This blog comes to Colorado Ski Country via Kristen Lummis of BraveSkiMom.com. You can read more about Kristen at www.BraveSkiMom.com.
Where do you ski in Colorado? If you’re like many of us, you’ve got a home resort that you return to year after year, week after week and day after day. You love your resort. You know every roller and glade. You know where to farm powder and you’ve sworn never to divulge the locale. You’re plugged into the best season pass deals and you’ve got your favorite spots for lunch, beer and coffee. 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?
Here are three quick and easy answers featuring 21 Colorado resorts.
1. Adventure: Going somewhere new is an adventure. Learning a new mountain and exploring different terrain, can be fulfilling enough. 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 in the World Freeskiing Championships, yet are remarkably forgiving when the powder is deep. Aspen Highland’s venerable Highland Bowl has long been our family’s favorite winter adventure. Each year, as the boys grow the hike gets easier and the skiing simply gets more fun. Highland’s sister mountains, Aspen and Snowmass offer their own adventures, from mine dumps to hanging valleys, while over at Buttermilk, the Winter X Games are an adventure unto themselves.
If catskiing intrigues 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, first-come/first-served. Finally, there is Silverton Mountain. Unlike any other resort in Colorado, Silverton has only one chairlift, no groomed runs and no cut trails. Guides lead you to the best lines and snow for your group and the adventure begins.
2. Challenge: While you can argue that there isn’t much difference between adventure and challenge, I think 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 skibiking class at Winter Park or Durango. All Colorado resorts have excellent ski schools, but for the newest skiers, Ski Granby Ranch is a good choice with small class sizes, a family-centered vibe and terrain that is perfect for learning.
If your brand of challenge involves competition, check out Nighthawks racing at Eldora. On six consecutive Wednesday nights, you can compete against your friends and neighbors in downhill, telemark, snowboard, classic cross-country, skate cross-country and snowshoe events.
3. Abundance: Simply put, we are blessed in Colorado. With over two dozen ski resorts, endless backcountry terrain for those with the skills and non-stop alpine beauty, you can travel the state each winter weekend and just barely get to each of our resorts. While it will take a little 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.
Exploring new resorts doesn’t have to break the bank. For a great value, visit the smaller ski areas. Pick up a Colorado Ski Country Gems card for $10 and receive discounts at eight mountains, including close-in favorite Arapahoe Basin, as well as 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. And if you’re in Steamboat, make sure to check out the night skiing at Howelson Hill. The oldest operating ski area in Colorado, Howelson was founded in 1913. Since then, 79 Olympians have trained their way to excellence on its slopes and ski jumps.