Riding the “snow-mentum” from a new statewide skier visit record of 14.8 million during the 2022-23 ski season, the member resorts of Colorado Ski Country USA are gearing up for another fantastic season complete with brand-new terrain, new lifts, new restaurants, and new investments in housing and childcare for ski industry workers.
“Resorts throughout Colorado Ski Country USA are making significant investments in new terrain, new lifts that move people around the mountains faster, and new restaurants and other amenities that make for an enjoyable family day on the slopes,” said CSCUSA President and CEO Melanie Mills. “It’s time for skiers and snowboarders old and new to plan ahead and prepare to make the most of the 2023-24 season.”
Major Ski Resort Investments
Steamboat Ski Resort
Steamboat Ski Resort will celebrate the completion of the most extensive project in the resort’s history. The final phase of the $220 million Full Steam Ahead redevelopment project includes the second segment of the Wild Blue Gondola to the summit of Sunshine Peak. The new segment will make Wild Blue the longest and fastest 10-person gondola in North America at 3.16 miles. The new gondola will increase the out-of-base capacity from 6,000 people per hour to 10,000 people per hour, getting skiers from bottom to top in 13 minutes. Full Steam Ahead also includes 655 new acres of expert-level terrain throughout Mahogany Ridge and Fish Creek Canyon. This north-facing area will be double-black diamond extreme terrain with steep and treed slopes, rocks, and cliffs.
Steamboat wrapped the second phase of Full Steam Ahead last season, including a dedicated Terrain Based Learning beginner area called Greenhorn Ranch, a new food and drink hall called The Range, a new ice rink, and new gathering spaces at the base.
Aspen Snowmass is kicking off the season with its biggest terrain expansion in almost 40 years. The new Hero’s terrain on Aspen Mountain features 1,220 vertical feet and more than 150 acres of new chutes, glades, and trails catering to intermediate and advanced skiers. Hero’s honors all of the people who brought the project to life, most impactfully the late Jim Crown, whose vision and leadership helped bring the ambitious expansion to reality. The expansion stays true to historical trail names like Powerline and Harris’s Wall and honors many of Aspen’s heroes with significant ties to the new terrain. There are runs dedicated to the first female ski instructor Elli Iselin, to 10th Mountain Division soldier Percy Rideout, and to pivotal ski patrol members like Eric Kinsman and Cory Brettmann. Tim Howe, who originally coined the name Pandora’s Box, will be recognized with an eponymous glade. In addition, Jim Crown’s family has chosen other trail names that honor his life, loves, and amusements.
Copper Mountain will celebrate the season with a brand-new, 25,000 sq. ft. mid-mountain lodge called the Aerie. The new lodge includes Forage and Feast, a full-service restaurant featuring Colorado cuisine at its finest. Guests will enjoy an elevated dining experience during both the summer and winter months at the on-mountain restaurant, with a bar and lounge, a private dining area for events, and a cafeteria featuring 270-degree views of the Gore and Ten Mile Ranges. Copper Mountain visitors can also expect to reap the benefits of ski trail upgrades, updated snowmaking, and the introduction of new snowcats.
A total of 5 new lifts will open this season at Colorado Ski County USA resorts:
- Aspen Snowmass: Hero’s high-speed quad
- Steamboat Ski Resort: Mahogany Ridge Express and Wild Blue Gondola upper segment
- Winter Park: Wild Spur Express
- Granby Ranch: Sunkid Covered Carpet
Granby Ranch’s new 400-ft covered conveyor, a SunKid Covered Carpet, will open new beginner terrain between the Milestone and Conquest lifts.
Winter Park’s Wild Spur Express, a new 6-passenger, high-speed detachable Leitner-Poma lift that can move 2,800 people up the mountain per hour, will give guests a new way to experience Vasquez Ridge terrain when it opens in late November or early December. The lift will include a new mid-point loading zone, allowing guests to make quicker laps on upper intermediate and advanced trails. The Wild Spur Express is the only lift that serves nearly 285 acres of mostly blue intermediate trails and steeper, more advanced bump runs.
Spinning for their first full seasons are Arapahoe Basin’s Lenawee high-speed 6-chairlift, a fixed-grip triple at Loveland that replaced Lift 6 last season, and Telluride’s Lift 9, a detachable quad that opened in February.
Ski Country Community and Workforce Investment
Winter Park Resort is investing $60 million in a brand-new, 330+ bed employee housing complex named Conifer Commons that will open mid-fall. The project is one of the largest workforce housing projects to be completed in Colorado this year. The complex is so close to the resort that residents will be able to walk to work and other amenities, including public transportation.
Copper Mountain’s work with community partners pays off with a new childcare facility for employees and community members opening this season. The center will serve a critical need in the community, providing more than 45 childcare spots for those who live and work within Copper Mountain Resort with designated areas for infants, toddlers, and pre-school-aged children.
Steamboat Ski Resort is also celebrating the first full season of The Steamboat Child Care Center which prioritizes resort team members but also offers spots to community members if space is available.
Eldora is working on a new, 12,000 sq. ft. ski and ride school building at the base of the mountain which will also house a state-of-the-art adaptive sports center. The new building will have more space, an accessible roof deck, and its location closer to the slope will make it easier for more people in adaptive sports to get on the snow.
