Exploring Summit County | VailDaily.com

Exploring Summit County

Special to the Daily Arapahoe Basin- the highest (10,800 to 12,500 feet) major ski area in the United States and Canada. Because of its elevation, the "Basin" is known for its long spring season, often extending past July 4. The famous Pallavicini run is steep and long. I took Alan Shepard, U.S.'s first man in space, down the run. He fell partway and tumbled 100 yards through deep, hard moguls, losing his goggles, ski poles, and ski. I thought, "Oh my, I've killed one of our nation's greatest heroes." He survived and he couldn't wait to try the run again.

Editor’s note: Dick Hauserman is well known as one of the founders of Vail. But he also has made the trip from Denver to Vail in excess of 1,000 times, which was the inspiration for his book “On the Road to Vail and Beyond” published earlier this year. Following is an excerpt from the book aimed at making frequent I-70 travelers say “Oh, I didn’t know that!”Exploring Summit County

Summit County is the destination area for many travelers up Interstate 70. There are many interesting towns and ski resorts. Although your trip may end in Summit County, read what goes on to the west.SilverthorneMarshall Silverthorn, a Pennsylvanian who came west during the California Gold Rush, established the Silverthorn Hotel in Breckenridge. He was remembered a century later when this new community, born as a result of the construction of the Dillon Dam Reservoir, took the name Silverthorne with an “e.” In 1962, its population was 1,768.Today, Silverthorne has matured into a major business center for the Summit County mountain area of Lake Dillon. It teems with shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, factory stores, automobile agencies, and expanding real estate developments with beautiful homes. A challenging golf course highlights the many outdoor activities. Silverthorne’s population is now between 3,500 and 4,000 people.

One reason for Silverthorne’s success is because it is a hub from which traffic flows from Leadville south on Colorado Highway 9 to Kremmling to the north. Keystone, Breckenridge, Frisco, and Copper Mountain ring the area and are just minutes away.The New DillonThe new Dillon has its own personality, which is different from that of Silverthorne. The new town is considerably more up-to-date and has attracted mostly newcomers to the area. Today, Dillon grows entirely as a residential area. See the segment on Dillon Reservoir (Aug. 28) for more information about the transition of the old town of Dillon to the new town of Dillon.

Arapahoe Basin For the avid skier, a most wonderful experience awaits at the tiny but thrilling ski area at the top of the world – or at least at the top of the Colorado mountains!Arapahoe Basin is a special part of the skiing experience. Located close to the Continental Divide, it offers skiing fun from its base at 10,800 feet to the top of its lifts at 12,500 feet. From fall until the Fourth of July, Arapahoe Basin is a special mecca for skiers.The ski area was started in 1946 by Larry Jump and a few partners. One of them was Max Dercum, who later started the Keystone ski area along with the Ralston Purina Company. The “Basin” has skiing for everyone, from the very best to the rank beginner. Located at the upper end of a valley, and surrounded by rocky ridges on three sides, you simply couldn’t ask for better, more majestic conditions.

Because of its altitude, light, fluffy snow is present for most of the winter months. And the fact that the snow sets up overnight makes for excellent spring (and sometimes even summer!) skiing.When the other resorts have closed about the middle of April to the first part of May, Arapahoe Basin just keeps on going. Many skiers can be found at 8:30 a.m. every day to ski on beautiful, groomed runs for about two hours until the sun makes the snow too slushy. But those two hours are like living in a dream. It is spring skiing at its best.Throughout the years, skiing at the “Basin” has been well-known worldwide. Built on U.S. Forest Service land, Arapahoe Basin is small but comfortable. It has a ski school, a ski patrol, a small hotel, a large base area with room to relax, a nice restaurant, a ski shop, and medical facilities. Each year you meet friends from other ski areas who are there to enjoy the late skiing thrill.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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