Current residents of Denver have been able to ski and ride at Echo Mountain, a short 35 miles away from the city, since the winter of 2006-07. Before Echo Mountain was opened, however, Ski Squaw Pass sat at the same location serving as the closest ski area. Weekend ski getaways were especially enjoyable for residents of nearby Evergreen and Clear Creek County. There's an interesting history story there.
Colorado resident Tom Creighton installed two rope tows in 1960 and opened Ski Squaw Pass to skiers on the weekends. A T-bar lift was installed that summer along with a base lodge, built complete with a now-infamous fireplace and snack shop. Due to the weekend operation schedule, snow would pile during the week and greet weekend warriors to ideal conditions.
"Squaw Pass was almost never crowded, the snow was always good, and it always seemed very cold and windy," remembers Paul Klein, a former neighbor of the Creightons. "We definitely looked forward to getting warm by the fire before heading home...Many of my memories come from standing in front of that fireplace."
Rising costs of insurance and maintenance forced the closure of the ski area by 1975. The rope tows were removed, but the T-bar remained. Rumors speculated that the end was due to lack of snow, but regular skiers of the resort contested that Ski Squaw Pass was never short of snow. In fact, skiers continued to utilize the trails and even the T-bar after the resort shut down. Crafty skiers figured out how to start the diesel drive engine of the t-bar and essentially created a private ski area. Creighton was later forced to remove the bottom terminal of the T-bar to put an end to unsupervised use of the lift.
The property was sold to a church group soon after the demise of Ski Squaw Pass, that planned to build a new ski area and a 200-room hotel. Lack of water killed the new resort plans. After many more purchases and sales, the property was put on the auction block with the highest bidder being another Colorado family.
The Petitts bought the area and envisioned an all-terrain park ski area catering to the younger ski and snowboard generation. Today Echo Mountain boasts 16 named trails, an extensive ski and ride school, and multiple terrains parks and features.
More Information on history of Ski Squaw Pass.