How to Plan for the 2020-2021 Ski Season in Colorado

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Colorado is known for its world-famous ski destinations – Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge just to name a few.  COVID-19 caused ski resorts to close early for the ski season in 2020.  As snow dusts the pine trees and the aspens turn to gold, we are left wondering what the 2020-2021 ski season will look like.  Fortunately, the slopes are planning on opening in just a few short weeks, though it may look a little different as our resorts navigate the uncertain waters of COVID-19.  Here is what Colorado’s ski resorts are doing to protect you this ski season and how you can prepare for the changes. 

Plan Ahead With Reservations and Online Purchases 

Make a Reservation 

Many ski resorts in Colorado are implementing a reservation system, so planning ahead for the ski season will ensure that you get to hit the slopes.  Vail Resorts is prioritizing Epic Pass holders for priority reservation days as well as giving them first access to the mountain by not selling lift tickets until December 8th, 2020.  Copper Mountain is implementing a parking reservation system whether or not you are a passholder or not.  The parking reservation system will help track and manage volume and assist the resort in maintaining proper physical distancing guidelines.  Knowing if you’ll need a reservation for the 2020-2021 ski season or not is the first thing you should check off on your to-do list.

Online Purchases 

Colorado ski resorts are implementing practices to help decrease face-to-face time that will require you to plan ahead.  Ski areas, such as Copper Mountain, are mailing out passes and tickets if you purchase them 12 days prior to your arrival.  For day-of purchases, you will not even need to go up to the ticket window and pick-up boxes will be placed around the resort.  Other ski resorts, like Arapahoe Basin, will be requiring online purchases for lift tickets and will not be selling them onsite.  While ski resorts are implementing measures to protect you, you can also be proactive in decreasing your face-to-face contact on reservation days by making sure to have your reservation number available when waiting in lines.  

Colorado ski season 2020 2021
Image by Rudy & Peter Skitterians

Facial Coverings Are Required at Ski Resorts

Colorado does have a statewide mandatory mask order for all public indoor spaces or when using public or non-personal transportation service.  This means you need to plan to wear a facial covering at all ski resorts in Colorado.  You will be required to wear a face mask in the following situations when six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained: 

  • All indoor spaces except when seated for dining
  • On the chair lift or gondola lines
  • Loading or riding a chairlift or gondola
  • All ski and snowboarding lessons

PRO TIP: Bring an extra face mask in case you misplace your primary one.  Buffs work great both on the slopes and off!

Physical Distancing Shouldn’t Be Difficult on the Ski Slopes

Colorado ski resorts are implementing similar physical distancing guidelines for their indoor and outdoor spaces and programs.  Here are a few things you can expect for the 2020-2021 season.

Cashless Transactions 

Make sure to bring your credit or debit cards as many ski areas, such as Vail Resorts, will only be doing cashless transactions.  It’d also be smart to contact your bank prior to travel so your card doesn’t get locked.  Make as many of your purchases online prior to your trip in an effort to decrease face-to-face contact.  Lastly, ensuring you have a good credit limit at the time of your vacation will result in limitless fun on your ski trip.

Restaurants and Retail 

Colorado ski resorts will be running their restaurants and retail shops with limited capacity.  For example, Aspen Snowmass will be limiting the number of people to 10 in their rental shops.  Vail Resorts will not be operating full-service bars, but packaged beer and wine will be available. As mentioned above, plan on cashless transactions at dining and retail shops. 

Chair Lifts / Gondolas

There will be a change with chairlift and gondola lines and seating across Colorado ski resorts.  Almost all of the ski resorts in Colorado will be implementing spacing techniques to ensure that six-feet of distance separates groups as they wait for their chairlift.  When it comes to seating, resorts like Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin will not be permitting anyone to ride with anyone but their family.  Vail Resorts will only be allowing related parties to be seated together or they will place two singles on opposite sides of a four-person chairlift.  For a six-person chairlift, two singles or two doubles will be seated on opposite sides.  Loveland Ski Area will also be requiring hand coverings on all chairlifts.  Be sure to check with the ski resort you plan on visiting to see what their rules are on chairlift lines and seating.  As always, remember your face mask in case you are seated with another individual or group. 

Lessons and Group Activities 

Do you plan on enrolling your child in ski or snowboarding lessons, or plan on taking some yourself?  Vail Resorts, Copper Mountain, and Arapahoe Basin are limiting their ski school and group activity registration to six participants.  Vail Resorts will also be requiring Ski and Snowboard School participants to complete an online self-health screening . Make sure to plan ahead and sign up early to make sure you and/or your child get a spot this ski season.

Health and Sanitation at Colorados Ski Resorts

It never hurts to have a travel hand santizer ready to go at all times, but ski resorts in the state of Colorado are upping their sanitation game for the 2020-2021 season in respond to the pandemic.  Many resorts will now have sanitation stations in their facilities and be disinfecting high-contact areas more frequently.  If you plan on renting gear, you can expect for rental gear to be sanitized between every use.  Additionally, ski areas such as Vail Resorts and Copper Mountain will be requiring daily employee health screenings.

colorado travel coronavirus restrictions
Image by Melk Hagelslag

Colorado Ski Resorts

We have compiled a list of Colorado’s popular ski resorts below, so click on the links to find out what they are doing to protect you during the 2020-2021 ski season and when they plan on opening for the season.

Arapahoe Basin 

2020-2021 Opening Day: October 19, 2020 (estimated) 

COVID-19 Health Procedures: https://www.arapahoebasin.com/winter-2020-21-season-information/ 

 

Aspen Snowmass 

2020-2021 Opening Day: November 23, 2020 (estimated) 

COVID-19 Health Procedures: https://www.aspensnowmass.com/safety/covid19-operating-procedures 

 

Breckenridge Ski Resort 

2020-2021 Opening Day: November 13, 2020 

COVID-19 Health Procedures: https://www.breckenridge.com/explore-the-resort/about-the-resort/winter-experience.aspx 

 

Copper Mountain 

2020-2021 Opening Day: November 30, 2020 

COVID-19 Health Procedures: https://www.coppercolorado.com/the-mountain/mountain-safety/covid-safety 

 

Loveland Ski Area 

2020-2021 Opening Day: October 28, 2020 (estimated) 

COVID-19 Health Procedures: https://skiloveland.com/coronavirusupdate/ 

 

Steamboat Springs Ski Area 

2020-2021 Opening Day: November 22, 2020 (estimated) 

COVID-19 Health Procedures: https://www.steamboat.com/plan-your-trip/2020-2021-reassurance 

 

Vail Ski Resort 

2020-2021 Opening Day: November 20, 2020 

COVID-19 Health Procedures: https://www.vail.com/explore-the-resort/about-the-resort/winter-experience.aspx 

 

Winter Park 

2020-2021 Opening Day: November 11, 2020 (estimated) 

COVID-19 Health Procedures: https://www.winterparkresort.com/summer-updates 

 

Make sure to do your homework and research the regulations and precautions of the ski area you are visiting.  You can also book your ski equipment early to take that off your plate as you prepare for your vacation.  As always, if you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 – please stay home!