Squaw Pass Ski Area Reopening
Echo Mountain/Squaw Pass has since reopened.  Please view our Echo Page here.

Written November 2004

Squaw Pass or Highway 103 is home to some of the best scenery close to Denver.  From
Squaw and Chief Mountains one can see as far as Pikes to Longs Peak and then out to
Denver International Airport.  West of the pass is the famous Mount Evans, which tops out
at over 14,000 feet.  Squaw Pass last hosted alpine skiing during the mid-1970's.  Since
then, the nature of the ski industry has changed greatly.  

The ski area was bought back in 2002 by Gerald Petitt.  The property contains about fifty
acres, most of which is below the highway.  Under the old operation during the sixties and
seventies, the area had one primary lift that ran the full vertical of the slopes and also had a
smaller beginner tow.  About a quarter-way down from the upper lift terminal was the lodge,
which was on the east side of the property.  This housed the eating area, ski patrol, parking
facility, and mountain operation buildings.  The target crowd for the old area was local
skiers.  The area operated primarily on weekends and holidays, because it did not cater to
out of state vacationers.

In early November, 2004, the Clear Creek County Planning Commission heard plans for the
new ski area.  The area planner, Doug Donovan, explained plans for a snowboard park-type
area.  This would include a large superpipe, a smaller half pipe, and trail features.  A new
triple chairlift would replace the existing T-bar.  Snowmaking facilities are an important part
of this plan, which includes two small ponds for water retention.

Important Links for Squaw Pass Ski Area:

  1. Squaw Pass Ski Area's Website
  2. ColoradoSkiHistory.com's Lost Squaw Pass Page

Here are some factors that have led to similar ski areas closing in Colorado:

  1. Snow is a key element for any ski area.  Places like Cuchara and Conquistador have
    become defunct because they cannot provide an adequate base to keep the slopes
    white.  If Squaw Pass reopens, the area needs to be sure that they can secure enough
    water rights to ensure they can operate.
  2. Access is also an issue at Squaw Pass.  Highway 103 can be a treacherous road
    especially during the winter.  The ski area is expected to add an additional 940 trips
    per week on the road between Bergen Park and the ski area.  This means that
    someone will need to upgrade the existing facility to current road standards.  
  3. Areas like Berthoud Pass have closed their doors in recent years due to competition
    with major resorts like Vail, Copper, Keystone and Winter Park.  With pass prices so
    low, Squaw Pass will need to give local residents reasons why they should invest in
    their local area and not a major resort like Vail.
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Picture Credits:

Colorado Ski Museum
Brad C
Scott B