Ikon Pass Tour of Colorado - Eldora, Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Steamboat & Aspen
The Ski Octopus toured Colorado this season on Ikon Pass in January and February. As you know by now, the Ski Octopus is a cheap octopus... so he has the Base Ikon Pass. This means that at Aspen (Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass) the Ski Octopus had only 5 days available - and he had to avoid the blackout dates. If you have a full Ikon Pass this won't be a problem, and even if you have a Base Pass you can still manage to work around the restrictions. For the 2019/2020 season the blackout dates are: Dec. 26-31, 2019; Jan. 18-19, 2020; and Feb. 15-16, 2020. My recommendation is to go to Colorado sometime between January 20th and February 14th.
It was a great trip and the Ski Octopus had a lot of fun. If you want to do the same next year here are the details of the Ikon Pass Colorado tour - skiing Eldora, Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Steamboat and Aspen. It is recommended to have at least 14 days available to ski - more will be even better.
But let's get to it - and follow it step by step:
1. Fly into Denver - Depending on your city of origin, you may or may not have a direct flight. The Ski Octopus lives in Montreal, QC, Canada - so he had to fly with a connection.
Renting a car is a good idea as it will make it easier to go from place to place.
2. Ski at Eldora - While Eldora is the smallest ski resort in Colorado included on the Ikon Pass, it is still worth trying it. It is less crowded during the week-end, so if you time your trip to arrive in Denver on Thursday or Friday, you can do Eldora over the week-end and avoid the crowds.
With 1400 ft of vertical drop and 10 lifts, Eldora has something for everyone... from double-black diamonds and black diamonds (altogether close to 40% of the runs), to intermediate trails (~40%) and beginner trails. The area is windy, and if the wind is to strong, the resort will close the lifts. While the Ski Octopus was there, in one of the days most of the ski lifts were closed at 2:45 PM due to strong wind. Only the lifts on the Little Hawk Mountain (Sundance and Caribou) stayed open until the closing time of the resort.
If you are looking for more difficult terrain go to the right and try Corona and Indian Peaks areas (and the lifts with the same name).
For beginner and intermediate terrain stay on the left side on Little Hawk Mountain. Challenge Mountain and the Alpenglow lift have a good mix of Blue and Black runs.
If you look at the trail map, you will notice that the difficulty increases as you go from left to right.
Ski days in Eldora: Ski Octopus recommends to stay 2 days in Eldora... but of course you can stay longer if you have more time available.
Where to Stay: If you are reading this, you know by now that the Ski Octopus is a cheap octopus... There are many places where you can stay in the area - and the Ski Octopus stayed in Boulder at the Boulder Twin Lakes Inn. The room was nice and large - with all the basic things you need when in a ski trip. You can also look for other options as well - as there are many hotels in the area.
You can stop in Black Hawk, CO or in Central City, CO to eat at one of the casinos. You can find great food deals at the casinos in the Black Hawk - Central City area and they are on the way (no detour necessary).
Winter Park is one of my favorite resorts and you should spend as much time as you can at Winter Park. You have trails of all difficulties, power bowls and chutes, groomed as well as wild areas, glades, and anything else you can thing of.
The ski resort is split into 7 so-called territories - and if you have time you should explore them all. If you are looking for nice intermediate terrain with a lot of blue runs you should start by exploring Mary Jane Territory and Vazquez Ridge Territory. Winter Park Territory is also a good place to start. Retta's Run and Mulligan's Mile are Ski Octopus' recommendations from the Winter Park Territory,
If you are tempted to try glades, the best choice is Eagle Wind Territory - and in particular Thunderbird. The Ski Octopus favorite is the Parsen Bowl Territory - so don't forget to try the panoramic express.
Ski days in Winter Park: Ski Octopus recommends to stay at least 3 days in Winter Park. Ideally you should spend 5 days there to be able to explore everything including the Vazquez Bowl (not open every day) and have fun the Winter Park way.
Where to Stay: The Ski Octopus stayed at the Winter Park Mountain Lodge. There are other options in the area as well in the area - so search around.
4. Ski at Copper Mountain - You can drive from Winter Park to Copper Mountain in the evening after skiing at Winter Park. It should not take more than 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there - provided that you avoid the week-end and especially the Sunday after-noon traffic rush.
While the ski resort is not as big as Winter Park, there are enough trails available for all ski levels. If you are looking for difficult terrain, try Spaulding Bowl and Copper Bowl. For intermediate terrain and nice blue runs stay on America Flyer and Timberline Express.
Where to Stay: The Ski Octopus stayed at the La Quinta Inn & Suites in Silverthorne. You can also try Luxury Inn & Suites next door. There are other options in the area as well in the area - so search around.
5. Ski at Steamboat - It takes about 2 hours to drive from Copper Mountain to Steamboat. The mountain is nice and the resort is really great - with free buses taking you all around, and connecting the hotels with the ski resort as well as the downtown area and the hot springs. The Ski Octopus skied during the day and relaxed in the hot pools at the Steamboat Old Town Springs as you would expect from a water loving octopus.
Steamboat is a great family resort with a good mix of runs. If you are looking for extreme terrain, you should look at the top of the Morningside Lift. From there you can go down on Chute 1, 2 & 3, The Gully and Christmas Tree Bowl. There are a few other double black diamond areas (No Names, North St-Pats, East Face) that are accessible only by hiking Mount Werner from the top of the Morningside Lift.
If you are looking for Beginner and Intermediate terrain, you should try the Sunshine Express. The Pony Express has some nice black diamond runs - like Royal Flush, Cabin Fever and Middle Rib.
Ski days in Steamboat: Ski Octopus recommends to stay at least 2 days in Steamboat. Ideally you should spend 3 days there to be able to explore everything.
Where to Stay: The Ski Octopus stayed at Steamboat Hotel and used the free shuttle buses to get to the ski hill and to the hot springs. There are other options in the area as well in the area - so search around.
6. Ski Aspen - Skiing in Aspen is a must do and the Ski Octopus used his all his 5 days included on the Ikon Pass. Driving from Steamboat Springs to Glenwood Springs takes about 2 hours 15 minutes - and the Ski Octopus stayed in Glenwood Springs. The hotels are cheaper, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, and you have the hot springs and the steam caves to try - not to mention that everything is cheaper than in Aspen.
Given the price difference for accommodation between Aspen/Snowmass area and Glenwood Springs, the Ski Octopus decided to stay in Glenwood.
You have 4 ski resorts to try in Aspen and only 5 days - so choose wisely. The Ski Octopus try all 4 of them and used his 5th day at Snowmass. What I would recommend is to skip Buttermilk and do 2 days in Snowmass, 2 days in Aspen Mountain and 1 day in Aspen Highlands.
If you decide to stay in Glenwood Springs, try the hot springs. The Ski Octopus enjoyed them a lot... and tried all the different pools. The view is also nice as you get to see the river and the mountains while soaking in a hot pool.
Where to Stay: The Ski Octopus stayed in Glenwood Springs which is 45 minutes away and drove each day to Aspen. There are other options in the area as well in the area - so search around as sometimes you can find good deals in Carbondale or even in Aspen.
7. Fly back home. Driving from Glenwood Springs to Denver should take about 3 hours.
Once again... Stay Hydrated. :)
The Ski Octopus.