Colorado ski resorts that were closed March 15 due to the coronavirus are beginning to reopen with limited summer on-mountain activities including hiking, mountain biking, mountain coasters and scenic chairlift rides.
Difficult as it was for resort managers to shut down with more than a month left in the ski season and great snow blanketing their mountains, it’s also been challenging for them to work through decisions regarding when and how to reopen for summer operations. Each resort had to figure out what amenities could be offered with social distancing and other measures in place to keep guests safe, working in concert with county health guidelines.
“We should expect that as we reopen there will be many differing opinions about our approach, from both inside and outside our company,” Vail Resorts chief executive Rob Katz wrote in an email to employees. “Some will think we are moving too slowly; others will think we are moving too fast. Some will say it must be about money, others will say we are being too cautious or too cavalier. We can’t eliminate that chatter and it’s always important to listen to the feedback, but we also need our own view.”
Indeed, although Arapahoe Basin reopened for skiing from May 27 through June 7, Katz considered reopening Breckenridge last month but decided against it. And while two of Vail Resorts’ Colorado mountains reopen Friday for summer operations (Crested Butte and Keystone), the other three (Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge) don’t open until next week.
Resorts are requiring face masks where it is practical, along with social distancing and capacity limitations, and gondola cabins typically will be limited to immediate parties. Resort websites have detailed descriptions of precautions and guidelines that will be in force.
Here’s a rundown of Colorado’s major ski resorts with summer operations and what they plan to offer:
Aspen and Snowmass (open): The Silver Queen gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain (elev. 11,212 feet) is running for sightseeing, disc golf, hiking, yoga and nature programs. At Snowmass, the Elk Creek gondola and Elk Camp chairlifts are operating. The mountain coaster, Treeline Trial, Challenge obstacle course and climbing wall are open. Hiking trails and the Snowmass Bike Park also are open, as are some food and beverage services.
Crested Butte (opens Friday): The Butte will offer scenic chairlift rides via the Silver Queen Express, which terminates near the mountaintop at 11,400 feet. Hauling bikes on the lift will not be allowed, but guests are free to ride up the mountain under their own power. The mountain also is open for hiking, and The Butte 66 Bar & Grille will offer grab-and-go food and drink.
Keystone (opens Friday): Open on weekends (Friday-Sunday) for River Run Gondola scenic rides and hiking. The Summit House will offer grab-and-go food and drink. Mountain biking is allowed on the mountain, but you can’t ride the gondola with a bike. One of Keystone’s two golf courses, the River Course, has been open for three weeks. The Ranch course will not open this summer.
Steamboat (opens Friday): Operating on weekends (Friday-Sunday), scaled-back mountain operations will include the mountain coaster, a mini-golf course, some base-area dining and scenic gondola rides to the Thunderhead Lodge at mid-mountain with grab-and-go food and outdoor seating. The Steamboat Bike Park will not be open but biking and hiking will be allowed on multi-use trails. Just be aware that there will be no patrol services, bike rentals, guides or trail maintenance. Features, jumps and downhill trails in the bike park will be closed, and you will not be allowed to take your bike on the gondola.
Winter Park (opens Saturday): The alpine slide won’t operate this summer, but the gondola to the summit at Sunspot (elev. 10,700 feet) will be in operation to provide access for hiking trails and the Trestle Bike Park, which has 45 miles of trails and terrain features. The Lodge at Sunspot will be open for to-go lunches with picnic spots outside but no indoor seating. Some dining operations at the base area will be available, along with bike rentals and some retail.
Ski Sunlight (open): Hiking and mountain biking is allowed now, and a two-day race event will happen on the mountain July 18-19. The first day of the Sunlight Showdown is a 13-mile bike race and the second day is a 13-mile trail running race. Participants can register for one or both days.
Beaver Creek (July 1): The Centennial Express lift from the base area to mid-mountain at the Spruce Saddle lodge will be operating for scenic rides. Hiking and mountain biking will be allowed, and you can haul your bike up the mountain on the lift. Spruce Saddle will be open for grab-and-go food and drink.
Vail (July 1): Gondola One scenic rides will be operating to Mid-Vail for hiking, and the Mid-Vail lodge will offer grab-and-go food and drink. Gondola 19 from Lionshead to Eagles Nest is scheduled to open in mid-July with hiking, Epic Discovery interpretive trails and the mountain coaster. Mountain biking is allowed, but you can’t take your bike on the gondolas. Grab-and-go food and drink will be available at Eagle’s Nest when it opens.
Breckenridge (July 4): The BreckConnect Gondola will be operating for scenic chairlift rides. On-mountain activities will include hiking, an alpine slide and a mountain coaster, and mountain biking is allowed. The Ski Hill Grill at the Peak 8 base will offer grab-and-go food and drink.
Copper Mountain (July 4): Scenic chairlift rides on the Woodward Express lift to mid-mountain for hiking and mountain biking. Limited dining options will be available and the Copper Creek golf course will open July 3. Woodward Copper’s new summer lessons lineup will offer a full day of professional instruction for adults and youth in a variety of disciplines including ski, snowboard, skate, scooter and BMX.
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