Ski Resort History

Arapahoe Basin

Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin) opened for the 1946-47 season with solely a tow, which ran from mid-mountain to the summit. For the 1947-48 season, a single chair was installed, which used metal parts. This was rare for this time period, as World War II was just ending. The lift was the first metal chair installed in post-war times. Big changes took place at A-Basin when Ralston-Purina bought the area in 1978 and installed one triple chair and three doubles. Skier numbers increased to 250,000 people per season by this time.
A-Basin, with a summit elevation of 13,050 feet, is known for its long ski seasons. After the addition of a snowmaking system for the 2002-2003 season, the area now has the capability to be one of the first areas open in mid-October, and one of the last ski areas to close for the season in mid-June!

Aspen Highlands

Aspen Highlands was founded and the land developed in 1958 by Aspen legend Whip Jones. Whip owned the land at the base of the mountain and became interested in developing it after the Forest Service suggested it would be a “great place for a ski area.”  He first offered the opportunity to Aspen Skiing Corporation who turned it down. When the area opened in 1958 it had three lifts, including the world’s longest single section double chairlift.
In 1993, Jones donated it to his Alma Mater, Harvard University. Harvard sold the resort to a Texas developer for $18.3 million. It later became part of the Aspen Skiing Company. Aspen Highlands has become most famous for the Highland Bowl (opened in 2002) and other experts-only terrain. The lift system has recently been redone and provides quick transport around the mountain.
Whip Jones, Dick Durrance (conducted a feasibility study), Fritz Benedict (designed a lodge), Stein Erickson (original Director of Ski School), and Fred Islin (successor to Stein Erickson) are all members of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Their influence on Aspen Highlands is countless. To learn more about the beginnings of Aspen Highlands, these Hall of Fame members, and others, visit the Museum.

Aspen Mountain

Aspen Mountain, often called Ajax by locals, was founded in 1946 as the first ski area venture of the Aspen Skiing Company founded by Walter Paepcke. Prior to 1946, the mountain had been the site of skiing using a crude boat lift, and by the use of the jeep trails up the back side. The foundation of the ski area was accomplished with the installation of the single-seat chairlift, which was the longest in the world at the time. Many of the first employees were veterans of the famed 10th Mountain Division, which had trained at Camp Hale, including Freidl Pfeifer, and Pete Seibert, who co-founded Vail.
In 2001, Aspen Mountain decided to lift the ban on snowboarders. However, this ski area is considered moderate-to-difficult with no beginner runs. Numerous homemade memorials and tributes are spread throughout the mountain, created in honor of famous personages such as John Denver and Hunter S. Thompson.
Walter Paepcke established the Aspen Company, which began restoring the historic town would make the community one of the winter sports capitals of the world. He was inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1978. Visit the Museum to learn more about this renowned ski area!

Beaver Creek

The idea of building a new ski resort in the Beaver and McCoy Creek areas came about in 1956, when Earl Eaton and John Burke discussed future possibilities. At this time, Vail was about five years from opening. Talks for a ski area on this site became more plausible when Denver won the bid for the 1976 Winter Olympics and it was decided that Beaver Creek would hold the alpine events, prompting Vail Associates to file for a new ski area permit with the Forest Service. However, Denver voters rejected the 1976 Olympic bid, and plans to build the resort seemingly collapsed. Obstacles delayed resort completion, but on December 15, 1980, Beaver Creek finally opened to the public. Costs for development ranged in the neighborhood of $300 million.
After such an aggressive fight to build Beaver Creek, the ski resort saw much growth throughout the 1980s, including opening a new bowl and installing new high-speed lift technology. Beaver Creek hosted the 1989 World Championships along with Vail, its sister resort. Bill “Sarge” Brown, a 10th Mountain Division veteran and the Mountain Manager at the time, was instrumental in organizing and running the 1989 World Championships. Beaver Creek and Vail also hosted the 1999 World Championships, and for the last several years, Beaver Creek has hosted the Birds of Prey™ World Cup Downhill Ski race. Today, the resort encompasses three villages – the main Beaver Creek village, Bachelor Gulch, and Arrowhead. Beaver Creek is known for its upscale family-oriented accommodations, terrain (including the famous Birds of Prey runs) and an exceptional golf course.
The Museum is a great place to see artifacts from the 1989 and 1999 World Championships at Vail/Beaver Creek, and a perfect place to learn more about the influence of the 10th Mountain Division veterans, like Sarge Brown, who helped shape Colorado’s ski industry.


