SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – Hopefully you didn’t put your ski and snowboard gear away for the season just yet – because Arapahoe Basin will reopen on Wednesday by reservation only more than two months after ski areas were ordered to close statewide.
The ski area off Highway 6 just over Loveland Pass will open back up to limited skiing and riding Wednesday morning, but there will be several caveats that will make hitting the slopes different than it was earlier this winter, before the COVID-19 outbreak hit the state.
Only a limited number of people will be allowed to ski or ride on a daily basis, and those people will only be able to do so with a reservation.
The variance granted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says that A-Basin will be able to host a maximum of 600 skiers per day and that Summit County Public Health can adjust that number downward if proper requirements for distancing can’t be met.
"Arapahoe Basin and Summit County believe it’s critical to begin the process of reopening our economy ahead of the summer tourist season," Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland said. "A-Basin’s plan is one of the first incremental steps in this process and will allow us to responsibly explore a model that could offer lessons and best practices for other tourism-focused businesses in our community."
Skiers and snowboarders will be required to wear a face covering whenever they cannot be at least 6 feet from other skiers and riders. No tailgating will be allowed, and staff will ask people to leave if they do not follow A-Basin’s guidelines, which the ski area says were developed along with the state and county health departments.
A-Basin is recommending only experienced skiers and riders seek reservations to come to the mountain because of the spring skiing conditions, limited number of trails that will be open and spacing requirements.
Lifts will start running Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and will stop running for the day at 3 p.m. Uphill access will be open from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. if people have uphill access passes. Skiers and riders are asked not to arrive before 7:30 a.m.
Reservations will open up starting at 7 p.m. on Monday. People will be required to make reservations 36 hours in advance of their intended ski day, and reservations will be handed out on a first-come-first served basis.
Skiers and snowboarders will have to bring their printed reservation and pass or single-day lift ticket with them to the mountain to be allowed on the property.
People can buy single-day passes or use their 2019-20 Arapahoe Basin Pass, Ikon Pass or Mountain Collective Pass with remaining days at A-Basin. People with Taos Ski Valley or Monarch Mountain passes that have unused A-Basin days may also use those to make a reservation.
One person will only be allowed to purchase a maximum of four lift tickets. There will be no tickets sold at the mountain or over the phone and no refunds.
Pallavicini Lift will be open, with limited trails, as will be the Black Mountain Express Lift and Lenawee Lift. But Montezuma Bowl, Beavers, Lazy J, Molly Hogan, the East Wall and A-Basin’s terrain parks will all be closed.
There will be no food, beverage, lockers, rentals or shuttle busses operating. Restrooms will be open at both the base area and at the mid-mountain lodge.
“We have been given an extraordinary opportunity. We need to take this very seriously and we need to respect the guidance given by our Summit County and State of Colorado health officials. We have to open in a responsible way. We need everyone to help,” Arapahoe Basin CEO Alan Henceroth wrote in a blog post. “…I am so excited we can offer the "A-Basin Tribe" a chance to ski and ride again this season. This will be cool.”
Gov. Jared Polis ordered all Colorado ski areas to close on March 14 at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, which hit mountain communities and ski towns hardest early on. He has said he would have a decision on whether to allow ski areas to reopen on Memorial Day.
Arapahoe Basin is typically among the first ski areas in Colorado and North America to open each year and among the last to close. The ski area hosted skiers and snowboarders on July 4 in 2019 for the first time in eight years. Vail Resorts already announced that Breckenridge, which often also stays open late into the spring, will not reopen this year.
The ski area says it does not have a planned closing date as of yet.