Operation Dates: 1981-1989; 1992-1994; 1995-1996; 1997-2000
Area Stats: 1984 (Same as 1999)
*Elevations: Top 10,810 ft, Base 9,248 ft, Vertical Drop 1,562 ft
*Terrain: Beg. 25%, Int. 50%, Exp. 25%, longest run 2.5 miles
*Lifts 2 tows (O'Connor), 1 triple (Riblet), 3 doubles (Riblet), capacity 5,000 p/h
*Average Snowfall: 200"
*Facilities: base, lodge, rentals, ski patrol, ski school, hotels & condos
Cuchara originally opened for the 1981-1982 ski season as Panadero with two double chairs and a
rope tow.  The area was developed by a group from Texas and funded by the lender Summit Savings
and Loan.  For the 1984 season, Cuchara expanded by adding two additional chairlifts and numerous
new ski runs.  The investment led to financial instability for the ski area.  For the 1985-86 ski season,
Summit Savings refused to provide additional financial assistance.  This forced the area to close in
early February, leaving season pass holders angry.  Cuchara reopened for the following season under
the management of Sunbelt Lending who had recently purchased Summit.

Sunbelt Savings and Loans hired Club Corporation of America (CCA) and operated Cuchara for the
1987-88 season.  CCA had no prior ski area experience and a bad snow year led to a low skier
turnout.  Sunbelt Savings decided to close the ski area until a new owner could be found.  Cuchara
remained defunct from 1989-1992.

The area reopened for the 1992-93 season.  It was bought by a Texas businessman Dick Davis for
1.1 million dollars.  He operated the area for the next two years before running out of operating cash.  
The area was sold again to Texan car dealers Phillip and Donald Huffines for $1.8 million.  They were
able to operate the area for the 1995-96 season, but the conditions and attendance were rather
dismal.  The Colorado Tramway Board caught the two brothers operating the ski lifts during the
1996-97 season without a permit.  The brother's private operation was quickly closed down and
Cuchara sat idle again.

Cuchara reopened in 1997 when it was bought for 2.8 million dollars by John Lau of Texas.  He also
owned the
Ski Rio area in New Mexico.  A blizzard hit Colorado's Front Range that year, giving
Cuchara a nice base and record ski attendance.  The ski area operated for the 1997-98, 1998-99,
and 1999-00 ski seasons on a four-day operating schedule until Lau closed down both Cuchara and
Ski Rio. The Forest Service decided in 2001 that Cuchara was in violation of their special uses permit
and the revoked their ability to operate.  

The base area property was sold in 2001 to Curtis Bruner, an investor from Texas, John Bryant, a
lawyer and former congressman, and a third unnamed party.  Initial plans for 2003 called for opening
the lower mountain, which was on private property.  According to The Denver Post, it took Bryant
and Bruner until 2004 to totally alleviate the property from various liens placed during Lau’s
ownership.  In an article written in 2004, the owners were hoping to release plans to reopen Cuchara
in the near future along with additional housing and development options.  To date, no such plans exist
to the public.

A group of local residents formed a parks and recreation district back in 2004 with the ultimate hope
of operating Cuchara as a non-profit.  Similar such ski areas exist at Mount Ashland, OR and Turner
Mountain, MT.  According to local resident Mike Moore, "It's time to get local people involved up
there. It's always been run by people out of Dallas. We've worked for all eight owners, and we know
it's a real tough job up there. We'd just hate to see it go around one more time. We don't care how it
gets open. We just want it open."  

The Forest Service still views the ski area’s outlook poorly.  According to local District Ranger Paul
Crespin, “Nothing has changed.”  The new owners have not contacted the Forest Service for new
permits or even to discuss their ultimate plans for the property.  He added, "They have not done
anything that would prompt us to consider whether or not we will issue a permit.  As far as we are
concerned, there is nothing we can respond to and, at this point, we don't intend to have a ski area

Please Note: Cuchara Mountain Resort (Cuchara Valley) will NOT be offering downhill skiing
for 2012-2013.  The reopen project is no longer moving forward and the site is for sale.  The
asking price as of September 2012 was $4 million.

