The idea of building a ski resort at Lake Eldora, just west of Nederland
became a reality in 1961 when George Sweeney, Gabor Cseh, Frank
Ashley, and Donald Robertson approached the U.S. Forest Service. The
principle owners bought a parcel of land at the base of the proposed area
that totaled 400 acres. This would later contain the areas' lodge and
parking facilities. In 1962, construction was under way for the "Shelf
Road," which connects Nederland to the ski area. Along with the access
road, two T-bars ran the first season. The total cost of development
ranged around two million dollars.
Along with Eldora, Front Range skiers had other new options for skiing.
This included these now defunct areas: Ski Squaw Pass, Hidden Valley,
Ski Saint Mary's Glacier and Geneva Basin. To stay competitive, Eldora
saw vast improvements for the following season, 1963-1964. The
Denver Post reported that the access road was resurfaced and a base
lodge was erected. At this point, Eldora's lift system still consisted of two
T-bars, one up the Challenge lift line and the other up the EZ line.
Eldora changed ownership in 1967 when the Ertl family bought the area.
The following season, the resort purchased its first chairlift from the local
lift company, Miner-Denver. The tram was called the Little Hawk lift. It
was not until 1973, when the resort invested in a major mountain upgrade.
The Cannonball lift was constructed next to the T-bar up the front side of
the area. Heron-Poma engineered this center-pole double. The second
lift was the Corona Double, which runs the same line as the current quad.
This was again built by Miner-Denver. In 1975, the resort founded the
Eldora Special Recreation Program. At the time, Eldora offered one of
the only teaching facilities for disable people in the nation.
In 1983, Ski Magazine profiled Eldora Ski Area. The resort was "a
substantial mountain...priced right." Ticket prices in the early 1980's
ranged from thirteen dollars on the weekday to fifteen on weekends. Ski
also reported that "a fifth chair (Corona) runs on the back side with over
1,100-foot vertical. No man-made snow here so it is open on an irregular
basis." The mountain now had five double chairlifts with the additions of
the Caribou in 1978 and the Sundance in 1975. Both of these lifts were
engineered by Yan (Lift Engineering).
The mid-1980's was a time of instability at the resort. The Colorado
Springs Sun reported Eldora for sale in 1983. The son of the area's
owner, Rett Ertl became manager in 1982. Three years later, The
Denver Post reported that the "family clashes over the fate of the ski
resort...the son fights to keep dad's Eldora open." The family's issues
stemmed back to the fact the area was losing money since 1979. After
the Eisenhower Tunnel opened back in the 1970's, access was greatly
improved to resorts like Vail and Breckenridge. This pulled business
away from Eldora. During Rett's first year as manager, the resort lost
During the 1985-86 season, Eldora was managed by O.Z. and Terri
Minkin, which ended in a failed attempt to purchase the resort the
following year. The resort did not open for the 1986-87 season because
of ownership issues. By 1987, the resort was in the process of being
revived by a new operator. Andrew Daly, president of Copper
Mountain, decided to leave Copper to manage Eldora. His plans included
making the trouble ski area profitable once again. To do this, the resort
needed to expand. The area's owners under Daly's direction submitted
plans to local officials, which included a cross country ski facility, a hotel,
new ski lifts, cabins and an inn.
With spirits on the rise at the resort, in 1989 Eldora celebrated the
reopening of the Corona Bowl, which was left defunct since the
mid-1970's. The name Corona does not stem from the popular beer
brand but from an alternate name for Rollins Pass, which was used in
construction on the famous Moffat Tunnel. The bowl added 85 acres of
new terrain and over 1,400 feet of vertical drop.
Later that year, Vail Associates decided to take over the ski area
operations. Andrew Daly was reassigned to run Beaver Creek resort.
Skier numbers this year topped 75,000, which included both day and
By 1991, Vail Associates did not exercise the option to by the ski area
and the Ertl family sold the area to local resident Chuck Lewis. Lewis
was one of the principle developers for Copper Mountain and also
worked for Vail Associates. The following summer Eldora purchased a
used Hall triple chair from Sun Valley, ID to install next to the Cannonball
double. This allowed for greater capacity on the popular front mountain.
During the mid-1990's, Eldora's master plan came under review by
Boulder County officials. Critical issues included water rights for
snowmaking, expansion plans, improvements to the Shelf Road, and
possible skier limits imposed on the area. The county's final decision was
to only allow 2,500 skiers at any one given time or no more than 180,000
in one season. Other restrictions included a ban on amplified sound, no
more than 10,000 visitors in the summer and a mill levy for the access
road. The county's decision outraged management, which quickly filed
suit against Boulder. Eldora proposed the county was retaliating on them
because they refused to fund road improvements to the Shelf Road.
In November 1996's election, Eldora lost its ballot proposal for taxpayers
to subsidize the costs for road repairs. Eventually, the resort and county
officials reached an agreement that costs would be split evenly. During the
summer of 1997, the resort carried out plans for the Indian Peaks
expansion project. This included a new CTEC quad chair as well as 150
additional skiable acres.
Since the Indian Peaks project Eldora replaced the old Corona chair with
a CTEC quad in 1998. Two years later another beginner lift was erected.
This chair was built by Riblet and was the last new Riblet chair ever
installed in Colorado.
|Steep glades can be found off of the
|Eldora offers a nice family atmosphere.
|Looking out to the Indian Peak Range.
|Looking east towards Boulder from the
|The trail Ambush on an overcast day.
|A view of Eldora's base area and
|Skiing down the trail Corona.
|Riding up the main mountain.
|Pros and Cons to Skiing Here:
|+ Close to front range cities
||- Unpredictable snow can
mean variable conditions
|+ I-70 traffic is avoided by
|- Slow chairlifts mean
increased riding time
|+ Eldora offers an excellent
learn to ski area
|- Little snowmaking coverage
on expert terrain
|+ Groomed cross-country
skiing is available
|- The shelf road to the ski area
can be dangerous
|+ The Corona Bowl offers
challenging expert terrain
|Early season skiing on the Indian Peaks
|Insider Tips to Skiing Here:
|Copyright © coloradoskihistory.com
All Rights Reserved.
*Resort Stats Current for 2009-10
The Colorado Ski Museum
|The Indian Peak Lift overlooking
Heading down towards the Corona Lift.
|Historic Eldora Pictures: