As summer continues to fly by, many Coloradans are starting to wonder what ski season will look like this winter. Here are a few possibilities to expect:

1. Expect to wear masks

Even though mask-wearing in outdoor spaces isn't required in many places, certain aspects of skiing don't cater to social distancing – such as line queues, lunch breaks, and ski lifts. Thankfully, a mask can double as a shield from the cold air. Expect to wear a mask in most places around the resort.

2. Reservations may be required

Reservations can help control the crowding. It's likely that capacity limitations will be put in place and that reservations will be utilized to help manage the high demand. This will likely vary per resort.

3. Things may get weird on the lift

Some resorts have already hinted that lift riders will only be allowed to ride with other people from their group. This rule will likely be in place to help keep parties separated from each other, thus potentially limiting some COVID-19 spread risk. Social distancing may also be required on lifts, cutting capacity of some smaller lifts to one. This could mean a longer wait between runs.

4. Expect fewer amenities

Areas where guests might typically congregate could be heavily restricted or shut down altogether. Expect a different experience in places like patios, cafeterias, and bars.

5. It'll be "an old school experience"

Aspen Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan wrote a letter to passholders that predicts the 2020-2021 ski season will be "an old school experience," with chairs not loaded to full capacity. Kaplan hopeful for some positives in the changes, including less noise, fewer distractions, and more meaning.

6. Expect safety to come first

A number of ski resort companies have released statements informing the public that safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be the top priority, including Vail Resorts and Aspen Skiing Company. A letter from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz sternly states "safety is not optional." Katz instructed his customers to anticipate rules being in place all season long.

7. Expect fewer events

Ski resorts and ski towns are often known for hosting a number of concerts and festivals throughout the year. This will likely be scaled down in a big way during the winter of 2020-2021. This change has already been hinted at by Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz, who stressed that public gatherings that don't allow social distancing should be restricted or limited – both in town and on the mountain.

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee manages the OutThere Colorado digital publication as the Director of Content and Operations. He also writes about outdoor recreation, travel news, and more. In his spare time, he loves to rock climb, trail run, and mountain bike.


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(1) comment


Reservations will be problematic - do you prioritize pass holders? (Probably yes). Still, reservations will fill up weeks in advance and likely for the whole season in a few days.

What about food? I could see large outdoor tents taking up space for picknickers who bring their own lunches, which should be encouraged.

And the Backcountry will likely be crowded again with people who aren't trained to recognize avalanche hazards and/or who don't know the terrain, increasing risk for other, more experienced backcountry travelers and rescuers.

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