Mountain News: 

Banff hospital hopes to explore ‘wellness’

Page 2 of 8

To keep pace with these resorts, the hotel had better be a Ritz-Carlton or a Four-Seasons, said Bill Drake, president of a Boise, Idaho, based advertising and marketing company called es/drake Inc.

Squaw Pass to reopen

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. —The long-closed Squaw Pass Ski Area is now firmly scheduled for re-opening this year. The ski area is located 35 miles west of downtown Denver and a few miles south of Interstate 70, not far from the road to Mt. Evans.

It will be the closest ski area to Denver, although Loveland is only 53 miles from downtown. However, the ski area will be close to about 30,000 to 40,000 people in the rapidly growing Evergreen-Conifer area.

This re-opening represents the continued expansion of the ski industry after about 20 years of consolidation and even contraction. Nationally, several ski areas – most of them small and at lower elevations – have closed since the 1970s even as skier days stuck at a little more than 50 million. However, as baby boomers remain on their skis and a new population bulge of snowboarders in the echo boom come of age, the ski industry has been growing modestly again toward 60 million.

Doing particularly well have been smaller ski areas close to cities. A model for other ski areas – apparently, including Squaw Pass – is California’s Mountain High. Located 90 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, Mountain High has been able to post 500,000 skier days annually while appealing to teens and 20somethings.

What’s astounding is how little terrain they use. With lots of terrain parks, Mountain High has only 220 acres, the same as at Squaw Pass. That’s 30 per cent of the business of Vail but with just 4 per cent of the terrain.

But Squaw Pass has several major challenges. While Mountain High can draw on a population of 18 million residents in the Los Angeles Basin, Squaw Valley can draw on 2.4 million people in metropolitan Denver. Moreover, while LA snowboarders have few close-in options, Denver residents are within an hour or two of some of the continent’s best ski areas.

Squaw Pass last operated in 1975, two years after the 1973 opening of Eisenhower Tunnel made the ski areas of Summit County more accessible.

Squaw Pass must also compete in prices. Skiing has become exorbitantly inexpensive in the last few years as Intrawest and Vail Resorts have battled for customer loyalty with season passes that only cost $300 while offering great variety. Remaining independents have similar dropped their rates.

Latest in Mountain News

More by Allen Best

© 1994-2019 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation