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Chris Anthony discovers deep powder in the Blue Sky Basin at Vail. Getting to this remote back bowl will be easier this year with Vail's newest high-speed quad addition replacing Highline Chair 10.
Chris Anthony discovers deep powder in the Blue Sky Basin at Vail. Getting to this remote back bowl will be easier this year with Vail's newest high-speed quad addition replacing Highline Chair 10.
Photo By Dan Davis
Colorado Ski Resort Review 2007 - 2008
By Tom Boyd

October 26, 2007 — If there’s anything that defines this year’s Colorado ski season, it’s the exceptional number of changes and improvements which occurred during the offseason. New gondolas, chairlifts, ski schools and terrain open during the 2007-08 season, and while some areas will be truly transformed, others are hanging onto their vintage spirit and dropping a mere million or so on upgrades.

The following guide gives brief updates on what’s new, plus general descriptions of what to expect when visiting one of Colorado’s 25 unique and varied ski and snowboard resorts.

Arapahoe Basin

This year Arapahoe Basin can boast the largest expansion in the nation with the new, 400-acre Montezuma Bowl. “A-Basin,” as the area is known, will grow by 80 percent with the addition of some new chutes, basins, and groomed runs.

Long known as a purist paradise, A-Basin is about skiing and riding – not real estate. Families like the uber-casual atmosphere and un-crowded slopes near the base of the mountain, and it’s extreme vistas makes it a special day trip for those spending a week or two at Keystone or Breckenridge, nearby. It’s the expert skiers, snowboarders, and telemarkers, however, who provide the core of A-Basin’s spirit, as some of the most challenging terrain in the state can be found along “The East Wall” or bumping down the terrain under the legendary Pallavicini lift.
Fun Fact: Lift tickets for A-Basins inaugural year, in 1946, were $1.25
Prices: TBD
Skiable Acres: 900
Lifts: 1 quad, 2 triples, 3 doubles, 1 surface
Terrain park: Yes (small)

Season: October to June (depending on weather)
Terrain breakdown: 10 percent beginner, 30 percent intermediate, 37 percent advanced, 23 percent expert
Location: 12 miles east of Silverthorne on Highway 6
Information:, (888)-ARAPAHOE OR (888)272-7246

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Aspen Mountain

The flagship mountain of the four Aspen/Snowmass ski areas, Aspen Mountain is often overlooked by intermediate skiers who may be intimidated by the steep, bumpy terrain near the base. Yes, Aspen Mountain has plenty of terrain which can inspire vertigo and get the heart racing, mainly located off the skier’s right of the peak. However, there are beautiful, uncrowded intermediate slopes underneath the Ruthie’s Express chairlift which are there for the taking. Although beginners should get warmed up at Buttermilk or Snowmass before trying Aspen Mountain, every snowrider who visits should become acquainted with the rich cannon of stories, personalities, and good riding which permeate this avatar of Colorado skiing.

Fun Fact: Aspen has several hidden, mystic “shrines” made by locals, which pay homage to stars like Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, John Denver and Marilyn Monroe.

Average annual snowfall: 300 inches
Price: (Adult all day/half day): TBD
Skiable Acres: 673
Lifts: 1 gondola, 1 high-speed quad, 1 high-speed double, 2 quads, 3 doubles,
Terrain park: No
Season: Nov. 22 to late April 13
Terrain breakdown: 0 percent easiest, 48 percent intermediate, 26 percent advanced, 26 percent expert
Location: Town of Aspen
Information:, (970) 925-1220, (800) 308-6935

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Aspen Highlands

Aspen Highlands was always a local favorite – and then, in 2002, it opened the complete Highland Bowl for the first time, making it legendary in the national skiing and riding scene. Highlands followed up by opening the Deep Temerity lift two seasons ago, adding 220 acres to the mountain. Hiking Highlands Bowl – and skiing the Highlands in general – may seem like a task reserved for seasoned experts, but take it as a sign of the times that almost all levels of snowriders have the gumption – and the healthy hearts – to climb to the 12,392-foot summit of Highland Bowl and find their way down the stunning slopes. Intermediates will find that the skier’s left of the main mountain is an untouched, uncrowded haven; beginners should take a few runs, hop on the bus and head to Buttermilk.

Fun Fact: High-occupancy vehicles (4 or more people) park for free at Aspen Highlands.

