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2018–2019 Colorado Tourism Office Winter Trends and Story Ideas

Offbeat Snowventures:

Enjoy Colorado's snowy terrain, both on and off the slopes, with unique winter sports. This winter, visitors can enjoy Purgatory’s new Inferno Mountain Coaster; the Fat Bike World Championships in Crested Butte; Monarch Mountain’s new 450’ snow tubing hill; New nighttime Nordic Snowcat Adventures at the Breckenridge Nordic Center; winter Jeeping in Ouray; Ice Castles in Dillon and more. Silverton Mountain offers the only heli-experience in the continental United States that offers single drops in addition to all day, and private heli skiing. Learn to snow kite, kite board or kite ski on Lake Dillon with Colorado Kite Force, the first outfitter to bring kiting on snow to Colorado. Experience the emerging sport of snow biking with fat bike tours courtesy of Breck Bike Guides in Breckenridge and BootDoctors in Telluride. Learn to ice climb at the Ouray Ice Park, one of the premier ice climbing venues in the world. Get an adrenaline rush jeep ice racing on Lake Dillon. Or, em“bark” on the sport of skijoring (a Scandinavian winter sport, in which athletes are pulled on skis by either a horse, dog, or motor vehicle) at various Nordic centers across the state.

Major Ski Terrain Expansions:

Winter welcomes significant terrain improvements and expansions at Colorado’s ski resorts. The most notable is that Arapahoe Basin is set to complete the two year process of opening the expanded Beavers and Steep Gullies areas for the 2018-19 season with a total of 468 acres of new intermediate and expert terrain now available to skiers in addition to the 371 acres of terrain opened last season. A new lift will serve the Beavers area, and the Steep Gullies will remain hike back and expert terrain. Wolf Creek will open 55 acres of additional terrain for beginners and intermediates and improve access to expert terrain with its new Meadow chairlift.

Colorado Leads the Way in Responsible Tourism:

This past summer, the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) and Leave No Trace (LNT) revealed their new joint Care for Colorado Principles aimed at guiding travelers to show care for the state’s water, land and wildlife while helping protect special Colorado places. The Leave No Trace – Care for Colorado Principles, developed through a first-of-its-kind partnership announced last October, are available on and in a new “Are You Colo-Ready?” brochure. The CTO and Leave No Trace also are developing collaborations with other tourism industry groups both to educate their guests and codify their own best practices as models for others in their industry. To date, discussions are underway with the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association and the Colorado River Outfitters Association.

Responsible tourism is a major focus of the CTO, which is also exploring solutions to issues of overcrowding in some areas of the state. In addition to our newly announced Care for Colorado Principles, the CTO launched the Colorado Field Guide last summer as a way to tackle this concern.  The Field Guide is aimed at inspiring travelers to explore the state’s hidden gems and carry their dollars to less-visited destinations in the state and includes an online collection of three- to seven-day itineraries along with tips on ways travelers can protect the state’s natural resources, whether by traveling like a local or taking part in “voluntourism.”

  •  Last winter, Wolf Creek became the first solar powered ski area in the nation.
  •  Crested Butte Mountain Resort is proud to partner with Mountain Manners, a local educational campaign and advocacy group focused on teaching recreators proper outdoor etiquette.
  •  Vail Resorts announced their Epic Promise to eliminate emissions, deliver zero waste to landfills and offset its overall impact to forests and habitat by 2030.
  • Aspen Skiing Company partners with the Elk Creek coal mine, Holy Cross Energy, and Vessels Coal Gas on a $5.5 million investment to capture waste methane vented from a coal mine in neighboring Somerset, Colo. This project is the only one of its kind in the United States.
  • Vail just became the first destination in the world to be certified to the Mountain IDEAL sustainable destination standard.

