Quandary on long-lived ski areas, and where to ride your snowmobile
What’s the oldest active ski resort in Summit?
Well, when you’re talking with an old goat, they all seem pretty young, but one has proudly stood longer than any other resort in Summit. The ski resort that has happily dubbed itself “The Legend” is Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, and people have been shredding the Basin for longer than anywhere else in the county.
Arapahoe Basin opened its slopes in 1946, much to the delight of powder hounds everywhere.
This is not to say that skiing didn’t exist in Summit before then, but the areas that were skied prior to 1946 have not stood the test of time.
Some resorts passed into history simply because of their location. For example, if Ski Hill in Dillon were still in operation, skiers would wind up in Dillon Reservoir. I know, Summit skiers have no problem with pond skimming, but this would be a little more intense (read: deadly) version of that tradition.
Other ski areas lost out because they couldn’t offer enough terrain, couldn’t bring in new technologies or simply couldn’t pack the same thrill.
Now that you know which resort has stood the longest, you might be wondering which has the freshest face in town. That honor goes to Copper Mountain Resort.
Copper came to being during the disco decade, as did Keystone Resort. However, Keystone edged Copper by opening its terrain in 1970, two years before Copper opened for the 1972-73 ski season.
Breckenridge Ski Resort is the second-oldest ski resort in Summit, and will celebrate 53 years of powder on Tuesday, Dec. 16; the resort officially opened on that date in 1961.
Where can you snowmobile in Summit?
Screaming down the mountain on a board just isn’t enough of a thrill anymore, eh? Well, no worries. There are several ways to hit the powder with a little more speed this season. If your snowmobile was a little too heavy to bring out here as a carry on, don’t fret; there are a couple tour groups in the area that can get you taken care of with options ranging from two-hour tours to full-day outings. Prices can range drastically as well, so if you’re interested, make sure to chat with someone to ensure you get a package that matches up not only with your need for speed, but also with your budget. Try calling Copper Sports Guest Services, at (886) 275-7869, to discuss what you’re looking for and to get a tour set up with one of the groups in the area.
If you’ve got your machine and are ready to head out on your own, check with the Dillon Ranger District to find out exactly where snowmobiling is allowed in Summit.
You can also check the U.S. Forest Service website (www.fs.usda.gov/) for a full list of trails, ratings and directions. The site can also give you some information about the history of specific trails. For example, Boreas Pass Road #10 gained status as the highest narrow-gauge railroad in the country when it was used as such from 1872-1938.
The trail, which runs from Breckenridge to Como, in neighboring Park County, is now ranked as a moderate-difficulty snowmobile trail.
Luckily, there are trails throughout Summit County available for snowmobile use, though some of them require fees for use and some intersect with trails not designated for motorized use. If you are planning to spend a day on the trails, be sure to equip yourself with a map and enough information to know which trails are appropriate. Fees are generally low, but again be prepared.
If you go out a lot it might be worth investing in a season pass somewhere. Riding in Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area, for example, costs $6 per day for trail use or $40 for a season, so weigh whether snowmobiling is really your life, or just a fleeting fancy.
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