COVID restrictions are in place this ski season, but that doesn’t mean that snowsport enthusiasts can’t enjoy winter in the mountains. Resorts are trying their best to make the season safe and enjoyable for skiers of all skillsets. Guests may need to get a little creative when it comes to getting in their turns this winter, however. Here are some tips for making the most out of this year’s season.
Create a Game Plan for the Season
Unfortunately, waking up and deciding on a whim to hit the slopes isn’t an option at most resorts this year. Instead, assess each month and create a game plan of potential ski days. Reserve spots early at your favorite resorts and select a few backup days at alternative options, just in case.
Book Everything Ahead of Time
As days fill up with reservations at the local ski mountains, it may be wise to review your bucket-list mountains and find a way to make it work in late winter and early spring. Fortunately, ever-changing COVID regulations have forced hotels and airlines to eliminate strict cancellation policies. Guests can take full advantage of these forgiving policies in order to ski some farther-flung terrain.
Review State and County Restrictions
States are doing things differently this year and what may fly at Mammoth Mountain may not at Aspen Snowmass. Stay informed about current restrictions in various snowy counties throughout the Rockies and choose a location that best fits your needs.
Consider Smaller Resorts
While beautiful and picturesque, Vail, Beaver Creek, Park City, and the like tend to draw big crowds, particularly around holidays. Out of towners are likely to have booked well in advance and your days may no longer be available. Fortunately, since we’re at the footsteps of the Rockies, Boulder skiers have a special advantage and can access nearby, smaller ski valleys in a day’s drive. Wolf Creek, Taos Ski Valley, Powderhorn, and more boast awesome snow-fall averages, diverse terrain, and attract local crowds.
Take a Backcountry Avalanche Class
Now may be the time to brush up on your backcountry safety skills. You’ll get to play outside in the snow while learning a new skill that can definitely set you up for success next winter. REI, Neptune Mountaineering, and other outfitters offer a variety of classes and gear for all skill levels.
Buy or Bring Your Own Gear
For those waiting for the perfect excuse to get new boots and skis, 2020 is it. Treat yourself to a new set of skis, boots, and other winter gear because many gear shops are not renting at the moment. For those still not wanting to take the plunge and purchase ski gear for the whole family, some stores in Boulder are renting ski gear that you can pick up before-hand and bring to the mountain.
Pack a Picnic and Extra Blankets
Communal-style patio dining, cozy indoor bars, and ski lodges are not likely to open this season. However, some resorts are offering food-truck style dining via snow cats placed at various locations around the mountain. Others allow guests to bring their own food and have set up outside tables around the resort.
You don’t have to miss out on everyone’s favorite time of the day just because the bar is temporarily closed. Pack folding chairs, blankets, or even a charcuterie basket from Cured and invite friends to meet up in the parking lot at the end of a long day. Swap some stories and sip on a hot toddy while taking in breathtaking views from the comfort of your camp chair.
Many of us live in Colorado for the epic skiing it offers each year. COVID may have dampened some spirits and placed new restrictions on some of our most treasured resorts, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still show up and enjoy epic Rocky Mountain terrain.