Up-lifting news: Sunlight Mountain Resort closes out record season with details on summer events, construction plans

Segundo Lift is scheduled for replacement in 2023

Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort sits quiet after the ski season wrapped up on April 3.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Coming off the mountain with a second season of record-breaking revenues, Sunlight Mountain Resort wrapped up the year with a round of cheers.

“We’re really riding high at the end of this season,” said Troy Hawks, Sunlight’s marketing and sales director. “There are a couple years in the ’90s that go down as our absolute best attended season, but this season was our strongest visitation in the last couple decades.”

Revenue for the resort was up 10% from the previous season, which also set a record for highest earning year in the resort’s history. This season, Hawks reported the resort set another new record for highest revenue in a single day on Feb. 19.

The success flies in the face of later-than-usual early season snows, forcing the resort to delay opening day by nearly a week.

“Last season, our season ran about 114 days, and this year it was only 109,” Hawks said.

Visitation during the Christmas holiday is crucial to the resort’s success, and the lack of snow in early December was concerning.

“Fortunately, the snow came just in time,” Hawks said, explaining the resort received numerous calls about reservation cancellations prior to the snowfall. “Some people did cancel, but as it turned out, our conditions during the Christmas holiday were phenomenal. We got 5 feet of snow in the later half of December.”

Overall, the resort received 161 inches, or about 13-and-a-half feet, of snow this season, he added.

After closing the slopes to the public April 3, Sunlight employees celebrated the season’s end the following day with one last hurrah down the mountain.

“We’re very proud of our employees this season,” Hawks said. “Some of our regular staff really pulled up their boot buckles and put in some overtime to serve our customers during the busiest days.”

With a career spanning more than 30 years, one of Sunlight’s longest-serving employees, Gilbert Loya, finished this season as his last.

“He was so good at what he did, grooming and trail maintenance,” Hawks said. “He’s been a role model for everyone here at the resort. But we’re confident our new employees will carry on his tradition.”

The snow might be melting, but Sunlight Mountain Resort is far from closed for the year.

In June, a triathlon event starting in Carbondale is scheduled to end with a mountain run at the resort. For the third year in a row, Sunlight is slated to host the Total Archery Challenge in July, which is open to the public regardless of participation.

A disc golf tournament is scheduled at Sunlight for Labor Day weekend, and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Kirstie Ennis is scheduled to host a fundraiser at the resort in October.

In their downtime, resort staff are working with an engineering firm to complete a master plan for the resort in preparation of two lift replacements.

The Segundo Lift is scheduled to be replaced during the summer of 2023, and the Primo Lift could be replaced at a later date.

As one of the oldest chair lifts in the state, the Segundo Lift is ready to retire, Hawks said. As luck would have it, a comparable lift recently went on sale at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.

“It was for sale, and the timing was right,” Hawks said. “It was an opportunity knocks type of deal.”

The new lift features benches that can seat three people instead of two, increasing the lift’s capacity from 990 people per hour to 1,200 people per hour.

Crews could start some of the excavation preparation needed for the new Segundo Lift installation this summer, Hawks said.

“All in all, this was a great year, and we’re really looking forward to what we have planned for the coming seasons,” Hawks said.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at

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