Despite the pandemic, ski and snowboard resorts across Colorado are open—but there are regulations you’ll have to follow if you want to visit. Here’s the lowdown on how to prepare and the best spots to shred.
or now, COVID-19 has not shuttered the ski season in Colorado the way it did last March—as long as you follow precautions that keep you and others safe. That means wearing face coverings (masks or neck gaiters), not touching exposed surfaces without gloves, keeping a six-foot distance in lift lines, staying home if you feel sick, and, in general, following social-distancing regulations and any state health updates. Keeping to these rules will ensure the resorts stay open. Before you go, you’ll also need to know about new reservation systems in place at different ski resorts. Here’s a breakdown of how to visit some of our favorite spots, where to go once you get there, and our picks for best local dispensaries (remember to follow the law at each resort, however; many are on federal land where cannabis is still illegal).
Precautions: Loveland is following the standard social-distancing rules, but, as of now, the resort closest to downtown Denver is not requiring reservations. It is also offering private ski lessons. Buy lift tickets online before you go; they won’t be for sale at the resort.
Where to Ski & Ride: In plain view of I-70, Lift 1 features one of the best steep shots for lift cheers in the state. If you’re unsure of your skills, the same lift serves up green cruisers down to the base.
Local Dispensary: Rocky Mountain Cannabis in Georgetown makes for an easy stop on the way home.
Precautions: Sadly, A-Basin’s famed tailgating scene is closed down this year (parties on The Beach are not allowed). Regardless, follow the standard ski area social-distancing rules and get up here. If you want to rent equipment, make a reservation online in advance. Lessons will take place with smaller class sizes.
Where to Ski & Ride: The newly opened Beavers area provides plenty of steep thrills and the chance to find some good spots tucked away in the trees. If you want to up your skills, A-Basin offers lessons, whether you’re just getting started or looking for pro tips for handling steeps.
Local Dispensary: If you are headed to A-Basin by way of Silverthorne, head to High Country Healing; if you are avoiding the tunnel via Loveland Pass, stop by Rocky Mountain Cannabis in Georgetown.
Precautions: Eldora is requiring guests to register for parking in order to visit the resort. Most of the weekend reservations were quickly gobbled up, but you can still find midweek parking reservations. And the resort has plans to open up more parking if restrictions loosen or it feels able to manage more guests, so stay posted. Guests can also ride the RTD bus from Boulder, but seats are limited. The resort is following the usual COVID-19 precautions, including face coverings and social distancing in lift lines. Guests are asked to ride the lift with the group they arrived with. The resort’s Passholder Promise ensures future-use vouchers if Eldora is forced to close.
Where to Ski & Ride: The fairly new runs Alpenhorn and Wolf Tongue off the Corona lift will thrill those who like to bomb hot laps, and they are a bit more sheltered than the Corona trail. The Sundance Lift is the perfect place for kids and newbies to perfect their turns.
Precautions: Winter Park is requiring all guests to follow standard ski-area social distancing rules, but it’s not yet requiring reservations to visit for passholders (including Ikon passholders). Day tickets, lessons, and rentals must all be booked in advance online. Winter Park is asking that visitors avoid peak times like weekends and holidays and that they ski and ride in smaller groups. In addition, the town of Winter Park is vulnerable, and visitors should be extra careful when visiting shops or seeking out food and beverages.
Where to Ski & Ride: Come on now. The Mary Jane side of the mountain is the place to be. Its dirt-lot parking eschews the glitz of the resort and harbors a community vibe; there’s plenty of tree skiing; and Mary Jane is renowned for those long, thigh-burning bump lines. Newbies will enjoy long cruisers on the frontside of Winter Park.
Local Dispensary: Silver Stem Fine Cannabis, with an outpost in Fraser, has been in operation in Colorado since the medical-only days.