Average annual snowfall: 300 inches

Price:(Adult all day/half day): TBD

Skiable Acres: 1,010

Lifts: 3 high-speed quads, 2 triples

Terrain park: No

Season: Dec. 8 – April 6

Terrain breakdown: 18 percent easiest, 30 percent more difficult, 16 percent most difficult, 36 percent expert

Location: 3 miles from Aspen

Information:, (970) 925-1220, (800) 308-6935

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Beaver Creek

Always known as a top-dollar family resort, Beaver Creek is upping the ante in its quest to remain the top guest-service resort in North America by adding two new gondolas and an even more ambitions grooming program in 2007-08. The Riverfront Gondola, expected to open during the winter season, will transport people from the town of Avon, below Beaver Creek, to Beaver Creek Landing. It’s designed to provide yet another way for skiers to reach the slopes and relieve congestion at the main base area. A children’s gondola has also been installed, replacing the Haymeadow lift (#1), so little ones and newbies can have a comfy, toasty ride to the top of the bunny hill. The Diamonds in the Rough grooming program, initiated this season, will ensure that one black diamond run will be groomed each night, helping intermediate skiers to make the leap to advanced terrain. Resort officials are hoping that the improvements will help them take the National Ski Area Association’s “Best Overall Customer Service Program” a third year in a row. As always, lift tickets purchased here are valid at Vail as well, and it’s worth spending time exploring Beaver Creek during a Vail vacation – or visa-versa.

Fun Fact: Beaver Creek hosts the Talons Challenge on Jan. 26, 2008. About 1,500 people converge at Red Tail Camp to take on 13 runs and 23,722 vertical feet of advanced terrain all in one day.

Average annual snowfall: 310

Price: Prices vary (see website)

Skiable Acres: 1,805

Lifts: 17 (2 Gondolas, 10 high-speed quads, 2 triples, 3 doubles

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Nov. 21-April 13

Terrain breakdown: 19 percent beginner, 43 percent intermediate, 38 percent advanced/expert

Location: 9 miles west of Vail on I-70

Information:, (970) 845-9090, (888) 830-SNOW

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Industry magazines continually rank Breckenridge’s terrain parks in the top-3 nationwide, yet as snowboarding and twin-tip skiing innovate, so must the parks. Breckenridge is answering the call by expanding its Peak 8 parks and offering terrain for intermediates and experts in a “progressive” manner, while continuing to give beginners and intermediate riders a place of their own on Peak 9.

Breckenridge is much more than terrain parks, however, and boasted more skier visits than any other resort in North America in 2006-07 with 1.65 million. The Imperial Express, North America’s highest chairlift, and the new BreckConnect gondola have helped the mountain handle these new visitors and send them to the mountain’s diverse terrain.

Fun Fact: Breckenridge Team rider Steve Fisher was a 2007 X Games Gold Medalist

Average annual snowfall: 300 inches

Price: Prices vary (see website)

Skiable Acres: 2,358

Lifts: 27

Terrain park: Yes (25 acres and 4 parks)

Season: Nov. 9 – April 20

Terrain breakdown: 14 percent beginner, 31 percent intermediate, 19 percent advanced, 36 percent expert

Location: 104 miles from DIA, on highway 9 (south from exit 203 on I-70)

Information:, (800) 789-7669

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This resort generally has two kinds of clients: beginner skiers and terrain-park riders. The wide-open slopes and casual atmosphere make learning a low-stress process, and the snow is soft, well-groomed, and easy to handle.

Expert and aspiring jibbers from around the nation – and, in fact, the world – make Buttermilk their destination. The two-mile-long terrain park, 30 rails, a permanent slopestyle course, and a superpipe make Buttermilk a big-air paradise or a learner’s testing grounds, so it’s a good place for young, aspiring X-Gamers to hang out.

Fun Fact: Buttermilk will once again host the Winter X Games on Jan 24-27, 2008, and everyday riders can test their mettle in a park similar to the one used for the event.

Average annual snowfall: 200 inches

Price: (Adult all day/half day): TBD

Skiable Acres: 420

Lifts: 7

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Dec. 8 – April 6

Terrain breakdown: 35 percent easiest, 39 percent intermediate, 26 percent advanced, 0 percent expert.

