Howelsen Hill opens new sledding option
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As Steamboat Springs residents and visitors learn to spend the normally vibrant winter season with COVID-19 health precautions, Steamboat city staff have worked to provide additional outdoor recreation options for those seeking ways to safely enjoy the outdoors.
Howelsen Hill Ski Area will open a new sledding hill Friday, which will be open for free use from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
“We’re looking to take advantage of every ounce of Steamboat Springs’ light, fluffy, trademarked snow and the talent of our snowmakers,” said Parks & Recreation Director Angela Cosby. “The new community sledding hill provides another opportunity for fun outdoor winter adventure for the entire family absolutely free.”
Robbie Shine, Howelsen Hill ski/rodeo supervisor, said the idea came while he was watching the television news and saw Breckenridge had created a sledding hill in one of their dirt parking lots to make up for a lack of recreational activity during COVID-19.
Since Howelsen Hill opened several weeks ago, Shine said staff have observed many people sledding down the ski area trails, which is extremely dangerous. The sledding hill gives sledders an opportunity for their own space to recreate without the dangers of interfering with skiers and snowboarders, Shine said.
“We wanted to give them a safe alternative this season,” he said.
The new sledding hill has a 20-foot high slope, which was created by man-made snow.
“Many people have fond memories of hours of fun sledding growing up,” Cosby said. “We wanted that tradition to continue in a safe alternative location away from the ski area, where sledding is not permitted.”
The sledding hill can be accessed through the Fifth Street entrance to the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena, which offers ample public parking. Staff are asking sledders to avoid parking by the outdoor ice rinks, the Nordic area and the main parking lot for the ski area.
In another effort to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions, Howelsen Hill staff have constructed warming huts for people to socialize in small groups or enjoy food and drinks while the main lodge is closed.
“There’s not a lot to do right now, and a lot of things are closed,” said Brad Setter, Howelsen Hill and rodeo manager. “We’ve been seeing that demand at the hill. People want to come sled, and they’re looking for somewhere to go and something to do.”
Due to lack of early season snow, Rodeo Loop and Hobo Park Loop are currently Howelsen’s only open Nordic trails, though Cosby said staff hope to open additional Alpine and Nordic terrain this week, snow permitting. The chairlift should start running Saturday.
The Steamboat Springs area is expected to collect at least 7 inches of snow this week, according to local meteorologist Joel Gratz.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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