How to stay safe while enjoying your favorite ski areas this winter
Ski areas offer a safe and controlled environment for us to get outside and enjoy our favorite winter activities; however, things are a little different this winter. Many ski areas are working hard to stay open in light of the COVID pandemic, and are required by county and state government officials to follow strict new protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of their guests.
In reality, the new COVID protocols are not difficult to navigate. A little planning and preparation will help guarantee a good time on the slopes, and provide a nice escape from the indoors. Whether you’ve already visited your local ski hill or are planning a winter trip, these tips will help you make the most of your next ski day.
TIP #1: KEEP IT LOCAL
Travel restrictions imposed by different states and countries have made travel complex and difficult. Rather than spending time trying to navigate rules and regulations, use your time to reconnect with the local ski areas.
Still want the feeling of an authentic ski vacation? Plan a “staycation” instead, and rent a place for a couple of nights at a local ski resort or somewhere close by.
TIP #2: EDUCATE YOURSELF ON NEW PROCEDURES
Many ski areas and resorts have had to operate with new COVID restrictions in place. Ahead of your trip, visit the ski area website and educate yourself on their new procedures. Plan accordingly, and expect the experience to differ from visits in past years. If planning to visit a ski resort in Colorado, Colorado Ski Country USA has compiled a list of important information that you need to know prior to your visit. Many of the key points they discuss are valuable for ski areas outside of Colorado as well.
TIP #3: WEAR A MASK
By this time in the age of COVID, most of us should own at least one, reusable mask. For skiers and snowboarders, many of us were already wearing some sort of face covering before the pandemic hit. Think back to those coldy, windy days when our faces needed protection from the elements. Chances are, the face covering you were using then will work for this season’s mask requirement as well.
While not the best option for protection from the virus, neck gaiters are approved at most ski areas as an appropriate mask choice. Stay away from masks with holes in them, as these are not recommended and some areas will not allow you to load the lift with this kind of mask on.
TIP #4: PLAN YOUR VISIT DURING SLOW PERIODS
Many ski areas are limiting the number of guests they can have at any given time. Some have implemented some kind of reservation system; for example, Epic Pass resorts require pass holders to make a reservation in advance. Other ski areas such as Copper Mountain are using a parking reservation system.
To ensure that you are able to get on the mountain at places with capacity limits and reservation systems in place, plan your trip outside of the busy weekend and holiday periods. Midweek trips are best, and will help to secure your ski getaway. Plus, the slopes are less crowded during these times.
TIP #5: USE YOUR VEHICLE AS HOME BASE
Indoor capacity limits are another important factor to keep in mind. Many ski areas are offering limited indoor dining and limited access to lockers and other common indoor spaces. This season, plan to spend more time at your vehicle. Pack a couple extra layers and a lunch, and when you’re ready for a ski or ride break, head to the lots to warm up and grab a bite to eat.
The most important thing to remember here is that ski areas have never had to operate through a pandemic of this size. As we learn to adhere to new protocols set in place, it’s important to practice patience with the ski area and their employees as they work to figure out the best way to keep everyone safe during this time. We’re all here to ski and ride; let’s do our part to help keep the ski areas we love open by following the new COVID protocols.