Opening in 1981 as Panadero ski area, The Cuchara Mountain Park was purchased by Huerfano County in 2017 using funds raised by the Cuchara Foundation. The park is roughly 50 acres, mostly at the base of the old ski resort. Volunteers have rehabbed the former ski rental office into a day lodge that is open selected weekends and holidays to visitors. The remainder of the park is open to the public and provides access to National Forest Service land.
In 2017, the Cuchara Foundation provided Huerfano County the money to purchase 47 acres at the base of the former Cuchara Mountain Resort for use as a public mountain park. Efforts began immediately to refurbish existing structures and build a new trail on the property. Looking towards the future, this master plan lays out a long-term vision for the park. This plan envisions the park revived with outdoor activities, programs, and events for both residents and visitors. The community’s mission and goals, developed through a public process, guided this vision and the recommendations, financial analysis, and priorities that will bring about its implementation.
The ski area, then known as Panadero Resort, first opened for the 1981/1982 season. It operated on and off for the next two decades under many different owners. The resort had five lifts, snowmaking on the entire mountain, and averaged 22,000 visitors annually. A ski area Special Use Permit (SUP) allowed the resort operate on surrounding National Forest System (NFS) land. The ski area last operated in the 1999/2000 season. In 2002, the Forest Service terminated the ski area’s SUP, based on the limited snowfall and the ski area’s inability to draw enough visitors to be financially viable. The NFS land remained open to public use but the lower area, the base of the ski area became private property closed to the public. In 2017, the Cuchara Foundation raised and donated $150,000 for Huerfano County to purchase 47 privately-held acres at the base for use by all Huerfano residents as a county-owned park. The Foundation remains involved in the park and led efforts in summer 2017 to rehabilitate the day lodge building and construct a hiking and cross country ski trail on the property.
The ski runs would be open to backcountry skiing at all times. With Cuchara Mountain Park a county facility, the park would be a public entry for those looking to access the NFS land for backcountry skiing. Backcountry skiers could park at the base and ski up, first on park property and then crossing onto NFS land. After returning to the base, they could enjoy the amenities of the base area, such as the fire ring or the café.
Read The Full Master Plan Here – Cuchara Mountain Park Master Plan