Outdoors

Winter 2022 Skiing: Here We Snow Again!

Copper Mountain is celebrating its fiftieth season.
Copper Mountain is celebrating its fiftieth season. Curtis DeVore/Copper Mountain
The flakes are falling in abundance in the high country, and many ski areas have already fired up the lifts. In fact, Vail Mountain and Winter Park opened on the earliest dates — which means it's high time to check in on what’s hot (or, in the case of ice bars and snow forts, what’s freezing cold) at Colorado’s world-famous snow-sport resorts.

While a few are marking anniversary milestones with birthday bashes and bargains — Vail Mountain, Steamboat Springs and Eldora Ski Resort turn sixty this season, while Copper Mountain is fifty — many simply report that they’re delighted to bring back events and programs that were put on pause during the pandemic, with this season feeling more like old times.

“After two-plus years of operations that have been impacted by COVID, we are thrilled to be returning to a ‘normal’ winter season with the opportunity to bring back exciting new experiences for our guests, along with familiar favorites,” says Sara Lococo, senior communications manager for Vail Resorts. “We can’t wait to celebrate on snow all season.”

Many resorts spent the past couple of years orchestrating a flurry of remodels and expansions, and this season guests will benefit from a wide range of user-experience upgrades, from bigger parking lots and reconfigured base areas to faster lifts and more dining options.

Parking is a perennial problem, and so places like Purgatory Resort added more, which will come in handy, as it also made the move toward more snowmaking, substantially increasing the high-elevation early-season terrain in lower Paradise. Winter Park made parking a priority this season, gaining 350 more parking spaces by expanding G Lot at the north end of the Bonfils area across from the resort’s main entrance, as well as widening a section of the Mary Jane Road to accommodate more parking at the Mary Jane base.
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Winter Park opened earlier than ever before.
Getty Images
Eldora also added a significant number of spaces, increasing parking by 50 percent and adding thirty EV chargers that will be first come, first served. Part of the expansion came with Boulder County mandates intended to cut down on traffic and emissions around Boulder and Nederland, including the requirement that single-occupancy vehicles will have to pay $10 a day to park on weekends and holidays. The county also added the requirement that Eldora enhance its already-existing free bus vouchers and shuttle programs, and the resort has spent $100,000 buying RTD tickets to hand out at the station at 14th and Walnut in Boulder while also providing a free round-trip shuttle to and from Boulder on weekends.

“Those snowy weekdays drive in a ton of traffic,” says Sam Bass, Eldora’s marketing director. “People have a powder-day freakout and call in sick and go ski, and it’s so impulsive that they don’t have time to think about reaching out to friends who might also be heading up and share a ride. That makes the traffic really hard on others who are just trying to get to work or take their kids to school, so we have really been thinking about ways to help that in a meaningful way.”

Aspen Snowmass is also making it easier and more environmentally friendly to get in and out with the new Roaring Fork Express, which offers daily scheduled shuttles and on-demand charters to and from Denver International Airport and Eagle County Airport.

A few base areas got major facelifts, such as Buttermilk’s new, fully electric skier services building with 9,000-plus square feet of space; Buttermilk Mountain Lodge restaurant (formerly known as Bumps, now The Backyard) has been renovated with a bigger bar and outdoor patio.

Monarch Mountain reports that it set out to better address the “donning and doffing issues that many of our guests experience,” according to Eva Egbert, Monarch’s marketing administrative manager. The result: a completely remodeled Seasonal Locker, adding 200 lockers to the existing 65, all accessed in the tunnel rather than through the lodge, and upgraded with boot dryers. Boot dryers are a feature of Wolf Creek’s newly remodeled Powder Room for season-pass holders, too.

Steamboat Springs has put in an ice rink, a new concert stage and a food and drink hall at Steamboat Square, while Loveland Ski Area revamped and enlarged the Valley Lodge, tripling the seating capacity in the cafeteria, and added a new Children’s Center to the Ski & Ride School.

Still, great terrain is the real reason for Colorado’s ski season. In its first major addition since 1985, Aspen Mountain increased skiable acreage by more than 20 percent with the snow-hoarding Pandora’s, which will be accessed via a high-speed quad and include 1,220 vertical feet of groomed trails and glades ranging from intermediate to advanced terrain.
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Eldora turns sixty this season.
Eldora
Getting to that terrain faster and easier is also key, and so Steamboat has added a second gondola called Wild Blue that services a new beginner learning area. Nearby Howelsen Hill aims to make the terrain more affordable and accessible for all by offering free skiing every Sunday through the season.

Vail made lift upgrades to Wildwood, switching out the old No. 7 high-speed quad for a high-speed six-person chair, while a new high-speed quad called No. 17 will reach Wildwood from the Sun Up and Sun Down bowls. Telluride Ski Resort has replaced the old fixed-grip Lift 9 (aka the Plunge Lift) that provides access to black, double-black and extreme terrain; the new lift is a quad that moves twice as fast, getting folks to the fun in seven minutes. Loveland Ski Area has replaced Lift 6 with a fixed-grip triple and is launching a guided snowcat operation in Dry Gulch, just east of Lift 8, for intermediate-and-above skiers and snowboarders.

For expert-only snowhounds, Winter Park will open up never-before-accessed freshies in the Cirque Territory under the moniker Jelly Roll, named for its steep, roly-poly pitch and fluff-holding capacity. The resort also plans to open more terrain in the Chutes area on Mary Jane with access to controlled avalanche chutes and the popular “Powder Field” area between Trestle and the Chutes. More slopes will be groomed more often at Winter Park this season, as well.

