Winter Fun at Colorado Ski Resorts

Discover more to these resorts than simply skiing, even after dark!

The lifts had closed for the day, but it was early in the season and the night skiers hadn’t yet descended on the long, wide runs of Keystone. From the top of Dercum Mountain, Marty Richardson and I surveyed the landscape and watched the sky turn a soft orange.

Following her lead, I strapped on a pair of lightweight, aluminum-framed snowshoes and began awkwardly high-stepping on top of the packed powder. We wandered around a bit, and as I grew more comfortable in my new shoes, began looking for animal tracks among the fir trees just off the trail. On skis, this would have been out of the question.

“I really just like the peace and quiet of being in the woods and being able to watch what’s going on,” said Richardson, an instructor at Keystone. Shen guides snowshoe nature tours, including some in the moonlight. “Time after time, people say, ’This is wonderful. It’s away from the hustle and bustle.’”

All too soon my foray aboard a pair of snowshoes was over. Little matter. I had just added one more item to my ever-growing list of things to do after dark at the three largest resorts of Summit County in Colorado:Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain.

Things to do after dark

At the top of the list? Ski after sundown.

Keystone is one of the only resorts in Colorado where that’s possible.

Late last November 18, nighttime skiers and boarders took over the lighted Keystone slopes for the first time that season. The lifts opened at 9 a.m. and stayed on for 36 straight hours. “It’s called the 36 Hours of Keystone, and it’s an absolute hoot,” said Amy Kemp, the resort’s communications manager. “It’s just one of those experiences where people come out and it’s the first time they’ve ever skied at …2 o’clock in the morning.” Last year, the slopes were more crowded at 4 a.m. than they had been at 4 the previous afternoon.

For most of the season, Keystone lift tickets are good from 9 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday. “The other thing that’s great, too, is that if you buy a ticker, say, at Breckenridge, you can ski Breck in the day and ski Keystone that evening,” Kemp said.

The runs open up appreciably after the sun goes down. “That’s one of the things about night skiing.” she said. “You can feel like you have the entire mountain to yourself.”

Ice skating

Skiing isn’t the only option once the stars come out. In Breckenridge, the historic silver mining town about 15 miles southwest of Keystone, skaters gather on Maggie Pond starting in January — or whenever the ice gets thick enough.

“The reason I like it is that you’re actually on a pond,” said Katie Coakley, communications manager for Breckenridge Ski Resort. “You have a view of the slopes. The lights are softly shining, and it’s very romantic. There also are little kids who are just adorable, falling over in their snowsuits.”

“It’s very non-intimidating. Sometimes when I go to bigger rinks, I feel like people are looking at me and you have to be very good. At Maggie Pond, everybody’s just there to have a good time.”

That said, indoor and outdoor rinks also draw skaters to Breckenridge. Open skating, lessons, hockey leagues and some pickup games are offered.

At Keystone, skaters can test their triple axel skills at Keystone Lake, a five-acre pond that Kemp calls the longest Zamboni-maintained outdoor skating lake in North America.

Ice-skating is also available at Copper Mountain, the farthest west of Summit County’s four resorts. Or you might try broomball, a hockey-like game that is played four evenings a week-no skates required.

Sledding

Night or day, there’s more than one way to get down the mountain.

At Keystone, the tubing hill on Dercum Mountain also stays open at night.

“We have four different lanes,” said Kemp. “You can link up, from chains, they’ll spin you. There’s a slower lane, a faster lane. It’s perfect for families, for teenagers, for couples.”

In Breckenridge, locals head to Carter Park for sledding after a good snowfall. “It’s high in the back and has a long runoff area,” Coakley said. “People take sleds up there. You have to take your own, though. There’s nothing formal, but that’s where all the locals go.”

Sleigh rides

More formal, perhaps, is the nostalgic idea of a horse-drawn sleigh ride, straight from Currier & Ives. Copper Mountain Stables offers scenic and dinner rides.

"For dinner, everyone meets in the village, and you essentially make your way to an old miner’s cabin," said Lauren Pelletreau, Copper’s public relations manager. “That’s where they serve the meal.”

In Breckenridge, two companies offer sleigh rides. Breckenridge Slwigh Rides takes passengers to the Gold Run Mountain Lodge for dinner and musical entertainment, on "Scenic Fondue Sleigh Rides" or “Exclusive Sleigh Rides,” which are on a romantic carriage sleigh. Nordic Sleigh Rides takes passengers to a re-created 1860s miner camp, where they are treated to dinner theater.

Keystone also has scenic and dinner sleigh rides. “They go to this old homestead ranch,” Kemp said. “They’ll tell you stories about the old working cattle ranch and tell you jokes. They have a cowboy entertainer, and they serve you a hearty Colorado dinner.”

Many people come to Colorado’s famous ski resorts for the skiing. But once here, they discover many more reason to stay.

  • lift 滑雪吊椅
  • boarder 滑雪板玩家
  • pickup game 即興競賽
  • triple axel (花式溜冰的)三周半跳
  • Zamboni 冰面修復車
  • tubing 內胎滑雪
  • homestead 農莊
  • survey : to look at carefully or examine all of something
  • out of the question : to be an event which cannot possibly happen
  • hustle and bustle : busy and noisy activity
  • foray : a short period of time being involved in an activity that is different from and outside the range of a usual set of activities 初次嘗試
  • hoot : something that is very amusing(引人發笑的)
  • appreciably : to a large or noticeable degree 明顯地
  • intimidating : making you feel frightened or nervous 嚇人的
  • draw : to attract attention or interest
  • nostalgic : feeling happy and also slightly sad when you think about things that happened in the past 懷舊的
  • hearty : large or in large amounts, especially of food

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