Colorado’s ski resorts are known for their champagne powder, bluebird skies, and unparalleled views. First-time or infrequent visitors to our backyard playgrounds may not know about some of the best spots to swish through or trees to thread. Most of these bowls, basins, and secret stashes require intermediate skills and some mountain smarts—no skiing or boarding alone, for starters. But the experience these frosty nuggets offer make unforgettable memories.
This week’s bowls, basins, and secret stashes feature introduces two world-class Colorado resorts: Vail and Winter Park.
Vail: Blue Sky Basin
Boasting mostly intermediate and expert terrain, this 645-acre backcountry playground takes three lifts and 45 minutes to get to. Untracked powder is the name of the game here, even days after the last storm. Blue Sky Basin is not for the meek: glades, tight trees, and steeps are the norm. Find some intermediate fun courtesy of two high-speed quads: the Grand Review trail off Pete’s Lift or Cloud 9 off the Skyline Express Lift. Belle’s Camp is the meet-greet-eat place, a log cabin with a cozy stone fireplace and limited food offerings. Bring your own food to grill up, kick back on the deck seating, and enjoy the views before heading back into the powder. Bring water. Lots of it.
Winter Park: Parsenn Bowl
The Mary Jane section of Winter Park is renowned for its steeps and bumps, and many intermediates shy away because of this reputation. The motto, “No Pain, No Jane” is no joke. For the mogul-minded, the bumps here get as big as Mini Coopers. But tree-huggers and bowl fanatics should head up the Panoramic Express, a six-person chairlift that drops you off at the edge of heaven, just over 12,000 feet. Go skier’s left for wide open (but steep) bowl-carving in Parsenn Bowl proper.
Boarders, keep up your speed along Village Way until you find a blue-black mini-bowl you want to drop in to. Head skier’s right for some killer glade options, parrying along Parry’s Peak to the blue-black Johnstone Junction or take the blue Parry’s Peak back down to the Panoramic Express lift. Rinse. Repeat. Eat at the full-service Lunch Rock. For convenience, park at Mary Jane’s base area, just south of the main area. Watch for parking signs on the left after descending Berthoud Pass.
Next week’s features: Wolf Creek’s Alberta Lift and Loveland’s Chair 8.
This is the first of a multi-part series highlighting well-known and lesser-known secrets of Colorado’s resorts.