For the die-hard snowboard and ski fanatics out there ... we know, oh, we know. You want to hit the slopes, and nothing, not even a pandemic, is going to stop you. For many Houstonians, that means planning a trip to Colorado Ski Country—home to some of our city's favorite destinations for a powdery winter getaway. But as the snow starts falling, and ski areas begin to open, there are new restrictions and protocols to expect. Here's an update on five of the region's most popular ski resorts (for updates on plenty more areas, head to coloradoski.com).
In addition to new Covid-19 protocols and health guidelines—you might be required to pre-purchase lift tickets and ski school reservations, rentals and gondolas might run at limited capacity, and ski schools will limit class sizes and go to half-day lessons—some areas have used the summer to work on replacements to lifts, updates to snowmaking operations, and more.
Aspen Snowmass | Opens November 26
Aspen Snowmass will sell tickets onsite at lift-ticket windows, but pre-purchasing online is highly suggested to guarantee access. Expect limited capacity in rentals, retail stores, and restaurants and new outdoor dining and grab-and-go options on all four mountains—or use the Aspen Snowmass app to order food to-go. Aspen Snowmass pass holders do not need a reservation at this time, but Ikon pass holders will need to make a reservation before their visit. The Aspen Highlands snowcat will not be operating this winter. More info here.
New for winter 2020-21: Aspen Snowmass has replaced the quad Big Burn lift at Snowmass with a new $10.8-million high-speed six-passenger lift. At Aspen Mountain, 28 new state-of-the art, energy-efficient snowmaking guns will allow for top-to-bottom snowmaking for the first time this winter. Snowmass will also welcome snowmaking to 28 acres, offering more reliable early season skiing and riding conditions. Two new restaurants, High Alpine and Alpin Room, replace longtime Snowmass favorite Gwyn’s.
Copper Mountain | Opens November 30
Copper Mountain will be implementing a parking reservation system this winter to help manage volume at the resort. Guests can book up to seven advanced-reservation days throughout the season beginning November 9. Once the season begins, guests can make an unlimited number of reservations within a rolling seven-day window. As advance days are used, guests will be able to book additional advance days. Copper will open on November 30 to ensure that more acreage and lifts will be available on opening day. Copper’s three villages and naturally divided terrain will allow guests to spread out on the mountain and in base areas. Specific Covid-19 information can be found here.
A new 127-room, four-story hotel will open at Copper in late 2020. Element 29 is located in Center Village, allowing guests optimal access to the slopes, activities, and dining outlets in the Village. The hotel will also feature an outdoor patio nestled along West Ten Mile Creek, complete with fire pits and hot tubs. This season Copper has also installed additional snowmaking compressors, which will allow more snow guns to be used during early season snowmaking operations. For additional information, visit www.coppercolorado.com.
Steamboat | Opens November 21
Steamboat is not requiring reservations for pass holders at this time. Advanced-purchase lift tickets, packages, and season-pass products are the only way to access the mountain currently. Lift tickets will not be available for purchase at the resort ticket office. Stand-alone lift tickets will not be available for purchase between December 23 and January 2. Reservations for ski and ride schools, rentals, some restaurants, and free clinics are required. Night skiing will only be available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Steamboat will also feature two unique outdoor dining options, welcoming back the roaming Taco Beast, as well as the brand-new Pizza Ranger, which will offer a pizza delivery option in the Bashor area. First tracks will also start earlier this year at 7:45 a.m. to help spread guests out, and additional skier drop-off locations will be available. Specific Covid-19 information can be found here.
Telluride Ski Resort | Opens November 26
Telluride will feature 20 refurbished gondolas offering dining options in Mountain Village, as well as expanded yurt and outdoor dining services across the mountain. More Covid-19 intel here.
Telluride will also welcome new air service this winter, with Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue adding flights into Montrose Regional Airport (MJT) starting in mid-December. Southwest will fly two to three times daily from Denver (DEN) and Saturdays and Sundays from Dallas Love Field (DAL). Jet Blue will operate from Boston Logan Airport (BOS) on Saturdays and select Wednesdays during the season.
Winter Park Resort | Opens November 30
New this winter is a mid-week pass that gives guests unlimited access on non-holiday Mondays–Fridays through the season, starting at $539 for adults and $299 for children. Winter Park is not requiring reservations at this time. All rentals, lessons, activities, and tours will need to be pre-booked in advance of arrival, though. Winter Park is also working to create as many contactless options as possible in all restaurants and retail areas. More info here.