Ski resorts are opening across North America and it’s time to get geared up to explore them all. With so many resorts to choose from, we’re here to help you narrow down the best of the best when planning your winter adventures.
Mr. Luxury Ski
From small, independently-owned mountains to some of the biggest resorts in the world, Colorado has something for everybody. This year, Colorado visitors will find terrain expansions, updated lift systems, Olympic qualifiers, anniversary celebrations and, the one thing everyone can appreciate: more on-mountain dining options.
Terrain Expansion: Arapahoe Basin and Purgatory
Two of the only resorts in America expanding terrain this year are in Colorado, and you know what that means: more skiing for all.
Arapahoe Basin, one of the closest resorts to the Mile High City, was the first to open for the season in Colorado. The resort will add 468 new acres of skiable terrain over two years with expansion into the Beavers and Steep Gullies. For this season, that means access to 371 acres of the most extreme terrain on the mountain with hike-to access only for this season. The resort plans to build a lift in time for next season. “A-Basin” is also updating technical infrastructure-- think free device-charging stations and new WiFi access.
Purgatory is southwest Colorado’s Best Value Resort according to TripAdvisor. This secluded winter retreat, nestled in the San Juan Mountains near the cozy town of Durango, will open for the season with new intermediate and expert trails on the back- and front-sides of the mountain. (Read: unspoiled gladed tree skiing.) The Needles triple chair, Lift 6, will make access to ski team terrain, terrain parks, and front-side lappers even easier with a midway loading zone.
Olympic Qualifiers: Aspen Snowmass and Copper Mountain
A few mountains in colorful Colorado are gearing up to host some of the 2017/2018 season’s most noteworthy events. Aspen Snowmass and Copper Mountain, which are historic training grounds for the best athletes in skiing and snowboarding, will again host key Olympic qualifying events. During the 2018 Toyota US Grand Prix, the nation’s finest winter athletes will compete at three resorts to qualify for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games as a member of Team USA.
From December 6th through 10th, Copper Mountain will host the first stop on the US Grand Prix halfpipe and big air events; finals will take place on December 9th and 10th respectively. With over 100 competitors expected to participate, competition for Olympic seats will be fierce.
From January 10th through the 14th, Aspen Snowmass will host the five qualification events during the second stop of the U.S. Grand Prix: ski and snowboard slopestyle and halfpipe for men and women. The U.S. Snowboard and Freeski teams will compete throughout the week in the penultimate halfpipe and slopestyle competitions.
Updated Lifts: Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Eldora & Wolf Creek
One thing every winter escapee looks to avoid? Lift Lines. And there’s no better way for resorts to accommodate everyone’s wishes than to increase lift capacity. Resorts in Colorado understand this accommodation better than most as the masses flock to Vail’s easily accessed resorts and other escapist resorts that take a slightly more travel to discover.
Vail Resorts owns five mountains in the state and is starting up three brand new chairlifts: the Northwoods chair, Lift 11, at its namesake resort, while replacing the Falcon Chair at Breckenridge and Keystone’s Montezuma Chair. With six-person capacities, it seems these high-capacity lifts are the way of the future. Vail Resorts will operate 20 six-seaters across their properties in Colorado, Utah, and California. Only 74 of these lifts are operated worldwide, each lift allots Vail nearly 30% more skier capacity added to each lift route.
Eldora, one of the closest ski mountains to Boulder, is jumping on the six-person trend with the brand-new Alpenglow Express. The previous ride time (15 minutes) will be cut to a mere four to allow for more daily vertical and increased laps for Boulder businesspeople making turns before heading into the office.
While enjoying the first stop of the Grand Prix Olympic qualifiers, skiers and snowboarders can bank some extra laps on the brand new Kokomo Express at Copper Mountain, which serves beginner terrain in the West Village. Riders can also access the all-new Koko’s Hut with seating, casual dining and a very large outdoor deck offering expansive views of the mountain and the Tenmile Range surrounding Copper.
A comfortable trek from many major cities, Wolf Creek resides in the San Juan Mountains and enjoys one of the highest annual snow totals in the state of Colorado. Opening for the 2017/2018 ski season will be the Lynx Lift, an all-new covered conveyor lift that will service beginner terrain. The new ground lift will aid intermediate and advanced skiers in accessing the Elma and Alberta lifts as well.
Anniversary Celebrations: Snowmass and Loveland
Anniversary parties are always joyful celebrations. This year’s big hitters in Colorado include Snowmass’s 50th and Loveland’s 80th anniversaries.
Set amongst some of Colorado’s most picturesque mountains, Snowmass is going back to its 1967 roots on December 15th with $6.50 lift tickets – the original price of lift tickets. Hosting an après ski celebration on the 15th, Snowmass is going all-out this season with monthly firework displays, a 50th Anniversary Golden Gala at The Viceroy, and plenty of activities and events over its anniversary weekend from December 15th through 17th. Celebrate the striking landscape and reminiscing about Aspen Snowmass’s magnificent history.
Cat skiing (what is that?!) is being introduced to the charming, snowy Loveland Ski Resort. Situated on the Continental Divide right off the highway at the top of a mountain pass, Loveland will celebrate its 80th year of operations by bringing an 18-passenger snowcat to the Dry Gulch area. The Ridge Cat is accessible with a free Ridge Cat Pass and will take intrepid skiers to some of the most difficult expert terrain within the resort.
Train Service: Winter Park
A perfectly unique and luxurious means of traveling to a skiing destination, the Winter Park Express will be see expanded and improved service by Winter Park Resort this season. Traveling between Denver’s posh Union Station and the challenging winter wonderland of Winter Park Resort, the route will see an additional three First Friday trips, giving guests a total of 27 round-trip excursions from which to choose. So take a load off and enjoy a breathtaking ride through the Rocky Mountains.
While A-Basin and Loveland were the first to open in North America, check out the Opening Dates for the remaining resorts in Colorado and get your flights booked for another great season in Colorado right away:
Copper Mountain – Friday, November 10th
Breckenridge – Friday, November 10th
Keystone – Friday, November 10th
Winter Park – Wednesday, November 15th
Beaver Creek - Wednesday, November 22nd
Vail - Thursday, November 23rd
Eldora – Friday, November 24th
Echo – Thursday, November 30th
Ski Granby – Friday, December 15th
Hesperus – Friday, December 15th
Wolf Creek – Saturday, November 11th (Open for Weekends)
Purgatory – Saturday, November 18th
Telluride – Thursday, December 1st
Silverton – Thursday, December 28th
Aspen Snowmass – Thursday, November 23rd
Aspen Mountain – Thursday, November 23rd
Sunlight – Friday, December 8th
Aspen Highlands – Saturday, December 9th
Aspen Buttermilk – Saturday, December 9th
Powderhorn – Friday, December 15th