When the stars are out, so are riders at the handful of Colorado resorts that offer night skiing

KEYSTONE — Three hours after dark fell on Summit County during a vigorous January snowstorm, most skiers and riders were wrapping up runs in 3 to 4 inches of freshies under flurries that shimmered in the slope-side lights. Near the bottom of the mountain that boasts Colorado’s largest night-skiing operation, Dillon residents Ryan and Jessica Grafmiller were finishing off their last run with their 4-year-old daughter, Olivia.

It was Olivia’s first time skiing without Edgie Wedgies attached to her tips to assist her in holding the pizza position, and she made it top to bottom — all 2,200 feet of Keystone’s vertical drop — on the 3.5-mile Schoolmarm run.

“She did awesome, we’re proud of her,” Ryan said. “That’s a lot of vertical feet to ski on those little legs.”

It was one snapshot in a gallery of scenes. Night skiing may not be as popular among Colorado skiers as it is for their counterparts in the Northeast or Midwest, but those who took advantage of it along with the Grafmillers Wednesday night were enthusiastic about it.

“I love night skiing because I work Monday through Friday during the day,” Jessica said. “I would much prefer to be out in the evenings on the weekdays than be out on the weekend.”

Keystone and Steamboat are the only major Colorado resorts that offer night skiing, although Purgatory is offering it this season for the first time in many years because its tiny sister ski area, Hesperus, has been unable to open due to lack of snow. Steamboat began offering night skiing four years ago.

Keystone installed lights in 1985 when the Summit County ski areas had different owners. It was a way to differentiate Keystone from rivals Breckenridge and Copper Mountain, and it still serves that purpose in an era when Keystone and Breck are part of the Vail Resorts empire. Keystone is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We have the longest ski day in Colorado,” Keystone spokesman Russell Carlton said. “It adds value to the experience for local guests and destination guests. For our local guests, it’s included on their season (Epic) passes. If they are working and it’s a day like today when it doesn’t start snowing until noon or 2, they can get out of work and get some runs in.”

It also can be a sweetener for Front Range weekend warriors, allowing them to avoid the aggravation of peak traffic on Interstate 70

Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle

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