The Local Skiing Lowdown

Mike Berg

Nokhu Crags up the Pourdre Canyon near Cameron Pass. (Photo by Luke Koppa, Skier is Ben Jaacks)


By Jonny Jessup and Michael Berg


Skiers have recognized that so far the conditions this season have been… well, not great. Not great is being very generous when describing the slopes that are riddled with tree roots and rocks, and have been over-skied so all that remains is an ice patch underneath. Even during the days when Colorado conditions don’t live up to their renowned reputations, there’s a mantra I like to remind myself: “skiing is skiing.”

Every winter, countless others and I look forward to skiing close to every free chance we get. I loaded up my class schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays and kept Fridays free so I’m able to leave bright and early and beat the bumper to bumper traffic up I-70. However, this season has been particularly frustrating because, despite resorts not having nearly as many runs open as normal, the busy traffic remains. And come Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there it is again. The red brake lights that seem to go on forever of cars filled with people teeming with the same skiing fever that possesses me. Once you get through the couple hours or so of white knuckle driving, you reach an overcrowded and skied up mountain that many times isn’t worth the long hours driving and narrowly escaping an accident on the highway.

CSU student Luke Koppa sends it down some back country near Cameron Pass. (Chris Fuller | Chris Fuller Photography)

I’ve been fortunate enough to ski Arapahoe Basin, Vail, Beaver Creek, and Snowmass this season, and each has provided just as disappointing conditions as the last. There is however a place free of the I-70 rush and lack of snow which is hailed as one of the best ski resorts in the country. Even better; it’s close to Fort Collins.

Steamboat Springs has gotten far and away the best snow this ski season. With 163/165 runs open, there is no limit to skiing there as the area enjoys a steady influx of snowfall, including a fresh foot of snow over the past weekend. More times than not, you’ll enjoy way less crowds here as well as avoiding the traffic caravan from Denver.

If you don’t have a pass at Steamboat and aren’t feeling like paying for a day pass, then I recommend paying a visit to our neighbors in Wyoming at the Snowy Range Ski Area or enjoying the backcountry possibilities in the Poudre Canyon.

Cameron Pass is a fantastic spot for backcountry for all skill levels. While it may take a bit of a trek to hike to the top, the skiing is second to none as you enjoy untouched powder and no crowds at all. Right after a large snowfall is my favorite time to enjoy the powder at Cameron Pass, as long as you know proper avalanche safety.

Snowy Range Ski Area has actually gotten better snow than any resort in Colorado so far in the season with a base just shy of 50 inches and all trails are open. Skiing here offers you small crowds, little to no traffic, the best snow around, and relatively affordable lift tickets. So what are you waiting for?  

While the conditions have been less than ideal this season, don’t let that hold you back from enjoying skiing! There’s plenty of snow to push around close to Fort Collins, so I encourage you to get out there and explore some unfamiliar territory.

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