Driving Directions: Take I-25 south to US 160 then south on HWY 12
Trail Maps:
(Click for larger views!)
Cuchara Links:

US Forest Service Needs
Here is an ad from Ski
Magazine during the
early 1980's: **
Cuchara Picture Gallery:
* From 1990's:
The Base Area *
From Cuchara's website during operation ^
* From 2004, 2007, & 2008:
The Base Area:
The ski area offices, ski shop, restaurant, real estate office, and general store
Chair 4
The advanced beginner's area.
Various trails on the lower mountain.
Chair 3
This was Cuchara's main chairlift.
Surface Lift 1 & 2
Chair 2
The beginner lift.
Chair 5
Chair #5 served intermediate terrain.
Have you ever skied Cuchara Valley?
If so,
contact us with your memories!

"My husband, our son and myself lived and worked at Cuchara for two years.  We did everything from ski lift ops to cook, maid,
whatever it took to survive.  The memories of that time will be with me forever, it was tough making a living but the people in that
valley are incredible.  The owners at that time were several Texans; Dave Evans, Red McCombs and others, the resort closed
mid-season that year, one of the saddest days in my life.  There is a lot of spirit that lives in those mountains it is a place of
- Terry G.
"I have a cabin in Cuchara that my family purchased.  We were fortunate enough to all take a family ski vacation the next to last
year before the ski area closed and then I skied twice with friends the last year.

This is a special place.  There were no crowds, no pretentious people to deal with, and beauty all around you.  Though the snow
was usually marginal, it was worth coming simply to be around the warm friendly people that fill this valley ( many became great
friends of mine), and to not have to deal with the crowd and pretention that exist at so many of the other ski resorts that dot this part
of the country.  It was a very
sad day when the ski area closed, not only because skiing was lost in the area, but because the main economic hub for this ailing
part of the state was lost.  Without the ski area, the county and community, in particular, lost one of its largest sources of revenue.  
So, on this day, it was not just we, the many who enjoyed skiing and frequenting Cuchara, and hanging out in this valley who lost
out, it was also the many who
call this area home and who try to make an honest living while so doing.

I hope some how, Mr. Bruner can find a way to make Cuchara Mountain resort work, but if he can not or chooses to not even try
in the end, I will cherish the fun I had sharing this area with my family and friends."
-Brooks T.
"My father owned a cabin in Cuchara and we would take a family trip every year, sometimes twice, to ski at Cuchara Valley. You
can see (what used to be) the #3 lift from the kitchen window of that cabin. I first learned to ski when I was 7 years old in 1981,
and will never forget my first big lift run down Apishapa! My mother was my ski buddy and we would shoot straight down
Francisco's Revenge and then ski between each other's legs as many times as we could before running into the warming hut. We
had the best family vacations on that mountain and it makes me sad to think it may never open again. Thanks for the memories
Cuchara Valley."
- Becky H.
"It is too bad that the owners cannot get their act together .  Cuchara Valley is a beautiful place. The area was a great place to ski.
The mountain would wire in music on the mountain and  jam all day long. The area always deceived all the skiers by advertising a
certain snow base, but when you showed up the conditions were horrible. They did get some great Albuquerque lows and the
snowfall was incredible snowing two to four feet in a night, but they were too few in coming, but the ownership is to blame here.  
The Forest Service should find an operator to run this resort right.  There is too much infrastructure here to let it die."
- Blake B.
"I've been coming to the Cuchara area since I was a kid in the 1950's and learned to ski at Cuchara in 1983.  I fondly remember
cruising on Grandote and crashing on lower Bear Bumps.  When we introduced
our kids to skiing Cuchara was ideal because getting seperated was next to impossible! It was such a friendly, folksy place that,
even though I've skied  better and more challenging areas I've never felt at home
the way I did at Cuchara."
-Rich P.
"My husband & I skied Cuchara Valley Ski Area only once in Feb. 2000.  It was a great place to ski and we planned to go back
the following year but to our disappointment, it was closed.  We visit  the
Cuchara Valley in the summertime, also.  In fact, this past June, my husband surprised me when we came to Cuchara, he had rented
the Cuchara Chapel and we renewed our wedding vows, we have been married almost 28 years.  I had seen the chapel when I was
a teenager and had dreamed of getting married there, but we live in Arkansas so it  was not possible to do so.  I hope the ski area
will open again, I would love to ski there again."
- Marilyn
"I had the privilege of skiing at Cuchara twice before it closed in '89.  The snow was definitely a problem, but the valley could have
so much more to offer.  The best thing about Cuchara was that it was only a three hour drive from us folks in Western Kansas.  The
next closest was Monarch at about 5 hours.  It is also close to my Boy Scout ranch at Spanish Peaks, so I really do love that area.  
Especially for coming a flat and nothing!

