Jim Clark: Why do we have to call it ‘Mud Season’? | SteamboatToday.com

Jim Clark: Why do we have to call it ‘Mud Season’?

I’m new to Steamboat, but not to Colorado. I’ve lived in the state a couple of times over the past 30-plus years. That time was spent up and down the Front Range in Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. Never having lived in the mountains before, it’s always been a dream of mine to have this experience. And I have to tell you, I’m enjoying it immensely. Just ask those who have gotten to know me and hear me rave about this place.

But there are a couple of things that bug me. Here’s the big one:

Why do we have to call it “Mud Season”? Even more so, why do we have TWO of them?

I know, I know, this vernacular has been around a very long time. An old joke around Colorado I heard years ago is that we have four seasons; Hunting, Winter, Mud and Construction. I get it. The snow melts, the mountains are wet until they dry, and then summer arrives. It wouldn’t be so bad if we just talked about it among ourselves. The problem is, our visitors see it and hear it.

Believe it or not, there are people who travel in and through Colorado in the months of May, June, October and early November. In years like the one we’ve had this year, snow disappears earlier, rivers and lakes open to recreation sooner and the warm season is extended. Why not take advantage of it?

What kind of message does this send to the visitor? For the past couple of weeks, with ski season still in swing, I’ve seen outdoor signs advertising “Mud Season Specials.” How do we go from a destination that has such wonderful marketing terms like “powder” into the depths of one that talks about mud, something that has about as much appeal as a root canal sans anesthetic.

When I started working here in the fall, yet another surprise jarred my sensibilities. Even though I’ve been in Colorado more than 18 years and driven, skied, climbed and hiked all over this state, I learned that Steamboat doesn’t have just one mud season. It has two! What? One isn’t enough? Its fall! Yes, it often rains in the fall, but it also can be one of the most beautiful times of the year. This year, the aspens held their beautiful leaves long past the usual time, with nice weather into November. Our lower elevation gives us an advantage over other resort communities in the state, yet somehow, this often magical time of year gets plastered with that same title. Mud season. Yuck. Why would I want to come during mud season?

Maybe, just maybe (and I know I’m probably dreaming here), we could use some of the terms the rest of the country uses. Like, say, spring. Or fall. My good friend and counterpart Chris Romer in Vail tells me they’re trying to change the vernacular there. Which caused me to think. Perhaps I should put this out there. But, I know old habits die hard.

I’m quite sure I can’t change the habit of calling it “mud season.” But maybe we keep it to ourselves?

And have just one instead of two. Happy spring!

Jim Clark is the CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

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