Foodies Seek Refuge in Colorado’s Ski Country:

The days of overpriced hamburgers in the ski lodge are coming to an end. High altitude excitement is swarming around Colorado’s 28 ski areas and resorts as they place a greater emphasis on fine dining. New this winter, Steamboat’s welcomes Timber and Torch restaurant and launches “Taco Beast,” a roaming snowcat that will appear at different locations on the mountain serving up tacos. Situated at the heart of Vail Mountain, The 10th is Vail’s newest sit down, ski-in, ski-out fine dining restaurant overlooking the majestic Gore Range. The 10th’s cuisine is world-class with a focus on Modern Alpine classics. Guests are invited to take a snow coach to Alpino Vino in Telluride, offering a five-course Italian meal that makes for a perfect retreat on the slopes.  Aspen boasts multiple on-mountain restaurants for its foodie clientele, ranging from bistro food at Ajax Tavern to Cloud Nine Bistro, which recently unveiled a $1.1M restoration and serves food with a European flair at 10,740 feet. Amazing cuisine, well-chosen wines, impeccable service, live musical entertainment and unique transportation options to the restaurant have made Beano’s Cabin a favorite on-mountain dining destination in Beaver Creek.

Winter Lodging News:

This winter welcomes several new lodging offerings and packages in Colorado’s high country including: The Limelight Hotel will open in Snowmass; the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek will offer wake-up calls on powder days; The Four Seasons Resort in Vail will offer new First Chair with Ski Concierge and Back Bowls Tour packages; the Viceroy Snowmass completed a $4 million enhancement of the property. Additionally, the new winter-only hut, "The Sisters Cabin," is anticipated to open early winter 2018 and will be the fifth backcountry hut in the Summit Huts system. Denver is seeing big growth in lodging options and The Gaylord Rockies, Jacquard Hotel and The Source Hotel are all anticipated to open by the end of 2018. Origin Red Rocks opened in August 2018 in Golden and became the official hotel partner to the world-renowned music venue, Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Ski Resorts Are Getting Upgraded:

Winter Park is scheduled to unveil nearly $30M in improvements this winter season including a new 10-person gondola. Loveland Ski Area, Wolf Creek and Arapahoe Basin will also welcome new chairlifts this winter while Copper Mountain will install two new chairlifts in its base area. Snowmass Base Village is undergoing a $600M mountain-resort development – the largest currently under construction in North America – with the completion of the first phase of construction slated for November 2018.

Plane to Train Ski Access:

Getting to the slopes of Colorado is easier with rail and flight offerings to get travelers straight to the slopes skipping traffic, rental car headaches and more. Book a weekend ride, one way or round trip, from Denver’s Union Station to the platform right at Winter Park on The Winter Park Express Train. The train will hit the tracks in January and continue running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays each month. Book ahead, as this scenic and convenient ride tends to fill up. With the revival of the Winter Park Express Ski Train and the new commuter rail line from Denver International Airport to Union Station, visitors from throughout the country and across the globe can use train travel for the entire trip from flight to Winter Park.

TREND: Spike in interest in Colorado Hut Trips plus NEW Hut and Backcountry Lodge:

Colorado has more huts and yurts than any other state in the U.S., and there has been a drastic increase in interest in hut trips through the 10th Mountain Huts in the last few years. Possible reasons for this sudden spike could include affordability, an increased desire to unplug and the growing interest in backcountry skiing. Colorado is home to one of the most extensive backcountry hut systems in North America, with more than 30 huts across 350 miles of U.S. Forest Service trails called the 10th Mountain Division Huts.

Backcountry huts are springing up across the state including the new winter-only hut, "The Sisters Cabin," anticipated to open early winter 2018. Opening late December 2018, Red Mountain Alpine Lodge will serve as the ultimate year-round backcountry accommodation for discerning clientele seeking to be on the doorstep of Colorado’s ultimate outdoor playground without sacrificing a single amenity.

Other unique hut experiences include The Opus Hut near Durango, the fledgling Grand Huts Association planning to establish nine huts in Grand County starting with the Broome Hut on Berthoud Pass. There is also the San Juan Hut System in southwestern Colorado. The Colorado Hut Yurt Alliance was started in January 2014 and is a statewide organization for owners of huts and yurts to promote their offerings.

Historic Hot Springs Loop and Winter Warm-Up:

Five premier Colorado hot springs destinations including Chaffee County, Pagosa Springs, Ouray County, Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs recently came together to form the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop showcasing 19 diverse hot springs facilities. Each of these communities has a ski resort or area nearby and is the perfect pairing after a day on the slopes. Ouray Hot Springs recently underwent a $10.6 million renovation. In Glenwood Springs, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, located on the site of the historic Iron Springs Spa, offers 16 mineral hot springs soaking pools and a freshwater family pool. Stay in a tent or rent a rustic cabin, and make sure to book the signature watsu treatment: a bodywork massage that takes place in geothermal waters at Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs. Right inside San Isabel National Forest along Chalk Creek, Antero Hot Springs Cabins features three cabins each come with their own hot-springs-fed pools and spectacular views. 

