By Rachel Walker
Decades ago when I was in my early teens, my family took a ski vacation to Steamboat. This was a huge deal for us, as we didn’t have much means and neither of my parents skied. But they realized my brother and I were falling in love with the sport, and so off to the ‘Boat we went. My mom remembers the searing cold of that trip. I remember skiing under the lights at night. So vivid are these memories that I can actually see myself clicking into my bindings as I bundled into three jackets, my breath a steady stream of frost, and my nose numb.
I don’t remember the cold bothering me. What I do recall is this: as the chairlift picked me up and delivered me high on the mountain in what would have been pitch dark, save for the massive lights illuminating the hill, skiing was reduced to its essence. Without daylight to distract, the experience became singularly about sliding down the snow on two boards with metal edges. My skis whisked against the surface. The wind whistled. The world enveloped me with a mythic quality.
Few people braved the zero-ish degree temps, and so my brother and I practically had the slopes to ourselves. For a teen with existential leanings (as I was) who wrestled daily with adolescent issues, the sensation of skiing at night was utterly liberating. No need to ponder the meaning of middle school or whether I would ever wear the right jeans with the proper sweater. No pressure to compete—and I was a competitive kid. In the evening’s dark, I was a child again, completely absorbed by the present moment and the fun it offered.
I’ve skied at night since—sometimes on a ski resort slope, other times by headlamp. And every time that same grounded feeling comes back. It’s a gift, really, to be able to narrow your vision in order to expand your worldview.
Where to Night Ski in Colorado Ski Country
Training grounds for aspiring Olympian ski jumpers by day, community ski hill by night. Located in downtown Steamboat Springs, Howelsen is open for night skiing three nights per week. Check the schedule daily because hours vary.
Powderhorn (February 26-27)
The 3rd Annual Night Skiing is also the inaugural year of the Flat Top Flyer high speed detachable lift. Two runs from top to bottom, one of which will lead to the terrain parks which are illuminated as well. For beginners, the EZ Rider Lift will be operational and one EZ run will be under the lights.
Info: Tickets from 4:00PM-9:00PM will be $56 for 13 & Up and $35 for 12 & Under. Tickets from 12:00PM-9:00PM will remain the same as our normal ticket prices. Season Pass and P-Card Holders will be able to ski for free both nights (Mid-Week passes only good for Friday). In addition, Powderhorn is hosting a USASA Rail Jam under the lights.
Ski Granby Ranch
As Grand County’s only night skiing and snowboarding facility, designated slopes and three terrain parks are fully-lit for an evening of family fun for all ages. Purchase night skiing and snowboarding tickets after 4 pm on Friday and Saturdays on the day you intend to ski or ride.
Info: January 1-March 26, Fridays and Saturdays, 5-8 p.m. $17 all ages.
Steamboat Ski Resort
Ride the Christie Peak Express for 1,100 vertical feet of nighttime turns. Skiers and riders can choose Sitz, See Me/See Ya, Vogue, Stampede or Lil’ Rodeo, as well as a fully lit terrain park. Better yet: the slopes will be freshly groomed. Corduroy at night from 8,000 feet above sea level? Why not?
Info: Friday, Saturday and Sunday through March. Hours vary, check the website. With the longer days of spring, the hours shifted slightly and the mountain is now open from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Prices range from $37 (adult) to $17 (child).