Location: 3 miles from Aspen

Information:, (970) 925-1220, (800) 308-6935

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Ski Cooper

Perhaps no other resort in the state is as relaxed and low-key as Ski Cooper (not to be confused with Copper Mountain, nearby). Located between Leadville and Red Cliff along the very scenic Highway 24, Ski Cooper has quietly become a local’s choice for an affordable, pressure-free ski or snowboarding day. Although the resort is rustic, it now has an electronic ticketing system – quite a modernization for this small mountain. Early in the season the resort is only open on weekends, but following December 14 it opens daily.

Fun Fact: Cooper’s Chicago Ridge snow cat tours add diversity to the skiing there, but since it’s above treeline be sure to wait for fresh snow and don’t get caught there on a very windy day.

Average annual snowfall: 250 inches

Price: TBD

Skiable Acres: 400 lift served; 2,400 cat served

Lifts: 1 triple, 1 double, 2 surface

Terrain park: No

Season: November to March

Terrain breakdown: 30 percent beginner, 40 percent intermediate, 30 percent expert

Location: Highway 24, 35 miles south of Vail, 8 miles north of Leadville

Information:, (719) 486-2277

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Copper Mountain

Expert skiers will be happy to find new glade skiing on Copper Mountain this year, located between the Formidable trail and the Rosi’s Run and Treble Cliff trails on the eastern side of Copper Mountain. Its collection of terrain parks, crowned by a massive halfpipe, is also becoming one of the most respected in the nation. Copper’s terrain is easy to find and its maps easy to decipher, and it has long been heralded as one of the best-planned and laid-out mountains in the country. The eastern slopes of the mountain are the steepest and most difficult, the western slopes the easiest, and the terrain in the middle is intermediate. A relatively new base area, completed several years ago, has come to life and added vitality to the resort’s après ski and nightlife scenes.

Fun Fact: Copper Mountain offers paragliding from the top of the mountain throughout the winter.

Average annual snowfall: 280 inches

Price: TBD

Skiable Acres: 2,433

Lifts: 22 (1 high-speed sextuple, 4 high-speed quad, 5 triple, 5 double, 2 surface, 4 conveyer, 1 tubing zone lift)

Terrain park: Yes

Season: November 2 to April 13

Terrain breakdown: 21 percent beginner, 25 percent intermediate, 36 percent advanced, 18 percent expert

Location: 40 minutes west of Denver on I-70

Information:, (800) 458-8386

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Crested Butte

A lot has happened – and is still happening - at Crested Butte, which has seen a new brand of vitality since it came under new ownership in 2004. The resort was long known as a hard-core skiers hang-out, and bred the extreme scene’s most prolific generation of superstars with Seth Morrison and Matchstick productions.

Crested Butte’s other side is now burgeoning. The hard-core’s are still there, but to the forefront have come series of luxury homes, hotels, and a new stable of snow cats to provide many more groomed runs. While the corduroy is pretty good all year, the extreme terrain gets better as the year goes on and ample annual snowfall covers the steep’s many rocks and boulders.

Fun Fact: Crested Butte offers free skiing Nov. 25 to Dec. 15, 2007.

Average annual snowfall: 250 inches

Price: TBD

Skiable Acres: 1,125

Lifts: 16

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Nov. 17 – April 13

Terrain breakdown: 23 percent beginner, 57 percent intermediate, 20 percent expert

Location: 4 hours from Denver, north of Gunnison on highway 135

Information:, (800) 810-7669

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Durango Mountain Resort

Higher snowmaking efficiency means Durango will now be able to open some of its terrain, like the “Backside,” earlier in the season – but it’s Durango’s natural snow which may be the best in Colorado. Its geography is perhaps its best asset: Purgatory Mountain rises up out of the red desert with a kind of cinematic grandeur, but the metrological effect of the mountain’s proximity to such dry country makes its snow improbably fluffy and light. The Resort, which has scenery fitting for an Old West drama, also prides itself on sunny days and relatively warm weather, which may be why the resort seems to have caught on with skiers who come from around the Southwest.

Fun Fact: Nearby Mesa Verde Park features ancient cliff dwellings once inhabited by Anasazi Native Americans.

Average annual snowfall: 260 inches

Price: $60 for adults

Skiable Acres: 1,200

Lifts: 10

Terrain park: Yes (2)

Season: Dec. 1 to March 30

Terrain breakdown: 23 percent beginner, 51 percent intermediate, 26 percent advanced/expert

Location: Durango, Colo.

