Though it isn’t much farther along the I-70 corridor than Vail and Beaver Creek, Sunlight Mountain — which finally opened on December 21 — is still something of a secret gem among Colorado ski areas. Most skiers and snowboarders drive right past it on their way to Aspen without even knowing it’s there, but the trip to Glenwood Springs can actually be one of the most special winter adventures in the state.
Here are five things you need to know about Sunlight Mountain:
1. At $65 for a single-day adult lift ticket — a third of what you’ll pay at some other resorts — it’s one of the most affordable window-ticket rates in Colorado.
2. Conversely, the mountain also offers the “World’s Most Expensive Lift Ticket,” a surprisingly sweet $700 deal known as the Sunny 700 that includes a single-day lift ticket, a new pair of Meier skis — handcrafted here in Colorado — and a day pass to soak at nearby Iron Mountain Hot Springs. There’s also a $600 option for snowboarders.
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3. The hot springs are where it’s at when you come to Glenwood Springs, and Sunlight offers a range of Ski-Swim-Stay packages in partnership with eight local hotels (skiswimstay.com). Or spring for the $199 “Slope & Soak” four-packs, which include four full-day lift tickets and passes to either Glenwood Hot Springs or Iron Mountain Hot Springs. “A rejuvenating soak in a natural mineral hot springs — it’s one of the best après experiences in all of Ski Country,” boasts Sunlight spokesman Troy Hawks. You could stay in the area for nearly a week, hitting different hot springs every day. In addition to Glenwood and Iron Mountain, try Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs in Redstone or the (free!) Penny Hot Springs along Highway 133 in nearby Carbondale.
4. For a special splurge, make it a Ski-Swim-Stay-Sip experience. “Mountain shredders hip to the après scene will love ‘sleeping with the stills’ at the Distillery Inn, the only inn worldwide housed within a working distillery,” Hawks says. The Distillery Inn at Marble Distillery in Carbondale offers five state-of-the-art luxury hotel suites.
5. For an old-timey twist, take the train from Union Station in Denver and plan to stay for several nights in stately historic hotels like the Hotel Denver (right across from the Glenwood Springs train station) or Hotel Colorado (across the pedestrian bridge over I-70), which are both within walking distance of the Glenwood Hot Springs pool and offer free shuttle rides to Sunlight Mountain. Glenwood is delightfully old-school, and visits to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue and Doc Holliday’s Tavern will have you wondering where you left your time machine.