Berthoud Pass, CO: Where to Ski Now

Credit: Zach Dischner / Getty Images

When a ski resort goes out of business, as Berthoud Pass did in 2001, you lose easy access to the top, but you also lose the crowds. But what you're left with are the same killer runs — 65 on 1,200 acres, in this case — and this time, they're splendidly ungroomed and you'll probably only have to share them with one or two other people, if you happen to run into any other fellow uphillers at all. Berthoud Pass has become a favorite among backcountry skiers for its easy access (a lucky thumb might even get you a lift back up to the top), but this is not casual skinning: There is no patrol doing avalanche control, or on-hand in case you get injured, so you better have all your own avalanche certs and backcountry ski smarts. If so, bring your beacon, safety gear, and a buddy, and have fun imagining what ski resorts would be like after the apocalypse. To get here, head west from Denver on I-70 to exit 232 for Winter Park, follow US-40W for fifteen miles to the top of the pass until you spot the old lift towers.

Where to Stay: The beauty of skiing Berthoud is that it's free. Since this is an easy hour-long drive from Denver, use the money you save on lift tickets and book a room at The Crawford Hotel in downtown's newly remodeled Union Station.

Insider Tip: Before heading up to Berthoud, check out Boulder Outdoor Center's page on the area, which basically give you all the same stats as if it were a working resort (number of greens, blues, and blacks, etc); or try Friends of Berthoud Pass for safety and condition updates. 

SNOW REPORT: Where to Ski Now in the Southern Rockies