The locals of Silverton, Colorado have three lift-serviced skiing options to shred at. Kendall Mountain Ski Area is located directly in town and is a great place for beginners to learn the sport. Located fifteen minutes outside of town is Silverton Mountain, which is one of the most technical and challenging ski areas in North America. When beginners want to move up to the next level, they need to drive thirty-five minutes to Purgatory Resort.
There’s clearly a missing segment in this skier and rider market for intermediate and advanced skiers. The Durango Herald recently dove into the debate on whether it’s time for Kendall Mountain to expand.
For the past couple of years, the town of Silverton, which owns the ski area, has been pondering whether they should grow Kendall Mountain’s skiable acreage. In 2018, they collaborated with the SE Group to create a Viability Assessment in order to determine how they could grow the small hill. The maps from the feasibility study, which are shown below, show five ski pods that would grow the terrain by that a large amount.
The study found that a 300-800 acre expansion, along with creating a public-private partnership, are the only ways for the ski area to become a profitable business. In 2021, Kendall Mountain recorded a net loss of $6,184.09. The sixteen-acre ski area only runs on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Day passes are very cheap, with $25 tickets for adults and $17 for children and adults.
Summer attractions were another part of the viability assessment. Some of the potential additions include an event space for various functions, an alpine slide, a zipline tour, mountain biking trails, hiking trails, a rock climbing wall, and more.
For now, Kendall Mountain is focusing on modest improvements. The town of Silverton recently signed a contract with DHM Design. They are proposing adding an enclosed ice skating rink, improving the parking situation, and adding various off-season activities. Silverton’s Facilities, Parks and Recreation Committee is currently reviewing these plans.
The terrain expansion is currently not a part of the proposals, but locals imagine they’ll be back at the forefront in the near future. Individuals want to see Kendall Mountain expand from its current small size, but they also don’t it to grow by 800 skiable acres. Others want the town to focus on other priorities, like affordable housing. An expansion would likely bring price increases, which could price locals out.
Another challenge the ski pods 1 & 2 face is that in between these potential terrain pods sits a private cabin. This owner is vehemently opposed (see page 31 of the attached document) to these developments.
It would be cool to see Kendall Mountain grow in order to enhance the town of Silverton, but obviously, it needs to be in the best interest of the community. I originally thought that eventually expanding onto ski pods 1 & 2 is a reasonable idea in the coming decades. Noting the private cabin concern, I think expanding onto part of the first Ski Pad is the best option.