As more Colorado ski resorts open for the 2021-2022 ski season, the landscape looks brighter than it was last season, at least in terms of restrictions and guidelines related to COVID -19. While physical remoteness, reservations, and wearing a mask on chairlifts seem like a thing of the past (for now), it’s not exactly a rule-less situation.
In all ski areas, there are no capacity limits linked to the pandemic outdoors, on the slopes, on the chairlifts or in the cable cars. However, several stations require proof of vaccination to access indoor dining options, as well as the implementation of indoor mask policies. The rules for each station are also dictated by local public health guidelines, which are subject to change based on the number of cases.
Fortunately, it goes without saying at this point that if you are feeling sick with the symptoms of COVID-19, do not visit the trails. Otherwise, here’s what you can expect at Colorado’s most popular resorts.
Arapahoe Basin: Celebrating its 75th anniversary, A-Basin was, as so often over the years, the first ski area to fully open for the season on October 17th. All A-Basin employees are fully immunized. Masks are not mandatory indoors, but recommended for unvaccinated people. Tickets, lessons and equipment rental must be booked online in advance. The beach is open again for parking and end-of-race parties, and flagship events in the basin, such as the six Rando Series competitions, return this year.
Aspen / Snowmass: Also celebrating 75 years of operation this season, Aspen Mountain, along with Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, require staff to be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination is also required for guests dining at restaurants and hotels owned by the Aspen Skiing Company. No proof of vaccination is required for access to ski lifts, courses, rental shops, ticket offices or market-style restaurants. Additionally, regardless of immunization status, masks (real masks, not single-layer buffs or punched ski masks) are mandatory in all indoor locations, including tents and gondola cabins. Ajax and Snowmass are scheduled to open on November 25, Buttermilk and Highlands on December 11.
Skier: Scheduled to open on Dec. 8, Cooper has not finalized facial coverage guidelines for his Cat visits, but plans to align the protocol with public health guidelines.
Copper Mountain: Opening to the public on November 22, Copper is already hosting the training of a torrent of alpine athletes from around the world. In accordance with US occupational and health guidelines for employers with more than 100 employees, Copper Mountain employees must be vaccinated. All guests must wear masks on Copper buses (as with all other forms of public transportation), and masks are recommended indoors for children ages 2-11 and all other unvaccinated guests. Customers are encouraged to purchase lift tickets, lessons and activities online and in advance. There are pickup boxes around the base area to print tickets and passes. Most of Copper’s iconic events are also set to return this season, including the Dew Tour halfpipe and slopestyle competitions in December, which serve as qualifiers for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Echo Mountain: The opening is scheduled for November 26, no restrictions or terms of reference are in place at the start of the season, but this is subject to change depending on public health guidelines.
Eldora: The opening is scheduled for November 19, no restrictions or terms of reference are in place at the start of the season, but this is subject to change depending on public health guidelines.
Granby Ranch: Opening scheduled for December 10, face coverings are encouraged indoors, but no requirements are in place at the start of the season. This is subject to change based on public health guidelines.
Hesperus: Opening scheduled for December 17, no restriction or mandate is in place from the start of the season, but subject to change depending on public health directives.
Kendall Mountain: Opening scheduled for December 17th, day tickets and equipment rental must be purchased online, in advance. Kendall also plans to mirror COVID-19 public health protocols and mandates.
Land of love: Open for the season on October 30, everyone must cover their faces inside Loveland’s facilities, including indoor toilets, lodges, heated cabins, restaurants (up to a seat), the Ridge Cat and the shuttles. Online shopping is not compulsory but highly recommended for equipment rental and ski / hiking lessons. The daycare will not be operating this season, but live music is expected to return.
Monarch: Opening day is yet to be determined, but Monarch is blowing snow and has already received a bounty from Mother Nature. All Monarch and Cat Guide patrollers are vaccinated. Everyone is encouraged to wear a face cover indoors and space may be limited, depending on the crowd. Masks are mandatory for everyone on the shuttles. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours must be presented to participate in the Monarch Cat ski. Child care is not available at the Monarch this season. Advance purchases are recommended for ticket and equipment rentals.
Powder horn: Scheduled to open on November 26, Powderhorn has no restrictions or terms in place from the start of the season, but that is subject to change based on public health guidelines.
Purgatory: Scheduled to open on November 20, Purgatory has gone 100% online shopping for tickets, ski services and food orders for reduced contact. Although face coverings are not required, the ski area will adapt to comply with future public health orders and / or mandates.
Silverton: You may have taken the pictures of Silverton ski patrollers taking snapshots of the snow as they “searched” for conditions on October 13th. Hopefully this is a preview of what’s to come this season, which begins on December 30. The Silverton bar, closed last season, will reopen and while the ski area will follow county public health guidelines, the only pandemic-related protocol in place for 2021-2022 is that helicopter tour participants must wear face covers inside helicopters.
Steamboat: Face covers are mandatory indoors for unvaccinated guests and encouraged for everyone. All guests must wear face coverings on local shuttles. Most of Steamboat’s iconic events return this season, including the Winter Carnival in February. Advance reservations are recommended for the ski school and Happy Camp.
Sunlight: The opening is scheduled for December 10, no restrictions or terms of reference are in place at the start of the season, although this may change depending on public health guidelines. Employees are encouraged but not required to be vaccinated.
Telluride: The opening is scheduled for November 25, no restrictions or terms of reference are in place at the start of the season, but this is subject to change depending on public health guidelines.
Vail Hotels: Keystone opened on October 22; Breckenridge and Vail will open on November 12; Beaver Creek and Crested Butte will begin operating the lifts on November 24. Vaccinations are mandatory for all staff at Vail Resorts (in Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek in Colorado). Face covering is mandatory for everyone indoors, regardless of vaccination status. This means wearing a mask in restrooms, lodges, restaurants, rental locations, and on buses. Reservations are required at many sit-down restaurants in the resorts. Guests 12 years of age and older must show proof of vaccination for indoor cafeteria-style meals. Many of Vail Resorts’ iconic events return this season, including the Birds of Prey World Cup men’s alpine ski races in Beaver Creek and the Vail Snow Days in December.
Winter park: Winter Park encourages guests to pre-book lift tickets, rentals, lessons and activities when they open on November 17. Walk-in purchases will be available, but possibly limited. Unvaccinated customers are required to wear masks indoors and in restaurants until they are seated at a table. All guests are encouraged to wear masks indoors.
Wolf creek: While the Pagosa Springs ski area has jumped on everyone by opening on select days starting October 16, it launched seven-day a week operations on November 6. tested weekly for COVID-19. From the start of the season, the ski / ride school is limited to private lessons.