The conception of building a ski resort in Breckenridge began during the late 1950s when Bill Rounds of the Porter and Rounds Lumber Company became interested in bringing skiing to the valley. The Peak 8 Ski Area opened on December 16, 1961 with one Heron double chair and a midway unloading station and one short learners T-bar. Ticket prices were four dollars for an adult and two fifty for children. Attendance ranged in the neighborhood of 17,000 skiers.
Vail Resorts purchased Breckenridge in 1996, subsequently installing the first and only double loading lift in America. In the 2007-2008 season, it boasted an astounding 1.63 million skier visits, making it the most popular ski area in North America that year. Imperial Express Superchair, which opened in time for the 2005-2006 ski season, is the highest lift in North America at 12,840 feet.
In 1984, Breckenridge became the first resort in Colorado to allow snowboarders. The following year, they hosted the first snowboard world-cup and have hosted major winter events every year since. To learn more about the history of snowboarding in Colorado, come see the Snowboard Timeline exhibit in the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum!


Buttermilk was founded by Freidl Pfeifer, who ran the ski school at not only Aspen Mountain but also Sun Valley during the 1950s. The terrain at Aspen Mountain was particularly difficult for Pfeifer's students. In 1953, therefore, Pfeifer purchased about 300 acres at the bottom of a nearby mountain that was better suited for beginning and intermediate trails. He partnered with Art Pfister after Aspen Skiing Corporation refused to help develop the area. Opened for the 1958-1959 ski season, Buttermilk began slowly, though by 1962 it had installed two chair lifts and a top-of-the-mountain restaurant. Although Buttermilk and Aspen Mountain were located close to each other, there was little competition between the two resorts. In fact, Aspen Skiing Corporation handled Buttermilk's marketing and ticket sales, and in 1963 it purchased Buttermilk Mountain.
Buttermilk Ski Area is considered the easiest skiing mountain of the four Aspen ski areas. Buttermilk has been the host to the ESPN Winter X-games multiple times, and is also home to one of the best ski schools and children's programs in the nation.
Pfeifer, founder of Buttermilk, was a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division. The members of the 10th who came back after fighting in World War II had a profound and infinite impact on Colorado’s ski industry. Their achievements are celebrated in an exhibit and movie playing in the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum, so come by to learn more about the soldiers on skis!

Copper Mountain

Before Anglo-American settlement, Ute and Arapaho Indians used the forests in and around Copper Mountain for fishing and hunting. During the nineteenth century, mining took over in much of the region that is now Summit County. The copper in this mountain gave the peak its name. In 1971, Chuck Lewis purchased 280 acres at the base of the Copper Mountain with a vision for a ski resort, saying “I’m gonna build me a killer ski resort.” He began clearing trails that same year.
Copper Mountain opened in 1972, owned and operated by Intrawest from 1997 until 2009, during which time they launched a multi-year $500 million renaissance improvement on Copper Mountain. Copper hosted the World Cup tour in 1976 with 4 alpine ski races: slalom & giant slalom for men & women. Operations were transferred to Powdr Corporation in 2009. Today, the ski area encompasses 2,450 acres of skiable terrain, with a base elevation of 9,712 feet and summit of 12,313 feet.
Chuck Lewis, the founding father of Copper Mountain, was inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1990. He attended Dartmouth College and served as a Mountain Warfare Instructor at Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Division trained. The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum has an incredible book, “The Passion of Skiing,” which outlines the impact that Dartmouth College had on the ski industry. We also have a great exhibit and information on Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division, so stop by to learn more!

