When is Bluebird Backcountry open?
We will be open 8:30am to 4:00pm, Thursday-Monday throughout our 20/21 season. We will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Below are our expected opening and closing dates, which are subject to change.
Expected Opening Day: 12/31/2020
Expected Closing Day: 3/28/2021
Where are you located for your 20/21 Season?
For our 20/21 season, we’ll be located at Bear Mountain. It features 1,200 acres of avalanche-evaluated terrain in in-bounds and another 3,000 acres of out-of-bounds skiing that is accessible with a private guide hired through Bluebird Backcountry.
We are located roughly:
- 20 miles north of Kremmling, Colorado
- A one-hour drive north of Silverthorne
- A 2.5-ish hour drive from the Front Range
- A 40-minute drive southeast of Steamboat Springs
What happens if the road closes?
Occasionally extreme weather conditions (avalanche conditions, snow, wind, thaws or similar) may cause Bluebird Backcountry to close the entire mountain for the day. Occasionally CDOT closes Bluebird access highways (Highway 14 between Muddy Pass and Walden and Highway 40 between Kremmling and Steamboat Springs) due to road conditions. Bluebird will issue refunds or credits to guests if the entire mountain is closed or inaccessible for the day.
Unfortunately we cannot issue refunds if the mountain is inaccessible for part of the day, or if Bluebird is accessible from either Kremmling or Steamboat Springs on Highway 40/14.
What are the lodging options nearby?
Bluebird is located between Kremmling and the ski town of Steamboat Springs. If you’re not familiar with the area, Steamboat is a much bigger town, known for the ski area of the same name, and has many lodging options.
Kremmling is a smaller town of around 1,500 people. It has friendly locals and a range of economical lodging options. There are some good options on VRBO in Kremmling and Muddy Creek Cabins offers simple cabins with bathrooms. Hotel Eastin is clean and well kept, but be aware that some rooms share communal bathrooms.
Last but certainly not least, we’ll be allowing camping in the parking lot at Bluebird this year for $25/night. There are no electrical hookups, so this option is really for folks who have a four-season camper van that’s outfitted to withstand really cold temperatures—it gets chilly at Bear Mountain!
Can I stay in my camper van in the parking lot overnight?
Vanlifers rejoice! Most ski areas don’t let you camp in their parking lots overnight… But Bluebird isn’t like most ski areas. This season, we allow overnight parking and camping with access to our portable restrooms. Camping costs $25/night for each vehicle. Temperatures can get very cold at night, so we recommend four-season campers.
Have more camping questions? See our dedicated camping FAQ section.
Passes, Tickets, Lessons
What is the cost of a day pass? Lessons?
Bluebird day passes cost $50.
Lesson pricing depends on which lesson you choose to take—our introductory Backcountry 1 lessons last a half-day and cost $69. Our Backcountry 2 and 3 lessons build on the Backcountry 1 curriculum and last a full day; those cost $79. All current prices for lessons, courses, rentals, and camping can be found here.
*Please note that lesson pricing does not include a day pass, which must be purchased separately.
Do I need to make a reservation if I am a Bluebird Season Pass holder?
Nope! If you are one of our season pass holders, you don’t need to make a reservation to access the mountain! If you plan on renting, camping, or taking a lesson, we recommend reserving in advance.
Do I need to reserve a day pass prior to showing up? When can I do that?
We highly recommend reserving your day passes ahead of time. While we’ll do our best to accommodate walk-ups, there are a limited number of people allowed on the mountain, and we expect days to fill up.
We’ll send an email to the Bluebird Backcountry mailing list when reservations open up. Make sure you’re on our list to stay in the loop!
Can I use passes from my 4-Pack or 10-Pack on the same day? If I purchase a Bluebird+ membership with my 4-Pack or 10-Pack, is it transferable?
4-Packs and 10-Packs are completely transferable. For example, you’re welcome to bring three friends and use all four passes on the same day, come by yourself four times, or bring one friend and both visit twice—it’s up to you!
