Travel

Insiders Share Colorado Ski Freebies, Tips

There's still a chunk of ski season left, so we asked insiders working at some of Colorado's ski resorts for a list of their favorite freebies, favorite near-freebies or favorite tips — many of which they're not necessarily paid to promote.

Here's what they gave us. It's not an all-inclusive list, but what you see offered in one place might be something you can find at another.

—Aspen/Snowmass

Adopt-a-Tourist Program: Travelers can sign up to "be adopted" by locals. They get an insider-type experience of Aspen, guided by volunteer locals. tinyurl.com/22v6nm9

Free groomed cross-country ski trails: The Aspen/Snowmass Nordic Trail System offers more than 60 miles of free cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, connecting the communities of Aspen, Snowmass and Basalt.

With two full-service cross-country ski centers, the trail system boasts varied, entertaining ski trails and wonderful vistas. For more information on conditions or to contact the cross-country ski centers, call the Aspen/Snowmass Nordic Hotline at 970-429-2039. Visit aspennordic.com for trail maps.

Free Highland Bowl tours at Aspen Highlands: The renowned Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands has more than 2,000 vertical feet of back-country-style terrain accessed by a 30- to 45-minute hike. Once guests hike the bowl, they are hooked on the experience for life, but the hike-to terrain can be intimidating at first. That's why now, for the first time, Aspen/Snowmass Ambassadors are hosting free tours of Highland Bowl. The tours run at 11 a.m. Wednesdays, weather and conditions permitting, for guests who are confident skiing/riding double-black terrain.

First tracks: Get first tracks in fresh powder or down the groomed runs for free on Snowmass and Aspen mountains with the pros of the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass.

With first tracks, guests are first on the mountain. This experience is free as long as you sign up the night before and have a lift ticket or season pass. (On Snowmass, call 970-923-0560; on Aspen Mountain, call 970-925-1220, ext. 3543 for reservations.) Free mountain tours: Aspen/ Snowmass Ambassadors provide free mountain tours daily on all four mountains. Tours depart from the on-mountain guest service centers at 10:30 a.m. The ambassadors share a wealth of knowledge on topics such as mountain history, nature and the surrounding area.

Free admission to the Aspen Art Museum: Need a dose of culture? The museum, 590 North Mill St., is recognized internationally for presenting outstanding exhibitions with a particular emphasis on contemporary art.

Aspen Art Museum offers a reception and gallery tour every Thursday evening and free admission daily. 970-925-8050, aspenartmuseum.org

—Steamboat

Mountain tours: Steamboat Ambassadors lead free mountain tours at 10:30 a.m. daily, starting outside the upper gondola terminal at the top of Vagabond. Get a comprehensive tour of the intermediate and advanced trails with information about resort services and the surrounding area. Tours are offered through March 27.

Ski with Billy Kidd: Join Steamboat's director of skiing, 1964 Olympic silver medalist and world champion Billy Kidd, for some free pointers and a run down Heavenly Daze. Check the sign at the top of the gondola to see if Kidd is skiing that day, and join him in front of the Billy Kidd sign at the top of Why Not at1 p.m.

Nelson on Nelson's: Nelson Carmichael,1992 Olympic bronze moguls medalist, two-time World Cup moguls champion, six-time U.S. moguls champion and professional moguls tour champion, hosts a free moguls clinic on Nelson's Run at 1 p.m. on some Sundays through the season. Check the grooming report to see if Nelson is skiing, and meet at the Nelson sign outside the Four Points Hut.

Snowshoe tours: With the increasing popularity of snowshoeing, Steamboat's Ambassadors offer guided snowshoe tours at 1 p.m. daily. This free tour offers breathtaking views of the Yampa Valley and the Flat Top Mountains. The tour departs from the Information Center in Gondola Square and winds along a one-mile loop from the top of Steamboat gondola. Guests must sign up in advance by calling 970-871-5444. Snowshoes are not included, but rentals are available from the Information Center in Gondola Square. You will need a lift ticket or season pass.

