Open Season: Matt Luzcow has Vail all to himself. Photo: Jeff Cricco
Eldora’s biggest draw is that you don’t have to drive I-70 to get here (hell, you can just take the RTD bus from downtown Boulder). It can also harbor some nice pockets of powder and athletic tree skiing in Brian’s Glades, especially later in the season when big storms tend to hit the Front Range. West Ridge is the steepest shot on the mountain but can get skied out fast—head skier’s right to Salto, where it’s still steep and the trees keep softer snow. Eldora also features famously challenging Nordic trals (they start going uphill) that make a fine destination on their own or can be the perfect reprieve if winds shut down the lifts. For a ticket deal, buy a $129 4-Pack for a savings of nearly $150! When it comes to fueling up, stop on the way in Nederland at Happy Trails where owner Randy doles out chai and, if you are lucky, beta. When it’s time to celebrate, head to the Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery, for a Jumpin’ Jamaican Java Porter, which will give you that subtle beer-n-coffee buzz. eldora.com
Although Loveland is big and sprawling, one of the best lines on the mountain is just a few steps out of the parking lot: follow the Chair 1 line straight down into Busy Gully. It’s steep and sustained. Or keep heading to skier’s right from the top of Chair 1. If you are looking for some blue, gladed cruising that holds nice snow head to Dealer’s Choice. The Ridge can be tricky to navigate, especially when the wind is blowing, but that same wind will deposit snow on the resort side of the ridge, even a few days after a storm. Head skier’s right and make sure to scout out your line. A $129 4-Pack saves you over $100 on tickets here. When it’s libation time, head to the Rathskeller, the locals’ bar at the base where you can scarf down .50 cent tacos on Tuesdays and wash them down with a PBR. skiloveland.com
The Basin is a brand-new mountain these days thanks to Montezuma Bowl’s 400 glorious acres. That big chunk of open and gladed terrain not only disperses crowds across the mountain, it also takes the pressure off old favorites like the Pali Face, so that all the runs here feel less pounded these days. There are no true secrets at the wide open Basin but we suggest heading far skiers left or right off of Pali, if everything is tracked out. The lines in Montezuma are best if you can get to the far skiers right of the bowl itself along Zuma Cornice (reach it off the Norway lift), though too much sun can muck them up. If you are looking for bumps, the least jarring can be found on Slalom Slope.