Last 24 Hr
Last 48 Hr
Last 72 Hr
Get to the gondola at least 45 minutes before it opens. Riding the Silver Bullet is still the best and fastest way to the goods, and diehard powder-hounds take pride in “pressing glass” (being the first in line at the sliding glass doors of the gondola loading dock). Exiting the gondie, most traffic heads for the Storm Peak Express lift, which accesses the summit—but which doesn’t open until 9 a.m. Don’t wait there: Instead, ride the Pony Express Lift. Snowstorms out of the south deposit heaps of powder on the stashes off Pioneer Ridge, which offer some of the mountain’s longest runs. Plus, the masses don’t usually head this way until after 10:30 a.m.
After you’ve plundered the easy pickings, take Storm Peak lift to ski Morningside Bowl and ride Morningside Lift, which accesses the hike-to terrain off the top of Mt. Werner. These four gated access points offer up the resort’s deepest snow. The choicest terrain sits beyond Gate C (North St. Pat’s), which mixes wide, tree-lined alleys with narrow chutes and cliffy, mandatory-air lines. If the snowfall (and your muscles) stick around through the afternoon, hit the trees on skier’s left of Storm Peak Face: These stashes often get neglected after the early-morning stampede.
Groomers and Family
Unlike some ski areas, where the best beginner and intermediate terrain is located near the base, Steamboat’s friendliest groomers are at the very top: Nicknamed “Wally World,” the blue runs served by the Sunshine Express Lift are mellow, scenic (with soul-inflating views over the Yampa Valley) and wide (so beginners never feel crowded by others). The trees bordering these runs are similarly forgiving, and allow bolder members of the family to weave among the pines while more timid skiers stick to the open run—all the while staying within yards of one another. Plus, Wally World is first to catch the sun’s rays—a plus on nippy mornings. On lower mountain, be sure to hit Swinger: This green slope runs parallel to the always-jammed Right-O-Way and sees so little traffic that it offers uncut corduroy late into the afternoon.
Steamboat has lacked the courage-draining slopestyle features of, say, Breckenridge. But Nick Roma, the Terrain Park Manager who came to Steamboat fresh from the 2010 Vancouver Games, has redesigns for the resort’s four parks. The 450-foot long, 56-foot wide Mavericks Superpipe challenges intermediate and experts to go big—really big. A dedicated lift (Bashor) brings jibbers back to the top; to get here from the base area, take Christie Peak Express and follow Jess’ Cut-Off and Bear Claw to the pipe entrance. For beginner and intermediate features, check out Rabbit Ears Terrain Park. This secluded playground full of jumps, rails, boxes and jib features sits apart from Maverick’s bustle and lets riders develop skills without feeling the spotlight of lots of spectators. From the top of Christie Peak Express, take Main Drag or Boulevard to Big Foot, which leads to the Rabbit Ears entrance. Before ending your day, catch a lil’ air at Lil’ Rodeo, located along the Stampede run leading back to the base area. These beginner ride-on features have been known to lure even diehard carvers into a lil’ session.
Steamboat’s signature runs are Closet and Shadows, two sublimely long tree shots that are deservedly famous: When the pow is deep and soft, there’s no finer tree skiing anywhere in North America. The catch? Everybody heads here for that postcard-perfect experience, so solitude is elusive and the goods get gobbled fast. For a shorter (but less trafficked) version of Steamboat’s celebrated tree-skiing, try Hot Cakes, in Morningside Park. For bumps, ride the Burgess Creek Lift, which accesses Norther (a blue-black that’s mellow enough to let most skiers take the zipper-line) as well as White Out (Steamboat’s best bump run). Or ride the Four Points Lift and hammer Nelson’s Run. Named for Olympic bronze medalist Nelson Carmichael (one of 84 Olympians that hail from Steamboat Springs, more than any other town in the U.S.), Nelson’s big moguls and multiple fall lines demand expert mettle. And if your guilty pleasure is rocketing down groomers, start your day on Heavenly Daze or Vagabond. By afternoon, these big boulevards become thoroughfares for barn-bound skiers, but in the morning, these intermediate runs make for gleeful first flights.
Projected Opening Ski Season: 11/21/2012
Projected Closing Ski Season: 04/14/2013
Projected Days Open: 145
Days Open Last Year: 135
Years Open: 50
Average Snowfall: 354"
Pros: Skiing the trees
Cons: didn't find any
Cons: Still want to ski more!!!
Pros: Fantastic snow, very good variety, and nice town
Cons: Not a day trip from Denver
Pros: Tree Powder Runs
Cons: No Complaints
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The slopes haven’t closed yet but Copper Mountain is thinking about next year.More