Local ski areas gear up for opening of summer activities
*Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove disc golf from Copper Mountain’s list of 2020 summer activities.
DILLON — After months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Keystone Resort and Copper Mountain have all set dates to open for summer operations in upcoming weeks. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area plans to reopen as well although a date has not yet been set.
First to open will be Keystone on Friday, June 26. While the Keystone River Course and outdoor play at the Keystone Tennis Center are already operating, rides on the River Run Gondola, hiking trails and prepackaged food and drink options at the Summit House will become available on Friday.
The Keystone Bike Park will remain closed. Keystone Communications Manager Loryn Roberson said running the bike park “would require significant adjustments to operating protocols and our priority during this period of recovery is getting the basic planning and execution right.”
Keystone will operate Fridays through Sundays throughout the summer.
Breckenridge will open July 4 with rides on the BreckConnect Gondola, scenic chairlift rides on the Colorado SuperChair, hiking trails, the Alpine slides, the Gold Runner Coaster and prepackaged food and drink options will be available at Ski Hill Grill.
With certain activities like the golf course open again, Roberson said things are so far going well and that everyone seems to be happy to be outside doing the activities they love. She said the resorts have asked guests and employees to “take on an additional level of personal accountability to ensure the safety of our mountain communities,” similar to the Skier Responsibility Code.
Roberson said that while it is difficult to speculate what kind of demand the resorts will receive, the resorts are confident they can “accommodate all visitors this summer” given the expansive outdoor settings.
“We think that guests are looking forward to getting outside and enjoying the resorts again. We’re fortunate that our resorts provide outdoor settings to experience nature and practice physical distancing so that our guests can return to the activities they love,” Roberson said in an email.
Both Breckenridge and Copper will open for summer activities on July 4. At Copper, Copper Creek Golf Course will open on July 3 for 18 holes of golf. On July 4, the mountain will offer hiking, mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides, the Rocky Mountain Coaster, weekend yoga and limited dining options. On-snow lessons in Woodward’s Central Park begin July 5 and will serve as sport-specific day lessons rather than the usual residential summer camp. Lift-served mountain biking off of Woodward Express, which was first available last summer, will continue again this year.
JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern, Downhill Dukes, Toast & Co, Ten Mile Tavern, Copper Provisions at CB Grille, Mountain Melt and Starbucks are set to open on July 4 with a combination of dine-in, delivery and to-go options.
Copper spokeswoman Taylor Prather said that while health and safety protocols such as keeping physical distance and wearing facial coverings in certain areas are going to be a big change, the resort is looking forward to welcoming guests back to a different summer experience.
“All of the resorts are working very closely with Summit County Public Health ensuring that we are all … in accordance with the public health order set forth to protect individuals from COVID. We’re still definitely working closely with them and we’ve created our own responsibility code that’s very similar to what Summit County Public Health has created,” Prather said.
To prepare the resort for summer operations amid COVID-19 concerns Prather said the resort is putting up signage with health and safety information and requirements as well as sanitizing stations. She said Copper is also working to increase general awareness among guests about public health orders and is increasing cleaning frequency.
“I think there are people out there who are looking forward to getting outside, getting fresh air and just being in the mountains and that’s what we’re trying to encourage people to do whether they’re locals or they’re driving in,” Prather said.
As for activities in the works to potentially open later in the summer, Prather said Copper is working with the county to roll out some special programming, such as drive-in movies in collaboration with Yeti, in lieu of usual summer concerts and food events. She said that plans for a remote control car park by Subaru is also in the works and that Copper will host a bike skills course and will have remote control boats on West Lake. She noted that some trails won’t be open right away due to remaining snow runoff and construction.
A-Basin spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer said that while the ski area has plans for summer activities they are waiting on approval from Summit County Public Health. According to its website, A-Basin plans to open daily scenic chairlift rides on the Black Mountain Express lift to mid-mountain, Friday and Sunday yoga classes, mountain biking and the disc golf course. Yoga sessions tentatively begin July 3.
The ski area notes that the trails for hiking and mountain biking and the disc golf course will be open seven days a week once the snow has melted and certain areas have dried out. Guided wildflower hikes will take place at 11 a.m. on Sundays with a tentative start date of July 12. The hiking groups will be limited to nine participants.
The ski area’s 6th Alley Bar & Grill opened June 11 and carries a limited food menu and full drink menu. There will be drink and barbecue food items served on the deck of the Black Mountain Lodge.
Gov. Jared Polis has said that the next phase for containing the spread of the novel coronavirus, “protect our neighbors,” will likely be in place until a vaccine or cure is developed, so the ski areas may have to operate under restrictions during the winter ski season as well.
“We believe this summer will provide a good opportunity to evaluate our procedures on a smaller scale so we can make any necessary adjustments for winter,” Keystone’s Roberson said in an email.
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