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Night skiing, snowcat-tours, heli-trips among new treats at Colorado ski resorts

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First-ever night skiing at Steamboat, new “Cirque Sled,” snowcat ride to 1,332 acres of off-piste terrain at Winter Park, new overnight heli-trips at Silverton, dogsledding at Durango. These are among the exciting improvements awaiting skiers and riders to Colorado Ski Country USA's 21 member resorts for the 2013-14 season.

From Copper Mountain's multi-million dollar investment in improving access to terrain, and unique learning programs at Woodward-at-Copper and new digital tools, to Telluride's new slopeside inn, the investments at Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) resorts are as diverse as the guests they will serve. And with the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics just around the corner, the upcoming season is guaranteed to be accompanied by a renewed sense of excitement for all who are connected to the sport.

The 21 CSCUSA members account for 20% of nation's skier visits (115 million).

Here is a roundup of what's in store for the 2013-14 season in Colorado Ski Country.

Arapahoe Basin

Arapahoe Basin, known as "The Legend" to many Coloradans, has one of the longest ski seasons in North America, open from October to June. Enjoy the 360 degree view from the summit or lunch at Black Mountain Lodge all while skiing some of the best terrain in the world. With the addition of the Montezuma Bowl, there is twice the natural beauty to explore; more high-alpine groomed runs, bowls, chutes and glades, all serviced by a new quad chair lift. Experience the Legend.

Arapahoe Basin’s popular 6th Alley Bar & Grill at the base has been remodeled – to the tune of $1 million. The resort is also investing in snowmaking upgrades and a new snowcat for the fleet, with the intention of expanding the resort’s ability to open terrain earlier in the season.

A-Basin offers 900 acres of skiing, and a vertical from the summit at 13,050 ft. to the base at 10,780 ft.

The area is only 68 miles from Denver (nearest airport is DIA); ArapahoeBasin.com, 888-ARAPAHOE (272-7246); Lodging/Central Reservations , 800-248-1942

Aspen/Snowmass

This area is actually four different resort areas that offer tremendous variety among them:

Snowmass - the biggest area and a self-contained resort with lodging at its base - has the most vertical feet, 4,406 in the country. And with 3,132 acres of terrain, 91 trails, 21 chairlifts and access to your choice of wide-open, groomed cruisers, glades, steeps, terrain parks, and halfpipes, it offers tremendous variety for all abilities. And with its family-friendly activities, Snowmass has long been rated one of the best family ski areas in North America.

Aspen Mountain, rising up from the historic mining town, is famous for its black-diamond terrain since 1947. In bounds, Aspen Mountain offers a variety of glades, bumps and steeps. For an out-of-bounds experience, Aspen Mountain Powder Tours will hook you up with fresh tracks on the backside. While the mountain hasn't changed much, you'll appreciate the new gondola, great views and food at the Sundeck at the summit and Ajax Tavern at the base, where the apres rivals the skiing and snowboarding. Aspen, offers 675 acres, but does not offer beginner terrain. Take advantage of the free tours led by a ski Ambassador.

Last season’s terrain expansion on Burnt Mountain opened up new areas for guests to explore on Aspen Mountain. This season, Aspen/Snowmass has improvements to enhance the guest experience, including a distinctive remodel at the luxurious hotel, The Little Nell.

Buttermilk Mountain built its legacy on wide-open and gently rolling trails that cater to beginners and families. Today, Buttermilk remains famous from hosting the ESPN Winter X Games and being voted #1 by Transworld Snowboarding Magazine Reader's Poll for the best park and pipe. Buttermilk's 22-foot superpipe in the legendary terrain park does not disappoint, as many X Games winners, Olympians and up-and-comers can attest. this is a 470 acre-area, with a summit at 9900 ft rising from 7870 ft. (800-525-6200)

Aspen Highlands, one of the four mountains in the Aspen/Snowmass area, has some of Colorado's best steep, big-mountain skiing in the Highland Bowl, Olympic Bowl and Steeplechase. If you're looking for Aspen Highland's best-kept secret, check out mid-mountain beginner and intermediate terrain and the lower mountain steeps. This is a 1,028-acre area, with a summit at 12,392 rising from 8040 feet.

Your lift ticket is good at all four mountains, and the areas are linked by a free RFTA shuttle bus that operates every 15 minutes until 2:15 am.

www.aspensnowmass.com, 800-308-6935, Lodging/Central Reservations, 888-649-5985, 970-925-9000.

Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain, with 2465 acres, is one of the largest and least crowded resorts in Summit County - with an international clientele. The 9,700-foot base elevation (rising to 12313 feet summit) virtually ensures optimal conditions throughout the winter season. On slope, Copper Mountain's terrain is naturally divided for all abilities and includes fantastic bowl skiing. Off slope, Copper features three recently completed base villages that have redefined the Copper experience with accommodations, restaurants, bars, shops, and a kids-only lodge.

(See also: Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado Rockies: Where 'Cool' isn't just the weather and slideshow)

For the 2013/14 winter season, Copper Mountain Resort has committed close to $7M in capital improvements. Phase I of the High Alpine Project includes the replacement of the Storm King lift - a new t-bar lift provides access to the unforgettable skiing and riding in Spaulding Bowl, Upper Enchanted Forest and Copper Bowl, and doubles the up-hill lift capacity. Also, Copper Mountain has installed “Celebrity Ridge,” a new surface lift at the top of the Sierra chairlift providing easier access to Union Peak, Union Meadows, West Ridge and Copper Bowl. Copper’s commitment to The 12’s also means improved ski out in Spaulding Bowl and rock work within the Sierra area, allowing the high alpine terrain at Copper Mountain to open earlier and stay open longer.

The Woodward at Copper Barn, a unique indoor training facility, underwent a half-million renovation project which opened the door far beyond snowboards and skis to now include skateboards, BMX and slopestyle mountain bike. All synthetic snow surfaces were replaced with a surface designed for wheels. Families and amateurs alike are invited to experience the renovations expanded offerings for never-ever’s with additions including a new beginner foam pit with 2-foot and 4-foot jumps, a pump track designed for the development of park skills, and new programming to bridge the gap and see results on snow.

(See also: Want to land that 360? Work it out at Copper Mountain's Woodward at Copper barn and slideshow)

Woodward at Copper Freestyle Lessons: The newly offered Youth Freestyle Lesson bridges the gap between indoor practice and on-snow domination for kids ages 6 – 9 years old. This full-day lesson starts in the Woodward at Copper Barn, then heads to the snow for practice and finishes at The Woodward at Copper Barn facility where new skills are polished.

Sherpa: New On-Mountain Audio Intelligence App. Sherpa gives you hands-free, real-time insider intelligence, across the entire mountain. Sherpa tells you what you're near, where to go and what to do when you get there. It's locals only, insider information, available for the first time to everyone on the mountain. Sherpa taps into the knowledge of lifelong employees, ski patrol and local experts and makes that wisdom available to anyone with a mobile device. Sherpa will be launching for the 2013-14 Copper Mountain Ski Season. More information here: http://www.coppercolorado.com/winter/sherpa

Package Deals: All the best things come in threes and there’s no exception at Copper Mountain. With the One. Two. Free! package, guests can receive a 3rd night of lodging free, 3rd day of rentals free and a 3rd day of ski lessons free when booking at least three nights of lodging. Also, kids 12 years of age and under ski free with the purchase of an Adult Secret Pass. This package can be booked now for a stay any time during the 2013/14 winter season, November 1, 2013 – April 20, 2014. For more information, visit CopperColorado.com.

www.coppercolorado.com, 970.968.2318, 800-458-8386

Crested Butte

Crested Butte, up the mountain from a historic coal mining town, is an authentic destination. With wide open beginner and intermediate runs, great terrain parks and some of Colorado's best in-bounds extreme terrain, the mountain caters to all abilities and interests. The town of Crested Butte is a jewel, remaining true to its Victorian heritage.

For this season, Crested Butte Mountain Resort widened tree runs to create an optimal intermediate tree skiing area.

For kids, there are three new kid-specific trails in the Painter Boy area; . the width of a grooming machine, they wind through the trees to give kids a “forest-like” experience. In addition, the resort built facades to create an “Elk Avenue” (the resort town’s main street) along one of the trails for kids to ski through and play around. It is part of an interpretive area that celebrates Crested Butte's heritage an dmining history - there is also a ski-through bear cave, US Forest Service Lodge, and a gold mining building for interactive play and learning.

Crested Butte offers 1547 acres, and a summit of 12162 feet rising from 9375 feet.

www.skicb.com, 800.544.8448

Purgatory at Durango Mountain

Known for its spectacular scenery, terrain for all abilities and a vibrant, historic downtown. Purgatory at Durango Mountain, at the base of the dramatic San Juan Mountains, has all the amenities of a world-class facility, including restaurants, shops, pool/spa, fitness center and concierge. With more than 1,360 skiable acres, five terrain parks and kids' play area, Purgatory is an excellent family vacation destination.

