Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
If you’re one of the many skiers whose backcountry curiosity was piqued by the pandemic, you now have even more terrain on which to learn a new craft. Bluebird Backcountry, the only dedicated backcountry resort in the U.S., is undergoing a significant terrain expansion for the upcoming winter season. The northern Colorado ski area will add four uphill skin tracks and 12 new downhill trails in time for its projected December opening.
Bluebird Backcountry is heading into its third season this winter, and its second on the flanks of Bear Mountain, almost 30 miles southeast of Steamboat Springs. The ski area’s current 1,200 patrolled and avalanche-controlled acres comprise mostly intermediate and expert runs, with another 3,000 acres of guided-only terrain that includes extreme terrain off the summit of Bear Mountain as well as expert glades off of nearby Diamond Peak. The new terrain adds a healthy mix of everything, from more low-angle greens and blues to gullies, couloirs, steeps, and other extreme features. Overall, the new runs bump the total trails from 13 to 25.
“We’re skiers and splitboarders, and we love to explore,” says Bluebird Backcountry cofounder Jeff Woodward. “We skied every square foot of the mountain last year and put the new trails in the spots with the best snow and most fun terrain.”
The new expert terrain will be a big draw for returning Bluebird skiers and season pass holders, but the resort’s real lure lies in its unique ability to safely broaden backcountry skiing’s reach with on-site rentals, clinics, and certification courses. This season the ski area adds education memberships—packaged courses with options for beginners through advanced backcountry skiers—plus dedicated clinics for advanced skiers including backcountry travel planning and ski mountaineering. The ski area is also rolling out an Avy Refresher course designed to be taken annually to keep your avalanche rescue skills at the fore.
Also Read: Affordable Backcountry Gear That Isn’t Cheap
Also new for the coming season is two days at Arapahoe Basin included on every Bluebird Backcountry season pass. To reciprocate, Arapahoe Basin pass holders get two free tickets to explore Bluebird’s terrain on any Monday, Thursday, or Friday throughout the season. What’s more, backcountry skiers can now also bring their dogs along on the skin track on any weekday all winter.
Season passes are still on sale starting at $249; all of the different price and access options are here.