Precautions: All Vail Resorts ski areas are following a similar safety plan: Wear face coverings, stay home if sick, and be on your best social-distancing behavior. In addition, you’ll have to make a reservation in advance to visit the mountain. Bonus: the village offers the chance to grab food through delivery windows and carts, keeping diners safe and helping to keep the local economy afloat.
Where to Ski & Ride: School Marm is the quintessential green-circle run: it’s long, broad, and gently sloped, a perfect confidence builder for beginners and still a fun jaunt for everyone else. The real action at Keystone is in the Outback trees. You’ll find lots of hidden lines that harbor stashes on a powder day, far away from the masses.
Local Dispensary: High Country Healing in Silverthorne has been a standby in Summit County since 2009.
Precautions: Crested Butte is a small, tight mountain community vulnerable to an outbreak. So, bring what business you can to the town but be diligent in following the rules and limiting the chance of spreading the disease. The resort is sticking to Vail Resorts’ safety policies: social distancing and face coverings required. Plus, you’ll need to make a reservation in advance to visit.
Where to Ski & Ride: It’s worth the time to hump out to Teocalli 2 Bowl on the backside of the mountain. If you’re looking to carve blues, hang out on the Paradise Express lift.
Local Dispensary: Aptly named Backcountry Cannabis is a favorite of local skiers and riders.
Precautions: All Vail Resorts ski areas are following a similar safety plan: Stick to face coverings, say home if sick, and social distance. You’ll need to make a reservation in advance to visit Vail. When strolling through Vail Village and Lionshead, fuel up on restaurant fare with to-go orders.
Where to Ski & Ride: Vail is so vast that you have to have a plan of attack. We like to start in Game Creek Bowl, then make our way to Blue Sky Basin via runs down Sun Down Bowl, Sun Up Bowl, and Tea Cup Bowl. But don’t ignore the frontside of the mountain. The Northwoods lift delivers decent snow on non-powder days, and the runs off Mountaintop Express are crowd-pleasers, especially on bluebird days.
Local Dispensary: The Vail location of Native Roots delivers the service we’ve come to count on from this statewide shop.
Precautions: All Vail Resorts ski areas are following a similar safety plan: Stick to face coverings, say home if sick, and social distance. At Breck, you’ll need a reservation in advance to visit the mountain. Remember the town of Breckenridge is at risk of big outbreaks, so practice safety and respect when you’re seeking out food and beverage options.
Where to Ski & Ride: Breck can be tricky to navigate, and you can spend a lot of time trying to get from spot to spot. We suggest you camp out on Peak 6, which serves up more action on its own than other whole resorts can muster. Breck’s a popular beginners’ mountain, too, and will be offering socially distanced lessons this season.
Local Dispensary: In Breckenridge, try Green Dragon.
Precautions: It’s possible to roadtrip away from the Front Range if you keep your travel safe and responsible. Located in Durango, Purgatory is only selling tickets in advance and will put a cap on daily visitation that prioritizes passholders and those staying at the resort. Be on your best social-distancing game and be extra careful when you visit town.
Where to Ski & Ride: The best game plan at Purgatory is to keep heading further back on the mountain with laps along the way. Start on the Hermosa Park lift, proceed to the Grizzly Lift, and end up lapping the blacks and blues on the Legends Express lift. There’s plenty of green terrain on the frontside and off the Twilight Lift for those just learning.
Local Dispensary: The Greenery in Durango offers curbside, online, and call-ahead ordering only.
Precautions: To visit Copper this winter, you’ll need a parking reservation. A lot of weekend dates are already booked, but weekdays are still open. You’ll have to follow social-distancing norms here, as with other resorts. Dining at the mountain includes reconfigured spaces to limit contact and more grab-and-go options.
Where to Ski & Ride: Copper boasts some great wide-open steeps in Copper Bowl and off the new Three Bears lift to the top of Tucker Mountain. The Resolution lift is a good spot to knock down laps and explore the trees. Beginners can find long cruisers off the American Flyer lift.
Local Dispensary: Native Roots has a location in Frisco, serving Summit County visitors and locals alike