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With walk-up lift ticket rates surpassing the $200 threshold this winter, historic Howelsen Hill and its Ski Free Sundays, which provided nearly 10,000 free lift tickets during the season, continues to carve out a reputation as one of the most affordable ski areas in the industry.
“After 100 years, Howelsen Hill is still sharing the sport with generations of winter enthusiasts and snow lovers at extremely inexpensive levels,” said Howelsen Ski and Rodeo Complex Manager Brad Setter. “Ski Free Sundays quickly became one of Steamboat Springs’ favorite winter weekend activities and the enthusiasm for the free program was shared by residents and visitors from near and far.”
This past winter, Ski Free Sundays saw 9,594 participants enjoy complimentary access to the Alpine and Nordic trails during Howelsen Hill’s 103rd winter season. The program averaged 640 people per Sunday, with December 30 over the New Year’s Eve weekend setting a new single day record with 1,170. Over the entire season, 8,960 Alpine and 634 Nordic tickets were issued including 1,021 to individuals within their first year in the sport.
Combined results from the season show residents from the City of Steamboat Springs came out in the largest numbers (37%), followed by Other Colorado (23%) and Out of State (18%). It should be noted that valley-wide visitation (South Routt to North Routt and west to Hayden and Craig) measured 21% when tabulated together; and reached 58% when combined with Steamboat Springs.
Due to incredible early season snowmaking and natural snow, Ski Free Sundays started two weeks early and provided 15 Sundays of free skiing at North America’s Oldest Operating Ski Area. The program has evolved from initially offering three days (972 tickets) in 2015/16; to four days (2,038 tickets) in 2016/17; to 13 days (8,016 tickets) during 2017/18; to this season’s 15 days (9,594 tickets). The Ski Free Sunday totals do not include free skiing at Howelsen Hill during the Wednesday through Saturday of Winter Carnival.
“We can’t thank the community enough for coming out and spending their Sundays with us,” continued Setter. “As we look to the future of Ski Free Sunday, we are committed to maintaining the community atmosphere but also integrating additional community partners to energize these special days.”
Owned and operated by the City of Steamboat Springs, Howelsen Hill, has served as a community gathering place for more than a century. Howelsen staff put a new twist on Ski Free Sunday this past March showcasing how partnerships on specific days could further share the Yampa Valley spirit, build vibrancy and enhance the overall experience. Sunday Funday was a large success and featured live music, a beer garden by Mountain Tap, exclusive ski area merchandise from Ohana and free demos from Harvest Skis.
The Steamboat Springs City Council approved free skiing on Sundays to spur interest in the city’s crown jewel park, Howelsen Hill. Ski Free Sundays goes before City Council on April 16, 2019 when the 2019/2020 calendar is discussed.
ContactBrad Setter, Howelsen Ski and Rodeo Complex Manager, 970.871.7035 or emailEmily Hines, Marketing & Special Events Coordinator, 970.871.7031 or email