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Sunlight Mountain
Skiers at Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs. Photo by Powder Street Photography

Colorado’s Independent Ski Resorts Are Preparing for a Big Season

With major resorts dealing with visitor limits, smaller locales like Sunlight Mountain Resort have seen significant upticks in interest.

Thanks to reservation systems that will restrict capacities at most of the state’s large, conglomerate-owned ski areas, getting a spot on a chairlift this winter might feel like finding parking in Capitol Hill after dark. It’s no wonder, then, that many people are looking to independent venues to catch their turns. Chris Linsmayer, the public affairs director for Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade association that represents 22 Centennial State resorts, says many of the group’s 11 smaller ski areas have seen significant upticks in interest, especially for weekends. At Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs, for example, preseason lift ticket sales jumped 10 percent compared with 2019-’20, and inquiries from potential out-of-state tourists also increased. Smaller locales will still have pandemic protocols in place, including social distancing in lift lines and mask mandates. “We may eventually have to limit visitors,” says Sunlight’s marketing director, Troy Hawks. “But we only have a few lifts and one main lodge, which makes it easier to manage our setup, depending on what happens with COVID.” In other words, the little guys are ready to use their size to their advantage.

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