The Rocky Mountain ski resorts will see plenty of new improvements for the season, largely do to a massive nationwide Epic Lift Project at Vail Resorts. Updates to Rocky Mountain ski resorts starts at home, where flagship resort Vail will see new lifts in both Sun Down Bowl and Game Creek Bowl. The lift in Sun Down Bowl is from the top of Chair 5, the High Noon Express providing easy access into Sun Down. Meanwhile, over in Game Creek Bowl, the quad will be replaced with a high speed 6-passenger lift increasing capacity by 50 percent.
Down the road a bit at Vail’s sister resort at Beaver Creek, some 250 acres have been added to McCoy Park opening up more beginner and intermediate terrain. The cross-country and snowshoe trails are among the most scenic anywhere in the alpine world.
Breckenridge has a new lifts on its agenda for the new season as well. Rip’s Ride — a fixed grip double will be replaced with a high speed 4-passenger lift that will increase uphill access by 70 percent out of the base area. That complements the Freedom Express that rolls up the North side of Peak 7 and became available last winter.
Steamboat’s long-range expansion plans get real for visitors this season with the lower leg of its new Wild Blue Gondola opening, while the upper leg will come online next winter. It will be the longest gondola in North America and the fastest 10-person gondola in the country. Steamboat’s state-of-the-art gondola will feed skiers and riders through a newly created mid-station, located adjacent to Bashor Bowl, and with the final destination atop Sunshine Peak. Some 10,000 skiers per hour will now be able to go bottom to top in 13 minutes. Meanwhile, the centerpiece of Steamboat Square – Skeeter’s Ice Rink – will open this winter.
Beginners at Crested Butte Mountain Resort will ride on a new triple lift that replaced the old double Peachtree Lift. That increases uphill capacity by 50 percent. Telluride will see The Plunge Express (Chair 9) replaced with a new Dopplemayr high-speed, detachable quad that will increase uphill capacity to 1,800 per hour, traveling over 2,000 vertical feet. Look for it to open before Christmas.
Buttermilk Mountain at Aspen Snowmass will witness its village transformation become reality this season with a new 9,000-square-foot skier services building and a renovated and rebranded Buttermilk Mountain Lodge restaurant. This $23 million renovation will create a more seamless experience for guests, with an intuitive skier services building including ski school, rentals and ticketing all in one location.
Purgatory, near Durango, Colo., has completed the first phase of major snowmaking expansion with a $1.5 million first phase. Purgatory’s upgrades will allow the opening of the high-elevation terrain early if the temperatures won’t allow for top-to-bottom skiing.
Just outside Park City, Extell Utah continues to ready Mayflower Resort that will provide direct access to Deer Valley when it opens in the next year or two. You’ll find some new glades to play in at Eden’s Nordic Valley.
Finally, in Montana, look for more than 350 new parking spots at Big Sky in Montana as well as a limit on lift ticket sales for mountain comfort levels.