By adding more snowmaking equipment to the front-side of the mountain, Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort has improved its ability to provide top-to-bottom skiing from the Purgatory Village Express, the resort’s six-person high-speed chairlift. The resort is adding 16 new energy-efficient snowmaking tower guns along with a state-of-the-art, high-output fan gun and two new snowcat grooming machines, which will make the mountain operations team more efficient during the early season and help establish a solid base that will last throughout the entire ski season.

New this year, The Durango Dog Ranch is offering dog sledding from Durango Mountain Resort’s base, giving guests another way to enjoy the winter wonderland (it also offers tubing). A new malt shop and candy store is debuting in the Purgatory Village Plaza, a family-friendly hangout.

While the San Juan Ski Company is now under new ownership and a new name, San Juan Untracked, it will continue to provide an incredible experience as Colorado’s largest cat skiing and snowboarding operation with 35,000 acres of skiable terrain from the base of Durango Mountain Resort.

Purgatory is located just 25 miles north of the historic mining town of Durango. Named one of America's Best Small Towns by Outside magazine, Durango offers a wide array of shopping, dining and recreational opportunities, including more restaurants per capita than San Francisco.

Package Deal: Named #1 in value among ski resorts in North America by Trip Advisor, this season, visitors can escape to the scenic Rocky Mountains in Durango, Colorado for $94 per person/per night with the Rocky Mountain Getaway at Durango Mountain Resort. Package includes two days of lift tickets and two nights lodging at Durango Mountain Resort. Skiers and snowboarders can plan their winter ski getaways by calling 1-800-525-0892. Some restrictions apply.

www.durangomountainresort.com, 970-247-9000, lodging/reservations 800-525-0892.

Silverton

As the only Colorado resort that offers heli-skiing, Silverton is an extreme adventurer’s paradise. New for the 2013-14 season, and in addition to its regular helicopter operations, Silverton will now offer overnight heli-touring trips for $429 per person per day. These trips include a heli drop onto a peak with a guide and within the ski area’s permit boundary, followed by a full day of skiing or snowboarding. Silverton’s finest North Face Dome tent awaits overnight guests in the field. Sleeping bags, and all food and beverages are brought by guests and carried along with them in the heli to the zone, and the camp is supplied with cooking equipment and one of the only North Face 2 Meter Dome tents in the northern hemisphere. After another full day of skiing or snowboarding the next day, an additional heli drop places guests on a peak to which they can ski or snowboard down to the base.

Silverton is known for unparalleled big mountain powder and chairlift-served guided and unguided skiing with an emphasis on adventure. It is Colorado's highest and most expert ski area, serving up exclusively non-groomed advanced/expert terrain to powderhounds of all ages. Silverton has 1819 acres; its summit, at 13,487 feet, rises from a base at 10400 ft.

www.silvertonmountain.com, 970.387.5706

Steamboat

Steamboat is introducing night skiing/riding this season, becoming only the second resort (after Keystone) to offer night skiing. The Christie Peak Express high-speed chairlift whisks you to top of Christie Peak (8,000’) to embark on your night adventure across 5 trails including Sitz, See Me/See Ya, Vogue, Stampede and Lil’ Rodeo. Stay up late with us as you cruise down 1,100 vertical feet of terrain under state-of-the-art Ultra-Tech™ Lighting that significantly improves the night skiing experience.

Famous for its champagne powder snow and tree skiing, for the 2013-14 ski season, Steamboat is presenting its most significant on-mountain improvements in nearly a decade with the new multi-million-dollar Four Points Lodge. The 13,000-square-foot, two-level building is located in the Storm Peak/Four Points area of the mountain, The restaurant will seat more than 200 in the main dining level and feature an outdoor BBQ, flat screen televisions, indoor bar, plus a retail area and over-sized restrooms. Also, there is upgraded snowmaking, with two new Bison groomers.

Steamboat has a reputation for offering a laid-back, authentic Western town ambiance. Another treat: a natural Hot Springs.

Steamboat offers 2965 acres, and a summit at 10568 ft rising from 6900 ft. Beginners and intermediates can ski from top. It is so vast, it never seems crowded.

Value for Money: Steamboat's Kids Ski Free and Grandkids Ski Free programs enable children 12 years of age and under to ski free the same number of days as their parents/grandparents when parents/grandparents purchase a 5-or-more day Adult lift ticket. Seniors (ages 70+) must purchase an Adult ticket to be eligible (Children ages 5 & under always ski free but are required to have a ticket.)

