Howelsen Ski Area - Steamboat Springs, CO - a paradise with diverse history and a skiing paradise


The Howelsen Ski Area has been in operation since 1914 and can be found across from Steamboat Springs on the Yampa River. The city owns and operates the facility which is one of the oldest ski areas in the country that has seen continuous use and the only one on the historic places register for Colorado.

The ski area has had almost seventy Winter Olympians train on the jumps and slopes that it offers. It was Elk Park which was a small preserve for wildlife before it began being used as a ski hill. Skiing was thought of as just a way to travel around the area during winter before Carl Howelsen a Norwegian skier arrived during 1913. He brought more aspects of skiing to the area.

Howelsen began organizing the Winter Sports Club in Steamboat Springs' training program during 1914. He also organized the original Winter Carnival featuring an exhibition of ski jumping located on Woodchuck Hill. The hill is now the home to Colorado Mountain College. He began looking at a hill near Elk Park because he believed that he need a steeper slope to break the records already set for ski jumping. The jump was built after the area was cleared.

In 1917 the slope was given the name of Howelsen Hill and a herd of elk was relocated some years later. The vertical rise of Howelsen Hill was only four hundred and forty feet, it continued to be a jumping hill until the 1920's when interest changed to the slalom, downhill and Alpine disciplines. The hill's east flank was cleared to make room for a slalom course during 1931.

In 1934 a cable was used to pull a sled hauling timber and other materials to maintain and fix the jumps when the boat tow was built as the first lift on the hill at Howelsen Ski Area. During 1937 the lift was moved, made larger and reconstructed to be more suitable to the mountain at the time. The areas Winter Carnival Night Show was held for the first time during 1935 with ski jumping though a hoop, fireworks and torchlight parades. The night skiing at the facility was offered as far back as 1937 and is still a feature of the Howelsen Ski Area.

The ski area received a beginners' rope tow during 1945 on the Sulphur Cave Hill to the west of the jumps. The base of the lodge was began and completed during 1946. Through the years the Howelsen Ski Area saw a number of new additions and in 1991 the lodge at the area was expanded to include training facilities, a meeting room and office.

Through the years the facilities at the Howelsen Ski Area have been continually updated to keep them up to code and ensure the safety of visitors. Anyone with a love of skiing should make it a point to visit the ski area if they are ever in the Steamboat Springs area. Additional information about accommodations can be received by contacting the lodge directly.

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