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Winding down one of the strangest ski seasons ever in Vail, eyeing other forms of outdoor recreation

April 18, 2020, 8:28 am
Skinning up Meadow Mountain Friday.

This would have been, should have been, closing weekend of a fairly decent 2019-20 ski season at Vail. Unfortunately, lift-served skiing has been done for more than a month since the first COVID-19 cases began to crop up in Eagle County. So that’s made outdoor recreation in other forms all the more critical for Coloradans cooped up under stay-at-home orders.

For those of us fortunate enough to live in the high country, trails for low-angle, low-risk alpine touring and Nordic skiing are fairly accessible and relatively uncrowded, allowing for safe access without violating social-distancing measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

It can be a bit trickier for Front Range residents who are still being urged to stay close to home under Gov. Jared Polis’s stay-at-home order that runs through April 26 and may be extended again. But a new Colorado Department of Natural Resources online resource announced on Friday could help with that (see press release below).

As an Eagle County resident, I feel very fortunate to have outdoor recreation right out my door, especially with the return of winter this week. Following the closure of inbounds skiing on Sunday, March 15, there hasn’t been a ton of powder that snow riders have missed out on.

In fact, following a disappointing pattern, March anecdotally at least seemed like a pretty tame snow month, when it used to be one of the snowiest months in the Colorado Rockies. Still, it would have been nice to get some classic Colorado corn skiing in during late March and April.

For the most part, I was OK with how much I used my Epic Pass this season, recording alpine ski days at Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek, Telluride, Snowbasin (Utah) and Rusutsu (Japan). I was looking forward to closing Vail and getting in a few more days at Breckenridge before Memorial Day, but that will have to wait till next season (if there is one).

Still, we await word on renewal rates and any kind of refund for that lost month of alpine skiing.

In the meantime, I can now safely say I got in more days skinning up and skiing down Meadow Mountain near Minturn than on my home hill of Beaver Creek, which provides ski egress via Rose Bowl and the Stone Creek drainage (Paulie’s Plunge) to my house in EagleVail.

Meadow Mountain actually used to be an old, rope-tow-served ski area before Vail sold it to the Forest Service for a ranger station the USFS would now like to sell back to someone for development. Fine by me, as long as they maintain public access to the slopes.

And by far the most times I clicked into skis this season was on the EagleVail golf course with my dogs. Nordic skiing is how I “walk” them, and we love heading up Stone Creek, dodging the downhillers and winding up on the Whiskey Creek trail. Depending on the snow conditions, nothing is more thrilling than riding old cross-country skis with no edges down that drainage.

But, tempted as I’ve been, the new Everkrisp Trail, which meanders over to Meadow Mountain, is closed for elk calving. Those are the kinds of closures that need to be respected as snow gives way to mud and mountain bikes start coming out of garages. And there are a host of COVID-related closures that also need to be adhered to, so check out this release from the DNR:

DNR Provides Online Resource for State-wide Outdoor Recreation During COVID-19

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Friday announced a new online resource for the state’s residents to find up-to-date information on the status of outdoor recreation, trails, marinas and other closures due to COVID-19 concerns.

This one-stop-shop provides the current status of popular outdoor recreation areas managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Colorado’s Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

“As we experience unprecedented and challenging times — especially for Coloradans who enjoy exploring the great outdoors — the Department of Natural Resources remains committed to providing tools and resources to help the state’s residents get outside for exercise and recreation while keeping their communities safe and adhering to ever-changing conditions,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Department of Natural Resources. “In the meantime, Coloradans need to continue to recreate close to home, avoid crowded areas, and check on local closures and restrictions.”

In addition to providing a quick reference on closures and restrictions prior to planning outdoor activities, guidelines provided by each partner for staying safe, social distancing, and staying close to home are included as links.

DNR will continue to provide updates as COVID-19 concerns persist, which will be available on the Department’s website as well as through the COTREX, Colorado’s trails website and smartphone app.

Nordic skiing the EagleVail Trail on Thursday.
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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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