The Ski Mountain
Eldora is a smaller scale resort. Think 680 acres and 11 lifts compared to Vail’s 193-trails and 5,289 acres. But that makes it the winter playground for locals aiming to dodge the highway-turned-parking lot that I-70 becomes at 4:30 p.m. every weekend. Their motto: “Friends don’t let friends drive I-70.” Often windy with variable snow conditions, there’s a reason Eldora is not among the best-known Colorado resorts. But catch it on a good morning after an up-slope storm has swept the Front Range, and the double-black Corona Bowl is (almost) as good as anything the bigger resorts have to offer. If you’re active duty military, Eldora also offers a steep discount on lift tickets.
The Mountain Experience
Home of the famed festival “Frozen Dead Guy Days,” which features an actual frozen dead guy, Eldora’s hometown Nederland, marches to the beat of a very different drummer. It’s a mix of funky, friendly individuals who live 21 miles up a canyon from beautiful downtown Boulder in a remote section of Colorado and Boulder refugees, who zipped in for a day of skiing. Take advantage of the fact that you’re likely to share the lift with a local. Residents are proud of their town and love to share its hidden gems with visitors. Ask about the neighborhood beer scene, and you’ll be a brew snob by the time you get to the top of the lift. Also, dress warmly with lots of layers. Although Eldora’s top elevation hits only 10,800 feet, the winds can be brutal, making it feel far colder than what it says on the thermometer.
Eldora Ski Terrain
• Beginner: One whole section (albeit a small one) of the mountain gives beginners a chance to get their ski legs without worrying about the experts zipping past. This green-only area features three lifts and one magic carpet. Athletic beginner skiers and beginner boarders might want to head up to the Snail or Easyway trails, as lower paths like Ho Hum and Tenderfoot are mellow enough to manage and provide a little more variety.
Current Snow Conditions
• Intermediate: An intermediate-friendly mountain, Eldora’s terrain and its location make it perfect for that relaxed, just-want-to-get-out-and-have-fun skier. Head to the Indian Peaks lift, which accesses a bevy of blues.
• Advanced: Thrill seekers should stick to laps on the Corona lift on the resort’s far east side. If the snow’s deep enough, and you’re feeling brave enough, head to the double-black glades of the Corona Bowl for great tree-skiing and never-been-groomed slopes. The runs aren’t terribly long, but you’ll be breathing heavy by the time you get to the bottom.
Around the Mountain
• Terrain Park: Eldora certainly isn’t known for its park, but if you’re looking to hit a jump or ride a rail, there are features to accommodate you. Take the Sundance lift to access park features on Corkscrew trail, Bonanza trail and Foxtail trail.
Don’t pick Eldora for a long downhill ski vacation. If you’re into cross country, Eldora’s Nordic Center is one of the largest in Colorado with 40 kilometers of trails that pass through peaceful forest landscapes. But when it comes to downhill, the mountain isn’t big enough and the snow is rarely worth spending a week on its slopes. But if you’re headed to Colorado to soak up Boulder’s granola-eating, extreme-athlete culture and feel a trip to the mountains wouldn’t be complete without a ski day, Eldora is a great option. You can stay out late the night before, sleep in until 8 a.m. and still get to Eldora in time to snag the first chair by 9. Better yet, you can leave the car at the hotel and grab the ski bus. Buses leave from Boulder daily at frequent intervals and cost only $5 one-way. See www.RTD-Denver.com or call 303-299-6000 for schedules and pick-up locations.
Although the options in Nederland are limited, check out Backcountry Pizza for a by-the-slice bite. It’s greasy, cheesy and made to order. Just want a burger? Hit the Southern Sun Brewery and Restaurant for its Junk Burger: bacon, cheese, sautéed mushrooms, onions and garlic mayo. The more refined palate should head to Boulder where restaurants range from down home to dive bar to très chic.
Nearest Ski Town.
There isn’t any. Nederland is closest (very) small town. Yet Boulder is right down the hill.
Lodging Bed and breakfast options are available in Nederland, but if your vacation doesn’t revolve around skiing, stay in Boulder for cheaper rates, more activities and far better bars and restaurants.
Skiing with Kids
The Little Hawk Family Zone has one magic carpet, two rope tows and three lifts, a rare range of options for beginner terrain. Children’s beginner lessons cost $119 and include a four-hour group lesson, rental equipment, lift ticket, supervised lunch and snacks. Make sure to follow through on lesson reservations. They’re non-refundable, but can be rescheduled. Unlike other resorts, kids are never free here. Up to age 6, kids’ lift tickets cost $10; after that, they’re $44. If you’re carting a gaggle of kids on a ski-only vacation, Eldora isn’t your mountain.
The $72 adult (ages 16-64) ticket price is a bit steep for terrain that isn’t, but at least you’re saving on gas money. Juniors six to 15-years-old ski the full day for $44, and kids five and under are $10. If you’re in the military, bring your active duty military ID to get a steep discount — usually 40% — on lift tickets. Senior skiers also get a good deal — $41, unless you’re 75 or older when you can get the “silver senior” deal that runs just $10 a day.
Lift Tickets and Season Pass Cost*
Lift Tickets (pre-purchase online): Adult TBD; Child TBD; Senior TBD Season Pass: (as of 10/15/12) – Adult $409, Child $189, Senior $289 Other Passes: Alpine 4 Pack = 4 days for $139. PURCHASE LIFT TICKETS. Special Deals: Pass includes 5 days of skiing at Steamboat Springs for additional $149 *prices reflect our best effort to gather from resort published information.
By Courtney Holden