Where Do All the Raft Guides Go in the Winter?

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Photo Courtesy of Carl Frey

Our advice to all the raft guides and other boating bums left in limbo during the winter months? Hit the slopes, of course. Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) member ski areas have spent the whole summer working on projects aimed to elevate the ski and ride experience with capital improvements, investments in infrastructure, and new programs that guests of all ages and experience levels will appreciate.

Colorado overall will welcome six new chairlifts at five ski areas across the state, six new dining experiences and two terrain expansions for skiers and riders to enjoy. This year’s improvements will excite expert skiers and riders, but also those that are new to the sport or returning after some time away from the slopes.

“Colorado is once again leading the ski industry with significant investment in lift infrastructure for the 2018-19 winter season,” said Melanie Mills, President and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. “Guests to Colorado Ski Country member ski areas will experience new chairlifts, new terrain, new lodging, new dining options and multiple offerings that are directed at those newer or returning to the sport and those that may just be looking to enjoy the mountain environment.”

Below is a summary of the many improvements and upgrades at CSCUSA ski areas for the upcoming 2018-19 ski season.

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

For the 2018-19 season, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area will fully open its 468-acre terrain expansion into the Beavers and the Steep Gullies, including the new four-person Beavers chairlift.

A-Basin opened approximately 371 acres of terrain last season to give a “preview” to excited skiers and riders. This summer, A-Basin operations crews constructed 97 more acres of tree skiing (glades) and continued improving the rest of the terrain with grading, glading and installation of the chairlift and picnic areas. Terrain in The Beavers will include two new intermediate groomed runs in the 2018-19 season, allowing more skiers and riders to enjoy this scenic, north- and west-facing terrain. The Steep Gullies are approximately 91 acres of extreme (double-black diamond), steep, couloir skiing. These runs will remain hike-back for the true advanced skier or snowboarder looking for some of the most challenging terrain in Colorado. For more information, visit www.arapahoebasin.com.

Aspen Snowmass

Aspen Skiing Company is well underway on the Snowmass Base Village Development, a $600 million mountain-resort development that will add lodging, residences and amenities over 10 years. The first phase of development includes the new Limelight Hotel Snowmass, a ski-in/ski-out hotel adjacent to Snowmass Mountain’s Elk Camp Gondola that will feature 99 hotel rooms and 11 for-sale condominiums, plus a new restaurant, a children’s game area and a five-story climbing wall. The Snowmass Base Village will also welcome a central public events plaza to serve as the community’s gathering space with an ice-skating rink, fire pits, children’s pop-up fountains and other community amenities this winter.

At Buttermilk families and children can enjoy Fort Frog, a new wooden, frontier style fort with lookout towers, a jail, snowball launcher and swinging bridge. This is a great option for skiing and nonskiing families alike.

Also new for the 2018-19 season, The Aspen Snowmass App will receive an upgrade to provide rewards and enhanced functioning of year-over-year stats and tracking, allowing families, skiers and nonskiers to track on-mountain movements. All Aspen Snowmass food and beverage outlets will go straw free. For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com.

Cooper

Cooper’s new Moonlight Mountaintop Yurt dinner series at the Ridgeview Café features a ride to the mountaintop after hours in a warm, cozy snowcat in the light of the full moon. This event is perfect for a special gathering with four dates during the 2018-19 season and includes delicious flame-grilled salmon, stuffed portabella mushrooms and New York strip steaks. For more information, visit www.skicooper.com.

Copper Mountain

For the 2018-19 season, Copper Mountain will debut the new American Flyer and American Eagle chairlifts out of Copper’s Center Village. The American Flyer will now be a high speed six-person chair with bubble enclosures to protect from wind and cold, the only active bubble chair in Colorado. The American Eagle will be a high-speed combination lift that features both six-person chairs and eight-person gondola cabins. Both will significantly increase uphill access from the base area and reduce wait times.

Copper Mountain will also debut a new base area restaurant, Downhill Duke’s. Named after a beloved dog, Downhill Duke’s will welcome guests and their four-legged friends to unbuckle their boots, take in some sun and enjoy lunch or après cocktails on the south-facing patio. For more information, visit www.coppercolorado.com.

Echo Mountain Resort

Echo will kick off the 2018-19 season with a new tubing hill serviced by a covered conveyor lift offering family-friendly fun for skiers and those who just want to play in the snow. Echo will also expand the beginner learning area, increase snowmaking capacity and offer RFID access gates for direct-to-lift access on several ticket and pass options.

Echo will also continue to offer and expand its Ambassador coaching program included in a day lift ticket purchase. As part of the program, employees are available throughout the mountain to offer tips and suggestions to help guests who are learning or looking to progress their ski or snowboard skills. For more information, visit www.echomountainresort.com.

Eldora

A year after installing the Alpenglow high-speed six-person chairlift, Eldora’s first-ever high-speed lift, the ski area will make another leap into the future this season with RFID pass technology. New glading projects and upgrades to Eldora’s electrical and communication systems will give guests more reasons to smile, as will more frequent early-season and mid-week events and activities. For more information, visit www.eldora.com.

Granby Ranch

During the 2018-19 season, Granby Ranch will offer groups the opportunity to rent Granby Ranch’s East Mountain for the evening. Guests will have full access to the East Mountain night skiing terrain from 5pm-9pm in a unique option for groups to highlight a special occasion or host a private event.  For more information, visit www.granbyranch.com.

