A great place for the well-heeled to learn to ski, Beaver Creek has excellent nursery slopes at Strawberry Park right next to the resort base and served by their own gondola lift! It sounds much nicer than a wind-blasted rope tow in sub-zero Aviemore! There are more nursery slopes higher up the mountain and plenty of gentle runs to progress on to. The ski school is, of course, excellent, and the dignified atmosphere of Beaver creek makes the whole experience less intimidating.
Although Beaver Creek’s image as a rather small, exclusive, luxury resort is correct, this may give the impression that its ski area is limited in scale too – which isn’t true. Although the 1,800 acres doesn’t put it in the US big league, the 4,000ft/1,200m plus vertical certainly does, and the area packs in more than 100 easy and intermediate trails up to 2.75 miles long (that’s the centennial trail). There are runs of all types and standards and you can get back up the mountain with ease on one off the dozen high speed quads or gondolas which make lift queues a rarity.
To get insider tips on the best places to ski during your stay, the resort offers free ‘Welcome Tours’ at 10am daily during most of the season, for intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders that want to get orientated quickly. You can also sign up for environmental education ski tours led by a US Forest Service volunteer based in the resort’s Environmental Learning Center on the mountain, when you’ll learn about the mountain’s ecology, wildlife, area history and forest management in the surrounding White River National Forest.
Beaver Creek has plenty of serious terrain including more than 24,000 vertical feet of black Diamond and Double-Black Diamond runs including the resort’s famous World Cup Birds of Prey downhill course, Grouse Mountain and the flanks of Larkspur Bowl. Indeed it takes its tougher terrain so seriously it has even launched a micro-site dedicated to it – http://www.Beavercreekextreme.com.
The resort has given its toughest runs an “EX” rating meaning they are, “designated extreme terrain.” They’re to be found in the Stone Creek Chutes, steep tree runs in Royal Elk Glade, 13 black and double black diamond runs that encompass Talon’s Challenge. On the mountain you’ll find these areas marked with BC/EX flags which indicate the terrain is open.
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
As well as the great mix of terrain that will appeal to all levels of snowboarder as much as it does skiers, there are three terrain parks at Beaver Creek designed for progression from beginner through intermediate to advanced ability level.
The entry level Park 101 is located at the top of Cinch Express (Chair 8) complete with small boxes, rails and jumps for beginner riders. The mid-level Zoom Room park at the top of the Cinch Express lift number 8 has a 20-30 foot (7-10m) jump and mid-sized boxes, rails and log-slides. The advanced level parks, The Rodeo, has full scale terrain features and is located below The Lumber Yard, which keeps expanding each season and has lots of big log features to tackle before hitting the resort’s half pipe further down the mountain. All are accessed from the top of Centennial Express lift number six
Beaver Creek Ski School (which resolutely refuses to change its name to ‘Ski AND Snowboard School’ or ‘Snow School’ as almost all other resorts have)(+1 (970) 754 5464) offers a wide variety of snowboarding tuition including ‘Parkology’ which teaches all levels of park and pipe skills. On the wider ski area the high speed chair and gondola lift network makes getting around the mountain easy.
There are 32km of pristine cross country ski trails at McCoy Park, which is linked to the resort via the Strawberry Park Express Chairlift. About 7km of this is beginner graded terrain with the remaining 25km divided evenly between intermediate and advanced level trails.
The Beaver Creek Nordic Center (+1 (970) 845 5313) rents out the required gear, and organises guided tours and lessons.
Average Snow And Weather Conditions
It’s almost unheard of for Beaver Creek to have snow cover problems. The ski area is among the world’s highest and the resort receives an average of 311 inches (over eight metres) of natural snowfall each winter, while snowmaking covers 650 acres of key terrain, a little more than a third of the total. Vail Resorts also invests in cloud-seeding technology, a scientific technique designed to actually make it snow more than it would do otherwise.
Despite all the snowfall Beaver Creek manages 275 sunny days annually. Average winter temperatures are 45F (7C) in the daytime and 30F (-1C) at night – obviously it's colder than that in mid-winter and warmer at the end of the season in March and early April.