Skiers take final laps as Howelsen Hill Ski Area moves toward closing day
The Howelsen Hill Ski Area is in its final week of the 2021-22 season, but on Thursday, March 31, skier Jim Hofius took his last laps of the year.
“I like to call it Steamboat’s best kept secret,” said Hofius, who lives less than five minutes from the chairlift. “This is my last day. I’m going golfing tomorrow (in Grand Junction).”
For those who are not yet ready to trade in their skis and sticks for chasing a ball around 18 holes, there are still a few days left to make some turns at Howelsen. The downtown ski area will close with the final Ski Free Sunday event on Sunday, April 3.
The Howelsen Hill Ski Area will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, April 1, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 2. Lift tickets on those days are $39 for an adult, $28 for children 6-18, and those under 5 years old ski free.
The ski area will also be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on its final day Sunday, April 3.
“It’s the last Ski Free Sunday and we’re going to have a band, The Morningside String Band, come and play,” said Brad Setter, manager of the Howelsen Hill Ski Area. “We’re hoping to create a festive atmosphere and will have some food and drink specials at the Outrun snack bar.”
He said that while the amount of terrain available for skiing is shrinking with every warm day, there will still be good skiing available this weekend on the face, Mile Run and the Pony Land beginner area, just off the magic carpet.
“It’s been a great season,” Setter said. “I would say it exceeded our expectations. Our numbers are definitely up, but haven’t compiled full season numbers yet, which we’re going to do right after we close.”
He said season pass sales have been up as the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has grown both on the Alpine and Nordic sides the past few winters. He said thanks to attention of Ski Free Sundays, the ski area is also seeing more locals coming out.
“The free Sundays were very appealing,” said Rachel Fleming, who recently moved to Hayden. “We had just moved to the area, and the Ski Free Sundays gave us a taste of what this area has to offer.”
On Thursday, Fleming came out with her young children Lively, Archer and Riggs to ski with friend Daniela Bruere and her son, Daniel.
“We do keep coming back and we still love it,” Fleming said.
Setter explained the season got off to a solid start with a new chairlift opening in late December, as well as the continued success of Ski Free Sundays.
“The new chair lift has exceeded my expectations, and the fact that we’re running every day now has really been a game-changer for us,” Setter said of the season.
He added that the new lift made the ski area more accessible to beginner and intermediate skiers during the week, as the old Barrows lift only ran on the weekends. He said the decision to open the ski area to the public on Mondays was also well-received.
“We definitely saw a bump in our public skiing due to running the lift every day,” Setter said. “We also ran later this year than we ever have before.”
In addition to opening on Mondays, skiers and riders were also treated to more consistent hours at Howelsen this winter. The ski area also hosted a number of events, and continued to be the training venue for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
Vanessa Peschel, who has worked the lifts at Howelsen the past three year, agreed that she also has seen a lot more skiers this year. For her, Sunday’s closing day will likely bring a range of emotions.
“It’s a mix, Peschel said. “I am excited that I made it another season, but I’m really going to miss everyone that I work with.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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