Skiers parade down the slopes of Ski Cooper during the annual 10th Mountain Division Ski Down event last March. Ski Cooper canceled all special events for the 2020-2021 season due to COVID-19.

As state and federal agencies continue to urge outdoor, distanced activities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Leadville and Lake County’s winter recreation outlets are preparing for the season while adopting pandemic-safe operation plans.

In an effort to re-open safely, ski resorts across the state and in the county have adapted their services to increase social distance and minimize close-quarters contact.

Ski Cooper has limited their ticket purchasing to strictly online, requiring purchase before arriving. The number of day passes the mountain issues may be limited, though Cooper has not specified how many passes will be issued per day.

Cooper will not offer group ski school lessons or childcare this season, instead turning the buildings typically used for those services into additional dining space.

Cooper is also not offering its Chicago Ridge Snowcat Skiing operations this season in light of the close-quarters contact participants find themselves in during transport.

Season passes are available, and, in the event of a mandated closure during the season, buyers may have some or all of their purchase price applied to the cost of a pass next year, according to information on Ski Cooper’s website.

Despite the changes, the resort plans to stay open throughout the season and will feature several new food and beverage outlets including an outdoor grill, a pizzeria at Katie O’Rourke’s and takeout options at the Base Camp Cafeteria.

In Summit County, Copper Mountain has shifted to a reservation-based parking system to regulate the number of people that can access the mountain each day. As of Nov. 9, guests can reserve up to seven reservation days in advance, and continue to book days once the season begins on Nov. 30.

Though Copper is limiting day passes, the resort is expanding its lodging options with a new 127-room hotel to be opened by the end of this year.

In addition to downhill resorts, several local organizations are continuing their cross-country skiing operations as in years past.

The Mount Massive Golf Course will again offer its 17 kilometers of groomed Nordic track this season, and the Mineral Belt Trail’s 18-kilometer-long loop will be groomed as in years past.

In addition to these two tracks, the Timberline single-track trail system Colorado Mountain College will continue to allow for fat biking and cross-country skiing.

As for longer cross-country and backcountry trips, the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association is still offering its ski-in huts throughout the season with some modifications.

Groups must make reservations online or by phone as in years past, and occupancy will be limited to one group per hut. Guests are being asked to thoroughly clean the huts during and after their stay, and are also being encouraged to provide their own bedding.

As the season progresses, these practices are subject to change as people and organizations adapt to current conditions under the pandemic. Consult local public health orders or the organizations themselves for the most up-to-date information.

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