Colorado's freezing temperatures may be a pain for some, but for Ruby Hill Rail Yard it means the earliest opening day since the urban ski spot was introduced in 2007. After almost two weeks of volunteer preparation, which included making the snow, Ruby Hill will open today.
Ruby Hill is a collaboration between Winter Park Resorts, the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation, and a number of sponsors, and is billed as "the country's first free urban terrain park based in a city."
With the exception of two seasons when weather didn't allow for good snow, Ruby Hill has operated for at least a few weeks each year. Winter Park provides the snow-making equipment and some personnel to run it, while park volunteers and staff help spread the snow, install the rails, and monitor the slope.
Christy Sports provides free equipment rentals for skiers and snowboarders, but only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For those under eighteen, a parent must be present to sign a release for any rented equipment. While on the slope, protective gear must be worn.
Spokesman Jeff Green of Denver Parks and Recreation says that if the weather continues to be cold enough, the city will keep the park open until the end of February. "We were able to make more snow, given the cold temperatures," Green says.
The ski spot is essentially one big run with several rails and boxes placed throughout -- and no lift. "They just have to make their way up," Green says.
"Ruby Hill has a lot of elevation change to it for most of the park," he continues. Skiers of all levels can use Ruby Hill, but if you're looking for something more advanced you'll have to head to the mountains.
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In the future, Green says the organizers might look into bringing in outside food vendors, like food trucks. But for now, they're just focusing on running the first original free urban ski area in the nation.