Information:, (800) 525-0892

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Echo Mountain

Music pumps, lights shine, and the stunt ditch awaits. Like a skate park blanketed in winter white, Echo Mountain carries the same atmosphere and social energy of a downtown skate park, but instead of wheels, Echo Mountain has rails, kickers, pipes and pumped up jibbers. It’s proximity to the Front Range (35 miles from Denver), and lights on until 9 p.m., it’s an option even on the weekdays after school. For knuckle-draggers and park rats who refuse to roll without their favorite hoodie, it’s da bomb.

Fun Fact: Echo park is open at night, under the lights.

Average annual snowfall: 260 inches

Price: TBD

Skiable Acres: 50

Lifts: 1

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Dec. 1 to March 30

Terrain breakdown: All terrain park

Location: 35 miles west of Denver

Information:, (303) 352-7347

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Eldora Mountain Resort

Eldora can’t boast the largest annual snowfall or the most skiable acres - its strength is proximity to the Front Range and a very social mix of riders. Still, the resort will sometimes capture more from a storm cycle than the other resorts, and although it is close to the Front Range it still has a high-altitude base at 9,200 feet above sea level. Located 21 miles west of Boulder, Eldora is the day-trip fix for beginning and intermediate Front Range riders. A few quick tree routes and a stop by the terrain park can keep adventuresome riders busy, and a relaxed, snow-loving atmosphere prevails among the college students and commuters who frequent the resort.

Fun Fact: Eldora opened for skiing in 1962.

Average annual snowfall: 300 inches

Prices: TBD

Skiable Acres: 680

Lifts: 12 (2 quad 2 triple, 4 double, 4 surface)

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Mid-November to mid-April

Terrain breakdown: 20 percent beginner, 50 percent intermediate, 30 percent advanced

Location: 21 miles west of Boulder on highway 119, or 47 miles northwest from Denver on Highway 72

Information:, (303) 440-8700

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Keystone officials are calling it the “Bigger, Bolder” Keystone, a capital expenditure effort which includes several new hotels, restaurants, and a base-area renovation. Through all this, however, Keystone still holds onto a very low-key, low-pressure atmosphere usually seen in much smaller resorts. What sets it apart is the night-skiing, which keeps riders on the mountain until 9 p.m. on select evenings. There is plenty of beginner and intermediate terrain during day and night, but experts will want to hit the Outback Bowls, open during the daytime. Like all Vail Resorts-owned ski areas, Keystone has been proactive with park building, exemplified by its now-renown A51 park.

Fun Fact: Keystone offers tubing atop the 11,640-foot Dercum Mountain

Average annual snowfall: 230

Price: Prices vary (see website)

Skiable Acres: 3,148

Lifts: 20 (2 gondolas, 1 high-speed sextuple, 5 high-speed quad)

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Nov. 9 – April 13

Terrain breakdown: 12 percent beginner, 34 percent intermediate, 54 percent advanced/expert

Location: 75 miles west of Denver on Highway six, south of I-70

Information:, (877) 753-9786

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Drivers heading westbound on I-70 see Loveland ski area unfurl before them like a billboard for Colorado skiing as they make their way toward Eisenhower Tunnel. The resort makes for a great park-and-ski day trip which is easy to get to and easy to navigate. It’s high-altitude location on the continental divide makes it one of the first mountains to open and one of the last to close each year. Most of the good riding at Loveland is wide-open, intermediate terrain, yet several pockets of very steep, expert terrain can keep an expert skier busy through the day. Beginners have an entire hill to themselves, where chairs 7 and 3 make for a relaxing, gentle day away from speedy experts.

Fun Fact: Parking is free at Loveland

Average annual snowfall: 400 inches

Price: TBD

Skiable Acres: 1,365

Lifts: 7

Terrain park: Yes (no halfpipe)

Season: Mid-October to mid-May

Terrain breakdown: 13 percent beginner,41 percent intermediate, 46 percent advanced/expert

Location: Eisenhower Tunnel, 45 min west of Denver on I-70

Information:, (800) 225-5683

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Monarch Ski and Snowboard Area

Monarch has done well to get the word out, but it’s still one of Colorado’s best kept secrets. College students from Gunnison like it for the ample steeps and nearby backcountry tree skiing which dumps out onto Highway 50 for an easy shuttle. The in-bounds skiing is easy to manage because of the area’s simple design – families or groups with a wide range of skill level can split up at the top, choose their own terrain, and meet at the bottom with little trouble finding their way. Without snowmaking, Monarch doesn’t have the ability to make a halfpipe or sizeable terrain park, but some say its all-natural snow is an advantage. Lodging is in Buena Vista, Salida, or Poncha Springs, all a half-hour drive (or more) away from the slopes.

