the town of Telluride got its name. But a skier or snowboarder riding the snowy slopes this winter will find them heavenly. (Apologies to our California resort.)
We returned to the Colorado ski resort last month for a winter vacation. And we discovered why it ranks among the best snowboarding destinations in the country.
Telluride averages more than 300 inches of snow every year, as well as 300 days of glorious sunshine. An important element for Los Angelinos who are used to seeing the golden rays every day.
And so it was on our February adventure. The mountain had received nearly two feet of new snow the weekend before, and we enjoyed sunny skies for the next four days.
The only weather bump we had was on our last morning, when high winds roared up the box canyon, nearly blowing us off the top of the mountain. So we stayed on the lower slopes, buffered by the towering peaks above.
Telluride is huge, it has more than 2,000 acres of skiable terrain. Galloping Goose, the longest run is more than 4 miles long, though there were a few flat spots that requires some poling.
We found the 125 perfectly groomed every morning, which is quite an accomplishment for a resort this big. This runs ranged from refined groomed runs to some challenging moguls.

Nightly grooming offers perfect corduroy slopes in the morning. Photo by Gus Gusciora

I liked it because many of the trails were wide open boulevards that left plenty of room for everyone. No crowding and squeezing here like you might find at Bear Mountain or Mountain High.
In fact, during the second week of February, we often found ourselves skiing by ourselves. There were literally no other snowboarders within sight or sound.
Telluride has a lift capacity of more than 22,000 per hour. That includes two high-speed gondolas, seven high-speed quads, one fixed quad, two triples, two doubles, two surface lifts and a couple magic carpets.
We never stood in line for more than a few minutes. Most of the time we jumped right on the next available chair.
The popular resort has a nice variety of terrain. The breakdown is approximately a quarter beginner, a third intermediate and 40 percent advanced.
After warming up on the easy stuff, we advanced to the the bright blue runs. There’s so many trails that Telluride even breaks the runs down into double green for advanced beginners and double blue for the harder intermediate trails.
Of course, there were also the diamond runs for the advanced skier and the double diamond trails for the cliffs, chutes and cornices for experts only.
The ski resort has even installed a bridge and steel staircase between Gold Hill Chute 8 and 9 to provide better access to Palmyra Basin. Experts can test themselves on the Gold Hill Stairs, climbing to the tip top of the mountain and the extreme terrain in the Gold Hill Chutes.
The mountain sports a vertical drop of 4,425 feet, with a lift served vertical drop of 3,845 feet.
Snowboarders will find a great range of freestyle terrain parks on the mountain. Beginners will like Ute Park, which features a mini snow-cross, small jumps and ride-on boxes.

Skier hikes Gold Hill Stairs at Telluride. Photo by Ben Eng

Misty Maiden Park was designed for intermediate to high intermediate riders. It has medium jumps, rails and boxes. Advanced riders will like Hoot Brown Park with its large jumps, as well as a wide variety of rails and boxes.
Skiers come from around the world to ski at Telluride. One gentleman from Mexico brought his many children and grandchildren.
Der Sitzmark Ski Club from Pittsburgh was certainly having a grand time. The club has more than 300 members, who enjoy weeklong ski trips throughout the country including an upcoming one to Crested Butte.
“Telluride is one of our favorites, we always have some great skiing here,” said the club president and one of its founders.
So if you’re looking for a “helluva” good place to ski this winter give Telluride a look. “To hell you ride!”
richard.irwin@sgvn.com<QA0>
626-544-0847

Airbags prove a useful training tool for X Games competitors

Bobby Brown slides down the hill after wiping out in the men’s ski big air finals at the Winter X Games. The use of an airbag in training can help develop the body mechanics needed for big tricks, but it also increases the risk for athletes striving for glory in action sports now defined by increasingly technical and dangerous tricks. (Photo by Daniel Petty/The Denver Post)

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

Backflips are taking over skiing and snowboarding. Spinning double and triple-corked trickery was the golden ticket in every competition at last weekend’s X Games in Aspen.

The sketchy-to-learn tricks have expanded the training toolbox for athletes to include massive airbags.

Superstar Shaun White honed his triple-cork on a private airbag at Breckenridge. His airbag training at a private pipe at Silverton Mountain in 2010 greased his way to Olympic halfpipe gold that year. Today, the massive bags aren’t just for the pros but also the young aspirants nipping at their heels.

“It’s just changed everything. It’s so valuable and such a great in-between step, that difficult step between imagining a new trick and actually doing it. Now we can have the luxury of taking that step and not get hurt,” said Aspen’s Gretchen Bleiler, who sessioned an airbag at Mammoth Mountain ski area two weeks ago as she regained her snowboarding pipe form after suffering an eye injury while training on a trampoline.

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Shaun White slides into X Games slopestyle and superpipe finals

Shaun White competes in men’s snowboard slopestyle at the X Games on Thursday in Aspen. White qualified for the finals by placing seventh. (Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)

By David Krause
The Denver Post

ASPEN — With some of the more exciting qualifiers rolling through Thursday afternoon to open the X Games, crowds were looking to the skies on a regular basis.

With only one finals event Thursday at Buttermilk Mountain, the opening day for the X Games features plenty of qualifying runs down the superpipe and the slopestyle course for the men.

Shaun White squeezed into the slopestyle finals, advancing for the first time since 2009 when he won gold. White qualified seventh Thursday after two runs in the elimination round.

Later in the evening, White, who has won the past 11 superpipe events he’s entered, put down a basic first run and earned 87 points, which was tops for the round. However, he dropped to second overall after Iouri Podladchikov, know better as I-Pod, had an 87.33-point run in the second round.

White had a chance to best I-Pod, but White bottomed out on his first hit of the second run.

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