Skiers head up the mountain on the Alpenglow chairlift at Eldora. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)
CU Ski Bus
If you absolutely can’t make it up to the mountains, you can try to make do with urban slopes. Brian Hunter skis shirtless and in shorts in North Boulder Park. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)
The ski bus is a fun way to hit the slopes in Summit and Eagle counties with a few dozen of your pals. It’s cheap, and you can either nap or be that guy that does funny/mean things to people while they’re napping. (Be nice.) Go to colorado.edu/ecenter/transportation/bus/ski-bus-program or the Ski Bus Facebook page, facebook.com/cuskibus, for details. Plan ahead — it fills up quick. The schedule goes up about a month before the bus starts bussing.
Snobby skiers and snowboarders may scoff at a mountain that offers 1,600 vertical feet.
As a skier spoiled by growing up in Eagle County, where students were given dirt-cheap season passes to some of the most highly regarded ski areas on the planet in Vail and Beaver Creek, I know plenty who never bother hitting Boulder’s nearest slopes at Eldora Mountain Resort.
But to avoid it is foolish.
Not only is the 40-minute trip to Eldora up the Boulder Canyon past Nederland a gorgeous drive, but you’ll spend a lot more of your day actually enjoying freshly groomed corduroy instead of sitting in a car stuck in high country ski traffic on Interstate 70.
That is the fate of so many on the Front Range when they make a weekend trek west to bigger resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone or Vail — thus, Eldora last year adopted a new motto: “Drive less, ski more.”
A carefree alternative to driving up the canyon yourself that allows you to truly take in the view instead of focusing on the windy road is a $4.50 ride on the Ski-N-Ride bus. Catch it every day at 14th and Walnut streets.
Though some Colorado ski resorts offer more than double the 1,600-foot total vertical drop at Eldora, its slopes are frequently coated with fresh powder and include runs for every level of skier or snowboarder, notably lots of wide-open cruisers.
Eldora is also entering its second year of operating the Eldo Express lift, which was installed as part of a $5 million upgrade to the mountain in 2017. No longer does returning to the top of the mountain take long enough that your legs are lulled to sleep while riding a 1970s-era two-person chairlift for the next run, as the express zips to the top in 4.5 minutes.
To make Elorda even more tempting to ski or board, the mountain offers college students discounts on season passes, which start at $469 for a full-rate adult pass for the 2018-19 season and $359 for students, who need student IDs and proof of a current class schedule to get the discount.
Sorry, super-super seniors, but you also need to be under 26 years old to snag Eldora’s college pass deal.
Santiago Luque tackles the rails at the terrain park at Arapahoe Basin Ski. (Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post)
Here are some other season pass options for Colorado ski resorts:
For those who need more room to explore than Eldora’s 680 acres of skiing terrain, the Epic Pass — which gets you access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin with no blackout dates — can be picked up for a cool $899.
Looking for a cheaper way to ski prestigious resorts on Colorado’s western slope? Consider the Epic Local, which for $669 gets you unlimited access to Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin, plus 10 days total, except on holidays, at Vail and Beaver Creek.
Check out the 3,081 acres of skiing terrain offered by Winter Park, just an hour-and-45-minute drive from Boulder, all year long. No blackout dates at $479 for adults.
Formerly known as the M.A.X. Pass, the 2018-19 ski season can be enjoyed on an unlimited basis at Elodra, Winter Park, Steamboat and Copper Mountain among other resorts throughout North America with the Ikon Pass.
For the $999 full Ikon, you get another seven days total at Aspen Snowmass.
Save some dough with the Ikon Base Pass at $699, if you can endure 10 blackout dates over the winter holidays, with five days each at Aspen Snowmass and Steamboat.
Sam Lounsberry: twitter.com/samlounz