Mountain Coaster appears to have reached end of the line

A visitor races down the Outlaw Mountain Coaster on Thursday, April 7, 2022, at Steamboat Resort. The resort announced this week that the coaster, which opened in September 2017 when the ski area was owned by Interwest, will be removed during the next phase of base area construction, which will begin once the ski area closes for the season.
John F. Russell/Steamboat PIlot & Today.

When the season comes to a close at Steamboat Resort on Sunday, April 10, it will mark the end of line for the Outlaw Mountain Coaster.

With 6,280 feet of track, the Outlaw Mountain Coaster was one of the longest in North America.

“The lower terminal of Christie Peak Express lift will be shifted to the south to make room for the lower terminal of Wild Blue,” said Maren Franciosi, communications manager for Steamboat Resort. “(The Outlaw Mountain Coaster) is something that guests have enjoyed and loved for years. It’s hard to see it go, but we are going forward with these new changes, and that means sometimes we have to make these decisions to move forward.”

The coaster opened Sept. 7, 2017, when the ski area was owned by Intrawest. Franciosi said it was important to note that the priorities for investment with the resort’s parent company, Alterra, have changed, which is highlighted by the Full Steam Ahead project.

The project will enter its second phase this summer when the company will infuse nearly $100 million worth of improvements into the resort, including a second gondola, a new beginner’s area and base area amenities.

Additionally, the resort will invest $5.4 million in upgrades to existing resort infrastructure including other on-mountain improvements, employee housing and more.

The mountain coaster, as well as the Maverick Mini-Golf course, will be removed at the end of the ski season as Full Steam Ahead enters phase two. Those amenities are not expected to be reinstalled.

“We have long recognized the Outlaw Mountain Coaster is not in an ideal location as the first impression in the base area,” said Rob Perlman, president and COO of Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation, in a news release. “Now we have the opportunity to be thoughtful about our approach to base area improvements. As we move Full Steam Ahead with shifting Christie Peak Express lift to make room for the Wild Blue Gondola, it is time to remove the mountain coaster from the main thoroughfare in the base area.”

This summer that transformation will include the addition of Skeeter’s Ice Rink, the Range Food & Drink Hall.

The lower terminal of Christie Peak Express lift will be shifted to make room for the lower terminal of Wild Blue, which will be completed to Greenhorn Ranch for the 2022-23 winter season. The second leg of the Wild Blue Gondola will stretch from Greenhorn Ranch to Sunshine Peak and be completed for winter 2023-24.

Franciosi said crews will start removing snow once the mountain closes, and work will resume as soon as possible. She said the work will also include projects in the Greenhorn Ranch area, such as building the upper terminal for the first leg of the Wild Blue Gondola.

“We’re going to start moving snow and starting construction pretty much right away,” Franciosi said. “We remain committed to our summer activities at the resort, which includes the bike park and Land Up activities. These past couple summers we’ve certainly seen them on hold with the pandemic and construction, but there is a bright future ahead for summer at the resort.”

The good news for those who enjoyed the Outlaw Mountain Coaster is that the Howler Alpine Slide located downtown at the Howelsen Hill Ski Area will return this summer. The slide was closed in the summer 2021 while Howelsen Hill installed a new lift.

“We are pretty exited that the Howler Alpine slide will be up and running again this summer, utilizing the new Barrows chairlift,” said Sarah Floyd, executive director of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which operates the slide. “We ran it the summer of 2020 during COVID, but last summer it had to be closed because there was no chairlift, so we’re really excited to get it up and running again.”

The improvements at Steamboat Resort will continue to move forward with a plan to complete the work in time for the opening of the Pioneer Ridge Expansion in the winter of 2023-34.

“It’s hard to imagine a summer more exciting than last year, but phase two promises to bring even bigger changes to the resort,” Perlman said. “These significant resort improvements will enhance the overall experience for our staff, guests and community building upon our strong brand and industry leading guest service.”

Laura Graves, front, and Sina Good brace while riding the Outlaw Mountain Coaster at Steamboat Resort in Sept. 7, 2017.
Scott Franz/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

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