Lift Ticket Prices At Colorado’s Oldest Ski Hill Could Head For A Steep Drop-Off

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Photo: Howelsen Hill - Courtesy City of Steamboat
Howelsen Hill ski area is part of a city-owned park in the heart of Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Update 10.26.2017: The Steamboat City Council has rejected the $1 lift ticket proposal for Howelsen Hill. Our original story continues below

A $1 lift ticket? Skiers who suffer sticker shock at the rising cost of daily passes at many ski areas might pinch themselves at the very idea. But a small, historic ski area in the heart of Steamboat Springs is seriously considering this pocket-change lift-ticket price.

The Steamboat Springs City Council will vote Oct. 24 on a proposal to make lift tickets at Howelsen Hill $1 a day, about $144 cheaper than nearby Steamboat Springs Resort. But that bargain-basement rate may only apply to residents from Routt County and nearby Moffat County.

Steamboat officials hope this reverse sticker-shock measure may renew locals' appreciation for a 400-acre ski area that has operated since 1915 and has served as a hardcore training ground for 88 Olympic skiers as well as a bunny hill for wee sliders.

"We are Ski Town USA," City Council President Walter Magill told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. "And I think we have to embrace that again as a community. It might be just an expense the city has to pick up."

Local support for the hill will be especially important next year, when city officials plan to ask voters to help pay for a new $3 million chairlift.

"I don't think the community is ready to embrace that chairlift if they aren't going to use the hill," Magill said.

The city is also planning to spend $750,000 on snow-making equipment. Howelsen's operating expenses make up about 3 percent of the city's budget, Magill said.

Magill's proposal received positive feedback from other city councilors. But not everybody is on board. The local newspaper's editorial board recently called the idea a "gimmick."