BOULDER — Faced with parking lots that regularly fill up on weekends, Eldora Mountain Resort is seeking approval from Boulder County to expand its parking capacity nearly 50% for next season.
At a county planning commission meeting on Wednesday, resort officials submitted a proposal to add 795 spaces to the existing 1,600. The planning commission unanimously recommended approval, sending the issue to the county commission. If approved, construction would take place over the summer.
Frequently on weekends this season, Eldora has tweeted about full parking lots, sometimes turning away 800 to 1,000 cars. On occasion, cars were staged at nearby Nederland High School, waiting for spots at Eldora to open up.
“There’s a lot of contributing factors,” said Sam Bass, Eldora’s director of marketing. ”In lockstep with the population increase in the Front Range, as everyone moves here and wants to engage in Colorado’s signature winter sport, we’ve gotten busier and busier. And, as frustration has grown with I-70 and people look to us as an alternative, we’ve gotten busier and busier.”
There are other reasons for Eldora’s increasing popularity, including investments made by Powdr Corp., which acquired the resort in 2016. The following year, a new high-speed six-person chairlift rising out of the base area replaced a slow double and a slow triple that dated back to the 1970s.
“There’s been a lot of investment under Powdr, and people are noticing,” Bass said. “The new chairlift has been a big improvement, facilities are being upgraded, the menu is being improved, bathrooms have been renovated. … With all of these investments, it’s certainly put us on the radar. Rather than just being a convenient resort to get to, we’ve got some nice amenities to offer as well — thanks to Powdr.”
Eldora knows expanding the parking lots isn’t the only solution. The resort has been giving away free round-trip RTD tickets on weekends at the downtown Boulder Station. In addition, Eldora rents parking spaces at the Boulder Justice Center on weekends and runs shuttles between there and the resort, filling gaps in the RTD schedule.
“We certainly don’t see the parking lot as a silver-bullet panacea,” Bass said. “We’ve been working with (the county) for three or four years on what they like to call multi-modal solutions.”