Fun Fact: A ski pass at Monarch also buys 3 days at each of the following resorts: Crested Butte, Loveland, Purgatory, Sunlight, Powderhorn, Angel Fire, NM and Pajarito, NM

Average annual snowfall: 350 inches

Price: TBD

Skiable Acres: 800 acres

Lifts: 5 (1 quad, 4 doubles)

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Nov. 22 to April 9

Terrain breakdown: 14 percent beginner, 28 percent intermediate, 27 percent advanced, 31 percent expert

Location: 18 miles west of Salida on highway 50

Information:, (888) 996-7669

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Powderhorn Resort

The setting at Powderhorn is a bit different than any other Colorado resort. Surrounded by mesas and buttes, Powderhorn has a kind of “High-Plains drifter” feel, which it has had since skiing began on Grand Mesa in the 1940s. Once the resort opened, in 1966, it instantly became a getaway spot for Western Slope residents. The air makes for dry, easy-to-ride powder, warm weather and unique views. Its focus is families, beginner and intermediate skiers, and it prides itself on a laid-back atmosphere and reasonable ticket prices.

Fun Fact: Powderhorn makes up for a lack of vertical with two quality terrain parks.

Average annual snowfall: 250 inches

Price: (Adult all day/half day): TBD

Skiable Acres: 510

Lifts: 3 (1 quad, 2 doubles)

Terrain parks: 2

Season: Early December to early April

Terrain breakdown: 20 percent beginner, 50 percent intermediate, 15 percent advanced, 15 percent expert

Location: Grand Mesa, 35 miles east of Grand Junction on highway 65

Information:, (970) 268-5700

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Silverton Mountain

With Silverton Mountain, the old saying usually holds true: “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” Colorado’s newest resort is expert-only, and has created quite a buzz over the past few years in such circles. It is a one-lift, backcountry experience for riders dedicated to powder. If conditions are right, the available terrain can get as scary – and hairy – as a rider can handle.

Fun Fact: Silverton also works in conjunction with El Diablo Snow Cat Tours

Average annual snowfall: 400+

Price: $49 (unguided) $99-129 (guided)

Skiable Acres: 1819 (depends on what you can handle)

Lifts: 1

Terrain park: No

Season: Dec. 1 to late spring

Terrain breakdown: 100 percent expert

Location: Silverton, in southwestern Colorado


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The Aspen Skiing Company is investing $17 million into Snowmass’ “Treehouse,” an adventure center for children which represents the single largest capital investment project in the company’s history. The company is also improving the layout and placement of its terrain park, and Snowmass will benefit from Aspen’s company-wide upgrade in grooming facilities. The mountain itself is quite large and equally as varied. It has beginning and intermediate terrain for cruisers, bumpers, and tricksters. Advanced and expert skiers bypass the mellow ride for the quick hike to the Cirque, where Snowmass provides terrain to match Highlands Bowl nearby. Snowmass is relatively uncrowded, with an average of two people per acre.

Fun Fact: This year’s lift ticket features a detail of the image, “Gelsey Stuck on the Matterhorn” (2000) by artist Karen Kilimnik.

Average annual snowfall: 300 inches

Price (Adult all day/half day): TBD

Skiable Acres: 3,010

Lifts: 20

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Nov. 22 – April 13

Terrain breakdown: 6 percent easiest, 50 percent intermediate, 12 percent most difficult, 32 percent expert

Location: 9 miles from Aspen

Information:, (970) 925-1220, (800) 308-6935

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SolVista at Granby Ranch

SolVista’s slogan is, “For those fueled by hot cocoa, not adrenaline,” and it couldn’t be more on the mark. The gentle slopes attract families and easy-going skiers to an area tucked into the timber 15 miles from Winter Park. Its five lifts service two connected mountains. The east mountain is beginner and intermediate, and the west mountain is slightly more difficult. SolVista may have some of the best deals around for beginner skiers looking for an instruction/ski package.