There is a direct flight on Saturdays from Newark into Hayden (HDN).

www.steamboat.com, 970-879-6111, Lodging/Reservations, 800-922-2722

Telluride

Telluride is consistently ranked tops in many reader's polls for 'most scenic' ski area -- and has many distinctive charms including Giuseppe's, the highest restaurant in all of ski country at 11,890 ft., and a free scenic gondola that connects the charming historic Town of Telluride (where Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank) with the modern European luxury of Mountain Village (gondola open daily 7am-Midnight).

Telluride Ski Resort offers recently opened majestic terrain and a newly installed staircase at approximately 12,500', accessing in-bounds terrain. Telluride offers 2000 acres, and one of the longest verticals, from the summit 13,320 down to the base at 8750 ft.

New to Telluride Ski Resort this year is the Inn at Lost Creek. Located slopeside in Telluride’s Mountain Village, the Inn is a true Colorado boutique hotel reflecting the town’s western hospitality. With ski in ski out access, ski valet and a staff to handle every detail from other Telluride activities to special dinner reservations, the Inn at Lost Creek provides the perfect stay for guests booking a special Telluride vacation. The authentic mountain architecture and 32 unique rooms, each with a kitchen as well as washer and dryer, make the Inn at Lost Creek the perfect home away from home. Along with the addition of the Inn at Lost Creek is Telluride’s newest restaurant, Siam’s Talay Grille, sister restaurant to the ever popular Siam down in the town of Telluride.

Telluride added to its snowmaking capabilities, including installing new machines to increase coverage for the 2013-14 season, and additional snowcats to improve grooming.

www.tellurideskiresort.com, 970-728-6900; Lodging/Central Reservations, 800-778-8581

Winter Park

This winter, Winter Park will offer a new “Cirque Sled,” a snowcat ride that will provide skiers and riders easier access to the Cirque, where 1,332 acres of spectacular off-piste terrain awaits. A pass for the 48-passenger Cirque Sled is just $10 and is good for unlimited rides all season long (it saves a 20-minute hike). Winter Park is also updating its snow cat fleet by adding three new cats and replacing two others, which will increase groomed terrain to between 650-750 acres a night.

With a 74-year history, Winter Park is Colorado's longest continually run ski resort. This season, Winter Park Resort is celebrating its seven distinct territories Winter Park with its spectacular groomers and cruisers; Mary Jane, renowned for its moguls and tree skiing; Vasquez Ridge, Parsenn Bowl with its high altitude vistas and glades, Terrain Park, Eagle Wind, and The Cirque with its extreme steeps and drops - with over 3,000 sprawling acres of terrain and an average of 313 inches of snow each year, Winter Park has something for everyone.

(See also: Winter Park takes its place among World Class Rocky Mountain resorts and slideshow)

There is also plenty to do off the slopes, including a skating rink in the village and the Coca-Cola Tubing Hill and such delights as Hill House featuring designer hot chocolate.

Winter Park, which is owned by the City of Denver, is just 67 miles (a 1 1/2 hour drive) from the city, 2 hours from Denver International Airport.

www.winterparkresort.com, 970-726-5514; Lodging, 866-239-3994)

Colorado's Smaller Jewels

Eldora

Boulder’s backyard resort, located 21 miles from Boulder and 45 miles from Denver, Eldora, is known for offering a diverse array of terrain - steeps, bumps, glades, a terrain park, world-class Nordic Center and groomed corduroy for cruising. This year, the resort has improved snowmaking. Eldora offers 680 acres; it has a summit at 10,800 feet, rising from a base at 9200 feet.

Package Deal: Eldora offers the Boulder Ski Escape: Stay and Ski package starting at $70 per person. Stay at any one of 15 or more lodges and hotels in the city of Boulder and ski Eldora for as little as $70 per person. Guests can enjoy the dining, shopping and nightlife of Boulder and the skiing and riding at Eldora. Visit www.bouldercoloradousa.com/skiescape.

Loveland

Loveland sits atop the Continental Divide and is just 53 miles from Denver. While Loveland has varied terrain for every ability, Loveland Valley provides beginners and first timers with a separate base area and gentle slopes perfect for learning how to ski or ride. Loveland offers uncrowded slopes, remarkable terrain, free close-in parking and a season that lasts from October through May. Loveland also averages 400" of snow each season - more than any Front Range or Summit County resort. Loveland offers 1670 acres, and a summit at 13,010, rising from the base at 10,800 ft.