I hope that someday someone can truly operate this resort as a RESORT and not just a ski area.  There could be so much more
here in this beautiful place!"
-John G.
"Cuchara (Panadero, in '81) was our "local" ski area when we moved to the Huerfano valley. My ex-husband and I were running a
retreat center on the north side of the valley, and I was happy to introduce my 4 year old son to my beloved sport, learned back
East and in Colorado during the early 60's. Alex was a natural from day one - I had to work to keep up with my rusty skills, yelling,
"turn" "turn" "turn"! We spent wonderful days playing on the slopes, and Alex won his first ski race(of many to come) - a slalom
course set through hay bales - 1st prize was a wonderful Scandinavian hat that he wore for years after. Sad to hear the area closed,
but we're still skiing, loving winter in Colorado, and have fond memories of this and other lost resorts!
-Susan R.

"I skied Cuchara many times during the '95, 96' and '97 seasons (at least I think those were the years).  I am an avid back country
telemark skier who enjoyed the relative solitude of The Burn Area.  Some of my best ski days EVER were there.  One day it had
snowed 6+ feet!!!  You had to stay on the steeper runs to keep from bogging down.  Perhaps I shouldn't say this, but on another
heavy snow day that same year, and although much of the mountain was closed (The Burn, etc.) due to excessive snow, I
"poached" those runs and had one of the greatest powder days of my life.  Thanks for the memories Cuchara.  You were small, but
-John S.

"I went with my sister-in-law and son driving north from Austin Texas looking for snow.  We had no real destination except snow.  
We stumbled upon Cuchara and decided to ski.  It was my son's first experience with skiing at 7 yrs old.  The snow was awesome,
and snowing at the time we arrived.  It must have been 1999 or 2000.  I remember the snow in abundance when we were there.  
The little town below was so delightful.  We had such a wonderful time I was wanting to go back but now realize it is closed.  Sad
to see it go!"
-Dale A.

"My grandparents owned a home in Cuchara for many years.  We have been skiing there since it was Panadero.  I learned to ski at
Cuchara, and it lit a fire in me I will always have.  My memories of it are very fond.  It was a great place for a kid to spend his
winters.  No lift lines, open slopes, corduroy every morning....wow.  Though snow was usually scarce, it made us good skiers
quickly.  You have to learn to handle ice & crud, everywhere else seemed easy.  The little village & the surrounding area is
beautiful.  If you have never been a few miles away, near Picketwire, it's worth the trip.  We've seen hundreds of Elk in herds there,
near the roads. I would love to be able to take my children there.   Maybe someday."
-Jimmy J.

"My wife and I learned to ski at Cuchara Ski Area. I think it must have been about 1991, not sure of the year. We were taught by a
young lady, who we found out later was killed in a horse or rodeo related accident. I cannot remember her name. We stayed at
Yellow Pine Ranch in  "Cow Camp" and spent our evenings in "Downtown Cuchara". These are very fond memories."
-Bruce and Louann J.

