Collegian Ski Report: Echo Mountain offers cheaper alternative for skiing

Ty Betts

Video by Erica Giesenhagen

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The Mountain

With only one chairlift, Echo Mountain is one of the smallest ski areas you will find in Colorado. If you are coming from the front range, however, it may be the cheapest and closest option to hit the ski slopes.

Located west of Evergreen along Highway 103, Echo offers a college day pass for $49.

Fred Klaas, the general manager for Echo, said they are looking to expand both in customer base and size while knowing that they will never be on the scale of other Colorado resorts.

“We’re definitely looking to expand and grow. We need to do that to have some lasting power,” Klass said. “But at the same time, we’re never going to be a mega resort. That’s not who we are, nor who we want to be.”

Klaas also said the price and affordability of Echo allow skiing opportunities for a broader group of people.

“Regardless of the amount of time you have, the budget you have – if you’re looking to get into skiing and snowboarding this is going to be one of the easiest places to dip your toes in,” Klaas said.   

Echo Mountain, located outside of Evergreen and Idaho Springs, is only a 50-minute drive from Denver. While the hill only has one chairlift, Echo specializes in those looking to hone their skills or learn the sport. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)

Culture

The good thing about the small size of Echo Mountain is that when they play Daughter by Pearl Jam over their speaker system, Eddie Vedder’s voice can be heard almost anywhere you are on the slopes.

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The small size also means that parents can stay back at the lodge and let their kids ski the mountain on their own.

Leighann Margolin from Evergreen, Colorado said she is able to visit Echo with her daughter after elementary school gets out.

“It’s small enough so we just let the kids go, which we would never do that at a big resort,” Margolin said.

Klaas said he thinks that the size of Echo also lends itself to having a different experience than the larger resorts in Colorado.

“We’re really small and we have a local feel. We focus a lot more on the experience than some of the other resorts,” Klaas said. “You get to know the staff and you can feel the difference here.”

Echo is also a destination for college students looking to save money. Kaitlin Orr, a student from Missouri, said she came to Echo for her first time skiing in large part because of the lower prices.

“We were expecting to drop two hundred dollars and we ended up spending less than a hundred for rentals and everything,” Orr said.

Terrain

Echo changed ownership in 2016 and Klaas said the ski area is now having to focus on informing people of what the resort currently offers.

“Previously with Echo being opened as just a terrain park, or being private or being a ski race training facility – those are misconceptions that come up constantly in conversations,” Klaas said.

Echo only has one lift that takes visitors to the top of primary beginner and intermediate level runs. As Echo receives more snowfall, Klaas said they have a run through the trees as well as terrain park features.

Margolin said the magic carpet was a good addition because the main runs are not the best for learning.

“I’ve seen people out there trying to learn for the first time and it’s kind of steep for a beginner,”  Margolin said.

Echo also offers night skiing as well as ski and snowboard lessons. And although Echo is small, Klass doesn’t think the amount of fun you will have is determined by the terrain map.

“I think a lot of people write us off right away because of how small we appear,” Klaas said. “But once you get out here, go night skiing, or see the differentiating factors with the time and cost, its appealing to a lot of people.”