Crested Butte

Crested Butte was officially established as a town in 1880. In 1952, the majority of mines closed due to higher transportation costs and lower consumption of coal. The railroad left and along with it, a large portion of the community moved to Denver and Pueblo.
In 1960 two men from Kansas (Dick Eflin and Fred Rice) came to Crested Butte to scout the area for a ski mountain. Their operation, Crested Butte LTD began a new era of economic growth for the Gunnison Valley. The following year permits were granted and Crested Butte Ski area opened to the public on Thanksgiving Day 1961. The new area opened with a Doppelmeier T-bar, and rope tow borrowed from Western State College.
Many of Crested Butte’s original “old-timers” were now employed by the ski area after a decade of sparse jobs and hard times.
The large amount of extreme skiing terrain at Crested Butte has attracted the US Extreme Skiing Championships and Colorado’s first Winter X-Games in 1998. Dick Eflin served on many boards and helped with various projects, including starting Eflin Sports, now Peak Sports, in 1990 with his son Andy. Dick is a member of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum, and much of the ski history from this era is documented in the Museum’s exhibits. Crested Butte’s early days of skiing is seen in the displays of ski binding technology, our history of skiing, any many more.


George Sweeney, Gabor Cseh, Frank Ashley, and Donald Robertson approached the U.S. Forest Service in 1961 with the idea of building a ski resort at Lake Eldora, just west of Nederland. The principal owners bought a parcel of land at the base of the proposed area that totaled 400 acres. In 1962, construction was under way for the "Shelf Road," which connects Nederland to the ski area. Along with the access road, two T-bars ran the first season. The total cost of development ranged around two million dollars.
In 1983, Ski Magazine profiled Eldora Ski Area. The resort was described as "a substantial priced right." Ticket prices in the early 1980s ranged from $13 on weekdays to $15 on weekends. However, the mid-1980s was a time of instability at the resort, as a family-run resort that had been losing money since 1979. Throughout the 1990s, Eldora fought with Boulder County officials for money for the Indian Peaks expansion project, and both parties eventually agreed to split the cost.
Eldora is one of Colorado's smaller ski areas and has a family atmosphere. Many locals ski here due to Eldora's proximity to Boulder and Denver. Pricing is cheaper than the destination resorts, and parking is free and located very close to the lifts.
Frank Ashley, one of Eldora's original investors, was inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1977. He was noted as Colorado's best downhill skier from 1934-1940, and in addition to co-founding Eldora, was President of the Southern Rocky Mountain Ski Association and General Manager of Aspen. Visit the Museum to learn more about these resorts, as well as our distinctive Hall of Fame members!

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Granby Ranch Ski Resort

While Grandby Ranch, formerly SolVista & Silver Creek, did not open until the early 1980s, the idea first came about in 1968. A Chicago physician teamed up with Del Webb Development group to purchase 5 large ranches outside the Granby area, intending to construct a new ski resort. By the time plans and approvals were complete during the mid 1970s, the economy was not favorable to continue. The Silver Creek development site sat idle until developers purchased the site and construction plans in 1981, opening the resort in 1983. By the 1985-86 season, the ski area saw 101,837 visits.
SolVista's sister resort, Berthoud Pass, was closed down and reduced to a snowcat operation but SolVista's housing market was still strong despite some financial troubles and a change of owners in the 1990s. Recently the ski area and development were rebranded to The Granby Ranch, allowing it to compete with other developments throughout the Rockies. Solvista is comprised of two separate, yet interconnected mountains: East Mountain (primarily beginner and intermediate) and West Mountain (primarily intermediate and advanced) and is located near 22 different natural hot springs.

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Howelsen Hill

Howelsen Hill, located across the Yampa River from downtown Steamboat Springs, and owned and operated by the city, has the distinction of being one of the country's oldest ski areas in continuous use. On an area once known as Elk Park, a former small game preserve, it was founded in 1914 by Carl Howelsen, a Norwegian immigrant who helped popularize ski jumping and cross-country skiing.
The area was renamed Howelsen Hill in 1917, and the alpine area was established in 1931. Since 1914, the ski jumps have needed rebuilding roughly every 5-10 years to meet new regulations as well as to counteract a tendency for the hill to slide.
With a vertical drop of 440 feet, Howelsen Hill has one chair lift, two carpets and one Poma lift. It has a bobsled track and a series of ski jumps, the largest being a 90-meter jump. The local youth ski team, the Steamboat Winter Sports Club, practices at the area, along with various ski jumpers in training, including U.S. Ski Team Jumpers. As freestyle skiing and snowboarding gained popularity, Howelsen Hill was obliged to adapt to these new trends and provide training facilities.
Howelsen Hill has sent more skiers to international competition than any other area in North America. Over the decades, nearly 70 Winter Olympians have trained on its slopes and jumps.
In addition to Carl Howelsen being a member of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, the Museum houses an incredible exhibit on Carl Howelsen, the beginning of ski jumping, and the history of skiing!

