Outdoor Industry  November 22, 2022

Eldora: Worst-kept secret in Colorado skiing

In the past couple of years, Sam Bass had a weird job: He was the marketing director for Eldora Mountain, a place that didn’t want publicity. 

The ski resort had a good problem, as customers were flooding the ski resort, but it was a problem nonetheless. The resort was turning away people when its lots were full on weekends, and the traffic seemed equal to the I-70 woes skiers endure to go to Summit County or Winter Park. Eldora’s strengths, after all, centered on the fact that skiers in the Boulder area could avoid those problems and still enjoy some good runs. It was a small resort for sure, but its mixed terrain and delicious proximity — only 20 miles west of downtown Boulder — along with a hassle-free trip up were supposed to help skiers overlook the limited options. 

That changed in the past few years, as more people moved to Northern Colorado and those already here began to buy into ignoring Summit County for the Eldora’s proximity. 

“We haven’t wanted to shout about how close we are,” Bass said. “We had to be strategic about it. We emphasized weekdays or half-day sessions or getting there early.” 

That should change this year, Bass said, as Eldora expanded its parking lots. That alone should help — it lessens the chances of being turned away, for instance — but Boulder County required some environmental concessions in exchange for approving those expanded lots, and those concessions may help thin the herd. 

Eldora will now charge a $10 parking fee to single-occupancy vehicles on weekends and holidays as well as non-holiday weekdays with 10 or more inches in the forecast. This means, essentially, that cars with no passengers will get hit with a parking fee at its busiest times. Cars with three or more travelers get an added bonus: They get access to free, premium, up-front parking near the alpenglow chairlift (those spots are first-come, first-served). 

This should encourage people to carpool or take advantage of public transportation, Bass said. There are two ways to do this. There’s RTD’s NB bus at the Downtown Boulder Station that leaves every two hours, and Eldora staff will give out free round-trip tickets on weekends at that station. There’s also a free shuttle that leaves from the justice center in Boulder on weekends.

“This should change the story on weekends,” Bass said. “We are hopeful the expanded parking and more frequent shuttles on weekends take the edge off our crush of traffic we typically see.” 

Bass still encourages users to get to Eldora early and possibly leave early as well, and he still pushes Eldora as a place to get your skiing jones out on weekdays. 

“We are the perfect half-day mountain,” Bass said. “Even those in Denver, you can be here for an hour, ski for an hour and then be back for work.” 

Those are the days Matt Tomasko remembers fondly. He was a ski instructor in Eldora in high school and later taught music and physical education in Nederland. Many days he would finish with school and hit the slopes for a few runs. He would carpool with friends, and if there was no room left, they would hitchhike their way up. 

“You’d have the mountain to yourself from 2-4 p.m.,” he said. “You can’t really beat that.” 

Tomasko now lives in Boulder and runs the Lake Eldora Race Team, a non-profit that introduces kids and young adults with a wide range of ability to competitive skiing and snowboarding. He taught his five kids, aged 9-21, how to ski at Eldora. Eldora’s varied terrain remains a good place for families and veterans alike: The beginning terrain is segregated from the intermediate and advanced grounds, which benefits all groups. 

“It’s a wonderful place to learn how to ski or learn how to be a professional,” Tomasko said. “It’s a natural extension of my love for the mountains and all the fun opportunities that Colorado has.” 

Eldora is also working on easing lift lines once users arrive. A high-speed lift was installed five years ago and a couple more are on the way. One, the Jolly Jig, would service a terrain expansion on the south side and may start construction as soon as next year. 

“We hope we can install both soon, but they’re expensive projects,” Bass said. “We had to choose between building a new parking lot or a new lift.” 

All the good news leaves Bass hopeful he can return to doing his job the old-fashioned way. 

“I want to get back to that more traditional ski marketing,” he said. “I just want to tell people they can have a ton of fun.” 

Ski Eldora: Single day passes weren’t available online at press time. Season passes for adults (23 and up) are $769 and $469 for weekdays. Young adults (13-22) are $579 and $349 for children 5-12. There are discounts for families, military and college students. 

Ikon Passes are good at Eldora. 

In the past couple of years, Sam Bass had a weird job: He was the marketing director for Eldora Mountain, a place that didn’t want publicity. 

The ski resort had a good problem, as customers were flooding the ski resort, but it was a problem nonetheless. The resort was turning away people when its lots were full on weekends, and the traffic seemed equal to the I-70 woes skiers endure to go to Summit County or Winter Park. Eldora’s strengths, after all, centered on the fact that skiers in the Boulder area could avoid those problems and still enjoy some…