The Bluebird+ membership is non-transferable and must be used by the same person throughout the season.
How do I claim my discounts as a Bluebird+ member?
Once you purchase or claim your Bluebird+ membership in our reservation system, your discounts will be added automatically.
Will more AIARE courses open up?
View open AIARE courses on our reservation system. We plan to open more courses throughout the season.
How does the GEMS card work?
Does Bluebird Backcountry have a plan for COVID-19?
What happens if the road is closed and I can’t get to Bluebird? What happens if Bluebird closes for the day?
Extreme weather conditions (avalanche conditions, snow, wind, thaws or similar) may cause Bluebird Backcountry to close the entire mountain for the day. Additionally, Bluebird access highways (Highway 14 between Muddy Pass and Walden and Highway 40 between Kremmling and Steamboat Springs) may close due to accidents or road conditions. Bluebird will issue refunds or credits to guests if the entire mountain is closed or inaccessible for the entire day. Unfortunately we cannot issue refunds unless the mountain is closed for the entire day AND/OR the mountain is inaccessible from both Kremmling and Steamboat Springs via Highways US-40 and CO-14 for the entire day.
How many people are allowed on the mountain?
This year, in the interest of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring an awesome guest experience, we’ll limit numbers to 200 people on the mountain per day.
Do I have to wear a beacon?
We require all guests to carry working snow safety gear (beacon, probe, and shovel). Even though Bluebird Backcountry has an avalanche-evaluated area, part of our mission is to instill good backcountry habits—and this is one of them. We check beacons at the gate before allowing guests on the mountain. Beacons must have a battery life of at least 50%. (We’ll have batteries for sale in the lodge!)
I don’t have my own gear. Can I rent it from you?
Absolutely! We know that it’s an expensive commitment to buy backcountry touring gear, especially before you’ve had a chance to try it out. That’s why we rent high-quality equipment from Black Diamond, Dynafit, Weston, and K2 on-site at reasonable rates. We also require that guests be equipped with rescue gear (beacon, probe, shovel). We rent that on-site as well.
Can I snowshoe around Bluebird? Can I use snowshoes to hike uphill at Bluebird rather than skins?
We are currently exploring snowshoe trail options. At this time, guests may use snowshoes in place of skis and skins for uphill travel. We ask that snowshoers avoid using the set skintracks.
We can’t accommodate snowshoe use for other purposes at the moment.
Will there be instructors and guides on site?
Yes! If you’re brand new to backcountry skiing or splitboarding, you can sign up for a Backcountry 1 lesson, where a knowledgeable instructor will show you how to use your gear and give you backcountry pointers. If you’ve got the basics down and are ready to take your skills to the next level, you can take Backcountry 2 or Backcountry 3, or hire a ski guide to show you the best routes and help you hone your skills. Learn more about our lesson offerings on our reservation system.
I don’t have a partner! Can I still come?
Traveling with a partner is a good backcountry habit to get into—but we know it can be tough to find one, especially if you’re new to the backcountry! You’re welcome to show up alone to ski in our avalanche-monitored in-bounds terrain (note that beacons are required regardless of whether you ski with a partner).
We’re also working to set up an online space for people to meet backcountry partners at Bluebird. We’ll be hosting some fun events (with COVID precautions in mind) to meet others that are as enthusiastic about the backcountry as you are!
Can I bring my kids with me to Bluebird Backcountry? Do you have rentals for kids?
Part of our mission at Bluebird is to create a space for guests who want to get into the backcountry—and we know that often includes kiddos! Bluebird welcomes kids but they must be with a guardian at all times. Children 10 and up did seem to have the best experiences.
Our rental fleet includes smaller sizing which may accommodate older children.
Are dogs allowed?
Yes, we love dogs! New, for the 2021-22 season, we allow dogs every weekday (Monday, Thursday, and Friday), with the purchase of a $10 dog pass (Bluebird season pass holders get unlimited, free dog passes).
