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Colorado Ski History

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

Photo by Glade Optics on Unsplash

Skiing is a major part of our Colorado History. So what is the history of skiing in Colorado? When skiing first started in Colorado in the 1800's it was a way to navigate the High Country. Miners used it to travel during Colorado's harsh winters. Even the locals took up skiing as a mode of transportation. Mailmen would use skis to deliver the mail over mountain passes to the mining camps and communities.

In the late 1800's skiing started to become a recreational activity much like it is today. Skiing clubs, racing and jumping contests emerged as the recreational sport began evolving. In 1914, Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs was established. It is North America's oldest continuously operating ski area.

Evolution of Ski Resorts

Monarch Mountain was established in 1939, Colorado's first formal ski area in the mountains west of Salida. Winter Park became Colorado's first major ski area in 1940. Several small and large ski resorts have been constructed throughout Colorado history. By the 1970s Colorado had become an internationally known ski destination.

Vail, Aspen Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, and several other ski resorts were founded by veterans from the 10th Mountain Division after World War II. The 10th Mountain Division was the US Military Division that trained in Eagle County, Colorado between Red Cliff and Leadville along US-24 and fought in World War II. Colorado is now home to about 32 ski resorts.

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