Bluebird Backcountry offers avalanche-controlled backcountry terrain; photo by Scott Cody

Bluebird Backcountry Skiing: Earn Your Turns in the Comfort of a Resort

If the idea of backcountry skiing this winter appeals, but you don’t have the skills or want to avoid crowds, buy your pass now for Bluebird Backcountry, Colorado’s first backcountry ski area.

Bluebird Backcountry is a 1,200-acre resort about 30 minutes from Steamboat Springs. But it doesn’t have any lifts. The earn-your-turns ski area will cap skiers and riders at 200 per day to keep social distancing and solitude intact.

But while you have to climb under your own power, it’s still more cush than true backcountry skiing. At Bluebird, guests get traditional ski area amenities. These include uphill rentals, warming huts, bathrooms, a ski patrol, and marked, avalanche-assessed terrain. Bluebird also offers skills clinics and snow safety courses to educate guests.

9 © Bluebird Backcountry _ Doug McLennan

Bluebird Backcountry 2020 Ski Season

The resort launched last winter after raising $100,000 on Kickstarter. As proof of concept, it ran a 2-week test last season. It was a huge success. This season, Bluebird Backcountry will move operations 4 miles northwest to Bear Mountain. The location on the Continental Divide near Rabbit Ears Pass claims more space and better snow.

“Our new location at Bear Mountain not only receives 45% more snow annually, but it’s also huge, allowing our guests to have an uncrowded, powder-filled backcountry adventure,” said Jeff Woodward, co-founder and CEO.

Bluebird’s terrain covers 1,200 acres, with another 1,800 acres accessible with a guide. For comparison, A-Basin, near Keystone, Colorado, has 1,428 skiable acres. Off the mountain, Bluebird Backcountry will offer slopeside camping and food trucks.

Backcountry Ski Resort: A Safer Place to Learn

If you’re new to the sport, Bluebird’s human-powered ski or ride lessons begin with the absolute basics of backcountry use. These cover proper gear, movement, skills, etiquette, and Leave No Trace principles. Advanced skiers and riders can register for AIARE snow safety courses and earn snow safety certifications.

6 © Bluebird Backcountry _ Erik Lambert.jpg

“We expect backcountry use and demand for avalanche education to be at an all-time high this year,” said Vickie Hormuth, executive director of AIARE.

“Recreationists of all abilities and backcountry experience levels will be looking for uncrowded places to play, making education more important than ever. Bluebird Backcountry is filling a much-needed gap to help resort skiers transition properly by learning both backcountry and avalanche essentials in a comfortable environment.

“Bluebird’s model is the future of inbounds backcountry learning, and we are proud to partner with them to provide top-notch, forward-thinking avalanche education.”

Buy a season pass for unlimited access, no reservations required. Early bird pricing ($299) starts today. Day passes and multiday passes are limited and require reservations. Operations will run Thursday through Monday. Bluebird offers camping Thursday nights through Sunday nights.