In 1911 Hot Sulphur Springs, county seat of Grand County, hosted a ski meet and winter carnival.
From that point on the communities of Grand County would show a near boundless enthusiasm for
skiing. They were helped in large part by the Denver and Salt Lake Railroad. Barring snow blockades
"The Moffat Road" provided cheap, safe and reliable transport in winter when highways and passes
were snowed in. Winter sports fans from as far away as Denver and Steamboat Springs could easily
attend any of several winter carnivals, which took in ski jumping, cross country, ice skating, skijoring,
snowshoeing and toboggan races. A number of ski clubs were founded to promote the sport.
Consequently, from Baker Mountain to Idlewild, Grand County can boast more abandoned ski hills
than any other region in the state. Tracing the history and location of some of them is an ongoing
process and some information is sketchy. Some hills are grown over or have been built upon. Rope
tows seem to have taken on the character of Johnny Carson's family fruitcake; there was only one in
existence, it just got passed around from one hill to the next as customer bases shifted. A couple of
hills only lasted a year or two; most all would be gone by the mid-'60s.
A quote from the Middle Park Times, referring to events of 30 and 31 December 1911, states "Mr.
A. Schmidt and Mr. Carl Howelsen, professional ski jumpers, gave a brilliant exhibition of this
admirable and hazardous sport on Bungalow Hill." This hill is right in downtown Hot Sulphur Springs
on the south side of Byers Avenue (U.S. 40) across from The Depot restaurant. During the 1940s it
sported a rope tow. As traffic increased on U.S. 40 safety became a concern. During ski meets traffic
would be detoured or road guards posted to halt cars when a ski jumper was on his way. The hill was
closed and activities moved to Maggie's Hill and Snow King Valley, covered under separate
headings. (In the mid-'30s the jumping hill was relocated north of the river on Mt. Bross.) The old,
historic ski jump was demolished for firewood in 1983.
My source for much of the above comes from the Grand County Historical Association Journal,
"1859-1950, Skiing in Middle Park." This booklet is available for purchase from the Grand County
I extend my thanks to rancher John Sheriff for his guided tour and information regarding the Hot
Sulphur Springs ski hills. Any further stories, additions and corrections would be greatly appreciated.
If you live by this area or have any pictures to share,
please email us!
|Have you ever skied at this area? If so,
contact us with your memories!
|Copyright © coloradoskihistory.com
All Rights Reserved.