This blog comes to Colorado Ski Country from Kristen Lummis of BraveSkiMom.com.
On January 19, Eldora Mountain Resort turns fifty. Big birthdays require big celebrations, so on the 19th, there will be games and giveaways at the base area, live music in the Corona Bar and the University of Colorado Alumni Day (including CU Buffs Ski Team racing and discounted lunch and lift packages for alums).
Eldora wouldn’t be what it is, without the University of Colorado and their ski team. CU Ski Coach Bob Beattie was part of the management team when Lake Eldora Ski Area opened in 1963. Beattie was also coach of the US Ski Team and the 1964 Olympic team trained at Eldora. At the 1964 Innsbruck games, Jimmy Huega and Billy Kidd became the first Americans to win Olympic medals in alpine skiing, placing second and third in slalom.
Ski racing continues to be a big part of the Eldora experience. When we pulled into the Eldora parking lot on December 31st, the first thing we noticed group of junior ski racers running gates. Prior to coming to Eldora, I chatted with Dave Belin, an Eldora dad and ski instructor, about where we should ski.
“One of my favorite trails is La Belle Dame,” he told me. “It’s the race trail for the University ski team and it’s a great trail because nobody goes on it. Typically it’s just used by racers.” I couldn’t wait to try.
Unfortunately, La Belle Dame was closed. Eldora has 100% snowmaking on its groomed trails, and the guns were firing on La Belle Dame. So while I couldn’t pretend to be a world-class racer (one of my consistent and lasting fantasies), the snow on the rest of the mountain, a combination of natural and man-made, was skiing great.
Our goal for the morning was the Corona lift, home of Eldora’s most difficult terrain. Beginning at the base, we worked our way over to Corona along a series of fun blue groomed runs underneath the Challenge and Indian Peaks chairlifts. Although there is difficult terrain off of both of these lifts (as well as double-black glade skiing), most of the trails on this part of the mountain are fun intermediate groomers.
There are no green or blue runs off of the Corona chairlift, and this is the place to find most of Eldora’s famous glades and chutes. While the trees weren’t open, directly underneath the lift is a run called Corona. Although Corona is often groomed, it was bumped up and super fun. A trail with three distinct changes in pitch, the bumps varied across the slope from steep ‘n’ deep to hero-making minis, giving the run a different feel every time we skied it.
As for the glades, my friend Dave specifically recommends Brian’s Glades and Salto Glades. Next time we visit, we’ll be sure to hit those.
Big and Little Eldora
Eldora is divided into two distinct sections: a “big” mountain which includes Challenge Mountain, Indian Peaks and Corona Bowl, as well as a terrain park on Lower Diamond Back. This portion of Eldora is served by four chairlifts and the Timbers base lodge.
Just to the east of the Timbers Lodge is a “little” mountain and Indian Peaks Lodge, home of the ski school and the rental/demo shop. Eldora’s beginner terrain is here, along with the longest magic carpet I’ve seen. Several terrain parks, some short intermediate slopes and a race course, used for training and the after-dark community race series NightHawks, are also found here.
Seven lifts serve this part of the mountain, so even on busy weekends when the ski school and race programs are bustling, lift lines should be minimal.
Skinny Skiing, Too
Eldora Mountain Resort is also well-known for its Nordic Center. Directly across the parking lot from the Timbers Lodge, the Nordic Center has 40 km of trail groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing.
When we were at Eldora, it was super cold. Needing to stoke our internal fires, we clicked out of the alpine gear after lunch and stepped into classic cross-country skis for the afternoon. We skied several kilometers of green and blue trails and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the quiet forest. Best of all, one ticket gets you both alpine and Nordic skiing, making it easy and affordable to experience both disciplines in one day (Nordic only trail passes are also available).
Why Ski Eldora?
The big draw is, of course, fun alpine and Nordic terrain. But other reasons to ski Eldora are convenience and it’s proximity to Boulder. Eldora is a close-in, easy-to-reach resort from Boulder, the northern Denver suburbs and communities north to Fort Collins. Traffic is minimal, even on weekends, making it a great destination for a day trip.
There is no lodging at Eldora, but the resort partners with Boulder hotels, offering Boulder Escape lodging and lift ticket packages. While visitors don’t get ski-in/ski-out convenience, they do enjoy Boulder’s many restaurants, shops and bars.
I asked Dave Belin, my local friend and guide, why he and his family choose Eldora. His answer? The mountain’s “hidden strengths.”
“People who don’t know Eldora very well, don’t realize how big it is and how good the longer, steeper runs are. There is a good mix of terrain for a mix of abilities. Add in the Nordic center and you’ve got a great variety of options for all families,” Dave shared.
He also mentioned the ski school’s multi-week programs. “My kids did Trek last year on six consecutive weekends. Their ability just exploded. They really took off and since Eldora is so close, it was never a hassle getting them here.”
When You Go…
Eldora is located along Canyon Boulevard (Highway 119), 35 minutes from Boulder.
Daily lift tickets are $75 for adults, $45 for juniors ages 6-15 and $10 for kids 5 & under.
While the first session of Kid’s Trek is already underway, the second session runs from February 23 through March 30. Eldorables, a learn-to-ski program for 4-6 year-olds offers classes on weekday mornings and afternoons.
Other ski and ride school programs include women’s days, All Mountain Freeride Trek, racing and avalanche school.