TREND: Girls Rule Winter in Colorado with Increase in Women’s Adventure Programs:

Colorado hosts numerous winter offerings to empower women through outdoor adventure. Most Colorado ski resorts offer women specific clinics such as Crested Butte’s Women’s Tips on Tuesdays, which is a half day lesson that ends with a glass of wine; Arapahoe Basin’s Legendary Ladies ski and snowboard clinic; Telluride’s Women’s Ski and Wellness Week featuring yoga and meditation; the four-day Women’s Edge program at Aspen Snowmass; Vail’s full roster of women's specific events and Ski and Snowboard School offerings and many other women’s specific events and day or month-long lessons and clinics. Ouray, Colorado is home to one of the premier ice climbing venues in the world, and Chicks Climbing and Skiing gets females climbing in the Ouray Ice Park through their various clinics and programs. They also offer women’s rock climbing and backcountry ski programs. Backcountry Babes is an outdoor education program that specializes in cultivating women’s leadership in the outdoors offering several backcountry ski hut and yurt trips, tours and avalanche classes throughout Colorado. Aspen Alpine Guides’ Leave the Boys Behind program takes groups of females out for avalanche education and winter backcountry skiing and hut trips. Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Women Afield Pr ogram is dedicated to teaching basic skills in hunting, shooting sports and angling to women and Timber to Table Guide Service is offering a new program for female hunters.

Kids Become Lifetime Skiers and Snowboarders in Colorado:

With the debut of Haymeadow Park Learning Area this winter, Beaver Creek will have the most dedicated learning terrain in the state. The Meadows, Telluride’s popular beginner area, was recently upgraded into a world-class learning space. At Keystone, kids 12 and younger ski free with just two or more nights of resort lodging, and kids can participate in daily signature Kidtopia programming or join for a special event like the 2nd annual Kidtopia Culinary Festival in February.

Colorado Caters to Multi-Generational Travelers:

From winter dude and guest ranch retreats and ski towns with offerings for the whole family to 10 scenic and historic train travel options and hot springs resorts galore, Colorado has incredible travel options for multiple generations, including grandparents, cousins and maybe even great aunts and uncles.

Mom and Pop Ski Areas and GEMS Resorts:

The GEMS are 11 of Colorado’s best hidden ski area treasures. These resorts are truly unique ranging from Howelsen Hill, the longest continuously operating ski area in the U.S. and owned and operated by the City of Steamboat Springs and Loveland and A-Basin, both atop the Continental Divide and roughly an hour from Denver to Powderhorn nestled in the heart of the Grand Mesa on Colorado’s Western Slope and Monarch Mountain, which touts its independent spirit outside of Salida. Free of paid parking, free of crowds, free of lift lines, free of hassles. With down-to-earth prices, these resorts offer instant access to world-class terrain. The Gems are perfect for those seeking the authentic and lesser-known Colorado skiing or snowboarding experience, and the GEMS CARD is the ultimate way to begin your Colorado adventure. For just $25, the Gems Card provides your choice of either two 2-for-1 lift tickets or two 30% off lift tickets, at each of the 11 Colorado Gems Resorts. Use your Gems Card for either two BOGOs, two 30% discounts, or one of each at all 11 Gems resorts.

The History of the 10th Mountain Division and their Influence on Colorado's Ski Culture:

In 1942, the U.S. Army created the Tenth Mountain Division and selected Camp Hale & Cooper Hill (now Ski Cooper), located at 11,700 feet, as the Division's training site. The division was ordered to Italy in 1945 to spearhead the advance of the U.S. Fifth Army and served in a series of actions that played a vital role in the liberation of Italy. By the time of the German Surrender in May, 1945, 992 ski troopers had been killed in action and 4,000 were wounded, the highest casualty rate of any U.S. division in the Mediterranean. Following World War II, Cooper Hill opened to the public as Ski Cooper in 1945 as a three-day-per week ski area for the enjoyment of local residents. Ski Cooper is the 6th oldest ski hill in Colorado.