Fun Fact: SolVista is part of a larger resort, known for its golf, called Granby Ranch.

Average annual snowfall: 220

Price (Adult all day/half day): TBD

Skiable Acres: 406

Lifts: 5 (1 speed quad, 1 fixed quad, 1 triple, 1 double, 1 surface)

Terrain park: No

Season: Dec. 13 to April 1

Terrain breakdown: 30 percent beginner, 50 percent intermediate, 20 percent advanced

Location: 15 miles north of Winter Park, 2 miles south of Granby

Information:, (888) 283-7458

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Steamboat has added $16 million in improvements to its mountain, which includes the new six-passenger Christie Peak Express chairlift, re-grade of the Headwall terrain, significant snowmaking improvements and expansion of the Meadows parking facility. Unlike some other Colorado resorts, Steamboat is far away from any major highway or metropolitan district, which makes it a bit harder to get to but very peaceful once there. It has grown from a small, secluded resort in 1973 to a major destination 41 years later. As Colorado’s second-largest ski area Steamboat can boast ample amounts of almost all kinds of terrain, including a 500-foot long super-pipe. Only the die-hard expert will be short on terrain – beginners and intermediates can take a full two weeks to get to know the mountain. And Steamboat tends to have different weather patterns than the I-70 corridor slopes, so look to Steamboat for snow when the rest of Colorado is ailing.

Fun Fact: Steamboat’s light, Colorado snow has led resort officials to trademark the term Chapagne Powder ® snow.

Average annual snowfall: 335

Price: TBD

Skiable Acres: 2,965

Lifts: 25

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Nov. 22 - April 6

Terrain breakdown: 14 percent beginner, 42 percent intermediate, 44 percent advanced

Location: 160 miles northwest of Denver, on highway 40 west of Kremmling

Information:, (970)879-6111

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Sunlight Mountain Resort

In a state populated by ski Goliaths, Sunlight has often played the role of David. It’s proximity to Aspen’s four mountains has given the mountain its biggest challenge (to withstand comparison to Aspen’s legendary hills) yet also its biggest asset (The Roaring Fork Valley’s skiers and riders often choose Sunlight as an alternative to Aspen’s spotlight). Experts will find it amazing – but only for a few runs, while intermediates might find it a good proxy for Utopia, as more than half of the mountain is intermediate terrain. Tree skiers, too, will not be disappointed with Sunlights in-between spaces. None should be disappointed with Sunlight’s affordability, especially compared with its neighbor, Aspen.

Fun Fact: Sunlight’s “Heathen” run is very, very, steep at 52 degrees.

Average annual snowfall: 250 inches

Price: TBD

Skiable Acres: 470

Lifts: 4 (1 triple, 2 double, 1 surface)

Terrain park: Yes

Season: December to April

Terrain breakdown: 20 percent beginner, 55 percent intermediate, 20 percent advanced, five percent expert

Location: Glenwood Springs

Information:, (800) 445-7931

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Those who have skied the Alps will know that only Telluride, among Colorado resorts, can claim to match the big-mountain feel of its European counterparts. Beyond its views, however, “T-ride’s” bump runs are complimented by long groomers, its black diamonds by its greens, and its rustic, rebellious Town by its quiet and luxurious Village. This year the resort opens Iron Bowl, a portion of terrain similar to the steep-and-deep Prospect Bowl yet a bit larger in terms of vertical. While experts swap stories of stashes lost and found, beginners can revel in the accessibility of chairs 10 and 11. Intermediates can cruise the blues and bumps under chairs 4 and 5, advances riders can hit chairs 6, 9, and 14.

Fun Fact: Telluride’s “Slope Tracker” GPS system, available for $20, can track a guest’s route throughout the day.

