There’s no denying there’s been a lot of ski news out of Colorado this year. The pass war between the state’s two behemoths — Alterra Mountain Company and Vail Resorts — has turned the ski pass buying experience on its ear. Alterra’s IKON pass now offers unlimited skiing and free days at 35 resorts in 12 states, Canada and Japan, while Vail’s EPIC pass provides unlimited skiing and free days at 65 resorts in eight states, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan. But don’t let that distract you. In spite of all the maneuverings, individual resorts have been busy making lots of improvements for the coming year. So take a break from deciding which pass to buy and take a look at some of the new things you can enjoy when the snow flies:
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
A-Basin will fully open its 468-acre terrain expansion into the Beavers and the Steep Gullies, including the new four-person Beavers chairlift. Last season, the resort opened approximately 371 acres of terrain to give a preview to 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 the installation of the chairlift and picnic areas. Terrain in The Beavers will include two new intermediate groomed runs, allowing more skiers and riders to enjoy this scenic, north- and west-facing terrain. The Steep Gullies are approximately 91 acres of double-black, 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Eldora will now offer lift access through RFID pass technology. The mountain has also completed new glading projects and upgrades to its electrical and communication systems.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 PM to 5:30 PM, with live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Foot passengers can ride for free without a lift ticket beginning at 2:30 PM 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.
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.