Where to ski near Boulder?
March 22, 2010 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Help me choose a destination for a one-day ski trip near Boulder, CO.

Three or four friends and I have one day to go skiing before our committee meeting in Boulder. We're a pretty wide range of ability levels, so a good variety of terrain would be a plus. Also, I am interested in buying some news skis soon, so I'd like to use this as an opportunity to do some demoing. Is there a resort that will allow me to relatively inexpensively try out several different models? It's been quite awhile since I've bought skis, but I'm a pretty experienced skier who enjoys a nice mix of flat terrain, steeps, and moguls.
posted by Cogito to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
Ski Eldora
posted by hortense at 2:14 PM on March 22, 2010

It appears the Eldora is your best bet in terms of something close to Boulder. This map of Colorado ski areas shows that it is the closest. Next closest is Echo mountain but that is a small place that is targeted more at people who want to ski/board in a terrain park. Berthould Pass is a historical location and according to this site it hasn't been open in years. If you are willing to drive further (probably 2-3x as far), you are looking at Winter Park and the resorts along the I-70 corridor: Loveland, A-Basin, Keystone and beyond. All of those places will be bigger in total acres as well as total vertical than Eldora but at the price of being more expensive and more travel time (with potential traffic on I-70).

I've not been to Eldora so I can't say how well it will meet your need for a variety of challenging terrain but if I were going for a single day with a mixed ability group, I'd probably opt for Eldora due to its closeness to my final destination.
posted by mmascolino at 3:04 PM on March 22, 2010

I don't know a ton about Colorado skiing, but I see that Boulder is less than 2 hours away from all the Summit County resorts. To me 4 hours of driving is well worth being able to ski at places like Breckenridge, Vail & Arapahoe Basin. I've also read that these are some of the best places for spring skiing.

In terms of demoing equipment I see on Breck's website that there are at least 6 shops that offer rentals nearby. I'm sure if you called a couple you can find out what deals they have.
posted by cuando at 3:18 PM on March 22, 2010

Response by poster: cunado: That's a good point, though with only one day and a desire to try more than one model of skis, I think I'm probably limited to an on-mountain demo option. If one resort was outstanding in that capacity, it would influence the decision.
posted by Cogito at 3:40 PM on March 22, 2010

I live in colorado springs, about an hour away from denver, and 2 hours away from the I-70 corridor ski resorts- same distance as denver is from the same resorts.

When are you coming? Right now things are REALLY bare. None of the ski resorts in the front range have gotten much snow this season. The spring break crowd is finally thinning out, and should be gone by the end of the week, but crowds + no snow + unseasonably warm temperatures = not worth skiing.

I have 40 days this season, and unless there is an epic dump, I am done for the season.

If you really have your heart set on skiing, a couple of resorts have 2 for 1 passes, which are worth picking up if you are watching your budget: here's a list of the resorts that participate. You buy 10 gallons of gas, and then can buy a 2 for 1 pass. All 3 are pretty close to denver ~2 hours.

I don't know what your skiing abilities are, but the "local's" hills are arapahoe basin, loveland, and monarch- smaller, quieter, more local feel.

Vail is a great resort, but you will spend all day on lifts unless you know the mountain. Breckenridge is the same way. Vail is about 2 1/2 hours away from denver. You will end up paying about $25 for parking as well. Breckenridge has a free lot, and there is a $10 gondola lot, which is more convenient... but costs $10.

Eldora is tiny and is much more of a local's hill, so much so that no one really goes there. Their grooming sucks, the snow's not so great, minus the 13" they got from this past storm on friday/saturday.

As for rentals, check out neptune mountaineering, they are one of the best local shops for backcountry and telemark gear, I'm not sure about alpine or boards though.

If it were me, I'd save the money and go climbing or biking- the weather's perfect for it right now.

If it were me and I'd have to get a ski fix, I'd go to vail- expensive, but go with someone who knows the mountain and stay in the back bowls (china bowl and back) to "avoid" the crowds.

MeMail me for any questions/information you need, I know a little too much about the area for anything outdoors.
posted by TheBones at 4:14 PM on March 22, 2010

Also, with traffic on the I-70 corridor, and this largely depends on what day you go (don't bother on a weekend unless you are out the door and on I-70 by about 6:30 at the latest) it will take you about 2 /12 to 3 hours to get to Breckenridge- where most of the front rangers go.

Echo is a big terrain park, so if you want skiing, don't bother. Berthoud is no longer a resort, but if you are into back country, a great place, though the pack is pretty bad this season.

Also, it looks like there is a storm possibly blowing in on wednesday. Joel Gratz is the best meteorologist EVAR! He's also an avid skier and predicts within inches every storm.

Though on just looking now, Joel has 5-10" predicted for this week mostly falling from tuesday to wednesday.

Until I'm skiing it though, i don't believe it.
posted by TheBones at 4:22 PM on March 22, 2010

Yeah, if you can choose your day, don't go on a weekend. Although this past weekend was pretty empty..

I'm a big fan of Breck, but only if you can go when it's not crowded. Otherwise the lines are bad and you will spend forever on lifts if you pick a high season time (christmas to new years, or one of the three-day weekends in jan/feb; often spring break is tough but right now it seems ok).

The other summit county resorts are going to be similar-- awesome if you can go on an non-crowded day. They also have a great variety of terrain-- everything from high alpine steeps+bowls above treeline to good trees, heavy mogul runs, and cruiser blues. Also lots of gentle greens in more than one area of the mountain for beginners; they won't be stuck on just one lift.

A Basin is nice but can get superwindy so if you've got a variety of people with you I'd give it a pass.

No new snow up here, but you can find some really awesome pockets if you look.. today was pretty nice if you got on a leeward slope. Really nice. So my major advice is go on a non-crowded day, and chat with other people on the mountain so you can have a hope of finding the good spots. Or wait till next year and hope there's more snow.
posted by nat at 5:04 PM on March 22, 2010

Response by poster: We'll be skiing this coming Friday: March 26th.
posted by Cogito at 5:10 PM on March 22, 2010

Just go to Eldora. If you have a wide range of abilities and the snow is going to suck anyways just make it easy. Here is what driving to Eldora from Boulder is like: drive up beautiful Boulder Canyon for 19 miles (very windy, rather slow) maybe you will see some rock climbers on some of the cliff faces, at 19 miles pass a big reservoir (lake ned?) arrive at little hippie-ish mountain town of Nederland (nothing like the hideous commercial monstrosities of Breckenridge, Vail, Telluride Village, etc)....a few miles after Ned you will be at Eldora. Simple. Grab a beer and some grub in Ned on your way back down afterwards.

Compare this with the clusterfuck of driving on I-70 with every Denver-ite trying to get their ski on. I can't fathom why people want to drive in gridlock traffic on the weekdays and then do it again on the weekends.

Have a lovely time no matter what you decide.
posted by fieldtrip at 9:55 PM on March 22, 2010

And in case the snow totally sucks when you get there, spend the day on Pearl St. Mall in Boulder or go to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park. Hit Boulder Bookstore while you're in Boulder. Try to catch a show at Boulder Theater (E-Town tapes there).

Boulder = paradise. I miss it terribly & often.
posted by Lukenlogs at 12:40 AM on March 23, 2010

It snowed on me all day today at Breck, FYI. And then continued to snow as we came back down to Denver.... could be decent by Friday. Check the weather and see.
posted by nat at 8:20 PM on March 23, 2010

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