By Kristen Lummis, braveskimom.com
There’s not a lot of night skiing in Colorado. We’ve got daytime skiing galore, arguably the best in the nation. But when it comes to nighttime, with the exception of after dark stalwarts Howelsen Hill and Ski Granby Ranch, the lifts shut down, the music cranks up and my family, well, we turn in early, so that we can click in early the next day. Still, I’ve always been intrigued with skiing under the lights. Why? Because the ticket is always cheaper, it extends the day, or allows us to ski after a busy day, and well, because it’s skiing.
1,100 Vertical Feet of Fun at Steamboat
This season, Steamboat turned on the lights and upped the scale of skiing at night, big time. When the switch was flipped on December 20th, Steamboat skiers and riders experienced 1,100 vertical feet of nighttime fun for the first time. Riding the Christie Peak Express, the base area six pack, the view with the lights is impressive, especially when you consider how much terrain is open. Skiers and riders have their choice of Sitz, See Me/See Ya, Vogue, Stampede and Lil’ Rodeo, as well as a fully lit terrain park. Best of all, the mountain grooms the night skiing terrain before reopening. You won’t be skiing on someone else’s freshly frozen track. It’s all corduroy.
The views from 8,000 foot Christie Peak at night are stunning, especially as the sun is setting. The skiing is fun, with a variety of black, blue and green runs, and the mood is festive. When we were there, on a warm Sunday night, we met a group of guys who had flown in only hours before. They were thrilled to be skiing and getting some bonus turns during their vacation. On another ride, we met a dad and his young son. They’d been skiing all day, taking a dinner break when the lifts closed, and were hard back at it. Finally, we met up with some locals who’d worked all day, and now were free to ski.
Night skiing and riding at Steamboat happens every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through March 30. With the longer days of spring, the hours shifted slightly and the mountain is now open from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
A One-Time Deal at Powderhorn?
South and west of Steamboat, Powderhorn Mountain Resort near Grand Junction also entered the realm of night skiing this winter, although perhaps only on a special-event basis. On the last weekend in February, the mountain stayed open until 9:00 p.m. for twilight skiing and under-the-lights fun. Presented by Wagner Rents, a Grand Junction company that provides lighting to the X Games, as night fell the resort limited the open terrain to the midway station of Chair One, and filled that chairlift to capacity.
While most of the action was on the resort’s jump line and in the terrain park, we saw young families, old-time locals, and lots of friends either on the snow, or in the lodge where there was music and a packed house. In the lift line, Powderhorn employees passed out glow sticks and chocolate. The atmosphere was total party. And while we didn’t make it over there, the bunny slope was also lit up and open, and from what I heard, it was…hopping (sorry!).
While night skiing at Powderhorn was a one-time deal for this season, the resort is offering $15 Fridays throughout March.
Chair One will stay open to the top of the mountain until 6:00 p.m. and tickets, and rentals, are only $15 each. The ski and ride school is offering a special one hour group lesson for $15 from 4:40-5:30, and the tubing park and bag jump are also open. It sounds like a good way to start a western Colorado weekend.
Talking with resort marketing manager Dave Smith in early February, he shared the resort’s rationale. “It just seems like a good thing to do in Spring with the longer days. We’ll keep the lifts open longer, and make it affordable for everyone to come up and enjoy.”