What do you think is the closest ski area to Denver? Some think it’s Loveland due to its location next to I-70, or Eldora near Boulder. But the actual answer is Echo Mountain in Idaho Springs. In contrast to its Colorado counterparts, it’s not much compared to the likes of Vail, Breckenridge, or Steamboat. But the mountain provides quick access for those who want to learn to ski, want to get some quick turns in after work, looking for a cheap place to ski, or are aiming to avoid the crowds that now face much of the interior I-70 corridor.
The Gazette covered the new owners, and what it has been like to operate the ski area since 2016. Fred Klass and Peter Burwell graduated from the University of Denver in 2011. The two worked together to purchase the 226-acre ski area for $3.78 million five years ago, and have rebranded it as a family mountain. The history of the ski area has been tumultuous. The mountain initially opened in 1960 and was named Squaw Pass. The mountain closed in 1975 and remained shuttered for thirty years. The ski area reopened in 2005 as Echo Mountain and was focused solely on the terrain park skier and rider market. The mountain was sold in 2012, and those owners (the Pykkonens) had the place operate as a private race venue. That ownership group eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it was then sold to Fred Klass and Peter Burwell in 2016.
The following has been done since Klass started running the mountain: sculpting a tubing hill, adding a small building to host weddings and other events, renovating the main lodge and kitchen, snowmaking upgrades, and new lights for night skiing. While expansion is possible in the future, they are apparently limited to what they are able to add to its terrain network due to it being on National Forest land. They are also looking at adding more summer activities, like concerts, to increase revenues and keep lift tickets low. They’ve approached this mountain the right way, and hopefully, it will become a Colorado staple in the years to come. A video essay about the mountain is below.
Summit Elevation: 10,650 ft (3,250 m)
Base Elevation(of lift): 10,050 ft (3,060 m)
Vertical Feet: 600 feet
Night Skiing: Yes
Miles Away from Downtown Denver: 36 MilesImage/Video Credits: The Gazette, Echo Mountain