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Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Steamboat Springs Ski Area. The Steamboat Springs Ski Area is perhaps best known for its tree skiing and "cruising" terrain—the latter term referring to wide, groomed runs perfect for intermediate-level skiers. The abundance of cruising terrain has made Steamboat immensely popular with those who ski once or twice a year and who aren't looking to tax their abilities. On a predominantly western exposure—most ski areas sit on north-facing exposures—the resort benefits from intense sun, which contributes to the mellow atmosphere. In addition, one of the most extensive lift systems in the region allows skiers to get in lots of runs without having to spend much time waiting in line. The Storm Peak and Sundown high-speed quads, for example, each send you about 2,000 vertical feet in less than seven minutes. Do the math: A day of more than 60,000 vertical feet is entirely within the realm of possibility.
All this is not to suggest, however, that Steamboat is a piece of cake for more experienced skiers. Pioneer Ridge encompasses advanced and intermediate terrain. Steamboat is renowned as a breeding ground for top mogul skiers, and for good reason. There are numerous mogul runs, but most are not particularly steep. The few with a vertical challenge, such as Chute One, are not especially long. If you're looking for challenging skiing at Steamboat, take on the trees. The ski area has done an admirable job of clearing many gladed areas of such nuisances as saplings, underbrush, and fallen timber, making Steamboat tree skiing much less hazardous than at other areas. The trees are also where advanced skiers—as well as, in some places, confident intermediates—can find the best of Steamboat's much-ballyhooed powder. Statistically, Steamboat doesn't report significantly more snowfall than other Colorado resorts, but somehow snow piles up here better than at the others. Ask well-traveled Colorado skiers, and they'll confirm that when it comes to consistently good, deep snow, Steamboat is hard to beat. 2305 Mount Werner Circle, Steamboat Springs, CO, 80487. 970/879-6111. www.steamboat.com. Late-Nov.-mid-Apr., daily 8:30-3:30.
Howelsen Hill Ski Area. The tiny Howelsen Hill Ski Area, in the heart of Steamboat Springs, is the oldest ski area still open in Colorado. Howelsen, with 4 lifts, 15 trails, 1 terrain park, and a 440-foot vertical drop, is home of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which has more than 800 members. The ski area not only has an awesome terrain park, but has night skiing as well. It's the largest ski-jumping complex in America, and a major Olympic training ground. 845 Howelsen Pkwy., Steamboat Springs, CO, 80487. 970/879-8499. Nov.-Mar., Tues.-Fri. 1-8; weekends 10-4.
3,128-foot vertical drop; 3,148 skiable acres; 19% beginner, 49% intermediate, 32% advanced; 2 8-passenger gondolas, 5 high-speed quad chairs, 1 high-speed 6-person, 1 quad chair, 1 triple chair, 3 double chairs, and 7 surface lifts.
Lessons and Programs
Half-day group lessons begin at $81; all-day lessons are $99. Clinics in moguls, powder, snowboarding, and "hyper-carving"—made possible by the design of shaped skis—are available.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation. General information about the ski areas is available through the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation. Steamboat Springs, CO. 970/879-6111; 877/783-2628 reservations. www.steamboat.com.
Billy Kidd Center for Performance Skiing. Intensive one- and three-day training camps in racing and advanced skiing are available through the Billy Kidd Center for Performance Skiing. Steamboat Springs, CO. 800/299-5017.
Kids' Vacation Center. Programs for children from 6 months to 15 years of age are given through the Kids' Vacation Center. Day care is also available. Steamboat Springs, CO. 970/879-0740.
Snowcat skiing—where a vehicle delivers you to hard-to-reach slopes—has been called the poor man's version of helicopter skiing, although at $200 to $300 a day it's not exactly skiing for the lunch-pail crowd. But snowcat users don't have to worry about landing, and can get to places that would be inaccessible by helicopter.
Steamboat Powder Cats. Buffalo Pass, northeast of Steamboat, is one of the snowiest spots in Colorado, and that's why it's the base for Steamboat Powder Cats. There's a maximum of 24 skiers per group, so the open-meadow skiing is never crowded. Steamboat Springs, CO. 970/879-5188 or 800/288-0543. www.steamboatpowdercats.com.
$91. Savings of 5% or less on multiday tickets. Children 12 and under ski free when adults purchase a five-day ski ticket.
Steamboat Central Reservations. Equipment packages are available at the gondola base as well as at ski shops in town. Packages (skis, boots, and poles) average about $55 a day, less for multiday rentals. Call Steamboat Central Reservations for rental information. Steamboat Springs, CO. 970/879-0740 or 800/922-2722. www.steamboat.com.
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