Steamboat native builds ski reputation in Wyoming
Snowy Range, the Steamboat option
Daily lift pass: $49 age 18 to 69; people older than 70 ski for free
Adult season pass: $269
Season pass holders can ski five days at Steamboat Ski Area for an additional $149. Snowy Range sells about 1,000 passes.
Average season snowfall at Snowy Range, where there are 27 trails with a vertical drop of 990 feet, is 250 inches.The trip to Snowy Range Ski and Recreation Area is two hours, 30 minutes and 123 miles from Steamboat Springs on a route that includes some dirt roads. The ski area is about 5 miles west of tiny Centennial, Wyoming, which offers a couple of appealing lodging options. Some will prefer to drive to Laramie to spend the night, then drive to Snowy Range for additional ski days.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Aaron Maddox is a native of Ski Town USA, but he’s building his reputation in the ski resort industry about 123 miles away.
Maddox, who owns and manages Snowy Range Ski and Recreation Area west of Laramie, Wyoming, with his wife, Becky, was one of four ski resort industry managers in mid-career presented with a 2018 Sammy Award by Ski Area Management magazine in May.
Steamboat Today reported in March 2013 how Maddox’s family, including his father Bob and late mother Cindy, acquired a struggling ski area and returned it to profitability by focusing on a core market of young families with children and providing them with an affordable Alpine skiing experience. The business plan has worked out fine.
Maddox, a certified public accountant, was recognized for working with the state legislature to pass a modern ski safety act for Wyoming.
Bob Maddox explained that until recently, the state of Wyoming had one outdoor recreation safety act to settle injury claims that involved all types of outdoor businesses from horseback riding to river float trips to skiing. Previously in Wyoming, ski areas that became the subject of injury lawsuits had to go to a jury trial just to determine if the injuries were a result of the activity’s inherent risks.
In Colorado, there has been a separate ski safety act that spells out in advance the inherent risks of the sport. Wyoming’s new law is based on Colorado statutes that define in advance the dangers that are inherent to the sport.
The younger Maddox acknowledged that the new law was probably the reason he received his recognition, but he was reluctant to take credit.
“Whether or not that’s deserved, I don’t think so,” Aaron said modestly.
Ski area sees rise in popularity
When the family bought the ski area from the bank, Aaron Maddox said it was attracting about 27,000 skier days a season.
“Five years ago, it was around 45,000 to 50,000,” Maddox said. “Last winter, it was about 70,000.”
As recently as 2013, Snowy Range was a multi-generational family affair, with brother Hunter working there too. But the last few winters it was pretty much Aaron and Becky running the show with a good crew.
A family of four with two children 4 and younger can enjoy a day of skiing at Snowy Range for $100.
The ski area sits at the foot of a dramatic mountain setting at the foot of peaks that range to 12,013 feet just 43.6 miles and 43 minutes from the college town of Laramie.
Snowy Range welcomes skiers from southeastern Wyoming and Western Nebraska, but at the heart of its recent growth are families from Colorado’s northern Front Range who may not want to drive over mountain passes to go skiing or are seeking a less expensive option to Colorado’s destination resorts.
In addition to a full-service cafeteria and appealing day lodge, Snow Range has its own craft brewery, reputed to be the only brewery located on national forest land in all of America.
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