Vail's Blue Sky Basin turns 10

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Miles from the Village, the 885-acre Blue Sky Basin has been a must-explore-spot for Vail skiers for 10 years. The popular woodsy terrain beyond the mountain's Back Bowls is blessed with plenty of snow, tight trees, steeps, open powder fields, and even a few groomers. On bluebird day, there are plenty of skiers and riders grilling everything from brats to asparagus on one of the grills at the top of the Skyline Express Lift. But when Vail proposed the mountain expansion more than a decade ago, its picture wasn't so rosy.

Environmental groups protested the $14-million plan, saying the area was prime habitat for the Canada lynx, according to a Vail Daily article that runs down the history of the controversial expansion.

While these protesters went to extremes to try and stop Vail's Category III expansion, now known as Blue Sky Basin, the most extreme protest came when members of the Earth Liberation Front chose arson as their method of protest, scorching three buildings and damaging four chairlifts at Vail Mountain on Oct. 19, 1998. It was the worst act of eco-terrorism in the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said at the time.

Vail rebuilt the Two Elk Lodge, which was lost in the fires, and made it bigger and better than before. The property that was lost in the fires was all rebuilt, with costs covered by insurance money. The environmentalists may have spoken, but they didn't succeed in stopping the expansion from happening -- not by a long shot.

The U.S. Forest Service eventually approved the expansion. Read the Vail Daily article for more about the anniversary.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.