As winter starts to approach more than half the people we know begin to pack their bags to go to a place where they can find winter recreation in largest variety, the finest powder, a dining experience like never before and the best gear. It is no wonder that more than half of this population looking for a memorable winter end up in Colorado, which caters to all of their need. There was a time when staycations were the ‘in’ thing since the backyard had enough snow, but the ski resorts have now gone quite a few notches higher to pull you out of your homes to explore what they have to offer. With the toughest and most varied terrain, Howelsen Hill Ski Area becomes one of these places that are not just worth leaving behind your homes, but also the effort and money you put into getting and staying here.
Base Elevation: 6696 feet
Summit Elevation: 7136 feet
Vertical Drop: 440 feet
Located some 157 miles from Denver, Steamboat Springs, situated downtown of Colorado, is the home to Howelsen Hill Ski Area, a not very elaborate, but a ski area with a long history behind it. It has been the oldest ski area in continuous use and has been operating since 1915, so its reputation is hard earned and reliable. The terrain caters to beginners, intermediate learners and advanced skiers and snowboarders at affordable prices for all ages. It has a natural ski jumping area, and at 114 meters, it is the largest one in North America at that. It also has the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which provides training to athletes for Nordic skiing, alpine skiing, snowboarding, and freestyle. These athletes belong to diverse levels of skills, including beginners, intermediaries, advanced and Olympians! The Steamboat Springs Town provides various options for lodging, dining, many facilities that follow, along with an average annual snowfall of 150 inches and a total of 50 skiable acres. The elevations start at 6695 feet at the base and 7135 feet at the top, with 20 snowmaking acres and 10 acres of night skiing. The longest run is a total of 6 miles, among a total of 17 runs, of which 50% are advanced runs, 30% are intermediate runs, and 20% are beginner runs.
If we combine both Nordic events and alpine events, this particular place boasts of having produced some 70 Olympians. It has four lifts for a vertical drop of over 440 feet, of which two are carpets, one is a chairlift, and the last one is a Poma lift. These are the practicing grounds for the US Ski Team Jumpers, many other ski jumpers who are in training, along with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, who are the local youth ski team.
In 1914, the second annual Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Carnival was held at Howelsen Hill Ski Area when in the same area, the construction of Howelsen Hill’s first ski jump was undertaken, completed and then opened up for recreational purposes. It was originally a small game reserve named Elk Park, but in 1917, it received the name of the man who established it, an immigrant of Norwegian decent named Carl Howelsen. He had traveled to Denver to make a living and participated in almost every winter carnival, which made the people in the surrounding area interested in his sports. Obliging them, at the location that is today called Inspiration point near Denver, he gave a demonstration of ski jumping to an audience of 20,000 people during early 1914. In 1913, the alpine area was also established.
As it can be guessed from the number of Olympians it has produced (who have made some 90 Olympics appearances, with National Ski Hall of Fame’s 6 members and Colorado Ski Hall of Fame’s 15 members), more than any other region in North America, Howelsen Hill Ski Area has managed to send huge numbers of skiers to compete and win laurels in international competitions.
The Ski Area is operated and owned by the City of Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space, and Recreation Department. Some of the many activities available are at the Howelsen Ice Arena (offers hockey, ice skating, figure skating camps and programs, ice bumper cars and much more for people of all ages and level of skills, including personal rentals for events like birthdays. In proud collaboration, the Community Service Department and Steamboat Springs Parks host significant and challenging events throughout the year, like the Town Challenge MTB Series, Steamboat Pentathlon, and so on.
The Howelsen Hill Ski Area is owned by the city at Steamboat Springs, with reasonable and attractive prices for lift tickets, tubing cross country trails and night skiing. It remains a popular tourist spot even in the summers, when you can come for miles and miles of hiking trails, biking trails, alpine slide, and picturesque views. Fridays and Saturdays become local favorites due to the Rodeo performances held at the Brent Romick Rodeo. Howelsen Hill houses the arena for activities like calf scramble, team roping, barrel racing, bull riding, and a lot more. These performances go on for some two hours and are accompanied by BBQ.
Steamboat Springs also has a Tennis Center that functions all year round, providing excellent tennis experience with six indoor courts that are cushioned and ten outdoor cay courts, all of which are hard. The golf course too has frequently been dubbed as golfers’ core golf course, with 233 acres of city-owned golf course for the public. Every hole has a minimum of four trees and playing starts from 1,059 yards!
The season starts in December and ends in March, as long as the conditions permit, operating between 4 am to 10 pm on weekends and 1 pm to 8 pm from Tuesday to Friday. It remains closed on Mondays. International Skiing History Association, Snowboard Museum, Hall of Fame and the Colorado Ski acknowledged Howelsen Hill as ‘Pioneer Ski Resort’ in the recent past. The tickets too are reasonable, with the different fare for children (6 and under), different for youth (7 to 18 years of age) and senior citizens (60 and beyond). The same categories are applicable for a season pass, while Terrain Park and Nordic ticket have to be paid for separately. So pack your bags and treat yourself as soon as the snow begins to pile up with your family and friends.
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