Idlewild Ski Area
Operation Dates: 1961 - 1986
Area Stats: (1984)
*Elevations: Top 9,100 ft; Base 8,700 ft; Vertical Drop 400 ft
*Trail Breakdown: Beg. 60%, Int. 40% (total 4 trails), Longest Run: 0.5 mi
*Season: Late November - Mid April (no snowmaking)
*Hours: 9-4 daily
Ticket Prices: (1984) Adults $11, children $8
Facilities: 1 Base Lodge with cafeteria, bar, ski shop, ski patrol room
Lifts: 1 platter pull (built in 1967 by Poma), 1 double chair (built in 1961 by

History: Ski Idlewild was a small ski area located in Hideaway Park, CO (now
downtown Winter Park). It began operation in 1961 with a blue Pomagalski (now
Poma of America) double chair with shields. In 1967 a poma lift (Platter surface lift)
was installed giving better access to the north ski runs and giving first time skiers an
easier way to access the slopes. Idlewild Guest Ranch at the base of Ski Idlewild
which was, at times, owned separately was actually built 3 years before the ski area
went into operation. The Idlewild Lodge hotel, not to be confused with the Ski
Idlewild Lodge (base lodge), was a part of the Idlewild Guest Ranch and featured
tennis courts, swimming pool, disc golf, cross country ski trails, and the Idlewild barn
which was an ice skating rink.

After many years of providing novice skiers with fun and affordable skiing, Ski Idlewild
closed in March of 1986 after the first tower of the double chairlift had its left sheave
system supporting the downhill portion of rope failed and fell to the ground. Luckily,
according to a 1960's Pomagalski ad, the chairlift was designed to operate even after
losing this part. There were no major injuries recorded. The Idlewild Guest Ranch
continued its operation as a cross country ski area with no operating lifts though the
Ski Idlewild Lodge (base lodge) was closed and used simply for storage of documents.

In 1994, the Idlewild Lodge hotel was sold, renovated, and reopened by winter of
1994. The new Idlewild Lodge operated with similar amenities of the old Idlewild
Guest Ranch during winter and summer. It was closed by summer of 1996. At one
time during operation, Idlewild Lodge teamed up with Devil's Thumb Ranch to offer an
incredible range of cross country skiing between Fraser, CO and Winter Park, CO.
Also at one time, a Christian group used Ski Idlewild as a camp. Ever since, Ski
Idlewild has been abandoned and boarded up, though all lifts and buildings remain with
the exception of the ice skating rink.

Currently, Ski Idlewild still stands with its downhill trails overgrown almost beyond
recognition. The Ski Idlewild Lodge (base lodge) as been broken into several times
and the old documents stored in the building after the ski area closed are strewn across
the floors.  A large pine beetle operation just recently took place at Ski Idlewild and
the place is quite a mess.

In mid June of 2007, the Ski Idlewild Parcel along with its adjacent parcels were
annexed into Winter Park, CO. At the meeting where this was decided, a local
developer announced his plans to build a development atop the Ski Idlewild Parcel
and the Arrowhead Parcel. Ski Idlewild will soon be demolished, ending an era of
intact lost ski areas which still are easily accessed from a major downtown area.
Trail Map
(click for larger view)
Area Brochures
Idlewild's Lift Stats:
Area pictures from either 1995,
2003, or 2006:
* The Double Chair:
* The Poma Lift:
* The Lodge:
* Other Pictures:
Idlewild's Hotel
The Main Run
Have you ever skied Idlewild?
If so,
contact us with your memories.

"I was a ski instructor at Idlewild for about two months of the year that Mount St. Helen erupted.  This was
when the GLM (Graduated Length Method) was being taught.  I have a couple of great memories.  Skiing on
those short skies made Idlewild seem huge, we ever took our 120's out of bounds in waist deep powder
down to the access road (the field on the far right of the picture).  Also, in the picture of the lodge to the right,
it looks like dirt.  That used to be where we took the first timers.  The class all walked up that 20 foot hill, put
on their skies, then planted their poles, and then point their skies down the twenty foot hill to the flat area in
front of the lodge where there was a split rail fence.  One of my students who's husband and kids talked her
into trying it.  She got so tense at the top of that 20' hill that she fell over and went into convultions spasming
and rolling around.  I was mortified but after it was over and we both had a couple of glasses of mulled wine
in the lodge we got her on the chairlift and at the end of the week she had mastered Idlewild."

