How to maximize your holiday season trip and bypass the crowds at Summit County ski areas |

How to maximize your holiday season trip and bypass the crowds at Summit County ski areas

Skiers and riders gather at the base area of Copper Mountain Resort during a day on the mountain, March 29, 2021.
Ashley Low/For the Summit Daily News

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for ski resorts across the nation, especially for Summit County ski areas. Summit County may see even more crowds this year as families look to get out of the house after staying home last winter due to the ongoing pandemic.

Regardless of the exact amount of people on the ski slopes, there is bound to be what may feel like impossibly long lines, hordes in the lodges and plenty of people to weave in and out of on the slopes. Many may be looking for how they can beat the crowd to maximize their vacation.

Luckily, Copper Mountain Resort along with Vail Resorts, which owns Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort, have offered up their own advice as to how visitors can make the most of their time during this busy holiday season.

Getting around long lines

The holiday crowds are inevitable to some degree, but Copper, Keystone and Breckenridge have measures in place that will allow guests to bypass long lines.

Copper has the Fast Tracks system, which provides guests early access to the mountain.

“Skiers and riders can make the most of their day on the mountain with a Fast Tracks daily upgrade, providing 30 minutes of early lift access on the American Eagle lift and express lift lane access on seven of Copper’s most popular lifts,” spokesperson Olivia Butrymovich wrote in an email.

Vail Resorts recommends downloading the free EpicMix app. Usable at all of the company’s 34 North American resorts, the software helps visitors navigate what lifts to go to based off the lift line wait times displayed on the app.

The app shows waits in 15-minutes increments in real time, and spokesperson Sara Lococo was quick to note that lift lines can often be visually deceiving.

“You’ll usually find that the lift maze actually moves pretty quickly, and our EpicMix app can help you find the shortest wait times so you can spend more time skiing and riding,” Lococo said.

All of the Summit County ski areas are hoping to open up more terrain to the public as snow continues to make it’s way into the area. This will allow for visitors to continue to spread out across the mountain, making the resort feel less crowded.

When to arrive at the resort

All of the resorts recommend arriving to the mountain early in order to beat the crowds and the lines into the parking lot. Copper also encourages its guests to reserve a parking spot in one of the resort’s paid interior lots in advance on the Copper Mountain website.

Additionally, Vail Resorts suggests arriving early with any rentals, lift tickets and ski school passes having already been purchased.

“The most popular time of day is midmorning through early afternoon, and so by starting early, taking an early lunch, or by skiing later in the afternoon — and especially by taking advantage of night skiing at Keystone — you’re likely to find less wait times,” Lococo said.

Lococo also said that the peak time for lunch at Breckenridge and Keystone is 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. If guests can take a lunch before or after this time window, they will most likely find themselves enjoying a less crowded mountain.

Vail Resorts require reservations and proof of vaccination at all indoor dining locations. Reservations can be made on the EpixMix app. Breckenridge and Keystone also offer grab-and-go lunch options.

Resort efficiency

Summit Country resorts will also rely on established and holiday-specific procedures to help the holidays run as smoothly as possible, not only for the resort, but for their guests, as well.

“Copper’s unique three village layout allows skiers and riders to easily spread out throughout the base of the resort while still being able to access all terrain on the mountain,” Butrymovich wrote.

Lococo said that Keystone and Breckenridge have analyzed historical data and realized that efficiency in loading lifts can drastically improve wait times and the overall ski experience. By using this data, Lococo said that both resorts have been able to improve their operational effectiveness and will roll out new operating plans this holiday season.

Keystone and Breckenridge has also updated line maze layout and signage to up their efficiency.

“Updated lift maze layouts and new signage will improve flow and better inform guests, while optimizing the lift load and unload experience will safely reduce operational slows and stops on lifts,” Lococo said. “These improvements are further supported by focusing on our lift mazes at our busiest lifts, adding dedicated lift maze coordinators and elevated training focused on maze management, lift loading and unloading.”

All ski resorts know that the holiday season will be a busy time for everyone involved on the mountain, but guests having fun and being safe are on the forefront of their minds.

“We are all out here because we love the mountains and skiing and riding,” Lococo said.

Hopefully by taking these tips into consideration and planning ahead before arriving to the mountain, one’s holiday ski resort trip will be nothing but ideal.

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