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Keystone was the third area, after A-Basin and Breckenridge, to be developed in Summit County. The resort consists of four mountains: Dercum Mountain, North Peak, the Outback, and Independence Bowl. In 1941, Max Dercum bought property known as the Black Ranch, and later added the Ski Tip Ranch. In 1967, the U.S. Forest Service approved Keystone as a winter sports site and on November of 1970, Keystone Ski Resort opened with 2 lifts, the summit and mountain house bases. They concentrated on snowmaking equipment, built a lodge, and golf course. In 1984, they opened the back side of Dercum Mountain and North Peak and strung the lights for night skiing, which Keystone is well-known for today. The 1990s brought the Outback expansion and the merger with Vail Resorts.
Max Dercum and his wife, Edna, helped develop Keystone, and Max also served as a Ski School Director. They are both members of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. To learn more about all of our Hall of Fame members, visit the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum.

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Loveland Ski Area first opened its slopes to skiers back in 1936 when J.C. Blickensderfer installed a tow at what is now called Loveland Basin. The following season Al Bennett continued the operations by using a Model T engine for power. By the late 1950s to 1960s, construction of the Eisenhower Tunnel began, which runs directly below the base of Chair 4 at Loveland.
Loveland is one of Colorado's highest ski areas with a summit of 13,010 feet and the second highest lift served areas in North America at 12,697 feet, and is a "local's favorite." Due to gentler slopes, this ski area is a great place for beginning skiers and snowboarders. Otto Werlin, who was inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2009, began his ski career in 1964 at Loveland. Otto helped expand and cultivate Loveland Ski Area, opened Loveland Valley, introduced new snowmaking techniques, and carved out a niche for Loveland in a competitive ski market. Stop by the Museum to learn more about Otto Werlin and the rest of the Hall of Fame members, Loveland Ski Area, and the history of the ski industry in Colorado!

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Monarch Mountain

Monarch's first winter season was way back in 1936 when James Kane and the Salida Winter Sports Club (SWSC) brought a Chevy truck engine up Monarch Pass highway to over 11,000 feet. Other skiers instrumental with the initial opening of the area was Thor Groswold, Sven Wiik, and Charlie Vail. By 1939, the SWSC applied to the U.S. Forest Service for a permit to cut trails, construct a lodge and erect a lift. The first run cut up at Monarch was Gunbarrel, an expert trail with a thirty percent slope. During the first ski season of 1939-1940, season pass prices only cost one dollar and 64 were sold. Rope tow revenues netted at over $50, with twenty-five cent day tickets.
Ownership of the resort changed hands multiple times, with each change resulting in additional lifts, more terrain, and a base lodge. Stability returned to Monarch in the 1990s after a turbulent decade throughout the 1980s when the area filed for bankruptcy and the owner, Gerald Rogers, was convicted of embezzlement.
In 2002, Monarch changed ownership again, to Powder Monarch LLC from Colorado, Utah, California, and overseas. In 2006, the Mirkwood Basin, opened to skiers and riders willing to hike. While Monarch does not draw as many skiers from the Denver Metro Area due to its location, it is convenient for the residents of Colorado Springs. Views from the top of the Panorama lift are incredible. On a typical season, Monarch receives over 350 inches of snow, so snowmaking is generally unnecessary.
Sven Wiik and Thor Groswold, both instrumental in opening Monarch Mountain, are both members of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Sven had tremendous influence on America's participation in international Nordic skiing, and coached the U.S. teams in the 1958 World Championships and 1960 Winter Olympics. Thor established the Groswold Ski Company in 1932, and became recognized as the manufacturer of America's finest wood skis. To see original Groswold skis, as well as artifacts from the World Championships and Winter Olympics, stop by the Museum!

