The Howler Alpine slide returns to summer lineup in 2022 |

The Howler Alpine slide returns to summer lineup in 2022

Abby Makinster speeds around one of the last corners of The Howler Alpine Slide at Howelsen Hill in 2020. After being closed last summer, The Howler is slated to open at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 4, 2022.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

With the start of the summer season just around the corner, Kevin Sankey and Tim Allen were at the top of Howelsen Hill on Thursday afternoon, May 19, working on the final items to open The Howler Alpine Slide.

Sankey, the director of facilities and events for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, said the state inspector will be in town May 27, and The Howler is slated to open for the season on June 4.

It will be the first time the slide has been open since the summer of 2020.

“We’re excited, and obviously with the (Outlaw) Mountain Coaster no longer in operation over at the Steamboat Resort, we’re expecting that the demand is going to be even higher than it was a couple of years ago,” Sankey said.

The slide opened in August 2000. It was closed last year as crews worked to install the new Barrows Chairlift — a triple chairlift that replaced the two-seater at the Howelsen Hill Ski Area, the oldest ski area in Colorado.

The $3 million cost of the lift was split between the city and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Smartwool announced in October 2020 that The VF Foundation — VF Corp.’s private grant-making organization — would make a $1.5 million charitable gift to the Winter Sports Club to build the new lift.

“They obviously had to put in new towers for the chairlift, so we had to disassemble a significant portion of the (alpine slide) track,” Sankey said. “Then we had to reinstall those sections of track where they had to cut through for the new lift towers. It’s been a pretty significant reassembly project, which we have just completed.”

The timing is perfect for The Howler, which Sankey hopes will once again become a popular attraction downtown.

“We’re very excited to get going especially after last year’s hiatus,” said Allen, The Howler Alpine Slide manager. “It’s really cool to drive into town and just see the slide itself — and now that we’re going to have people going every 30 seconds, it’ll be a cool thing to witness just as you get into downtown.”

Sankey said the Barrows Chairlift will get people to the top of the hill quicker than before, but people should not expect staff to run the lift all out.

“The uphill capacity of the lift is obviously far greater than the downhill capacity of this slide,” Sankey said. “If we loaded every chair and ran everybody up the lift at a normal winter speed, we would have a big line at the top waiting to ride.”

He said the plan is to load every third chair to take people to the top of Howelsen where they can ride the slide back down. This year the lift will offer scenic rides for $12 (round trip) and uphill access for bikers at $20.

“It’s a nice ride up — it really is,” Sankey said. “We’re expecting that we’ll probably have a lot more people taking scenic rides up, and the Howelsen staff has done a wonderful job of clearing the area that’s at the top, and it’s a beautiful overlook.”

The cost to ride The Howler is $20 for a single adult and $17 for those ages 13-and-under or for members of the military. Children under 48 inches tall can ride with a paying adult for $10. Children under 2 are not allowed on the alpine slide for safety reasons.

The Howler will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. the weekend of June 4-5. On June 8, the slide will shift to a Wednesday through Sunday schedule. On June 25, operations will expand to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

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