All dogs should be well behaved, under voice command, and on leash when in the base area. When skiing, dogs are welcome to be off leash.
I’ve never been backcountry skiing or snowboarding. Is Bluebird Backcountry for me?
Absolutely. In fact, Bluebird Backcountry was created with folks like you in mind. We even have a package that includes everything you need to get started: a day pass to access our avalanche-evaluated terrain, an introductory lesson, and backcountry rental equipment. We envision a fun, welcoming place where you can learn touring basics, try out new gear, and meet new partners.
How hard is skiing uphill?
Skiing uphill is challenging! It’s also rewarding. You should be a good skier (able to ski blue or black runs at the resort comfortably) and relatively fit to try backcountry skiing. But you don’t need to be a marathon runner to enjoy it—most anyone who’s fit can give it a try.
I’m an experienced backcountry skier or splitboarder. Is Bluebird Backcountry for me?
Yes! We have 1,200 acres of beautiful in-bounds terrain that’s worth exploring. For more advanced skiers and riders, our 3,000 acres of out-of-bounds terrain, accessible with a professional guide, are also a great option. The Bear Mountain property has everything, from mellow meadows to steep and rugged terrain. Bring a few friends for a unique and fun day of skiing away from the crowded resorts.
Will the skiing be evaluated for avalanches?
Yes. Our team of avalanche professionals assesses the snowpack and conditions daily to make decisions about opening and closing terrain. Much of our in-bounds terrain is that sweet spot: an angle that’s fun to ski, yet has low probability of hazard.
Our patrollers have decades of experience at ski areas like Silverton, Telluride, and Breckenridge and manage risk by being intimately familiar with the terrain and snowpack, ski cutting, running compaction programs, and opening and closing terrain as necessary. For many reasons, we do not throw explosives. However, we assure our guests the same reasonable expectation of safety at Bluebird that they would find at any other ski area.
What about ski patrol?
We have a highly experienced ski patrol team to open and close terrain and respond to medical or other emergencies. We have communication devices and snowmobiles on hand to aid in any emergencies that might arise.
What if I get really cold?
Our instructors are on hand to share backcountry travel tips to prevent you from getting super cold. But we know it can happen! We will have two warming huts on the mountain, as well as a lodge at our base area, so you’ll be able to get a hot drink and warm up during or after your tour.
Will food and drink options be offered on site?
For the 2020/21 season, we’ve partnered with a ton of local brands for tasty on-mountain offerings, including Patter Bars, Umpqua Oats, KeenOne, Wild Barn, Alpine Start, Kate’s Real Food (based just north of us in Wyoming), and The Moose, Kremmling’s #1 stop for breakfast burritos. We’ve also partnered with the Kremmling Mercantile for sourcing goods straight to Kremmling.
We’ve also got a “snack yurt” at the base area, which houses a retro s’mores and provisions booth called Camp Toasted. It’ll have a hot food menu with perfectly backcountry options for breakfast (burritos), lunch (chili), and apres (giant toasted s’mores, and roast-your-own packs). Bonus: Camp Toasted is zero-waste—food is cooked and served in compostable, plant-based wares.
Food & Beverage Operating Hours:
Thursdays • 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Fridays • 8:30–11:00 a.m. + 1:00–3:30 p.m.
Saturdays • 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sundays • 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Mondays • Closed
Potable water is available on site. Guests can refill personal water bottles at the base area as well as at the Perch mid-mountain warming hut.
Are there bathrooms?
Yes, we have portable restrooms on site at the base as well as primitive toilets at the warming huts. However, we do recommend guests come prepared with a waste bag toilet kit.
What if I forget something?
We’ve got you covered. In addition to rentals, we have a small retail shop with various essentials, including snacks and hot drinks, sunglasses, ski straps, hats, gloves, and just about anything else you might need.
I don’t have a 4-season camper. Can I use a tent instead?
While tent camping is allowed, we strongly discourage it. It commonly gets to –20°F overnight here at Bluebird, not including windchill! This is primitive winter camping and there are no indoor facilities accessible overnight.