After a successful first season, the Ridge Cat will again offer free cat skiing access to some of Loveland’s most exciting terrain on the north side of The Ridge. With one of the longest ski seasons in Colorado, the Ridge Cat will see plenty of action as it works overtime to take skiers to the resort’s powder stashes.

www.skiloveland.com, 303.571.5580, Lodging/Central Reservations, 800-225-LOVE

Monarch

Monarch Mountain is ideal for people looking to get away from the hustle-bustle of the bigger resorts. Monarch is very affordable and easily accessible from the Front Range via Highways 285 and 50. At Monarch you park right at the base of the mountain and walk to the lifts. Monarch offers 800 acres; its summit at 11,952 feet rises from a base elevation at 10,790 ft.

Monarch debuted its multi-million dollar base lodge last season, and made improvements to its advanced runs this year.

Off the mountain, a new online reservation system will make it easier for guests to book their entire trip to the resort, from rentals to lodging to lift tickets.

www.skimonarch.com, 888-996-7669

Powderhorn

Powderhorn sits 4,000 feet above the valley floor on the Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world, and enjoys a reputation for outstanding tree skiing and diverse terrain. The valleys, cliffs, mesas and canyons of western Colorado provide views unlike any other. The glade skiing is quickly gaining a reputation as some of the best in the state. Spring snowfall provides waist deep powder and with uncrowded slopes, fresh tracks can been found all day. Colorado's wine country and legendary bike trails are 45 minutes away offering some variety of your winter adventure. Powderhorn offers 1600 acres and a 1650-foot vertical from the 9850 ft summit.

Package Deal: Powderhorn Mountain Resort is offering its Learn to Ski or Ride Season Pass Series. Designed for first timers ages 8 and up, kids must be new to either the sport of skiing or snowboarding and ready to commit to three lessons. At the end of these lessons, they will have a great foundation and be able to take their new skills all over the mountain. Best of all, when new skiers and riders complete all three sessions, they will receive a free season pass for the rest of the season. For more information, visit /www.powderhorn.com, 970-268-5700.

Ski Cooper

Ski Cooper, the original site where World War II’s 10th Mountain Division trained, is situated close to the Victorian mining town of Leadville. New for the 2013-14 season, the resort is building facility improvements, including relocating its gift shop. In addition, the rental shop will be completely remodeled with the intent to speed transaction times and guest efficiency.

www.skicooper.com, 719.486.3684

Ski Granby Ranch

This 5,400 acre, four-season resort gives guests a variety of activities that make Ski Granby Ranch a true family friendly resort. This coming season, a new partnership with K2 has upgraded the entire Ski Granby Ranch rental fleet for guests to utilize. To improve its snowmaking operation, the resort has also added 8 new low energy snowmaking guns that will reduce water and electricity usage.

Ski Granby Ranch (formerly SolVista Basin) is known for great learn-to-ski and ride programs, convenient access and family friendly prices. Ski Granby Ranch's Ride School incorporates a gentle beginner hill with seven Progression Terrain Parks as the perfect landscape for connecting turns and learning jumps. Complete two ski or snowboarding lesson packages and graduate with a GOTS season pass to Ski Granby Ranch, as well as a 20% discount coupon valid for a retail merchandise purchase. (This program is for Level 1 beginners only. Reservations required.)

Located 78 miles from Denver, Ski Grandby Ranch offers 406 acres, and a 1000-ft vertical from a summit at 9202 ft.

www.granbyranch.com, 970.887.3384

Sunlight

Package Deal: For first timers learning to ski or snowboard, Sunlight offers the Learn to Shine program. The package includes three days of lessons, equipment rental and lift tickets, as well as a free 5-Day ski pass, once the student has completed the lessons, for $365. The three lessons can be taken anytime, whether they are consecutive or not. Skiers and snowboarders that participate in the Learn to Shine program are matched with top-notch instructors that will have them navigating beginner terrain by the end of their first day. For more information please visit http://www.sunlightmtn.com/.

Information about CSCUSA and its members can be found at www.ColoradoSki.com, on Twitter @ColoradoSkiUSA and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ColoradoSkiCountryUSA.

See also:

Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado Rockies: Where 'Cool' isn't just the weather and slideshow

Want to land that 360? Work it out at Copper Mountain's Woodward at Copper barn and slideshow

Great Vibe, Value, Access Make Copper Mountain Great Choice for Guy Getaway for Skiing the Colorado Rockies

Winter Park takes its place among World Class Rocky Mountain resorts and slideshow

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