Eldora Ski Area solicited public input during two recent public meetings in Boulder and Nederland regarding its proposed expansion. The 680-acre ski area hopes to expand its intermediate ski terrain, upgrade existing lifts and facilities and thwart blustering winds that often close the resort’s 12 lifts.
Eldora’s 2011 Master Development Plan — which was accepted for further review by the Forest Service in March 2011 — calls for adjusting the area’s permitted boundary, adding about 90 acres of new terrain, replacing five fixed-grip lifts with four detachable chairlifts and adding three new high-speed, six-person detachable chairlifts.
At a recent informal scoping meeting in Nederland’s community center Eldora leaders joined Forest Service officials and consultants with ski-area design firm SE Group in sharing the details of the expansion plan.
There were supporters of the plan — skiers who frequent Eldora and seemed eager for improvements — and opponents, particularly those concerned about the proposed expansion to the edge of Middle Boulder Creek.
The roughly 67-acre expansion to the valley floor would have happened years ago when the Indian Peaks and Corona chairlifts were first installed, but the land below the lifts was privately held. A late-1990s federal land swap that converted the land back to national forest opened the opportunity to expand a chairlift down to the valley.
The proposed Placer chair — a 3,075-foot six-pack chair that would add 375 vertical feet to the advanced and expert terrain on Eldora’s backside — is the basis for most of the opposition.
Eldora joins Monarch ski area and potentially Wolf Creek in proposing relatively rare permit-boundary expansions. Like Monarch, Eldora has seen surging visitation. Eldora’s 10-year average for visits is 271,000, up from 170,000 in the previous decade. Last season, the community ski area, which offers no lodging, saw record visitation despite a statewide and national downturn. The proposed upgrades and expansion would boost Eldora’s capacity from 4,250 visitors a day to 5,650.
Adding more people is not the focus of the growth-and-upgrade plan, which would add 88 acres of trails to the area’s 188 acres of developed trails and 23 acres of glade skiing on public and private land.
To see the proposed expansion plans, click here.