Early-season snowfall, especially along the southern tier of the Rockies, has coupled with snowmaking temperatures to get a quartet of high-country ski and snowboard mountains to start spinning their lifts.
Utah's southernmost resort Brian Head kicked off the Beehive State's winter season the first weekend in November. For its second-earliest opening on record, the resort's upgraded Navajo Express -- more four-seat chairs on the cable -- handles the load for the first couple of weekends before daily operations begin on Nov. 18.
Snowmaking got a production upgrade this summer, as owners Mountain Capital Partners (MCP) continue to put money into its latest acquisition. Kids 12 and under ski and ride for free, all the time and at all eight MCP resorts, with the Kids Power Pass.
In southern Colorado, powder-king Wolf Creek wants its folks to move more easier around its 1,600 acres. To do so, the day-trip resort has installed RFID gates at six of its 10 lifts so that tickets can be read in the skier's parka pocket.
The Alberta chair has long been the best way to get to Wolf Creek's most prolific powder stashes, but it took a couple of lift rides to get to. This season, there's a traverse from the lower parking lot to the Alberta chair base with an RFID printer so that skiers and riders can set up for a powder day without going to the main ticket office or riding another chair.
Northward, Winter Park moved up its opening date to Oct. 31 -- its earliest opening ever. Experts and powderhounds will be happy as mountain managers have opened two areas of steeps. At the far end of the Vasquez Cirque, a section known as "Jelly Roll" for its rolly-polly terrain is now accessible. And, over on Mary Jane far side, more room for steep-and-deep as avalanche-controlled chutes on "Powder Field" will increase access between Trestle and double-diamond The Chutes.
And farther up the Continental Divide, Loveland loyalists began skiing and riding on Nov. 4, and will soon hop on an expanded Chair 6 to get more quickly into the blues, greens and terrain parks on the south flank of the 1,800-acre mountain.
The west side of the Continental Divide in the Colorado Rockies is home to about half of the ski and snowboard mountains in the state, and a half-dozen of them have built up summer activity infrastructures to lure flat-landers into the mountains.
If you're looking for a full-on summer menu, check out Telluride. On and off the mountain, there's plenty to keep young and old busy -- from via ferrata to bike parks to kids camps to rafting and Jeep tours. Highlight on the hill is Canopy Adventure, a tree-top complex of zipline, aerial bridges and rappels that begins with ride up the Village Express chair.
At Purgatory, MTB-focused lift access, trail prep and downhill challenges are the norm. The first U.S. resort to host a MBT world championship (1995), "Purg" sells single-ride, day, and season passes-- the latter includes massive Spider Mountain bike park in Austin, Texas.
Another mountain bike mecca is Crested Butte. Its Mountain Bike Park opened in 2009, and its more than 30 miles of single track downhill and X-C runs have been improved ever since. The bike-friendly Red Lady Express does the heavy-lifting to get riders onto the mountain.
Steamboat hosts a ton of attractions around its under-construction base area. Featured is the Outlaw Mountain Coaster with a descent of more than a mile long. With that length, there's plenty of track for loops, turns and twists.
Aspen Mountain and Snowmass crank up their gondolas for summer visitors. A ride up the Silver Queen gondola reaches the11,212-foot summit of Aspen Mountain. The summit area has been developed as the main magnet for the resort, with hiking trails, wildflowers, live music, good food and 360-degree views of Maroon Bells and Roaring Fork Valley.
Across the way, Snowmass turns on a gondola of its own -- the Elk Camp Gondola -- to get folks to the trails, vistas and food in and around mid-mountain Elk Camp. New this summer is the Lost Forest Adventure Center at Elk Camp, with ziplines, bike trails, climbing wall and mountain coaster.
Winter Park is playing off on the popularity of e-bikes this summer with 90-minute tours for pedal-assist mountain bicycles. Three tours run daily from the top of the Explorer Express chair at Sunsport Lodge (also headquarters for renowned Trestle Bike Park). E-bikers head up another 600 feet of vertical to Lunch Rock. No charge for views of Continental Divide.
The usual suspects will extend the 2021-2022 ski and snowboard season through May and beyond, as a flurry of late-season storms has reinforced the snowpack throughout the West.
Of the mountains that the Ikon Pass covers in Colorado, Steamboat and Winter Park encompass some 6,000 acres and have something for everyone: Scads of intermediate runs, cruisers and groomers galore, and fields of moguls.
You could say Winter Park Resort’s excitement level is off the charts because for the third time USA Today readers named the ski resort the best in North America. Winter Park beat out 19 other nominated North American resorts for the coveted title.
With snowmaking temps more favorable, more and more Colorado ski and snowboard resorts are opening, and Ikon Pass holders can try out as much variety in Colorado as in any other state in the Union.
The 2021-22 ski and snowboard season has gotten off to a rocky start, with only the highest-elevation slopes open and all others waiting impatiently for more snowfall and colder temps.
Winter Park Resort is sending off summer with one last hurrah high up on the mountain. On Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, Winter Park Resort, along with Upslope Brewing Company, will host a signature Backcountry Tap Room event – fresh mountain air, views for miles and refreshing craft beer all included.
In Colorado, the most definitive way to know that summer is over and winter is not long off comes when the high-country aspen groves put on their brilliant yellow coats.
Summer is still in full swing, but early indication shows that there is already high demand for winter mountain vacations. And, planning ahead certainly pays off.
The month of August puts Colorado's mountains on display -- their high meadows flowing with chilly creek waters. What better to celebrate the high country with than a few mugs of craft beer.
When the snow melts and all that’s left of Colorado’s ski resorts are the seemingly endless trails, rushing mountain water, bright green aspen glades and wildflower-covered meadows, what is there to possibly do?
Despite Covid restrictions, the ski and snowboard resorts of Colorado had a hot summer season last year with hiking, biking, scenic lift rides, and other social-distanced activities. But one key attraction was missing: Music.
The snow is still falling and the slopes just closed at Winter Park Resort, but the resort is preparing for warmer weather and summertime mountain adventure. Winter Park Resort is anticipating opening its summer activities, including its famed Trestle Bike Park, on Saturday, June 19, 2021.
Several Colorado ski areas are taking advantage of recent snowstorms and extending their ski seasons through late spring.
Winter Park has extended their season through Sunday where they currently have 1,325 acres open.
Breckenridge plans to stay open through Memorial Day weekend - May 31st.
Arapahoe Basin is aiming for a closing date of June 6th this year.
After a warm first week of April, the snowpack took a nosedive across the state. But a cooler and wetter pattern through mid-April halted the early snowmelt for several more weeks and even added to the snowpack slightly.
The vast majority of U.S. ski and snowboard resorts have shuttered operations for the season -- many of them extending past announced closing dates -- but a hearty dozen will spin their lifts deep into the spring.
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.
A storm system will bring heavy snow to the western mountains, especially the Colorado Rockies this weekend as a cold and stormy pattern persists. On the flip side, the East enjoys mild and spring-like conditions. This week’s SnoCast has the details through St. Patrick’s Day week.
Whether it be Covid-distance crowds, the high price of lift tickets, or simply a need to breathe the Great Outdoors, the participation in uphill skiing has exploded in Colorado this season.