Colorado’s ski and snowboard resorts are doing what they can to try to change the way they operate in the face of the global climate crisis.
We don’t know about you, but in one week last September—coincidentally the week Greta Thunberg docked her sailboat in America—scientists declared a climate crisis and called it both rapidly accelerated and possibly irreversible. In an ideal world, North America’s ski resorts would have heralded the warnings earlier—perhaps in 1977, when a chorus of scientists started calling for policy steps to curb carbon emissions. Some, like Aspen Skiing Company, have been pushing for on-and-off-slope sustainability for longer than others. But finally—perhaps just in time—most Colorado resorts are treating the curbing of waste, fossil fuel use, unconscious consumption, and environmental protection as if our lives, and our time on the slopes, depend on it. Here are some of the coolest individual impacts of Colorado Ski Country USA member resorts that responded to our call for their sustainability stats.
2025 – The year Eldora Mountain Resort, alongside the town of Nederland, plans to operate on 100 percent renewable energy, through Xcel’s Renewable Connect Program.
361 – Number of Eldora employees who signed a pledge to reduce the use of single-use plastics by using the metal “l Play Forever” water bottle they received from Eldora’s parent company POWDR for signing the pledge.
22.5 – Percent of energy currently sourced from renewables at Eldora.
2025 – The year by which Arapahoe Basin Ski Area hopes to be carbon neutral.
1997 – The year Aspen Skiing Company made the first ski industry purchase of wind power, which it used to power the Cirque lift accessing Snowmass’s above-treeline terrain.
ELEVEN – Times Aspen Skiing Co. staff have been to Washington D.C. since 2012 to lobby on behalf of climate or other issues.
$500,000 – Amount Steamboat Ski Resort has committed to help protect and restore the Yampa River through the Yampa River Fund over the next five years. The Yampa is one of Colorado’s last remaining mostly free-flowing rivers, and supports the ski area, as well as local agriculture, wildlife and the community’s economy and way of life.
2 MILLION – Kilowatt hours on an average monthly basis that Aspen’s Elk Creek Coal Mine Methane Project—built by the Aspen Skiing Company—makes from captured waste methane vented from the coal mine, which then generates electricity and destroys the methane.
1999 – The year Aspen published its first sustainability report. These reports, all archived on the company’s website, disclose the forward-thinking resort’s environmental impacts and discuss their efforts to reduce these impacts. Coolest cover: 2012, with a portrait of Portland Trailblazer baller Jerome Kersey.
$260,000 – Amount Copper Mountain Ski Resort’s employee-supported Copper Environmental Foundation has awarded to local youth environmental initiatives since its inception in 2007.
160 – Number of solar panels Telluride Ski Resort had installed on three different parking garages that now generate 60,000 kilowatt hours of green energy, or about three percent of the resort gondola’s energy. By hauling roughly 2.5 million passengers each year for free, it keeps cars off the road and prevents an estimated 45,000 tons of carbon dioxide in vehicle emissions from entering the environment annually.
100 – Percentage of carbon dioxide emissions the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association has offset since 2007, by purchasing renewable energy Green Blocks from its electricity provider, San Miguel Power Association. These Green Blocks support energy efficiency and renewable energy programs throughout the region. The resort has purchased 200,000 Green Blocks of renewable energy, offsetting 20 million kilowatt hours of dirty electricity.
240,000 – Number of kilowatt hours of energy Telluride’s gondola solar panels now generate, preventing 463,200 pounds of carbon dioxide from polluting the environment annually.