This blog comes to CSCUSA from Dan Rabin, local blogger and contributor and Rocky Mountain Reporter for Celebrator Beer News.
When you’re in an unfamiliar city and you want a good meal, your best bet is to put away your guidebook and find out where the locals go. You probably won’t get steered to the fanciest, most expensive, most famous place in town. More likely, you’ll be led to a place where the food is good and good value, and the vibe is friendly and relaxed.
Skiing is no different. For a fun, affordable, low-stress ski or snowboard experience, go where the locals go. For the past 50 years, locals from Boulder, Denver and other communities throughout the Colorado Front Range have been making tracks to Eldora Mountain Resort.
For my inaugural outing of the 2012/2013 ski season, I made the short trip from my Boulder home to Eldora and rediscovered what makes this place a favorite backyard resort. I also discovered that the features that bring locals back to Eldora year after year are also attracting a growing number of visitors from more distant locales.
Eldora is easy to get to from Boulder, Denver and other Colorado Front Range communities.
Eldora is an easy 20-mile commute from downtown Boulder up scenic and lightly-traveled Boulder Canyon. Downtown Denver is less than 50 miles away. Best of all, the resort is accessible without venturing onto traffic-snarled Interstate 70. Eldora is also the only Colorado resort with regularly-scheduled RTD bus service. There are seven departures times daily from downtown Boulder. The drop-off point is literally steps from the lifts and ticket office.
The day of my recent visit to Eldora began with a leisurely 8:30 am departure from Boulder. When I arrived at the resort parking lot, the coffee in my travel mug was still hot. I skied until my legs were rubbery and returned to Boulder in time for happy hour at one of my favorite downtown brewpubs.
Eldora is family-friendly and affordable.
The beginner slopes are separated from more advanced terrain allowing families with young kids and less experienced riders to practice turns without fear of being impaled by faster skiers. Eldora has an outstanding kids program with a variety of options for single-day and multi-day lessons.
My daughter learned to carve her first turns on the slopes of Eldora as did many of her friends. Lift tickets for kids up to age 15 are deeply discounted (seniors too). For overnight visitors to the area, many Boulder hotels offer Ski Escape packages that include lodging and lift tickets with a wide range of pricing options.
Eldora fits a lot of terrain into a manageable space.
At just under 700 acres, Eldora is relatively compact among Colorado resorts. Within its boundaries, the terrain is surprisingly varied from bunny slopes to blue cruisers to adrenaline-inducing double black diamond runs. The manageable size allows you to take a bump run from the top while your buddy takes a cruiser. You can easily meet up again at the bottom without worrying about getting separated. A planned expansion over the next few years will increase the number and length of runs without adding substantially to the resort’s acreage.
My recent visit came during a lull between storms. However, thanks to a recent million-dollar investment in snowmaking upgrades, much of the mountain was in surprisingly decent shape. With a 9,200-foot elevation at the base and 10,800 feet at the summit, the resort averages 25 feet of snow per year.
For backcountry enthusiasts or a change of pace, the Eldora Nordic Center provides access to an extensive network of cross-country and snowshoe trails. Rental equipment and lessons are available.
Eldora has local flavor and no frills.
Much of what I like about Eldora is what it doesn’t have. There are no slopeside condominiums, glitzy shops or expensive restaurants. Eldora is definitely not the place to make a fashion statement. There are no traffic hassles or long shuttle bus rides from the parking lot. Eldora lacks many of the peripheral embellishments found at higher visibility ski destinations but are of minimal interest to locally-based day trippers.
For me, a day at Eldora is about skiing until my legs burn, then kicking back at the lively Corona Bar upstairs in the main lodge and sipping on Colorado-brewed beer while a local musician belts out a few tunes. Eldora has maintained the purity of snow sports in a laid-back, all-welcoming environment. And that just the way us locals like it.