Do I have access to bathrooms at night?
Campers will have all-night access to our portable toilets in the parking lot.
Do I have access to a potable water source?
During operational hours (8:30 AM to 4:00 PM, Thursday through Monday), campers will have access to our potable water source for drinking. We do not provide potable water sources for showers, etc.
Am I able to run a generator?
Yes. Generators are allowed from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM; we ask that guests keep them off during designated quiet hours overnight. Please note that we do NOT have electrical hookups, however.
Are campfires allowed?
There’s nothing better than a hot s’more and hanging around the campfire after a day in the backcountry! Campers may have campfires in designated fire pits. We do not provide firewood.
Do you provide dumpsters?
We do not have large dumpsters for campers, but we do provide trash cans.
When are quiet hours?
Quiet hours are between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM.
Will there be a camp host?
Yes! Our camp host will be on site at 4pm – 7am during nights we allow camping to answer any further questions you might have.
When can I camp?
We offer camping Thursday through Sunday. Bluebird is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; we do not allow camping on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday nights.
What is a human-powered backcountry ski area… isn’t that an oxymoron?
Bluebird Backcountry aims to blend the best of the backcountry with the best of resorts. We have almost everything you’d expect at a small ski area—a lodge and warming hut, on-site rentals, instructors, and ski patrol to evaluate avalanche terrain and respond to emergencies—but we don’t have any chairlifts. Guests use backcountry touring equipment to hike and skin uphill before transitioning to ski or snowboard back down. It’s a welcoming place to adventure, learn and practice backcountry skills, and meet other people who are also interested in ski touring.
Why are you opening a backcountry ski area?
We believe that a human-powered ski area will accomplish a lot:
- Welcome new backcountry skiers and splitboarders in a more familiar environment
- Serve the demand for backcountry/uphill experiences and ski-resort alternatives
- Create a friendly space for people to try, learn, practice, and hone their skills so they aren’t endangering themselves and others in the true backcountry
- Provide a thoughtful educational bridge into and out of Avy 1 education
- Offer a place for families and more risk-averse skiers to enjoy ski touring
- Provide a gathering place for the backcountry community
Have you tried this anywhere else?
Yes. In addition to our test season at Peak Ranch in 2020, we ran six test days in March and April of 2019. 171 skiers and splitboarders participated at Mosquito Pass (south of Breckenridge, Colorado) and at Winter Park Resort. We collected tons of data and learned some valuable lessons that we applied in a more formal setting last year at Peak Ranch.
Is this legit?
The short answer is Yes! Bluebird Backcountry:
- Has a highly experienced, professional snow safety and ski patrol team
- Is an affiliate member of the National Ski Areas Association
- Is insured by MountainGuard, a major ski-area insurer
- Partners with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center
- Partners with manufacturers Ortovox, Black Diamond, Dynafit, and Weston
- Partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and Winter Park Resort to run test days in 2019
Has been featured in New York Times, Outside Magazine, Adventure Journal, and more.
Is this like Silverton Mountain?
Silverton helped pioneer sidecountry (backcountry-like terrain accessed via chairlift), and they’re a great place to go for “Colorado’s steepest heli & lift-served skiing.” We love skiing at Silverton, and we have a different vision for Bluebird Backcountry:
- A purely human-powered experience
- Plenty of mellow terrain in addition to steeps
- An experience designed around introductory and continuing backcountry education
We are aware of numerous locations in the U.S., Canada, and beyond that provide part (but not all) of the experience we’ve developed for Bluebird Backcountry.
How did Bluebird Backcountry get started?
Co-founder Jeff Woodward realized learning to backcountry ski was unnecessarily difficult when he took his brother, Danny, out for his first day of ski touring in 2016. Jeff soon recruited Erik Lambert and other friends and started working on a better way to introduce people to backcountry skiing. Since then a volunteer planning squad has formed to help concept and execute the idea. You can learn more about our origin story here.
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