Hours before the storm blew into Denver on Sunday evening, the snow was falling (and blowing) 35 miles west at Echo Mountain. With a 700-foot vertical drop, it may not boast the longest runs in Colorado, but what Echo Mountain lacks in treachery in makes up for in convenience: It's the closest ski area to Denver.
"We started blowing snow last week," Echo Mountain Marketing Director Molly Mueller says, "and we added new terrain and features for this year."
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Located under the shadow of Chief Mountain, near the Squaw Pass summit, the ski area gets a yearly average of 220 inches of the white stuff on 85 skiable acres. Originally operated as the Squaw Pass Ski Area from 1965 to 1974, Echo Mountain is not on Forest Service land but is privately owned, meaning they can open and close whenever they want. And with more snow forecasted this week -- up to a foot and half around Echo Mountain -- the early season up in Summit County is quickly creeping its way down to the Front Range.
"Our hard date for opening is December 2," Mueller says. "But if weather conditions permit we will be open early."
For those looking to avoid the backed-up bowels of I-70 and check out Echo Mountain, take Exit 252, if you are heading west from Denver, follow Evergreen Parkway (CO-74) then turn right onto Squaw Pass Road (Hwy. 103) and follow it twelve miles to Echo Mountain. If you are heading east from Summit County take exit 240 and follow Squaw Pass Road eighteen miles to the ski area.