—Silverton Mountain

Guided back-country skiing: Imagine a place where the average total snowfall of more than 400 inches exceeds the number of daily visitors. Advanced- and expert-only skiing and riding, no groomers, no clear-cut runs — just a real mountain experience with plenty of adventure on tap. It comes at a price: $139, but to get away from the crowds, it can be worth it. 970-387-5706, silvertonmountain.com/page/experience/guided

—Eldora Mountain

"Colorado's most affordable ski vacation": Lodging, including lift tickets, at Eldora Mountain Resort starts at $67.50 per person for a one-night stay. That's less than the price of just a lift ticket at most ski areas. The Boulder Ski Escape Package, in conjunction with Eldora Mountain Resort, includes discounted Boulder hotel rooms and lift tickets. Some deals include breakfast and transportation. Eldora is 30 minutes from Boulder, up through scenic Boulder Canyon. 303-440-8700, boulderskiescape.com

—Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain's SECRET! PASS: With the SECRET! PASS you get a dedicated lift line at American Eagle, American Flyer, Super Bee, Excelerator, Kokomo, High Point and Timberline Express. Plus you get a 15-minute head start on American Eagle every morning, giving you first tracks and time to practice before your buddies make it onto the slopes. To obtain the SECRET! PASS, just say the words at any Copper ticket window and put down a $20-per-day upgrade on the full window price for both adult and child tickets.

Free Tucker Mountain snowcats: Jump on the snowcat for a free ride to experience parts of the mountain you've only dreamed about. Copper's free snowcat rides to legendary Tucker Mountain are the essence of skiing and riding liberty: catching a free ride, choosing your own line and never wiping the smile off your face. Tucker Mountain and Copper Bowl offer expert skiers and riders unprecedented access to more than 273 acres and 1,200 vertical feet of Copper's legendary high alpine back bowls 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Snowcat access is as close to a back-country experience as you will find inside any resort. tinyurl.com/6goslcd

Kids Night Out: Drop the kids off so you can have a little "me" time. Sponsored by the Copper Mountain Chamber of Commerce, Kids Night Out is a free child-care service offered to parents if $30 per child is spent in any commercial outlet at the resort during the hours that the child is in the program. The service is offered 5:30-10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

The kids get pizza while doing crafts and watching movies, among other activities. Walk-ups are accepted if there is room, but reservations are highly recommended at least 48 hours in ad-vance. Call 970-968-2318 ext. 38101.

Free snowshoe tours: Copper offers free snowshoeing tours daily. The Resort Ambassadors help you discover the beauty of snow-covered meadows, pine and spruce forest and a pristine mountain setting on one of the free daily snowshoe tours. Snowshoes and touring poles are provided free to all participants.

Tours are limited to18 guests16 or older on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information or to reserve your spot, call or stop by the Adventure Desk in Copper Sports Center, 970-968-2318, ext. 45386.

Free mountain-orientation tours: Meet the mountain with the Resort Ambassadors on one of the free mountain-orientation tours, offered twice daily. The tours highlight Copper's unique naturally divided terrain, the history, wildlife, natural science and fun facts. All participants must be able to ski/ride Copper's "blue" runs in a comfortable and controlled manner and be 15 or older. Anyone younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. For more information or to reserve a spot, call or stop by the Adventure Desk in Copper Sports Center, 970-968-2318, ext. 45386.

—Vail Mountain

Bypass the crowds: Take the Riva Bahn Express Lift (No. 6) up Vail Mountain from Golden Peak in the morning to bypass crowds in Vail Village.

Take a break from regular slopes, and go tubing: If you're not tired after a day cruising around Vail's 5,289 skiable acres, check out the expanded tubing hill and new lift at Adventure Ridge.

Gourmet on-mountain dining: Enjoy a sit-down meal and spectacular views with the whole family at Bistro Fourteen at Eagle's Nest. Adults will enjoy a range of menu items, such as duck quesadillas and Rocky Mountain trout while kids eat for just $10 from a multicourse menu tailored to their tastes.

Adventure sessions: For those who haven't been to Vail or haven't been in a few years, sign up for Adventure Sessions. For $129 per day, you and five inter-mediate to advanced skiers will be guided around Vail Mountain's 5,289 acres of skiable terrain, cutting lines and making the most of your day.

—Breckenridge Ski Resort

The locals' hangout: Start off the day at Amazing Grace Natural Eatery, 213 Lincoln Ave., in Breckenridge for coffee and scones before you hit the mountain. It serves all food in a quirky historic building that feels like home. Come in and share their simple, good-for-you fresh food. Truly a local hangout to meet all the characters who call Breckenridge home. 970-453-1445

Free mountain tours: The resort offers free mountain tours at all base areas. They start at 10 a.m. and go till about noon. Tours are for intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders, and max out at 10 people per guide.

—Keystone Ski Resort

Snowcat skiing: For a $5 fare, the Outback Shuttle will take you into the Outback bowls. No reservations are required for shuttles.

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