What you need to know about uphill skiing in Colorado this season

Most resorts will charge a nominal fee for a season uphilling pass, but skinning will remain free at Vail Resorts’ five mountains

Many Colorado ski resorts including Snowmass, shown, allow uphill skiing on their slopes. Rules across the state vary greatly.
Many Colorado ski resorts including Snowmass, shown, allow uphill skiing on their slopes. Rules across the state vary greatly.
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A dizzying array of differences price and policy differences await uphill skiers at Colorado resorts this winter.

Most require buying an uphill season pass for a nominal fee, but uphilling is free at all five Vail Resorts properties in the state: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte.

Some areas will allow uphilling only outside of ski area operating hours — meaning only when the lifts aren’t running — but others will allow it during operating hours as well. All restrict uphill travel to certain routes, with most offering only a handful of trails, but a third or so of Winter Park’s terrain will be open for skinning.

Very little terrain is open for uphilling now because of thin snow conditions with only a few areas currently allowing it, including Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Crested Butte.

But it won’t be long, we hope, before snow conditions allow for widespread uphilling across Colorado, so we’ve compiled an overview of what you’ll find once we get into the heart of winter. Keep in mind that most resorts recommend or require headlamps and reflective clothing when uphilling in the dark. They have a lot of other rules, too, which you will find on their websites.

Arapahoe Basin is one of a ...
Arapahoe Basin is one of a handful of Colorado mountains currently offering uphill skiing. Many resorts need more snow before they can open their mountains to uphilling.

Arapahoe Basin

  • Hours allowed: Only outside of lift-operating hours, meaning uphilling is permitted from 4 p.m. until 8:30 a.m.
  • Trails where uphilling is allowed: Arapahoe Basin is one of a handful of Colorado mountains currently offering uphill skiing. Many need more snow to offer uphilling.Trails where uphilling is allowed: Beginner and intermediate trails on the front side of the mountain when conditions permit.
  • Charge for uphilling: $79 for the season (uphill access cards are free for Arapahoe Basin season pass holders).
  • Other requirements: Must wear armband with current uphill access card.
  • Other things to know: Resort officials strongly encourage uphillers to read the uphill access page on the area’s website and to check the terrain status page on A-Basin’s website to learn which trails are open.

Eldora

  • Hours allowed: Uphilling is permitted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Season uphill pass holders are also allowed early access from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Trails where uphilling is allowed: One route on the front side, one on the back and a third on early access days.
  • Charge for uphilling: A season uphill pass costs $199 ($99 for Eldora or Ikon pass holders). A daily uphill pass costs $32.
  • Other things to know: Uphilling is allowed only on weekdays. There are blackout periods including the end-of-year holiday period (Dec. 20-Jan. 3), Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 17) and Presidents Day (Feb. 21).
  • More info: Check the Eldora Uphill Policy on the resort website.
Many Colorado ski resorts including Snowmass, ...
Many Colorado ski resorts including Winter Park, shown, allow uphill skiing on their slopes. Rules across the state vary greatly.

Winter Park

  • Hours allowed: During and outside of resort operating hours.
  • Trails where uphilling is allowed: About a third of Winter Park’s terrain will be available for uphilling when snow conditions allow.
  • Charge for uphilling: An uphill armband for the season costs $25.
  • Other requirements: Must wear visible armband at all times while uphilling.
  • Other things to know: Uphill access is allowed on trails that are open for skiing, with a few exceptions.
  • More info: Winter Park Uphill Policy on the resort website.

Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge and Crested Butte

  • Hours allowed: Before 8:15 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m. at Keystone and Breckenridge; before 8:45 a.m. (8:15 a.m. as of Dec. 18) and after 4 p.m. at Vail; before 8:45 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m. at Beaver Creek and Crested Butte.
  • Trails where uphilling is allowed: When conditions allow, uphilling will be permitted on six routes at Breckenridge, three at Beaver Creek, two at Vail, two at Keystone and one at Crested Butte. Currently only Breckenridge and Crested Butte are open for uphilling.
  • Charge for uphilling: Free
  • Other requirements: Stay off all closed trails. Resort officials urge uphill users to familiarize themselves with rules, guidelines and designated routes.
  • Other things to know: Dogs are not allowed, except for service animals.
  • More info: Visit the Uphill Access pages on each mountain’s website. Users also can call the Trails Hotline at each resort to learn which trails are available.

Copper Mountain

  • Hours allowed: From 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., but some routes are open for uphilling only from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. while two are only open for uphilling from 5 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.
  • Trails where uphilling is allowed: Six during daytime hours, two before and after operational hours.
  • Charge for uphilling: A Copper uphill season pass is required. They are free for Copper Mountain and Ikon season pass holders. The cost for non-passholders is $79.
  • Other requirements: All uphill participants are required to have an uphill armband while on the mountain. All uphill season pass holders will need to visit Copper Mountain guest services to sign a waiver and pick up their armband, which must always be visible while on the mountain. Lights are required and reflective clothing must be worn if it is dark outside.
  • Other things to know: Pets are not allowed. Those with service animals are asked to check the resort website for more information. Be sure to review all of Copper Mountain’s uphill policies at CopperColorado.com before taking to the hill.
  • More info: Check the Uphill Access page on Copper Mountain’s website.

Aspen Snowmass

  • Hours allowed: Uphilling is permitted from 5 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.
  • Trails where uphilling is allowed: One designated route on Aspen Mountain and one on Aspen Highlands during operational hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.). Four designated routes at Snowmass and three routes at Buttermilk.
  • Charge for uphilling: $69 for the season.
  • Other requirements: Uphill strap with a photo pass must be visible at all times.
  • Other things to know: Dogs are permitted outside operational hours at Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk but never at Aspen Mountain.
  • More info: Check the uphill policy page for the individual mountains.

Steamboat

  • Hours allowed: Before 9 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m.
  • Trails where uphilling is allowed: One route from the base area to Thunderhead Lodge and beyond to the top of Storm Peak will be used for uphilling.
  • Charge for uphilling: An uphill access armband for the season will cost $49 ($29 for Steamboat and Ikon pass holders).
  • Other requirements: To receive an uphill access armband, users must watch a video and enter an email address to confirm that they have viewed it and sign the uphill access policy for this season.
  • Other things to know: Dogs are not allowed.
  • More info: Check the Steamboat Uphill Policy on the resort website.

Loveland

Loveland has not announced its policies for this season. Last year uphilling was allowed only outside of operating hours, one route was designated for uphilling and there was no charge. Loveland isn’t yet announcing if, or how, that might change this winter.

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