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Skiing on the Grand Mesa began back in the 1930's with a rope tow and reappeared at Mesa Creek (Old Powderhorn) shortly after World War II. Initial survey tours of the Powderhorn site began in 1958, and both members of the Grand Mesa Ski Club and U.S. Forest Service recommended development of a ski area on the site. Building of the area's Riblet double chair began during the summer of 1966 and was ready for the following winter, hosting 21,000 people.
Powderhorn was sold in 1986 to a Texas developer, who planned to pour over $25 million into the resort. By 1990, Powderhorn filed for bankruptcy and continued financial troubles until 1995, when a local entrepreneur purchased the area. The ski resort was sold again in 1998 to the High West Group, who has been building a slopeside community.
Powderhorn still has an old time feel, and parking is free and right next to the lifts. The lodge is family friendly and there is slopeside lodging right at the base for reasonable prices. Powderhorn sits on the edge of the Grand Mesa, which is the largest flat
mountaintop in the world and offers incredibly views.
Gordy Wren, who conducted an initial individual evaluation of the area and also recommended it for development, was a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division and a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic Ski Jumping Team. The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum is home to amazing exhibits, artifacts, and information on both the Winter Olympics and 10th Mountain Division, so come by and learn more!

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Purgatory Ski Area opened back in 1965, providing the town of Durango with a new ski area. The ski area was the idea of Chet Anderson, who worked for the Forest Service, and Ray Duncan, whose family was in the oil business. Both were avid skiers and wanted to make the sport more accessible to the Durango area.
The name Purgatory stems from the Spanish Escalante Expedition during the 1700s, when one of the members fell into the swiftly flowing Animas River somewhere near site of the ski area and perished into its waters. Group members declared "El Rio de Las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio," which translates to "The River of Lost Souls in Purgatory."
The 1980s were busy for Purgatory, installing additional lifts, cutting more expert terrain, and developing onsite hotels and condos. After falling into financial trouble in the 1990s, Purgatory was back on its feet by 1995, with skier numbers topping 80,000. In 2000, the ski area was sold to Cobb & Gary Engle of Florida, who formed a new company called
Durango Resort Limited Liability Corporation. They also changed the name that year from Purgatory to Durango Mountain Resort, to better associate the ski area with the town. Today, Purgatory/Durango is mostly an intermediate mountain, with ample wide trails, and offers skiers uncrowded slopes. Come learn more about the development and history of Purgatory/Durango in the History of Skiing timeline at the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum!

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Silverton Mountain located in Silverton, Colorado opened for business on January 19, 2002. Silverton Mountain operates in a one of a kind fashion in that certain times of year it provides guided-only skiing with small amounts of skiers on a daily basis (similar to a cat or heli operation), and other times of year it allows unguided skiing. Avalanche gear is required to ride the lift at all times. It is the highest ski area in North America with a peak of 13,487 feet and it is also the steepest with no easy way down. The mountain is left in its natural state with the exception of the avalanche reduction work which occurs. Colorado's newest ski area is also its highest and most-expert, serving up exclusively non-groomed advanced/expert terrain to powderhounds of all ages.

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Ski Cooper

Ski Cooper's origin goes back to World War II. In 1942, the U.S. Army selected a training site near an isolated railroad stop of Pando, CO. Nearby Camp Hale was built as the training site for the ski troopers of the famed 10th Mountain Division, and Ski Cooper was used as a six-month-long ski training.
In a series of actions that included Riva Ridge and Mt. Belvedere, the 10th Mountain Division played a vital role in the liberation of northern Italy. Following the war, Ski Cooper opened to the public as a backyard ski area for the enjoyment of the local area residents, as one of the oldest ski resorts in Colorado. The area continues to host a Memorial Day celebration for the World War II veterans of the 10th Division, and is also home to the Chicago Ridge Snowcat Tours which provides access to 2,400 acres of backcountry skiing.
The 10th Mountain Division exhibit at the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum details the actions and achievements of these soldiers, and is an incredible place to learn more about the famous soldiers on skis during World War II.

