Howelsen Hill to operate 7 days per week, adds new run for upcoming season
As Routt County received its first majorly accumulating snowfall this week, Steamboat Springs is gearing up for several changes at Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
The ski area will open Nov. 27 and close April 3, with tickets being free every Sunday. For the first time in decades, the hill will be open to the public seven days per week, with the poma lift, chairlift and magic carpet operating each day. Howelsen will also debut a new, three-person chairlift to replace the old Barrows lift.
The new chairlift follows the same route as its predecessor but drops riders off about 3 feet higher, which Howelsen Ski and Rodeo Manager Supervisor Brad Setter said will save users from needing to walk as far to ski down and provide better access to more runs.
“It will be a lot easier to access the face, as well as the runs on the south side of the hill,” Setter said.
Setter said the changes are to help Howelsen financially support itself, as the city currently spends more than it brings in on the operation.
While she emphasized the number was merely an estimate, Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby proposed $66,000 in revenue coming in from Howelsen after expenditures during the 2021-22 season.
“We can always reevaluate this season come spring/summer and make changes if we need to or if we’re not successful,” Cosby said.
Setter said keeping the chairlift open each day is also intended to help make Howelsen more accessible to beginner and intermediate skiers, as the poma lift is often considered difficult to ride and runs up a black diamond run.
“It will be easier to access all of the terrain, both the face and our other runs,” Setter said. “We’re hoping that we’re becoming more visible, and we’re hoping that getting people down there to ski and be more visible will really drive ticket sales.”
While Howelsen has been traditionally marketed to locals, Ski and Rodeo Supervisor Robbie Shine said the city is hoping to attract more visitors to the area this year, both to make the hill more profitable and to give the opportunity for visitors to appreciate a city asset.
“When you come up to a ski area, and you pay $35 for a ticket versus paying $200 for a ticket (at Steamboat Resort), there’s no stress if you don’t get enough runs in or if someone gets hurt or a kid gets upset,” Shine said. “Skiing should be fun, and it shouldn’t be a stressful sport where you have to try and cram everything in.”
In addition to the new lift, Howelsen will be selling tickets out of a new location formerly used as a lift shack, staff will sell food and beverage options at the concession stand, and skiers and riders will have access to a new run.
The new run will be intermediate terrain cutting from Upper Face to the Mountain View area. Setter said its goal was to provide more access to Upper Face for beginner and intermediate users.
“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.”
Setter emphasized that the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which practices at Howelsen, has seen membership grow each year. As the community also continues to see more tourists visiting and more people moving to town full time, Setter said he hopes to improve Howelsen each year to keep up with the growing demand.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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