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Old 10-03-2013, 04:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Abandoned Ski Resorts

Colorado has a ton of these abandoned, no longer functioning ski resorts. I guess considering how mountainous the state is it’s no surprise that many of these ‘mom and pop’ ski resorts have come and gone over the years.

This part of Colorado history has always fascinated me and there is quite a bit of information out there on the Internet including pictures and old trail maps. I always wondered about skinning up some of the old ski areas and getting some untracked turns there while everyone is crowding the I-70 resorts.

Anyway, I found a book at the local bookstore, Powder Ghost Towns, last year. It’s a great book and that has historical info on a lot of these defunct ski areas from all around Colorado as well as information on getting to the trailhead, the approach up the mountain, and a general description of the descent routes.

I put together a list of a few that I’m hoping to be able to visit if the snowpack cooperates this year and I was wondering if anyone has ever been, is familiar with the area, or has any beta whatsoever on any of the following locations.

Hidden Valley: It’s in RMNP. Operated from the 1940’s until 1991. 2200’ vertical. 1.8 mile ascent. It seems like one of the easier ones described in the book however, it also seems like it gets a lot of traffic. I’m not sure what’s going on with the road closure situation since Trail Ridge road is closed winters and I’m not sure how close you can get to it in the winter by car.

Jones Pass: Proposed ski area in the 30’s and then again in the 50’s. Located 2.2 miles after the Henderson Mine turnoff from Berthoud Pass Road. 2.8 mile approach and about 2000’ of vertical. The book describes it as great skiing/ moderate difficulty. I know a guy that went there early winter last year and the pictures looked pretty good but according to the book best time to visit is mid-winter to ride the trees or spring for the above the tree line stuff.

Geneva Basin: Located near Georgetown past the summit of Guanella pass. It operated until 1986 while supposedly haunted by Eddie Guanella who got decapitated in an accident while stringing a chairlift cable around the bull wheel. 1600’ of vertical and the trails are still visible and look to be in good shape. However, since CDOT no longer keeps Guanella Pass open in winter and the approach is now 7 miles and described as strenuous. The distance makes me question whether it’s worth it but the book does mention an old ski patrol hut that can be used for overnight stays by backcountry users.

Porcupine Gulch: Halfway between Abasin and Keystone on the North side of the road. 2.5 mile approach, 1850’ vertical. It was used by the Ski Club Zipfelberger in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s; consisted of a portable rope tow rope. It says to park next to the natural spring pull off by Keystone and backtrack to the runaway truck ramp where the trail starts. It can also be reached from the Loveland pass summit. From the author’s description it sounds a lot like they are describing a run off Loveland pass called “The Professor” ??? which I’m pretty sure is a major avalanche slide path so I think I may save this one for the spring after the snow has a chance to consolidate after a few melt-freeze cycles.

Any info or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by AcroPhile; 10-05-2013 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 10-03-2013, 05:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You can get to Hidden Valley all winter I believe. I haven't gone to it but have ridden in the Terrain Park and Flat Top in the park. RMNP is kind of amazing. Several friends hit that up every now and then mid winter.

Jones Pass. Blah. It's alright. Jones/Butler Gulch are early season spots. Once the snow has piled up you are better going to that other well known lost ski area. Berthoud Pass. People can knock it, but more bang for your buck there than anywhere else in the Front Range. World class too.

Geneva Basin, meh. I've been there twice and I don't think I'll ever go again. The big plus is the hut. That is pretty nice. You could definitely have a good time staying there, bring wood to burn. The terrain is pretty low angle although I did not get over to the Duck Creek area because of the very real avalanche danger in that zone. Fairly easy skin to the top. The other problem is that area has a lot of sun exposure. So the snow gets manky fairly quick. There is a reason it closed down, and that is probably the primary reason. Crappy snow conditions when other areas are just fine. You can probably drive in fairly close using the Grant side of the Guanella Pass depending on the time of year and how much snow has recently fallen.

Porcupine Gulch, no real experience with that one at all. I've heard of it.

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Old 10-03-2013, 05:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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More info here on lost ski areas too. Lost Ski Areas in the Rocky Mountain Region
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Old 10-03-2013, 05:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Not colorado based, but Fortress Mountain in Alberta has been closed for a few years now. KPOW uses it for cat skiing/boarding, though it's in a provincial park, so I'm not sure if they have a licence to use it while they're there, or if anybody can split there if they want?

Fortress Mountain Resort - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 10-03-2013, 11:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I think I just found a "resort" in Colorado that is actually worse than anything I have ever seen when I still lived in Illinois.

150 vertical feet! I'm struggling to wrap my head around how this thing managed to stay open for 15 years. WTF, Is Greeley really the shittiest place on Earth? Even in the middle of the cornfields of the midwest you couldn't keep this thing open.

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Old 10-04-2013, 05:46 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Isn't Colorado ski history awesome?

There was one lost ski area that closed because of too much snow. I think they removed it. It was close to Steamboat I thought. Maybe even near or around Rabbit Ears. I can't find (it's been years since I used it) it on the site now. I do believe it was on private land so maybe that is why I can't find it. People may have been trying to access the property so it was removed by request.
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Old 10-04-2013, 05:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poutanen View Post
Not colorado based, but Fortress Mountain in Alberta has been closed for a few years now. KPOW uses it for cat skiing/boarding, though it's in a provincial park, so I'm not sure if they have a licence to use it while they're there, or if anybody can split there if they want?

Fortress Mountain Resort - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I thought you could. Not 100% sure on Fortress though. Probably best to message the cat operator. They will probably be a little protective in their response but you should be able to tell if it is allowed or not by their response.
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Old 10-04-2013, 06:34 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Michigan stuff here:

MILSAP | MIchigan Lost Ski Areas Project

Interesting video here:

Skiing Abandoned Mount Mancelona in Michigan | Dongshow Productions

Chomps if you're out there - there's your road trip.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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First off sweet thread man, I love history in general but combining the two is very badass. Just below CO in Northern NM there was a resort I went to in the mid 90's called Ski Rio. It's closed now and I dug a little more and found out that they ran into financial trouble and the owners suckered the workers and investors outta a ton of cash, sad story it was a cool mountain, close to 2k vert but like the others mentioned, weather and lack of it played a part in it's failure.
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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There's a ton in WA, OR, and ID....

http://lostskiareas.wikispaces.com/

Yodelin is one of my favorites, just east of Stevens Pass. Interesting history there, the ski area closed due to the avalanche danger at the base. The two chair lifts were sold to Stevens (Tye Mill) and Crystal (Cambell chair).
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