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Snowmass is a part of the Aspen/Snowmass ski resort complex. It is owned and operated by the Aspen Skiing Company, and is the largest of the four Aspen/Snowmass mountains, comprising 3,128 acres.
During the early 1950s, the Roaring Fork Valley operated one ski area, Aspen Mountain (Ajax), but the idea of developing additional skiing sites was quickly becoming a reality. By 1957, Aspen Architect and skier, Fritz Benedict and Hans Sarbach of Heron Engineering approached the United States Forest Service regarding a potential site outside of Aspen. After overcoming various political and official obstacles, Aspen Skiing Corporation and Janss Investment Corporation formalized a joint deal to develop the ski area, with an official opening day of December 17, 1967. Snowmass Ski Area continued to expand, seeking to expand onto Burnt Mountain from the 1980s to 1990s, when they were finally given permission.
In the 1994-1995 ski season, Aspen and Snowmass were the first ski areas in the U.S. to break $50 for a lift ticket, but continued to upgrade and improve facilities. Snowmass has the most vertical feet of skiing of any ski area in the United States. This ski area is known statewide as an intermediate's paradise and offers the greatest amount of skiable acres out of the four Aspen ski areas.

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Once Carl Howelsen had established skiing as a sport in Steamboat Springs (see Howelsen Hill), skiers began looking toward Storm Mountain on the eastern horizon. During the late 1950s, James Temple organized ski trips and summer rides to the summit to explore possible routes for trails and lifts. To promote his new ski area he got permission to use the phrase "Champagne Powder," coined by a rancher. In 1963, the Steamboat Ski Resort launched as Storm Mountain with one lift and an a-frame warming hut at the base. The mountain was renamed Mt. Werner in 1964 after Buddy Werner, a famous local Olympic skier who sadly died in an avalanche in Switzerland. The mountain is comprised of three peaks: Mt. Werner, Storm Peak, and Sunshine Peak.
Steamboat would be taken seriously as an up-and-coming ski area with the installation of a gondola, new lifts and tows, and expanding terrain throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Snowboarding was allowed in 1987, and major expansions took place in the 1990s. Although Steamboat's corporate management and name has changed many times (from Storm Mountain to Steamboat in 1969, owned by Intrawest), the town is informally known as "Ski Town U.S.A." since it has produced more ski team athletes than any other ski area in the nation.
Buddy Werner, whom one of the Steamboat peaks was named after, was inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame for his unequaled competitive skiing record. Additionally, Billy Kidd, who was the first American alpine racer to win an Olympic medal with Jimmie Heuga, is a member of the Hall of Fame and the Director of Skiing at Steamboat. Both of these local legends, along with many others, are celebrated in the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum's exhibits.

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Sunlight Ski Area was the dream of John Higgs, a Chicago native. His site selection for a new ski area was at the former location of the Holiday Hill rope tow, just outside of Glenwood Springs. The Sunlight Ranch Company opened the ski area on December 16, 1966 with a handful of trails expanding over 15 miles and skier days totaling 15,000. Lift tickets cost $5.50 during the first season. The area operated one Riblet double chair, servicing the entire mountain. In the 1980s, chairlifts and improvements were made, doubling Sunlight's uphill capacity and improving access to the entire mountain.
Through stock purchase, the ownership of Ski Sunlight changed between 1990 and 1992, with immediate financial stability. Ski Sunlight's name was officially changed in 1996 to Sunlight Mountain Resort for marketing purposes. In 1997 and 1998, Sunlight's skier days climbed to 102,000.
This ski area offers an inexpensive alternative to Aspen areas, with excellent views.

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The town of Telluride was founded in 1878 under the name of Columbia, but was renamed Telluride due to confusion with other towns called Columbia. Some believe that it is derived from "To-hell-you-ride" because of its remote location. Other residents believe the name "Telluride" stems from the metal Tellurium, as mining was Telluride's claim to fame in the early days.
The town went into decline after the 1950s but by the early 1970s, a California resident found an opportunity to develop a ski area. Telluride Ski Area officially opened in 1972 with five chairlifts and a day lodge. In the 1990s, the country's first chondola (consisting of both chairs and gondola cars) was installed here, and Telluride continued to upgrade lifts and provide the nation's only free gondola system. They maintained aggressive growth with new chairs, investors, and a new bowl expansion. Telluride has been consistently voted in the top ten ski resorts in North America, and is known for the longest vertical drop in Colorado.