"December, 1969.  My family skied at Ski Idlewild during Christmas in 1969.  It was the first time that my
brother, sister and I (native Texans from Houston) had ever skied, or been to Colorado during the winter
time. I remember that prior to flying in to Denver, the area had experienced a strong snow storm that stopped
travel by train to Hideaway Park, so we took the bus.  Stepping off the bus at the ripe old age of 16 into a
flurry of snowflakes, I thought I was in Paradise. Ski Idlewild was perfect for us as beginners -- and, I even
ventured by myself to WinterPark to ski.  Not only was the skiing at Ski Idlewild tailored to our family's
fledgling needs/tastes -- but, the evening activities of sleigh rides and snow mobiling in the moonlight was
a delight and fond memory for life. (The mulled wine in the leather flask they gave my teenage brother and I
on the evening snowmobile rides was pretty memorable, too.)  I can still see the Christmas tree and the stone
fireplace at the Idle Wild Lodge. I want to create the same fond memories for my family also, now that I am a
parent.  Currently, I am searching for a similar ski area experience with the same coziness, compactness and
completeness in activities and atmosphere for my family to make the same quality memories. I hope I find it."
-Jerold B.

"Idlewild was the place I learned to ski in about 1980!  My wife had been bugging me to try it, but I was
hesitant to "slide uncontrollably down a snow covered slope on a pair of wooden slats."  Nevertheless, she
prevailed and got me try it one weekend.  I took a half-day lesson, during which it took me w while to get the
hang of turning in the slow-plow.  Suddenly, something clicked, and I couldn't see where I was having so
much trouble!  That afternoon I spent most of my time skiing the main slope in a non-snowplow stance, even
sliding to a stop at the bottom (my daughter refers to that as a "Hockey Stop").  I was pretty proud of myself!
 In short, because of my good experience there, I've been skiing every Winter since, and exposed my
daughter and other family members to the sport.  Sure wish it was still in operation - it was the
perfect learning slope."

"In 1966 my family learned to ski at Idlewild.  My kids were nine and seven years old.  My kids  love to tell
the story about the time I came down the bottom of the slope and couldn't stop until I skied over someone
elses skis and stopped with my skis literally under a building!  True, that happened.  Also, we love to watch
the old 8mm (now video) movies of our small seven year old skiing with her butt about 18 inches from the
snow.  If needed she just sat down to stop!  Once she fell off the double ski lift at the beginning of the lift, but
she was not injured.  Our nine year old now has two expert skiers  who race and ski in Vermont, along with
their Mom and Dad.  We spent one weekend at the Lodge and enjoyed the heated swimming pool."
- Marty H.

"My mother used to take my younger brothers and I skiing with friends at Idlewild ski area in downtown
Winter Park.  The tickets weren't as expensive as up the road at Winter Park, and from her seat in the base
lodge, she could watch us all the way down the mountain.  I remember doing laps as a 7 year old from first
chair to begging the lifties to keep the chair running for "one more run".  I think my life-long love of tree skiing
began here as we repeatedly took a small trail full of bumps and whoop-de-dos through the trees to the left
of the main run.  What a great place to grow up skiing!"
- Alex T.

I remember learning to ski at Idlewild when I was 2, roughly 2 years before the lift closed down. I remember
the lift being pretty rickety then (at least riding it when I was 3, it scared the hell out of me). We visited the
place about 2 years ago, hiked up the trails, went in the lodge. It looks like the building hasn't seen use since
1992 (judging by the dates on the papers we found). Definitely falling apart. I managed to find a box of old
posters for the area, and I took one. Looks GREAT on my wall and brings back all sorts of memories.
- Dave

"I taught all my children to ski at Idlewild Ski area. The price in the 70-80's was $5.00 for kids making it very
affordable for a family. The runs were short but it had ample snow.  The kids now with children of their own
still fondly remember the adventure at Idlewild."
-Tom P.

"I learned to ski at Idlewild in January of 1976 or 1977. Our church youth group from Kansas stayed at the
YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch for a week and spent the first two days at Idlewild so that those of us who
did not know how to ski would learn before we went to Winter Park at the end of the week. I remember
people telling us that the snow was terrible that winter, only 30 or so inches for a base, but for kids from
Kansas who never saw more than a couple of inches on the ground at a time, it was plenty of snow.

The first day at Idlewild I signed up for a group lesson with maybe six other people. By early afternoon, all of
them had managed to ski down the main slope several times without falling--but not me. I fell constantly and
crashed into everyone on the slope, including our very patient young lady instructor who worked with me all
afternoon, pretty much like a private lesson. Finally, at 4 that afternoon, on the last run of the day, I skied all
the way down the main slope without falling. I remember in the fading afternoon light seeing my whole church
group lined up on the porch of the lodge cheering as I reached the bottom of the slope.

