Double-digit weekend snowfall at just about every ski resort in Colorado this week, and more on the way? My fellow skiers and snowboarders, our winter prayers have finally been answered!
Unfortunately, our I-70 prayers have not. My family and I made the right call, pulling the kids out of school and heading out early on Friday afternoon: It might have taken us as long as four hours to get up to Summit County if we'd waited until Saturday morning, according to some reports, and even longer to get to the huge powder stashes in places like Aspen. Powderhorn and Wolf Creek got more snow this weekend (more than 30" in the last 48 hours alone) than some resorts have gotten all season. But what good is all that snow if you can't get to it without developing a road warrior's resentment for all humanity?
Here are some traffic cheats:
1) Go long. Leave early and stay late, whether you're making a day trip of it or a really long weekend. And by early I mean the night before: Get a room, freeload off your friends, sleep in your car, do whatever you've gotta do. For the last few consecutive weekends, morning ski traffic from Denver has been backed up as far back as Evergreen. Ugh. I like the lodging/lift ticket deals and midweek specials at Winter Park. Even better: Check out the Passholder lodging deals.
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2) Go big. We all miss the Ski Train (RIP), but with a bit of advance planning you can buy a plane ticket to Aspen, Durango, Gunnison, or Telluride for about what it would cost you in gas, grief, grind, and grime to drive it. No, seriously. "Ski Plane" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but you'll be over it by the time the in-flight drink service arrives.
3) Go Ferris Bueller. Winter moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. So take your sick days now, while you're feeling great and can make the most of them. Just be careful about posting those face-shot photos to your Facebook account: Big Brother is watching, and he's going to be jealous. Next time you're actually feeling sick, go in early in the name of powdery karma.
4) Go green. While we all wait around for a light rail solution to the slopes or some Star Trek-style transporter technology to emerge, the least you do is find some carpool buddies. I recently signed up with the Boulder Snowboarding Group on MeetUp.com, and I also like the "Make friends, not traffic" mentality at SkiCarpool.org. While you're luxuriating in the back seat and letting some poor sap of a stranger take the wheel, take a moment to sneer at the driver of any car with sticks on the rack and empty seats to spare.
5) Go to Eldora. I hadn't been to Eldora Mountain since I was a kid, but after a few rough weekend commutes in a row I found the "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive I-70" marketing campaign compelling. It's a great mountain for beginners, a great mountain for anyone with some old-timey ski resort nostalgia, and an all-around great mountain accessible by - get this - RTD Ski-and-Ride buses. You'll miss the high speed lifts you've grown accustomed to, but you won't miss much else: We made powder turns there last week for the three-day weekend without sitting in traffic for one single second on either end of the trip. If the terrain park doesn't do it for you, stop in Nederland on the way out and help shovel out the deep end of the Nathan Lazarus Skatepark. The cradle is a doozy.