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When World War II began, the U.S. Army created a training center called Camp Hale, for the famed 10th Mountain Division who fought in northern Italy and upon return, became major players in the quickly growing ski industry. A veteran of the 10th Mountain Division, Pete Seibert, returned to Colorado and became the manager of Loveland Basin Ski Area. Pete and Earl Eaton began looking to develop another ski area in the Rocky Mountain region and discovered an area outside of Gore Valley that was only half the distance from Denver to Aspen. They founded a corporation and convinced investors to begin building. Vail opened in 1962, with tickets priced at $5. Vail grew at an incredible rate throughout the 1960s, but was tainted by a gondola accident in 1976 that killed four and injured eight.
Vail/Beaver Creek hosted the World Championships in 1989 and again in 1999, putting Vail on the international ski map. With the purchase of Keystone and Breckenridge in 1997, Vail Resorts became the largest single operator in the state's ski industry. Mountain improvements continued, despite an arson fire that destroyed one of the lodges in 1998. Vail has the most skiable terrain in the U.S. with 5,289 acres, and their famous seven back bowls offer unparalleled skiing. Today, Vail is consistently ranked as one of the nation's top ski destinations.
Bob Parker, the marketing manager who helped put Vail on the national map by offering skiers an exceptional experience, is a member of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Another 10th Mountain veteran and member of the Hall of Fame, Sarge Brown, headed operations. His knowledge of trail cutting and grooming created what Vail is today. Since the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum is located in Vail, stop by today to learn more about the ski area and all of the people who helped shape Colorado's incredible ski industry.

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Winter Park

During the early 1930s, George Cranmer of Denver Parks and Recreation suggested a plan to create a winter sports area in Grand Valley. In 1939, West Portal was renamed Winter Park and the first J-bar tow went into operation by December. Tickets for the first season cost $1 with a total of 10,692 skier days. Winter Park was owned and operated by the city and county of Denver until 2002, when Intrawest took over operations. For nearly 70 years a popular way for Denver residents to get there was via the Ski Train, which arrived at the resort's base area though the Moffatt Tunnel. Winter Park is comprised of three interconnected peaks: Winter Park, Mary Jane, and Vasquez Ridge. The mountain is open during the summer for mountain biking and the base area features activities.
Liz McIntyre, a resident of Winter Park, competed on the U.S. Ski Team from 1986 to 1998. Afterwards, she was the U.S. moguls coach until 2006, helping to coach Olympic medalists and led many freestylers into a new era, when inverted maneuvers were made legal in competition. More information about all of the U.S. Ski Team members can be found in the Museum's Winter Olympic exhibit.
The Winter Park Ski Train shuttled skiers from Denver to Winter Park for nearly 70 years, ceasing operations in 2009. Although this historical mode of transportation is no longer running, you can find out more about the Ski Train at the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum!

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Wolf Creek

During the 1930's, people were taming the mountains of Colorado by building highways and mountain passes. The construction project between San Luis and Pagosa Springs was dubbed Wolf Creek Pass. By 1938 a rope tow was installed near the summit of Wolf Creek Pass. The lift was driven by an old Chevy truck with tickets at $1 per day. Shortly afterwards, a warming shelter and dirt road were constructed. The ski operation on Wolf Creek Pass underwent drastic changes during 1955. Under the control of the Wolf Creek Development Corporation, the ski area moved to its present location across the road.
During the 1980's, attendance at Wolf Creek skyrocketed. The area's stats for 1983 included 5 lifts, 580 skiable acres, $16 lift tickets, and operated daily throughout the winter. In 2004, a base village development was submitted independently by an individual from Texas; lawsuits are ongoing, blocking the development for now.
Although Wolf Creek has no snowmaking ability, the area boasts the most snowfall in Colorado.
Stop by the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum to learn more about each ski area in the state! We offer a great map of all Colorado's ski areas, including Wolf Creek.

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Lost Resorts: Hidden Valley & Berthoud Pass