The 10th Mountain Division Huts is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that manages a system of 34 backcountry huts in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, connected by 350 miles of suggested routes. They provide a unique opportunity for backcountry skiing, mountain biking, or hiking while staying in safe, comfortable shelter. Their name honors the men of 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army, who trained during World War II at Camp Hale. Hut visitors share the special spirit of these individuals, especially their pursuit of excellence, self reliance, and love of the outdoors. Some of the huts are named after 10th Mountain Division soldiers, and you can learn about these soldiers and their stories within the huts.

Vail is home to the recently renovated Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum, which houses the "Legacy of the 10th Mountain Division" exhibit. This exhibit highlights the famed 10th Mountain Division, the ski troopers of World War II.

Visitors can get a first-hand taste of the 10th Mountain Division training grounds by skiing at Ski Cooper, between Leadville and Vail). Ski Cooper’s origin goes back to World War II. In 1942, the U.S. Army selected a training site near an isolated railroad stop of Pando, CO. Nearby Camp Hale was built as the training site for the ski troopers of the famed 10th Mountain Division. The Army selected the site because of the availability of rail transportation, its rugged mountainous terrain, and a 250-inch average annual snowfall which assured a six-month-long ski training season at the nearby, 11,700-foot-high Ski Cooper. One of few true family resorts in Colorado, you’ll be skiing the same slopes at the 10th Mountain Division did in the 1940s, when they trained here for Word War II battles in Europe.  Be sure to stop and see the veterans’ memorial at the entrance to Ski Cooper on Highway 6 & 24.

As you can imagine, there are not a lot of original 10th division members left, but there are a handful who come to an annual reunion each year. Some descendants and family members come too.

The Denver Public Library also has a vast collection of photos and documents related to the 10th Mountain Division troops and their training.

Winter Wildlife Watching:

With reduced foliage during winter months, birds and other wildlife species are easier to spot across the state.  And, while it would take a lifetime to see all 493 bird species that call Colorado home, places like Holly, Craig, Karval, Mesa Verde and the protected lands of the Eastern plains host viewings, tours and festivals during the winter months through April. During the second weekend in March, the Monte Vista Crane Festival hosts wildlife experts, local naturalists and biologists who present educational workshops, while flocks of dancing sandhills assemble in the neighboring farm fields. Bus tours to the nearby refuge and adjacent farmlands provide visitors with the opportunity to view this spectacle up close and personal, with a knowledgeable local guide. On the second Saturday in November, join the Historic Town of Georgetown and Colorado Parks & Wildlife for the Annual Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Festival. Stop by the Bighorn Sheep Viewing Station and the Georgetown Gateway Visitor Center as trained volunteers with binoculars and spotting scopes help viewers locate the head-banging sheep and offer a brief lesson on the animals. In Black Canyon of the Gunnison keep an eye out for the mule deer that live throughout the area. Not only are they one of the most commonly sighted animals in the park, but the winter months are the perfect time for viewing, when fewer people are around and the snow drives them to lower elevations in search of food. Visiting during early winter is an opportunity to see mating rituals, while late winter and early spring allows plenty of viewing where the snow has begun to melt and fresh grass is starting to grow. State Forest State Park’s claim to fame is the thriving local moose population. The moose visitor center is a great place to get oriented before heading out to search for the 600 moose that inhabit the area year-round. 

Colorado Winter Ranch Retreats:

Winter at a Colorado dude and guest ranch provides a quiet, cozy mountain escape surrounded by a picturesque snowy wonderland.  Visitors enjoy welcoming log cabins with private hot tub and delicious, freshly prepared meals in between adventures at Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, including snowshoe and cross-country skiing, fat tire biking, snow tubing, winter horseback rides, backcountry skiing, and more.  Sundance Trail Guest Ranch offers horseback rides on the trails of the Roosevelt National Forest, guests return home to enjoy a massage, stargaze from the hot tub and swap stories in front of a Colorado Mountain Lodge fireplace. For the hardy, a fun-filled sleigh ride in the winter season is the perfect way to take in the sights of Lake George at M Lazy C Ranch. All rides are pulled by the Percheron draft horses that are raised on the ranch. At Coulter Lake Guest Ranch, winter adventures for the whole family include sledding, ice-skating, cross country skiing and more.


Media Contacts:        

Carly Holbrook / 720.289.9366, [email protected] 

Abby Leeper / 720.664.4049, [email protected]

Caitlin Johnson / 720.233.8520, [email protected]