Kendall Mountain

New for the 2018-19 season, Kendall Mountain will offer a natural ice-skating experience with pond skating. Kendall’s pond just south of the ski lodge offers stellar views of the rugged San Juan Mountains. The ski area will offer nighttime skating events on the pond throughout the winter season featuring a DJ, bonfire, hot cocoa, star gazing, and lots of family friendly fun. For more information, visit www.colorado.gov/pacific/townofsilverton/ski-kendall.

Loveland Ski Area

For the 2018-19 season, Loveland Ski Area will unveil the largest single capital improvement project in the ski area’s history with the installation of a new lift, Chet’s Dream. Chet’s Dream will be the first high-speed quad in Loveland’s history and is named after the ski area’s longtime owner, Chet Upham Jr. For more information, visit www.skiloveland.com.

Monarch Mountain

Monarch Mountain will debut a brand-new tubing park for the 2018-19 season, expanding offerings for visiting families with both skiers and nonskiers in the group. Monarch will also improve the guest experience with new gladed tree skiing, upgraded WiFi, chip readers at all sales terminals, self-order kiosks in the Gunbarrel Cafeteria and handheld order-taking technology. For more information, visit www.skimonarch.com.

Powderhorn Resort

Powderhorn Resort’s 2018-19 season will feature Mission: Affordable, a new steeply discounted season pass program with discounts and special programs for first-timers and beginners. For more information, visit www.powderhorn.com.

Purgatory Resort

Purgatory Resort will offer year-round access to the Inferno Mountain Coaster, a new gravity-fed ride that will zip through aspen groves revealing incredible views of the San Juan mountains. A great option for families with nonskiers or those seeking a break from the slopes, The Inferno Mountain Coaster is almost a mile long, including 300 feet of vertical drop, nine switchbacks and speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

Brand new for the 2018-19 season, Purgatory Resort will offer a free season pass for all children in Fourth Grade or younger, with no blackout dates and no parent purchase required. For more information, visit www.skipurg.com.

Silverton Mountain

Silverton Mountain will begin the 2018-19 season on November 24 with brand new heli-skiing terrain, “Zone 8,” which features diverse high-alpine terrain and great early-season snow. Silverton will also expand its Unguided Season Pass offer to include a 150 percent increase in available ski days to the unguided season, 45 free days at partner ski resorts, and a $39 heli drop. For more information, visit www.silvertonmountain.com.

Steamboat

Steamboat Resort will feature two new dining experiences for the 2018-19 season. Timber & Torch, a new base area restaurant and bar experience, will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring a new outdoor heated patio, two indoor/outdoor bars, an exterior fireplace and a new outdoor BBQ. The Taco Beast, a unique new on-mountain, roaming snowcat, will serve carne asada and al pastor trail tacos with trailside service in both winter and summer seasons. For more information, visit www.steamboat.com.

Sunlight Mountain Resort

Sunlight Mountain Resort will honor the effort and sacrifice of firefighters and first responders by launching Firefighter Fun Days for the 2018-19 season. The ski area will offer free skiing and riding to all active firefighters and first responders each Wednesday of Sunlight’s 2018-19 season.

Also new for the 2018-19 season, Sunlight will open the Compass Mountain Grill, an on-mountain food stand for walk-up skiers and riders to refuel at the top of Sunlight.

For more information, visit www.sunlightmtn.com.

Telluride Ski Resort

The Meadows, Telluride’s popular beginner area, will be upgraded into a world-class learning facility for the 2018-19 season. The Meadows will feature a newly installed 320-foot covered surface lift and a significant investment in a terrain-based learning program. Telluride skiers and riders will also find an expanded grooming fleet to enhance the groomed terrain across the resort, as Telluride continues its multi-year, multimillion-dollar venture in snowmaking upgrades and technology to improve efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint.

Telluride is also developing a consumer app that will be available for download in November 2018 and will include features such as up-to-the-minute lift status information, snow reporting, trail status, an interactive trail map, push notifications and more. For more information, visit www.tellurideskiresort.com.

Winter Park Resort

New for the 2018-19 season, Winter Park Resort will feature a new 10-person gondola, the resort’s first new on-mountain lift installation since 2007, reducing wait times by 15 minutes during peak season. The gondola will serve a new daily Mountaintop Sunset Après at the Lodge at Sunspot from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., with live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Foot passengers can ride for free without a lift ticket beginning at 2:30 p.m. each day.

Winter Park will also upgrade its snowmaking system with the addition of new energy efficient compressors, pipe replacement, and new high-tech snow guns. A Zephyr Plaza upgrade in the Winter Park Village will create a free-flowing plaza with stage area, fire pits, and sundeck for general gathering and small events and concerts.

The Winter Park Express train service from Denver to Winter Park will also return for a third season with additional Fridays added as well as a lounge car for food and beverages. For more information, visit www.winterparkresort.com.

Wolf Creek Ski Area

Wolf Creek Ski Area will open for the 2018-19 season with the new high-speed, detachable quad Charity Chairlift. The 10th lift in Wolf Creek’s current lift system, the Charity lift will be named after Charity Jane Pitcher, previous owner of Wolf Creek Ski Area. The Charity Lift will be the third chairlift in the spacious 900-acre, Alberta area. Fifty-five acres of previously underutilized terrain will now be available to beginner and intermediate skiers.

Guests can also enjoy a new on-mountain grill. The Alberta Grill will offer a south of the border themed menu and more traditional grilled items. Wolf Creek will also implement and launch a new point-of-sale system in rentals, retail and all restaurants mountain wide for the 2018-19 season. For more information, visit www.wolfcreekski.com.