Most Viewed Stories
Five other ski resorts celebrating anniversaries
Vail is the state’s biggest ski area, but it isn’t the only one having a special birthday this season.
Here’s a rundown of other celebration milestones in 2012-13:
Loveland Ski Area
In 1937, the Loveland Ski Tow Company began running a rope tow powered by a Model T engine west of Denver. The post-war years saw expansion to four ropes, and chair lifts went in by the 1950s.
The construction of Interstate 70 proved a boon for skiing here. And in 1967, using diesel compressors, Loveland became the first major ski area in Colorado to make snow. Decades of expansion pushed skiing to the wide-open tundra and steep chutes above the Eisenhower Tunnel.
The area remains a locals’ favorite. You won’t find posh lodging or boutiques, just short lift lines and great skiing that’s an easy drive from the Front Range — except on peak-season weekends, when ski traffic clogs I-70.
Loveland’s 75th birthday party is slated for Jan. 12, with food, drinks, live music and prizes for pass-holders and those who buy a lift ticket.
“I’m gonna build me a killer ski resort.”
That was the promise of Chuck Lewis, a competitive skier and former instructor in mountain warfare for the Army at Colorado’s Camp Hale. He had helped launch skiing at Vail and pulled together investors to buy 280 acres on the east side of Vail Pass for his resort.
U.S. Forest Service experts had identified the area as a good location for skiing, with a rich variety of difficulty levels separated by natural terrain features. Over the years, Copper expanded to all of them. Its back bowls offer a serene backcountry skiing experience without the climbing or long traverses, and the Tucker Mountain Snowcat provides access to a powder lover’s Nirvana — and the ride is free, a rare treat in modern skiing.
At 40 years old, Copper Mountain is definitely not over the hill. It will celebrate Friday through Sunday with $40 lift tickets, $40 rental equipment for two, $40 demo equipment, $40 Woodward Intro Session and $40 off a Youth Group Lesson.
The sport was booming in the early 1960s, and entrepreneurs in Denver and Boulder were eager to attract Front Range skiers to areas that didn’t require long drives on dicey mountain roads.
Among the many small ski hills built in this era, Eldora Mountain Resort has survived and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.
It was a rocky start, as its location meant it received less snow than resorts along the Continental Divide. Plus, it was open only sporadically or, in 1966, not at all.
It changed hands numerous times over the years, and ownership issues forced the cancellation of the 1986-87 season.
But Eldora found a loyal following in the Boulder area and was able to expand to higher, steeper terrain to cater to the age’s more daring skiers.
Today, it’s a model of a community ski area. Growth and skier visits are capped by Boulder County, so Eldora seems destined to remain that way — and that’s fine with the locals, who don’t have to drive far or brave the I-70 traffic.
Steamboat Ski Resort
On Jan. 12, 1963, temperatures hovered around minus-25 degrees and ticket sales on opening day brought in a humble $13.75. It was an inauspicious beginning for one of the state’s more beloved ski areas.
Skiing was nothing new in this northern Colorado town. It was here in 1914 that Carl Howelsen built Howelsen Hill, which remains the longest-operating ski area west of the Mississippi.
But local skiers envisioned something bigger, and coining the phrase “champagne powder,” set about creating one of the top resorts in Colorado to find the namesake snow.
Today, it sprawls over six mountains with nearly 3,000 acres and some of the best tree skiing. A party to celebrate 50 years will roll out Jan. 11-21.
Telluride Ski Resort
It’s hard to imagine now, but Telluride — the glitzy resort town where celebrities Jerry Seinfeld and Tom Cruise own homes — was a fading mining town in the early 1970s. Enter California businessman Joe Zoline, who in 1972, despite the remote location in southwest Colorado, launched the resort that transformed the region into a playground for the rich and famous.
And the skiing isn’t bad, either. It gets tons of San Juan Mountain powder and feature some of the gnarliest back-bowl, extreme terrain around.