Midvalley’s Kodiak Ski Lake a true diamond in the rough
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
EL JEBEL, Colorado – Tucked snugly behind a wall of trees just off Highway 82 in El Jebel sits one of the Roaring Fork Valley’s better-kept secrets – Kodiak Ski Lake.
The brainchild of valley developer Ace Lane is one of just a handful of private water ski lakes in western Colorado.
“I’d heard of a guy in California who’d done something similar to this,” said Lane, sitting lakeside on a warm summer afternoon. “I thought there would be a fun need to do something like this in the valley. A lot of people wanted this activity, so we worked on it.”
After a two-year hunt for the perfect parcel of land, the digging began. What Lane eventually stumbled upon was a 203-acre diamond in the rough.
“I was looking for property where I could grow trees and build a ski lake,” relayed Lane, who also operates Wind River Trees, a landscape architecture company, on the property. “About 22 years ago, I started looking. … This was before City Market, before Willits. There was nothing here, you know. I was very fortunate to grab it. It was affordable.”
With affordability came challenges.
“Well, it was a wreck,” Lane said. “It was a serious wreck. That’s probably why it was a deal. It had been a potato farm, I think in the late 1800s through the ’40s. Then Idaho got discovered for growing potatoes, so they started raising cattle here.”
Lane spun his vision – and his rugged chunk of real estate – into quite the venture. The waters in the long, narrow lake have yet to sit idle.
Lane’s approach varies from that of many private ski lakes. He sells two-hour blocks of time to his members.
“I tried to come up with a model that’d allow people to come and essentially own the lake for a couple hours,” said Lane, who estimates that roughly 5,000 people a year ski at Kodiak. “They can bring some friends, have some lunch and use the lake as much as they want in that two-hour time.”
How members utilize their block of time varies.
Some train on the lake’s slalom course, carving out walls of water in their wake as they maneuver around a line of brightly colored buoys. Others tow a wakeboard. Some even ski barefoot.
All have the option of using the lake’s club boats, which hitch to a dock beside a sandy beach often occupied by playful youngsters.
“Having the boats in the water is great,” said Aspenite Mark Patterson, one of Kodiak Ski Lake’s 35 or so members. “There’s no trailer and doing all that stuff.”
For all its use, there are still quite a few in the valley who have no idea the lake exists. Obscured by trees, Kodiak sits directly across Highway 82 from the El Jebel City Market.
“It’s just kind of stuck here, unless you know it’s here. Where else do you get this backdrop?” longtime Kodiak member Dean Engle said, motioning toward the lake’s mountainous setting. “You’ve got Sopris over here through the trees. Ace has done a great job making this.”
“I know people who have been here the whole time it’s been here and they have never seen it,” Patterson passed along.
Those who are in the know seem to treasure their hidden little lake, just as Lane envisioned they would when he started digging some 20 years ago.
“It’s nice to have a business that people have a lot of fun with,” he said. “It’s not a necessity, but it’s something that makes their life better. That’s a nice thing. It’s definitely different than other businesses in that respect.”
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