This Season’s Can’t-Miss Extras
- Arapahoe Basin’s Black Mountain Lodge is offering Moonlight Dinners, a cuisine series from mountain regions of the world that includes a ride under the stars on the Black Mountain Express Lift, a multi-course, buffet-style dining experience, live entertainment, and specially chosen drinks.
- Aspen Snowmass will welcome the best international alpine racers as they battle in slalom and giant slalom at the Stifel Aspen World Cup, taking place March 1-3, 2024.
- Ski Cooper is offering a great weekday deal to ski their all-natural snow in the heart of the Rockies: $30 Thursdays from January 11-February 29.
- Echo Mountain, the closest ski area to Denver, welcomes skiers, snowboarders, and inner tubers looking to catch a few laps before or after work.
- Hesperus, near Durango, offers free beginner lessons with the purchase of a lift ticket and rental.
- Howelsen Hill Ski Area in downtown Steamboat is the oldest continuously operating ski area in North America and offers ski-free Sundays throughout the season.
- Loveland Ski Area has launched guided snowcat skiing, a full day on 580 acres of open bowl and treed terrain led by experienced guides that know where to find the goods; for intermediate and expert skiers and snowboarders.
- Monarch Mountain will open tree skiing earlier in the season thanks to a summer spent on tree trimming and maintenance projects.
- Powderhorn Mountain Resort is debuting a remodel of its main lodge, including the Sunset Grill and the Umbrella Bar, where you can enjoy local craft food and cocktails with a view.
- Purgatory Resort is featuring upgrades at Dante’s Lodge and Powderhouse, the addition of a second winch cat to the grooming fleet, completion of free parking lot expansions, and new equipment additions to the Rental Shop including Burton snowboards and adult and kids ski boots. Purgatory Resort also joins the CSCUSA Gems ski areas this season!
- Silverton is offering the 8th annual Women’s Big Mountain Camp for experienced skiers and snowboarders, a package that includes two guided days and one heli drop in Silverton’s pristine backcountry.
- Sunlight Mountain Resort’s new chef spent the summer developing an updated menu featuring exciting new bites and keeping fan favorites to fuel a fantastic family day on the slopes.
- Telluride Ski Resort is celebrating the 2023 CSCUSA Ski Instructor of the Year Deb Willits.
- Winter Park is giving guests four new pop-up mountain dining spots to meet guests where they are when hunger strikes; they’ll serve up grilled cheese, Philly cheesesteaks, walking tacos, and quesadillas.
- 2024 is a leap year, so February 29 offers all skiers and riders an extra day to hit the slopes this winter!
Colorado Ski Country USA Passes Help Families Hit the Slopes Together
CSCUSA is offering an expanded suite of passes designed to give skiing and snowboarding families more mountains for their money. Plus, this season, Purgatory Resort joins the CSCUSA Gems, giving Gems passes and cardholders 11 Colorado ski areas to explore.
CSCUSA’s digital passes are designed with down-to-earth prices, lots of adventure, and no hassles so families can create mountains of memories skiing and riding together throughout Colorado.
This season’s CSCUSA passes are:
- Kids’ Ski Passport for grades 3-6: 4 days at each of 20 CSCUSA member ski areas for $65. Thanks to presenting sponsor Christy Sports, you’ll also get two free junior rental packages with each Ski Passport.
- NEW for 2023-24 Gems Teen Pass: 2 uses at each of 11 Gems ski areas for $199. For ages 12-17.
- NEW for 2023-24 Gems Parent Pass: 2 uses at each of 11 CSCUSA Gems ski areas for $299. Available to parents who purchase a Gems Teen Pass or Ski Passport this season. Limit 1 per household.
- Gems Discount Card: choose your discount; 2 uses each at each of 11 Gems ski areas for $48.
- CSCUSA Gold Pass: unlimited and fully transferrable at 20 CSCUSA ski areas. The Gold Pass gives members the freedom to go wherever, whenever, with no blackout dates. The Gold Pass membership is fully transferrable and is perfect for sharing with clients, colleagues, and employees. Membership is by approval and is $4500 this season.
THE WINTER PARK RIDE
The Winter Park Express ski train ties together the area’s rich skiing and railroad history as it carries passengers through some of Colorado’s most beautiful landscapes. The ride begins at Denver Union Station, a newly renovated 1914 Beaux-Arts train station in the heart of the city. The station is the city’s transportation hub with direct rail access to Denver International Airport, making it possible to touch down from anywhere in the world and ride the rails all the way to the pristine slopes at Winter Park Resort.
The double-decker Amtrak Superliner train leaves Union Station and heads north and west as it climbs toward the Rocky Mountains, offering views of the famous Flatirons above Boulder and the surrounding plains. It snakes its way up gentle grades as it glides through the remains of the area’s pioneering past. One of the more striking aspects of the journey is the number of tunnels, many of which were built by hand in remote areas. Of the 31 tunnels, the Moffat Tunnel is the longest at 6.2 miles as it cuts through the Continental Divide some 50 miles from Denver. From there, it’s a short ride to Winter Park.
Passengers depart the train on a new heated platform and walk 100 feet to the nearest ski lift.
WINTER PARK SKI TRAIN SCHEDULE 2023 TBA
SKI TRAIN HISTORY
The original Ski Train ran continuously from 1940-2009 and was brought back temporarily for a weekend in 2015 to celebrate Winter Park’s 75th anniversary. Tickets sold out quickly, which renewed interest in resurrecting the concept under a new partnership arrangement through Amtrak, Union Pacific and the resort.