Words by Darin Evangelista
So you and your closest buddies are road tripping to Colorado for a week of gnar hunting. Maybe you’re from the Midwest and Colorado was as far west as you could make it. Maybe you want to buy your weed from the store, the legit way. Maybe your friends don’t spend enough time on Yobeat to know Summit County is too chyll to be cool. Maybe you’ve never been surrounded by Saga or CandyGrind and want to know what it’s like. No matter the reason, you’re going to need help if you want to make it out alive. Here are 7 tips on how to survive in Summit County, Colorado.
1. Stay in Denver
Before you head up to the high country in search of parks and powder, spend a night in Colorado’s capitol city. Everything in Summit County is going to be more expensive than in Denver, so stock up on groceries and ganja (still illegal to buy in some mountain towns). At the end of your trip, it is important to spend a night in the city on your way out of the Rockies; this will help ease you back into the reality and remind you what it’s like to be around real people as opposed to resort folk.
2. Avoid Weekends and Holidays
Everyone in Colorado knows the weekend traffic on I-70 and Highway 6 can really suck. Try to plan your trip so you’re in Summit during the weekday. Be especially wary around Christmas and Spring Break, the last place you want to find yourself is stuck in a crowd of CU-Boulder kids on break. On that note, avoid anyone with Buffalo affiliations like the plague, their trust-funded stoner attitude can be a major buzz kill to your vacation.
3.Visit Late in the season
An even better way to avoid the crowds is to visit after your local resort has closed for the season. Many Colorado resorts stay open well into April and May; Arapahoe Basin is usually open until June or even July. None of the weekend warriors from the front range will be driving up to the slopes when it’s 76 degrees and sunny in the city. You may not be able to hit the pow you’ve been dreaming about (you might if you’re lucky), but there is something special about riding a slushy park in a hooded sweatshirt. The parking lot parties are also much more fun in the springtime.
They get a lot of hate, but it is undeniable that Vail and the rest of the Vail Resorts are home to some of the best terrain in Colorado. Despite this, there are plenty other resorts out there, most of which will be cheaper, less crowded and less kooky. If you must go to Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge etc., Rule #2 is a must. Also remember to buy your lift tickets in advance to save some extra cash. I won’t suggest any resorts because then you might actually go there.
5. Sleep on the Floor
This is pretty much a necessity for any snowboard trip, but even more so in the #1 ski destination in the United States. Unless you have a friend’s couch to surf on, staying in Summit County is expensive. Get a cheap hotel/condo/cabin and cram as many people as possible into that sucker. From my experience, a one bedroom condo can fit around ten people.
6. Go with heavily tinted lenses
You’re going to want to use a goggle lens that is low on the VLT (Visible Light Transmission) spectrum, meaning a darker tint. This will help for two reasons; first, Summit County gets an average of 245 sunny days a year, and at 10,000+ feet those UV rays are killers. Second, a dark lens will soften the brightly colored outfits of the Summit County Fashion Show. So unless you want to be blinded by neon and fluorescent outerwear everywhere you turn, this is a must.
7. Wear headphones
I personally hate wearing headphones while riding, but if you’re one of those assholes, pay attention: Similar to #6, wearing headphones will help drowned out the aural stimuli on the mountain. Lift operators in Colorado love blasting Bassnectar as loud as possible, so if that’s not your thing you are going to want your Neil Young, Slayer or whatever the fuck close by. This also helps avoid any unwanted chairlift discussions with curious vacationers.
And there you have it, the keys to survival in Summit County. Scummit gets a lot of hate because of the serious “douche vibe,” but if you can avoid the crowds and tolerate the dubstep, you’ll have unrivaled access to some of the best parks and powder this great country has to offer. Now, let the hate commence.