© 2024
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Local Colorado ski hills may not be big or fancy, but they're ideal for some families


This time of year, people from all over the world flock to Colorado to ski. It's not cheap, and increasingly, the big resorts can feel crowded. But a handful of mountain towns still maintain local ski hills that emphasize family and budget friendliness. Laura Palmisano, with member station KVNF, visited one in Lake City, Colo.

LAURA PALMISANO, BYLINE: At just 14 acres with one ski lift, the town-owned ski hill here isn't trying to compete with famous Colorado resorts like Vail, Aspen or Breckenridge.

HENRY WOODS: Well, our slogan is skiing the way it used to be.

PALMISANO: Henry Woods coaches the local youth ski team. He's volunteered in the position for more than 40 years.

WOODS: Skiing has helped me so much in my life. And when I was a kid, it helped me to have more self-esteem and be active and be in shape. I like the idea of imparting that to other kids.

PALMISANO: Kids like fourth-grader Wyatt Loper.

WYATT LOPER: Yeah, I'm kind of nervous because it's my first time skiing and I don't know what's ahead.

PALMISANO: For a lot of Colorado parents, teaching kids to ski is pretty important.

JEB BRAKO: We're trying our little one out on some skis, trying to get her a little bit better at this.

PALMISANO: Jeb Brako is visiting from metro Denver.

BRAKO: So she's 2 1/2, so I'm trying to get her in some turns and work on everything.

PALMISANO: There are a lot of ski resorts closer to where Brako lives, but...

BRAKO: We're trying to hit all the cheaper ones while she's not very good.

PALMISANO: Lake City is one of six city-run ski hills in Colorado. Daily lift tickets run from $16 to $43. That's compared to around $200 at some of Colorado's most popular resorts, which, again, are way, way bigger.

REBECCA KAMINSKI: We don't have as many runs as they do, but it's got that small-town feel. So it's very convenient to come here and to bring your family here. It's a great place for beginners to learn.

PALMISANO: Rebecca Kaminski has five kids, who are using the oldest operating ski lift in Colorado.

KAMINSKI: Oh, the lift (laughter) the disc lift - well, it's better than a rope tow, so...

PALMISANO: Skiers sit on a disc seat attached to a pole between their legs and are pulled up the hill.

KAMINSKI: It is something that you will not experience probably anywhere else, is getting to go up on a disc lift. It's like riding an antique.

PALMISANO: Lake City's low-price lift tickets don't generate a huge surplus. So no luxury ski lodge here, just a tiny warming hut that could be described as a shed. But nobody comes to Lake City Ski Hill for the amenities. Out on the slopes, coach Henry Woods offers some pointers.

WOODS: Put your skis together in between the turns.

PALMISANO: Woods says his little town ski hill is a treasure, and he hopes it continues to run for generations to come. For NPR News, I'm Laura Palmisano in Lake City, Colo.


Laura joined KVNF in 2014. She was the news director for two years and now works as a freelance reporter covering Colorado's Western Slope. Before moving to Colorado, Laura worked as a reporter for Arizona Public Media, a public radio and television station in Tucson. She's also worked at public radio station KJZZ and public television station KAET Arizona PBS in Phoenix. Her work has aired on NPR, the BBC, Marketplace, Harvest Public Media, and on stations across the Rocky Mountain Community Radio network. Laura is an award-winning journalist with work recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Broadcasters Association, and RTDNA. In 2015, she was a fellow for the Institute for Justice & Journalism. Her fellowship project, a three-part series on the Karen refugee community in Delta, Colorado, received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award. Laura also has experience as a radio host, producer, writer, production assistant, videographer, and video editor. She graduated summa cum laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.