"I received my first job at Cuchara Mountain Resort in 1997 working in the Baker Creek Restaurant.  I learned to snowboard
there.  My brother worked there as a lift op from 97-98.  It was a sad day when they closed the resort, and even worse when
Curtis lost his permits.  It's such a beautiful area and hopefully he can get things going again."
-Christy D.

"I remember when I was five years old and my parents owned the ski shop. I would set at the cash register and count money and
take money all day. Another is when I thought that I was big enough to go on the BIG BURN. The Big Burn was the double black
diamond and I thought I was ready. So my father took my and warned me but I wanted to. At first it did not look so hard but you
cant judge a book by its cover. So I took a deep breath and blast off. I was doing well until the hard part. I started to cry. I kept
saying "I WANT MY MOMMY"  but I kept going. I reached the bottom and you think that I would be done but the only way
down was the black run. When I was at the bottom I beamed with joy. Those were my favorite times. I sure hope it opens again!!"
-Brett M.

"Cuchura was cool too ski when there was snow. It's halfway between all the other ski areas in the area. Especially for the front
range skier. Please open up again."
-Robert B.

"CUCHARA: What a shame! I hate to say it but I have given up hope.  No one will ever ski or ride Cuchara again (lift served). I
can swallow Texas clobbering Colorado in football and " W " is trying his best, but what Texas has done to Cuchara is a crime.  
Lets hope the USFS makes them pay for their crimes. Curtis, please remove your property from Baker mountain, I can't spend
another winter dreaming about skiing Cuchara."
-B Newcomb

"When I was a young boy in '82 or '83 my parents brought my brother and I with some friends from Boerne, TX. We had a great
time and learned how to ski. We went back for a Christmas vacation with my whole family. We have wonderful memories of my
grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all at Panadero. We stayed in the lodges next to the resort..they seemed very nice. I cant
believe it closed down. I have two young children of my own and was planning a ski trip and found this site and had a lump in my
throat when I saw that it had been closed...maybe for ever. Please let us know if you ever get back in business."
John H.

"My family owns a condo at Cuchara and a house nearby where my aunt and cousin still live.  I took my son (Who was 2.5 years
old) for his first snow experience along with the whole family for Christmas of 1999 and stayed over New Years for 2000.  It was
fantastic, the snow was great, the dinner for new years Y2K was great along with the fireworks on the mountain.  We really loved
the area and had a fantastic time and were so disappointed when it closed for good that year.

I have been skiing for over 26 years and have skied everywhere from Taos, to Ruidoso, to Whistler, to Jackson Hole, to Purgatory
and I really liked Cuchara.  It had a very nice small mountain family charm to it and some really good runs for a small mountain.

I guess we were some of the last to ski it and although I know it is difficult to maintain small ski areas cost wise, I hope it comes
back to life and being from Austin TX, I hope people will realize it is the politics, weather, rush for the all powerful dollar, and
inexperience in managing a ski mountain that have hurt this nice mountain, not Texans specifically.  Just because the investors were
from Texas does not make us all evil.  We all want a nice place like this to live again and be able to enjoy it just like our Colorado

I will say a prayer for the mountain in hopes that somehow it will be answered and Cuchara as a ski area will live again.

I would very much like to take my son back not that he can ski well and share it with other family and friends."
'William H.

I skied Cuchara once and would love to do so again.  The last year it was open I went by myself, flying into Colorado Springs and
renting a car.  The snow was great as were the accommodations.  It reminded me of the times I spent in Norway as a kid.  No
crowds but then again maybe thats why it closed.  I hope it opens again."
-Eric J.
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All Rights Reserved.

Pictures from 2004 thanks to Brad C.
* Pictures thanks to Scott B.
# Picture thanks to Dan G.
^ Picture thanks to Cuchara.com website
% Picture thanks to
For updated news in the
Cuchara Valley area, click
here (links off site).
The ticket office and ski/snowboard rentals
The cafeteria and ski patrol building
Maintenance facility
** See below for a recent update on Cuchara's status. **
Pictures from 2012
The cafeteria and lift 2 were removed in summer of 2010.