The next day I only fell once in a whole day of skiing both of Idlewild's runs, and by the end of the week I
had skied two green slopes at Winter Park. I have loved skiing ever since, thanks to that one long-suffering
instructor who did not give up on the kid who kept falling down and running into people."

"Yes, I was there (Ski Idlewild) on December 4 to 10 of 1977. I was in a group of journalists from Mexico
who were invited to have lessons of ski at that time. I really  enjoyed that full week. As journalist, I visited
many other places years after, but any other like that. By de the way, I met a girl named Eve Chase at the
Travel Lodge,(her mother used to work there) she was only (did I remember) 16 years old (I was 21) Do
you know how is she. Thanks for the memories and sorry about my English."
-Gerardo J.

"My first time to strap on skis at Ski Idlewild was when I was a junior in High School (1978).  I was used to
a few inches of snow each winter in Kansas, so I was in awe of the view when our bus pulled up to Idlewild
that first morning. I had a blast learning to ski there, but my main memory will always be of almost fainting at
lunchtime the first day.  I was pretty skinny at the time and lost a lot of energy with all the repeated
side-stepping up the hill.  That, combined with no liquids and a higher-than-usual altitude meant I wasn't in
too great of shape by the time we headed inside the Lodge for lunch.  I just remember everything starting to
go black, until I shoved my way past other skiers to get back outside into the coolness.  My head cleared
and I "recovered" quickly once I ate & drank something (an important lesson learned for future ski trips)!  

I bought my first ski resort pin there and thought I was "hot stuff" when I headed back home with it pinned to
my jacket.So many of us learned to ski at Ski Idlewild!  Thanks to all the past instructors and other workers
who were so friendly and patient with us first-timers.  

And, thanks to others who have shared memories on this site.  Like a favorite song, your memories have
taken me back to a place where I truly wish time had stood still.  Oh, to go back for one more day....."
-Linda T.

"The first time I ever skied was at Idlewild Lodge in 1978.  We went two couples.  Each year after that I
brought as few as 20 people and as much as 47.  We at one point had the whole Lodge booked.  The
people that ran the lodge could not have been nicer.  Delbert was one of the men at the Lodge and even let
us use the lodge van to go skiing at Winter Park one day.  We knew all of the people by their names and we
would book the lodge for the next year.  We would always go the week of Mardi Gras.  By now you must
realize we are from Louisiana, Port Sulphur,Louisiana, in fact. We would walk to the top of the lane to
Frazier and the town would have beautiful ice sculptors and Mardi Gras beads hanging from them. When it
was time to leave, Delbert would bring us all to King's Crossing where we would catch our chartered bus.  
The people that ran the lifts were so nice also,  if we were a little scared they would stop the lift at the top for
us to get off without falling.  Many of us made that turn from getting off the lift and turning past the lift house
and would end up in the woods.  The lady that ran the kitchen/cafeteria was especially nice to us.  We had
some oysters shipped us to us and she let us get in the kitchen and make a big gumbo
for everyone. This is where we were first introduced into Colorado Bulldogs, what a drink that was!!, but we
came back and introduced them to "OUR" drink, "TOCKO TODY", they almost slept through the whole
next day after that night.

The ski instructors came from all over the world I think to teach there.  We learned with the GLM method
and skied the first three years without poles.  Then learning to ski with poles was a task.  Each year we
took a refresher course for a day, since we only skied one week out of the year, but it always came back
naturally. The week we were up there they renamed the passes, one was coon-ass pass. We skied for  six
years in a row and have only skied once since then in Lake Tahoe, nothing like Idlewild.  We decided to try
this December, 2007, but haven't found a ski-in/ski-out as convenient or accommodating as Idlewild.  We
had some beautiful pictures of many years and would have loved to have shared them with you, but
unfortunately Hurricane Katrina took them along with our home and everything we owned.  But those
memories will never be forgotten!"
-Lois L.
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All Rights Reserved.

*Pictures thanks Scott B, The Colorado Ski
Museum and Brad C.
**History Write-up by Alexander P.
* Pictures from 2007:
Pictures of the lodge and various runs
The Poma lift
The old double chair.
* Pictures from 2008:
The ski area's lodge was torn down during 2008 as well as many trees killed by pine
beetle.  The site is scheduled to be subdivided for homes.