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As more Colorado ski resorts open for the 2021-’22 ski season, the landscape looks brighter than it did last season—at least in terms of COVID-19-related restrictions and guidelines. While physical distancing, reservations, and mask-wearing on chairlifts appear to be a thing of the past (for now), it’s not exactly a no-rules situation out there.
Across all ski areas, there are no pandemic-related capacity limits outdoors, on the slopes, on chairlifts, or in gondolas. However, several resorts are asking for proof of vaccination to access inside dining options, as well as implementing mask policies indoors. Every resort’s rules are also dictated by local public health guidelines, which are subject to change depending on the number of cases.
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Hopefully, it goes without saying at this point that if you’re feeling sick with COVID-19 symptoms, do not visit the slopes. Otherwise, here’s what else you can expect at Colorado’s most popular resorts.
Arapahoe Basin: Celebrating its 75th birthday, A-Basin was, as it often has been over the years, the first ski area to fully open for the season on October 17. All A-Basin employees are fully vaccinated. Masks are not required indoors, but recommended for unvaccinated individuals. Tickets, lessons, and equipment rentals must be reserved online in advance. The Beach is once again open for parking and tailgating parties, and the Basin’s mainstay events, like the six-competition Rando Series, return this year.
Aspen/Snowmass: Also celebrating a whopping 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 of guests dining at Aspen Skiing Company–owned restaurants and hotels. Proof of vaccination is not required for lift access, lessons, rental shops, ticket offices, or market-style restaurants. Also, regardless of vaccination status, masks (real masks, not single-layer buffs or perforated ski masks) are required in all indoor locations, including in tents and gondola cabins. Ajax and Snowmass are scheduled to open November 25, Buttermilk and Highlands on December 11.
Ski Cooper: Set to open on December 8, Cooper hasn’t finalized face covering guidelines for its Cat tours, but plans to align protocol with public health guidelines.
Copper Mountain: Opening to the public on November 22, Copper is already hosting training for a torrent of alpine athletes from around the world. Per U.S. Labor 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 transit), and masks are recommended indoors for children ages two to 11 and all other unvaccinated guests. Guests are encouraged to purchase lift tickets, lessons, and activities online and in advance. There are pick-up boxes around the base area to print out tickets and passes. Most of Copper’s signature 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: Set to open November 26, no restrictions or mandates are in place as of early season, but that is subject to change depending on public health guidelines.
Eldora: Set to open November 19, no restrictions or mandates are in place as of early season, but that is subject to change depending on public health guidelines.
Granby Ranch: Set to open December 10, face coverings are encouraged indoors, but no requirements are in place as of early season. That is subject to change depending on public health guidelines.
Hesperus: Set to open December 17, no restrictions or mandates are in place as of early season, but subject to change depending on public health guidelines.
Kendall Mountain: Set to open December 17, day tickets and equipment rentals must be purchased online, in advance. Kendall also plans to mirror COVID-19 public health protocols and mandates.
Loveland: Opened for the season on October 30, face coverings are required of everyone indoors at Loveland facilities, including inside restrooms, lodges, warming cabins, restaurants (until seated), the Ridge Cat and shuttles. Online purchasing is not required but strongly recommended for equipment rentals and ski/ride lessons. The childcare center will not operate this season, but live music is expected to return.
Monarch: Without snowmaking, Monarch’s operation is dictated solely by Mother Nature and opening day is still TBA. All Monarch patrollers and Cat guides are vaccinated. Everyone is asked to wear face coverings indoors and space might be limited, depending on crowds. Masks are required for everyone on shuttle buses. Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours must be shown to participate in Monarch Cat skiing. Childcare is not available at Monarch this season. Advanced purchases are recommended for ticket and equipment rentals.
Powderhorn: Set to open November 26, Powderhorn has no restrictions or mandates in place as of early season, but that is subject to change depending on public health guidelines.
Purgatory: Set to open November 20, Purgatory has moved to 100 percent online purchasing for tickets, skier services, and food ordering for reduced contact. While face coverings are not required, the ski area will adjust to comply with any future public health orders and/or mandates.
Silverton: You may have caught the photos of Silverton ski patrollers getting face shots of snow while they were “researching” conditions on October 13. Hopefully, that’s a preview of what’s to come this season, which begins December 30. Silverton’s bar, closed last season, will re-open and while the ski area will follow county public health guidelines, the only pandemic-related protocol in place for 2021-’22 is that heli tour participants must wear face coverings inside of helicopters.
Steamboat: Face coverings are required indoors for unvaccinated guests and encouraged for everyone. All guests must wear a face covering on local shuttles. Most of Steamboat’s signature events return this season, including the Winter Carnival in February. Early reservations are recommended for ski school and Happy Camp.
Sunlight: Set to open December 10, no restrictions or mandates are in place as of early season, though that subject to change depending on public health guidelines. Employees are encouraged but not required to be vaccinated.
Telluride: Set to open November 25, no restrictions or mandates are in place as of early season, but that is subject to change depending on public health guidelines.
Vail Resorts: Keystone opened October 22; Breckenridge and Vail open November 12; Beaver Creek and Crested Butte will begin spinning lifts November 24. Vaccinations are required for all Vail Resorts staff (at Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek in Colorado). Face coverings are required 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 at the resorts. Guests ages 12 and over must show proof of vaccination for indoor, cafeteria-style dining. Most of Vail Resorts’ signature events return this season, including the Birds of Prey World Cup men’s alpine ski races at Beaver Creek and Vail Snow Days in December.
Winter Park: Winter Park is encouraging guests to pre-book lift tickets, rentals, lessons, and activities when they open on November 17. Walk-up, day-of purchases will be available, but possibly limited. Unvaccinated guests 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 got a jump on everyone by opening on select days starting October 16, it launched seven-day-a-week operations on November 6. Face coverings are required for everyone indoors and Wolf Creek employees must be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19. As of early season, ski/ride school is limited to private lessons.