Howelsen Hill could get a new ski run

As usage of the city of Steamboat Springs’ ski area increases, Parks and Recreation staff are proposing several upgrades to make Howelsen Hill Ski Area more accessible and appealing.

Among the potential improvements is a new ski run on The Face at Howelsen south of Mountain View and Town View runs. If City Council gives staff the green light to build the new run, Ski and Rodeo Supervisor Robbie Shine said it will either be a blue or green run.

“People, who might get down to The Face accidentally, usually end up hiking back up to the green runs,” Shine said. “We’d like be able to get them down via this new road.”

A new, three-person chairlift is currently being installed in place of the Barrows Chairlift, and Shine said the city is hoping to run the new chairlift daily. The old lift only ran on weekends, and those wanting to use Howelsen on weekdays had to rely on the Poma lift.

Ski and Rodeo Manager Brad Setter said the city hopes to attract more visitors to Howelsen by having the lift run daily, which, in turn, could help fulfill the city’s goal of making the ski hill financially independent, as the city currently spends more to fund the area than it brings in.

“We’re just trying to broaden our reach to the Front Range and throughout Colorado,” Setter said. “It’s just to kind of get us on the map and make people understand that we’re here, and we’re a viable option for them.”

Setter said he also hopes the new chairlift will encourage more locals to ski and ride at Howelsen during the week, as beginner skiers will no longer have to rely on the Poma lift.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for the public,” Setter said.

In addition to the new chairlift and run, staff are also hoping to extend Howelsen’s season to the end of March, which Setter said will increase revenue and encourage more people to purchase a season pass.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club will also be installing an 8-meter dirt jump adjacent to the magic carpet on Howelsen. The jump, which will not be accessible to the public, will be used by Winter Sports Club’s youngest athletes and is funded by the club.

“It’s just another amenity for the jumping program and for our younger athletes,” said SSWSC Athletic Director David Stewart.

Lift tickets are currently sold alongside food and beverages, but Setter said there are plans to repurpose an old lift shack and use it to sell lift tickets.

“We’re hoping to improve customer service, so that we won’t be mixing people who are looking to buy a day ticket with those who are looking to buy food,” Setter said.

Parks and Recreation staff will be presenting to City Council ahead of council’s budget discussions in October. Shine said he did not have a specific cost estimate yet but felt more visitors using Howelsen and paying for lift tickets would outweigh operational expenses.

“We want to improve the skier experience,” Shine said. “It will be a big win for the ski area and the community if we can utilize this gift we’ve been given.”

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