Après Ski Denver!
OK, you can’t technically “ski Denver” – but savvy snowsports lovers know that one of the best ways to hit the slopes and get a world-class vacation at the same time is to stay in the city and take daytrips out to the mountains. Rent equipment for bargain prices in the city, spend your daylight hours enjoying the greatest skiing in the country and spend your nighttime hours taking advantage of Denver’s thriving cultural scene, delicious cuisine and hopping nightlife. Here’s some of the info you’ll need to plan your Denver ski daytrip this winter.
Winter Park Resort, owned and operated by the city of Denver, is nestled at the base of the Continental Divide at the east end of the Fraser Valley. As the closest major destination resort to Denver, Winter Park offers easy access to skiers arriving at Denver International Airport from hundreds of domestic and international points. Just two hours from the airport, the surrounding mountain expanses and breathtaking scenery at Winter Park give visitors the impression that they are far away from the hustle and hassle of city life.
Looking for excellent skiing conditions? Winter Park Resort boasts 350 inches of annual snowfall. However, just because you can count on good snow doesn't mean you should expect to ski in blizzard conditions. On average, Winter Park has 106 days of sunshine during the ski season -- or approximately 70 percent of the season is sunny! Many first time visitors are surprised to discover Winter Park's vast terrain. The three interconnected mountains and high alpine bowl are spread out over 134 designated trails on 2,886 acres served by a network of 20 chairlifts. Winter Park's variety of terrain caters to every ability level. The 30-acre Discovery Park is the ideal spot to learn and practice the basics of skiing. When skiers are ready to move on, Winter Park mountain and the Vasquez Ridge offer miles of wide-open intermediate trails for laid back cruising. For advanced and expert skiers seeking the ultimate challenge, the renowned steeps and moguls of the feisty Mary Jane mountain provide long thigh-burning bump runs, vertical chutes, and precipitous glades.
The area’s newest hotel, the Winter Park Mountain Lodge, is located across from the base of the Resort. The lodge offers Winter Park’s only microbrewery and captures the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains and offers awe-inspiring views at an exceptional value.
Loveland Ski Area
Just 53 miles west of Denver on I-70, Loveland is the closest ski area to Denver and averages 400 inches of snow annually. Loveland's location offers unique skiing possibilities you simply cannot find at other ski areas. There's no glitz here. For over half a century, Loveland has been long known for some of the best skiing and snowboarding conditions in Colorado. At Loveland you get 1,365 diverse acres of terrain and breath-taking views from the second highest chairlift in the world, high atop the Continental Divide. Whether you need to escape from the city for a day of riding and a night of good food, Loveland won’t disappoint. Daytripper packages are available including lift ticket, equipment and clothing rental. Ski school lessons are available for all abilities and schedules.
Arapahoe Basin Ski & Snowboard Area
Sixty-eight miles west of Denver, in Summit County, Colorado, you’ll find the spectacular Arapahoe Basin – known as A-Basin to locals. This year 63-year-old legend offers the highest skiable terrain on the north-American continent. Half of the mountain is above timberline with open bowl skiing and snowboarding through spring and often into early summer. One of its signature runs, Pallavincini, is one of Colorado's longest and steepest trails. Arapahoe Basin has some of the best ski deals for beginners in the state. Kids and adults ski or board for only $15 (early season price available through December 12, 2008) on the Molly Hogan beginner hill and lift all season long. Or, get a free child ticket (age 6-14) with the purchase of a full price adult ticket.
Echo Mountain Park
Just 35 miles from downtown, Echo Mountain is Denver’s backyard ski and snowboard area. You'll be skiing and riding in less than an hour’s drive from just about anywhere along Denver's Front Range. Echo Mountain offers THE most affordable skiing and riding in Colorado, including the cheapest season pass (with no restrictions and no blackout dates), the lowest daily ticket price around, afternoon/evening tickets for just $29 and free close-in parking and public WiFi. But just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean Echo Mountain doesn’t deliver amazing ski conditions for skiers and riders of ages and ability levels.
Eldora Mountain Resort
A favorite among locals due to its convenient location – only 21 miles from Boulder and 47 miles from Denver – Eldora Mountain receives 300 inches of snow per year. Eldora boasts Colorado's best snowmaking system. Coverage is 100% of groomed terrain, more than any other resort in Colorado. Eldora also holds the distinction of being accessible via public transportation – you can take the bus from Boulder up the mountain for a mere $5. Check www.rtd-denver.com for schedules.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Downhill action isn’t the only snowbound fun you can have this winter. The legendary Rocky Mountain National Park, located just an hour from the Mile High City offers spectacular snowshoeing and cross country skiing options that will take you to some of the most scenic and serene spots in all of Colorado. Rent cross country skis and/or snowshoes in Denver and take the short drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park – you won’t regret it. Check with rangers at visitor centers for info on the right trail for you.
Hot Tip: Buy your lift tickets on the Front Range in or around Denver at King Soopers grocery stores – they sell discount lift tickets for most ski areas at their customer service desks. While prices vary throughout the season, die-hard Colorado skiers know that this is almost always the most budget-conscious way to enjoy the slopes. Find a list of stores in the area at www.KingSoopers.com.
REI Flagship Store
1416 Platte St., Denver
No outdoorsman or outdoorswoman will be able to resist the lure of the flagship REI store, with more than 100,000 square feet of recreation equipment, including skis, snowboards, snowshoes and more. Rent your ski gear here for a bargain price and head for the mountains! This REI one of the largest outdoors-centric stores in the world.
Colorado Ski and Golf
2650 Havana St., Aurora
More gear can be found at this store, with an expert staff and guaranteed lowest prices on ski and snowboard equipment to rent or to buy. 2650 Havana St., Aurora
Mile High Holidays
Denver is 5,280 feet above sea level – exactly one mile high – and throughout the holiday season, travelers to Denver will get “mile high” savings with hotel rates starting at just $52.80! Mile High Holidays goes from November through January. During this time, Denver’s holiday magic is celebrated with 17 hotels offering hotel rates starting at $52.80 (some restrictions may apply). There are also New Year’s packages, shopping specials and an abundance of entertainment options at more than four-dozen Denver hotels. For a complete list of events, hotel specials and shopping information visit www.MileHighHolidays.com or call 1-800-2DENVER.
SKIING HEALTH TIPS
Clothing: Be sure to wear water resistant, layered clothing which can be removed or added as the weather changes. Long underwear, turtleneck, sweater, waterproof jacket and pants, nylon socks, waterproof gloves, winter hat, sunglasses, goggles are all key parts of you ski outfit.
Sun/UV: Ultraviolet rays are more powerful at higher elevations, so it is highly recommended that you wear goggles and sunglasses that have UV protection. Also, regardless of your skin color or complexion, everyone needs to wear sunscreen even on overcast days when ultraviolet rays still penetrate cloud cover.
Altitude Illness: There is no foolproof method for avoiding altitude sickness, but drinking extra water and avoiding salty foods the week before you arrive seems to be the most helpful.