Beaver Creek was home to Indians, animals, and the occasional trapper making his way through the Rocky Mountains just 100 years ago. Today, the slopes of Beaver Creek host happy skiers and boarders, as well as international skiing competitions featuring the best athletes in the world.
For those families who choose to visit Beaver Creek on their ski vacation, their kids will step back in time, enjoying hidden features throughout the slopes.
One of the ski school children's program managers wanted to find something to do in the summertime in the late 1980s, when Beaver Creek was just getting started. John Alderson was a carpenter, and came up with the great idea of tying in Colorado's history to some cool kid features on the mountain. He grabbed his tools and started building the Hibernating Bear Cave, which is still there. It's a tunnel that you ski through, off to the side of a main trail. It's dark and ominous, scary but safe. It adds a thrill to your children's ski day.
Down the trail a bit further is the Abandoned Gold Mine shaft. It's another ski-through wooden structure tunnel featuring mining tools and a mining car. Several Colorado, Utah, and California resorts are steeped in mining history, with mine shafts abandoned in the out-of-bounds areas. This is a way of safely recognizing Colorado's silver mining history.
Jumpin' Jack's Jail, the Ghost Town Adventure Trail, and Tombstone Territory are a few more of the ski-through adventures.
You'll find the start of the Wild West Trail at the top of Jackrabbit Alley. Kids ski through Conestoga Wagons, and then take a sharp turn onto Teepee Trail. They ski through four teepees. The trail is made for the kids with little bumps and wide turns. They love it.
Greg Willis is the Beaver Creek Children's Ski School Manager. He says the manmade features tie into their teaching model, which is "Play, Drill, and Adventure." "This focuses on the play and adventure part of what the kids are doing out on the hill. They're learning skills that are involved with skiing, without even knowing about it. It adds a little bit more to their vacation and ski school visit. They go home with stories, and they love to take their parents there when they aren't in ski school."
Willis says they learn how to ski through gladed trees, safety aspects, and where they should be looking. "It's almost like an amusement ride, in a fun way. They learn about flexion and extension, while naturally teaching the kids to use their ankles, knees and hips."
Two days a week, Beaver Creek hires a local production company that features Wild West Adventure characters. They come to story hour at the Children's Center and they entertain during lunch. Colorful characters like Jackrabbit Joe, Sourdough Pete, and Slanderous Sam ski the mountain all day, and check in with the different ski groups to further enhance the Wild West aura and delight the kids on the mountain.