Remember When: Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Estes Park [PHOTOS]
If you've moved the Colorado in only the last 25 years, you probably only know of major, far-away ski slopes like Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Vail, etc. There's always Eldora, but that's still a bit of a drive for some Northern Coloradans. If you've lived in Colorado for over 25 years, you might remember that Estes Park used to have its own ski resort.
Hidden Valley, or Ski Estes Park, opened for business in 1955 along Trail Ridge Road, though the area was skied by area residents before lifts were ever installed. Run by the Estes Park Recreation District and backed by local businesses, it was eventually bought out by the Park Service with intentions of shutting down ski operations. The double chair was removed in 1977, and the park closed for good in 1991. Nature has taken over, though backcountry skiers still 'shred' the slopes sans chair lifts.
When Hidden Valley was still open, it had a lodge with a cafeteria, ski patrol room, and restrooms. Since the park's closure, all original buildings have been torn down and replaced with new facilities for public restrooms, a warming hut and ranger office, new parking area, access road, and picnic pavilion. Some of the original buildings' materials were used in the construction of these new facilities.
Some Northern Colorado residents shared their memories of Hidden Valley on ColoradoSkiHistory.com, including Scott, who would drive less than an hour to ski Estes Park almost every weekend.
"I grew up in Loveland, and learned to ski at Hidden Valley," he wrote. "It was only a 30 minute drive and we were there nearly every weekend. The bus ride to the upper portion was quite a trip; I'm not sure the buses were ever quite roadworthy but seemed to work. The upper area had some great tree areas. The T-bar would burn up your legs quickly. And the run down to the bottom was always fun. My brother and I raced from the top to bottom countless times."
Hidden Valley was also the perfect family reunion spot, and also the place where everyone had you in their best interests.
"I learned to ski at hidden Valley in the early 1970s when my family would drive from Dallas to spend the holidays in the cabins at the YMCA encampment," wrote Andrew C. "My fondest memories include the annual battle with my arch-nemesis, the T-bar, and being ferried down the mountain on the shoulders of my ski instructor needing to pee urgently. That was one brave guy."
Do you remember skiing at Hidden Valley? I'd love to hear your memories. Feel free to shoot me an email. Also, remember Electric Stampede and Fort Ram? These are the 7 bars you (or your parents) partied at back in the day.