Skiing over the holidays: how locals and visitors feel about crowds this year
On Wednesday, Christmas Day, the usual lines at the Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Colorado and Rocky Mountain SuperChairs were short and the sun was out, aside from a brief afternoon sprinkling of snow. Seasoned skiers are often weary of skiing around the holidays, as the time of year tends to draw crowds.
At the ski resort late Christmas morning, there were a few locals, visitors from out of town and lots of “semi-locals” — or visitors from nearby areas like Golden, the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs.
Andrew and Barbara Nordling from Castle Rock were up just for Christmas Day with their two children. The couple said that they decided to ski on Christmas Day because it isn’t as crowded as the days leading up to the holiday.
The days after Christmas would likely be crowded if it wasn’t for blackout days, meaning that everyone who has a limited season pass has restricted access to the ski areas around peak times like the holidays. Ikon Base passholders and Summit Value passholders can’t ski or ride using their pass at certain resorts from Dec. 26 to 31.
However, now that the Epic Local Pass doesn’t place blackout days at the Summit County resorts, Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort, there may be a few more skiers and snowboarders on the mountain after Christmas.
As anyone who’s ever sat through ski traffic coming from Denver knows, half of the battle when it comes to crowds is the congestion on the roads. Krista and Troy Odekirk came up from Golden with their daughter and have stayed in Summit County for the last few days.
The Odekirks said that while they will still make the journey up for a few day trips after Christmas, they are weary of their timing due to traffic. Krista Odekirk recalled that it took the family four hours to return to Golden from Summit County, a 65-mile drive, during the last major snowstorm.
A man who came up to ski at Breckenridge for the day with his son arrived from Texas on Sunday, Dec. 22, but said Christmas would be the last day they would ski before they leave on Friday.
Several skiers and snowboarders reported that the ski resorts were busy on Christmas Eve, but that they weren’t as crowded as in years past.
“Yesterday was kind of busy, but only for about an hour,” Hayden Paul said, who was snowboarding with his friend.
Paul and his friend Steven Wilkins were visiting from Colorado Springs. In order to avoid any after-Christmas crowds, they said they were headed to Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. Being new riders and wanting to take advantage of their first season with the Epic Pass, they decided to take a go at British Columbia to snowboard instead of traveling home for the holidays this year.
The most festive group of skiers and snowboarders was the family of Susan Petty and Brett Cox, who said the family has skied and snowboarded in Santa and Mrs. Claus costumes on Christmas Day for the last four years. Cox owns The Crown coffeeshop in Breckenridge and family members come up from the Denver metro area to stay in town for the holidays. Cox noted that it was very busy in town yesterday as he was working at The Crown.
“This week is always the kickoff for the season,” Cox said.
However, the two agreed that crowds were minimal on Christmas Day at the resort. Petty said she was nervous they had come too late when they got to the parking lot and saw a lot of cars, but once they got on the mountain there was enough open terrain to disperse the skiers and snowboarders.
Gore Creek since 2013 has been listed on the state’s list of “impaired waterways.” Several years of work are paying off, but getting off the list has become more difficult.