Winter Park, Colorado has announced two snowcat programs for the upcoming winter season aimed at different skill levels. Travelers may either take a hike along Winter Park Resort's trails without skis or snowboard, or access backcountry trails to fresh tracks in Winter Park's wilderness, both via snowcat.
Winter Park Resort offers a sightseeing snowcat tour of Winter Park Mountain in a heated, 13-passenger machine. The two-hour tours are offered twice a day during the week and three times a day on weekends, including Fridays. Tickets are $49 per person, with children under three riding for free as long as they can sit on an adult’s lap. (Reservations recommended: 970-726-1616.) Private groups can reserve an entire snowcat for two hours for $539. There’s also a private sunset tour available for $499.
During the tour the snowcat travels across many of the resort’s prime ski trails.
“The great thing about our snowcat tours is that it gives people who aren’t into skiing or snowboarding the same access to the mountain that the rest of their group experiences,” says Steve Hurlbert, PR and communications manager at Winter Park Resort.
Participants are encouraged to dress for winter weather. Snow shoes, a jacket, gloves, a hat and sunglasses are all appropriate.
Powder Addiction offers a backcountry experience, with snowcat skiing and riding through high alpine bowls, meadows, rock bands, open chutes and gullies. Certified, highly experienced mountain guides accompany guests to ensure safety. Powder Addiction operates in the Jones Pass Area, less than an hour from Denver, with an exclusive special-use permit through 2,600 acres of national forest land.
“Most people don’t realize that there is such great ‘big mountain skiing’ this close to Denver,” says Jennifer Harper, co-owner of Powder Addiction. “While cat skiing appeals to extremists, it is accessible for intermediate to advanced skiers. We just ask that people be completely honest about their ability level so our guides can create a customized experience that is just right for them.”
All of Powder Addiction’s trips include transportation to-and-from Winter Park, Liberty powder demo skis, avalanche safety gear, lunch, and a photographer. The heated snowcat holds 12 guests. Groups typically average seven to 12 runs per day, accessing 8,000 to 14,000 vertical feet. The cost is $350 per person during the low season (Dec. 1-Jan. 4) and $400 per person during the high season (Jan. 5-March 27). Private groups can reserve the entire cat for $4,000 per day. If conditions are favorable the trips will start earlier in December and extend later into the spring.