First of all, the birthdays. Ski Cooper outside Leadville celebrates 80 years in operation. Eldora looks back at 60 years on the eastern front of the Rockies. Local hill Echo Mountain is 62 years old this season. And, "youngster" Copper Mountain rings in its 50th season in the ski business.
For 2022-2023, Ikon Pass member Copper is content to pause to commemorate its five decades in operation with events and memorabilia. On the mountain, the family-friendly, beginner-focuses Western Territory enters its second year with two adventure zones, and green runs Roundabout and West Ten-Mile on the far western edge of the resort. (A replacement Lumberjack chair is planned.) Plus, after several years of fees and reservations, parking at Copper is once again free and first-come first served.
Up the road at Ski Cooper/Chicago Ridge, tree-thinning this summer opened up more space in the green-rated Leprechaun Lane forest near the base. Also, crews continued to remove trees from the all-expert Tennessee Creek Basin chutes and glades on the backside of the legendary Tenth Mountain Division ski area that opened in 1942. The ticket is $30 on Thursdays, and snowcat rides up to the Continental Divide are now split out into half-day trips.
Above Boulder, Ikon Pass resort Eldora has added another 800 parking spots -- good news for its Front Range loyalists who were sometimes turned away as parking lots filled up quickly on busy days in recent seasons. More snowmaking capacity went in around the Alpenglow chairlift and Little Hawk learning area, and on-mountain internet connections got a boost.
And at Echo Mountain, which has experienced a renaissance after several seasons teetering upon closure, a longer and gentler Travelers Traverse now connects the top of the chairlift to the bottom in one continuously wandering trail. Popular night skiing will light up trails until 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.
Putting these two day-trip mountains on the Indy Pass means that three alpine areas and one Nordic area are now available in the nation's most renowned skiing and riding state.
The purchase of an Indy Pass or Indy Base Pass gets a skier or rider two days free at each partner mountain, plus 25% off a third day. Typical blackouts (holidays, midseason weekends) apply only to the Indy Base Pass. To get a free day, passholders need only show ID at the ticket window to confirm, since there is no physical Indy Pass.
In Colorado, Granby and Echo join Sunlight Mountain and Bluebird Backcountry Nordic complex in the fast-growing Indy coalition that has 121 alpine and Nordic destinations worldwide. So far, there are 36 Indy Pass mountains in the West.
Granby Ranch sits about two hour's drive northwest of Denver on the west side of Berthoud Pass. The 400-acre layout splits out between two mountains, with a 30-50-20 split among green, blue and black runs, and 1,000 vertical feet. Five chairlifts run daily, and night skiing opens 4-7 p.m. on seven Fridays and Saturdays during the season.
East Mountain keeps it mellow with all the greens and more than half of the blues. A smattering of expert runs spill off the top of West Mountain, intermingling with intermediate carvers. A modest base area and a wide-open learning area are located between the two mountains, and a tight group of condos and vacation rentals hug the base area.
Echo Mountain is the closest ski and snowboard mountain to the Denver metro area -- a drive of 50 minutes from downtown and 20 minutes western suburbs. After a number of years in limbo, the 80-acre mountain has been rejuvenated by local ownership. It's an upside-down hill; that is, entrance, parking, lodge and children's area are at the top.
One triple chair handles the hill's 660 vertical feet. All of the dozen or so named trails are rated green or blue, except for the Westside glades to skier's lift. Unusual is a terrain park in the glades, while the other park is halfway down. Mountain owners are promoting Echo as a shreddin' hill for the young urbanites on the Front Range.
Rather than a formal ski school, Echo's "mountain ambassadors" roam around the base area to give tips and suggestions for free to anyone who wants them. The lights come on for night skiing 4:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
In the shadow of battling behemoths, smaller, independent ski areas are thriving. Arapahoe Basin, Echo Mountain, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn, Ski Granby, Silverton Mountain and Wolf Creek all report record visits, and revenues in the last two seasons.
Thanks to a snowy March and persistent pent-up desire to hit the slopes, a slew of Colorado ski and snowboard resorts will keep their lifts spinning beyond original closing dates.
You need something to do while the traffic thins out on I-70. Or just didn't get in enough turns on a busy weekend. Or had to work during the daytime hours and are itching to get on a slope.
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.
Sprinkled in among the big-name resorts of Colorado are a collection of distinct ski and snowboard mountains that have the terrain, variety and unique experiences like the big boys – but without the high price tag.
For three years, only budding ski racers have been able carve up Echo Mountain – the closest Colorado ski area to Denver metro, but In 2015-2016, it’s open for all again like it used to be.