You can go skiing close to Boulder. Here’s the scoop on how to master the nearby Eldora Mountain Resort.
Where is it? Eldora’s location is one of its greatest appeals. It’s just 21 miles west of Boulder, and only three miles from the Boulder County mountain town of Nederland. Eldora’s one of the few ski areas on the east side of the Continental Divide, and you don’t have to drive up congested Interstate 70 to get there.
The details: Eldora is relaxed and a local fave. While we love all Colorado ski resorts, Eldo (as it’s called) is one of the most approachable, especially for visitors and newbies. It’s welcoming and unpretentious, generally with smaller crowds, less traffic, and cheaper lift tickets.
Don’t get too excited though; these slopes still fill up even on weekdays because it’s so easy for locals to hop up there on a day off.
Eldo is family-friendly, with a great kids’ ski program.
Open: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. November-April
Type: Alpine and Nordic (must buy separate passes)
Cost: Check the website for different rates and deals. A popular way to save money is with a MAX Pass, which grants access to 39 mountains for five days each with no blackouts.
Parking: Free parking, but it fills up fast; get there before 11 a.m. Your best bet is to take the cheap RTD Ski-n-Ride, which brings you from downtown Boulder directly to Eldora every day during ski season. Cost: $2.25 (seniors, children and other special passengers)/$4.50 regular per person each way.
What to wear: Dress in layers that are appropriate for the day’s weather. Wear wool or polypropylene socks. Layer long johns under waterproof pants. On top: Try a sweater and/or fleece under a waterproof jacket. Don’t forget hats, gloves and goggles or UV-rated sunglasses. Avoid scarves. Don’t forget sunscreen. You can rent equipment at Eldora.
Local tip: You can save time and money by renting your gear at an outfitters shop in town and then bringing it with you to the resort.
How to prepare: Eat a hearty breakfast for energy and stay hydrated. Arrive early to avoid traffic, score parking, and avoid lines on site. Educate yourself about conditions by calling the snow line: 303-440-8700.
For newbies: Eldora’s snow is great for beginners. The bunny slope has wide spaces and a gentle tow-rope for learning.
Eldora also offers beginner lessons (check out the Discover Group Lessons). If you’ve never skied before, we recommend at least two group lessons and a private before going at it alone.
For kids: Eldora’s youth skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country programs are awesome and cover all levels of ability. Enroll your kids in a full day lesson, rather than a half day, to make better progress.
Local tips: As much as you want to watch your kids learn, ski experts agree they’ll do better without you watching and meddling. Pop by mid-day to check on their progress, but leave the teaching to the pros.
Where to eat: Head to The Lookout on top of the Corona lift for snacks, chili, soup and sandwiches. Unwind with a beer (but don’t drink too much and ski). The views here are jaw-dropping and stretch far across the Front Range.
Or refuel at Timbers Lodge in the base area. This casual restaurant is a breakfast hotspot, with yummy breakfast burritos, an espresso bar, and locally roasted coffee. If you’re lucky (weather permitting), you may find BBQ grills cooking up elk sausages outside of Timbers Lodge.
Upstairs in the lodge is Timbers Tap Room and Coffee House, a hoppin’ place for Bloody Marys, microbrews, and bar fare.
Another casual dining option includes Indian Peaks Lodge, for soup, sandwiches and a cup of comforting hot chocolate, mmm.
Other things to know
Beware of ice on top of the mountain, as there is little protection and storms pound the mountains with heavy winds, freezing much of the top snow. Just get through this and you’ll drop into the trees where the nice snow is at.
On especially windy days, Eldora may close some lifts. In that case, get a Nordic pass and go cross-country skiing into the trees and out of the weather.
Still, be careful exploring areas outside of the ski boundary, as they’re not patrolled or maintained. Backcountry skiing can be dangerous. Before venturing out, check avalanche conditions.
Keep your eyes open for slow zones and family ski areas and respect them. If you zoom through a slow zone, you can lose your pass.