Average annual snowfall: 309

Price (Adult all day/half day): TBD

Skiable Acres: 1,700

Lifts: 16 (2 high-speed gondolas, 7 high-speed quad, 2 triple, 2 double, 2 surface, 1 magic carpet)

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Nov. 22 – April 6

Terrain breakdown: 24 percent beginner, 38 percent intermediate, 38 percent advanced/expert

Location: 65 miles from Montrose on highway 145, or 71 miles north of Cortez

Information:, (970)728-6900, (800)778-8581

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When Vail founder Earl Eaton convinced friend and fellow founder Pete Seibert that Vail was prime skiing real estate, he did so by bringing him to the top of Vail Mountain and showing him the expansive Back Bowls. From that moment onward, Vail’s fate was sealed, and despite its recent, billion-dollar “revitalization,” Vail’s heart and soul will always reside in the massive acreage of beautiful bowl skiing on the backside. Getting there – or at least to the top – will be easier with the replacement of the old Chair 10 with a high-speed quad. High-speed are a necessity on this massive mountain, which offers 93 different runs, over 5,000 acres, and every kind of terrain (except, arguably, good sustained steeps). With all this ahead, the key to a good day in Vail is navigation and planning. Weekend crowds can fill the main lift lines but leave others empty, and snow conditions can be completely different on the southern exposures than on the northern exposures. Good snow can always be found in patches, in the trees, or on the groomers, which are listed at the three main base areas (Golden Peak, Vail Village, and Lionshead). Avoid Vail’s wallet-shrinking effect by searching for the numerous deals available.

Fun Fact: Vail’s largely treeless back bowls may have been created by a forest fire started by Native Americans.

Average annual snowfall: 346

Price: Prices vary (see website)

Skiable Acres: 5,289

Lifts: 34

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Nov. 16 – April 18

Lifts: 15 quad, 3 triple, 5 doubles, 5 surface, 5 carpet

Terrain breakdown: 28 percent beginner, 32 percent intermediate, 40 percent advanced/expert

Location: 100 miles west of Denver on I-70

Information:,, (970) 476-5601

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Winter Park

Winter Park put most of its money where its village is this offseason, but the ski mountain will benefit from a new six-pack chairlift which will ease access to over 1,123 acres including Vasquez Cirque, Parsenn Bowl and the Eagle Wind Trails and 100 acres of new intermediate and advanced terrain. Winter Park is actually a connected group of five areas: Winter Park, Mary Jane, Parsenn Bowl, Vasquez Cirque and Vasquez Ridge. The bump skiing at Winter Park has long been heralded as the best in the state, and those searching for bumping bliss will want to visit Mary Jane and Vasquez Ridge. Intermediates are at home at Vasquez Cirque, parts of Mary Jane and Winter Park. Beginners can explore the gentle slopes at Winter Park.

Fun Fact: Winter Park is owned by the city and county of Denver.

Average annual snowfall: 359

Price: TBD

Skiable Acres: 3,060

Lifts: 25 (1 high-speed sextuple, 7 high-speed quad, 4 triple, 7 double, 3 surface, 3 magic carpet)

Terrain park: Yes

Season: Nov. – April

Terrain breakdown: 9 percent beginner, 21 percent intermediate, 13 percent advanced, 54 percent expert, 3 percent extreme

Location: 67 miles northwest of Denver

Information:, (303) 892-0961

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Wolf Creek

For years, Wolf Creek has been the snow capitol of Colorado, and typically the best place to get first tracks of the year. At 10,300 feet above sea level on a high pass near Pagosa Springs, nearly 200 miles from the nearest major airport, Wolf Creek can be hard to get to – but riders who make it have the place to themselves. A hike to the top of the ridge is the best spot to get expert or advanced turns, while the base of the mountain remains a casual corner in Colorado skiing. Beginners can spend the day on the Nova Chair for a cut rate.

Fun Fact: Wolf Creek has the highest snow average of any resort in Colorado.

Average annual snowfall: 465 inches

Price: TBD

Skiable Acres: 1,600

Lifts: 7 (1 high-speed quad, 1 double, 2 triple, 1 quad, 1 high-speed poma, 1 magic carpet

Terrain park: No

Season: Early Nov. to April

Terrain breakdown: 20 percent beginner; 35 percent intermediate; 25 percent advanced; 20 percent expert

Location: San Juan/Rio Grande National Forest, Highway 160, Wolf Creek Pass, Between Pagosa Springs and South Fork, 75 miles east of Durango, 65 miles west of Alamosa

Information:, (970) 264-5639

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Comment on article  1 Comment on "Colorado Ski Resort Review 2007 - 2008"


John Mayo — January 9, 2008

A nice article, except for the absence of lift and accommodation prices would make it complete.



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