Breckenridge upgraded Rip’s Ride Chair on Peak 8 to a high-speed quad and added 100 new low-energy snowguns across Peaks 7, 8, 9 and 10, the majority of which are concentrated on Peak 8’s 4 O’Clock trail, which lets skiers and riders get into town right from the mountain.

A-Basin gave the fixed-grip Lenawee triple lift a big boost by turning it into the Lenawee Express, a high-speed six-pack that travels from mid-mountain to the summit five minutes faster; the old triple chair will get new life at Sunlight Mountain Resort. A-Basin also plans to continue its pandemic-era policy of limiting the sale of unrestricted season passes and packs, as well as daily lift ticket sales, which cut down on lift lines, freed up parking spaces and created the perfect conditions for longer-lasting powder stashes.

“Powder sticking around longer is a side benefit of not cramming as many people on the mountain as possible,” says Katherine Fuller, A-Basin’s senior communications manager. “Stuff doesn’t get ‘skied off’ as quickly. And it’s not a guarantee, but if you’re adventurous and willing to explore our mountain, you can almost always find powder stashes several days after a storm, especially in the Beavers, hint, hint.”

Some areas decided to address cramped dining conditions by adding more options to refuel and recharge. Vail will sculpt two on-mountain ice bars at the scenic Eagle's Nest and Wildwood restaurants, while Keystone added more dining space to its Timber Ridge Lodge. Ski Cooper added a barbecue smoker to the Timberline Taproom, and A-Basin will debut the German-themed Steilhang Hut in the space that has long housed North America’s highest-elevation eatery.

Other resorts are packing on the kid-friendly options; for instance, A-Basin is bringing back its three-day group ski program called Kids Club Arapahoe, which had been paused because of COVID for a couple of seasons, and Keystone will re-establish the World's Largest Mountaintop Snow Fort, last seen in 2019, while also adding a second snow fort experience and fun zone at the Mountain House base area. And for the first time this year, Winter Park is opening its tubing hill after dark for Cosmic Tubing and extending its mountaintop après festivities.

Silverton says it’s going all in on bringing events back, including classics like Brewski and Sisters in the Steeps, in the hopes of making up for lost time.

“This season will be rad,” says Gabby Schladale, Silverton’s guest relations manager. “It’s good to get back to the roots of ski culture, and that means après ski and events, and decompressing the day at a tailgate or an event. We are all stoked!”

We are, too, Gabby. See you slopeside.

Arapahoe Basin
Opening/closing day: Open now-TBD
888-272-7246
arapahoebasin.com

Aspen Highlands
Opening/closing day: December 10-April 9, 2023
800-525-6200
aspensnowmass.com

Aspen Mountain
Opening/closing day: Open now-April 16, 2023
800-525-6200
aspensnowmass.com

Beaver Creek Resort
Opening/closing day: Open now-April 16, 2023
970-306-0972
beavercreek.com

Breckenridge Ski Resort
Opening/closing day: Open now-TBD
970-453-5000
breckenridge.com

Buttermilk Mountain
Opening/closing day: December 17-April 2, 2023
800-525-6200
aspensnowmass.com

Copper Mountain Resort
Opening/closing day: Open now-April 23, 2023
866-656-1546
coppercolorado.com

Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Opening/closing day: Open now-April 2, 2023
877-547-5143
skicb.com

Echo Mountain
Opening/closing day: TBD
720-899-2100
echomntn.com

Eldora Mountain
Opening/closing day: Open now-April 16, 2023
303-440-8700
eldora.com

Granby Ranch
Opening/closing day: December 10-TBD
888-850-4615
granbyranch.com

Hesperus Ski Area
Opening/closing day: TBD
970-385-2199
ski-hesperus.com

Howelsen Hill Ski Area
Opening/closing day: November 26-March 26, 2023
970-879-8499
steamboatsprings.net/ski

Kendall Mountain Ski Area
Opening/closing day: December 16-April 2, 2023
970-387-5522
skikendall.com

Keystone Resort
Opening/closing day: Open now-April 16, 2023
970-496-4170
keystoneresort.com

Loveland Ski Area
Opening/closing Day: Open now-early May 2023
303-571-5580
skiloveland.com

Monarch Mountain
Opening/closing day: TBD
719-530-5000
skimonarch.com

Powderhorn Mountain Resort
Opening/closing day: TBD
970-268-5700
powderhorn.com

Purgatory Resort
Opening/closing day: Open now-April 9, 2023
970-247-4000
purgatory.ski

Silverton Mountain
Opening/closing day: December 29-April 16, 2023
970-387-5706
silvertonmountain.com

Ski Cooper
Opening/closing day: December 7-April 16, 2023
800-707-6114
skicooper.com

Snowmass Ski Area

Opening/closing day: Open now-April 16, 2023
800-525-6200
aspensnowmass.com

Steamboat Resort
Opening/closing day: Open  now-April 9, 2023
800-922-8722
steamboat.com

Sunlight Mountain Resort
Opening/closing day: TBD
970-945-7491
sunlightmtn.com

Telluride Ski Resort
Opening/closing day: November 26-April 2, 2023

800-778-8581
tellurideskiresort.com

Vail Mountain
Opening/closing day: Open now-April 23, 2023
970-SKI-INFO (754-4636)
vail.com

Winter Park Resort
Opening/closing day: Open now-TBD
970-726-1564
winterparkresort.com

Wolf Creek Ski Area
Opening/closing day: Open now-TBD
800-SKI-WOLF
wolfcreekski.com
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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner

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