Bye bye, Bluebird

Colorado’s latest experiment in self-served, DIY skiing has called it quits. Bluebird Backcountry, located on the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass between Kremmling and Steamboat Springs, announced it was closing after three seasons due to financial woes.

The 1,200-acre ski area, which catered to beginning backcountry skiers, operated on Bear Mountain, on land leased from a private landowner. Despite adding rustic lodging and encouraging car camping, owners say the remote location – 2.5 hours from Denver on a good day – was too far to draw enough customers to keep the skin track open.

“The business hasn’t been profitable,” Jeff Woodward, Bluebird’s co-founder and CEO, told the Denver Post. “We’ve been able to fundraise for it historically, but we haven’t been able to raise money for it this year. The first challenge was that Bear Mountain is far from the Front Range, and a little over 60% of our guests come from the Front Range.

“When we talk to our customers, they absolutely love it. The thing that prevents them from coming more, or coming at all, is just the distance,” he added.

Owners said they believe the lift-less concept was solid but finding an ideal location has proved an uphill slog.

“We’ve not been able to find, or get access to, any new locations closer to population,” Woodward told the Post.

He said for now, owners do not have the funding to devote to finding a new spot. However, they have not given up their powder dream entirely. “If a location were to fall into our laps, we would absolutely follow up on it,” said Woodward. “But for now it’s closing.”

Bluebird opened in 2021 at a different location closer to Kremmling and moved to Bear Mountain two seasons ago. It has drawn more than 19,000 visitors in three years. “It’s pretty sad,” Woodward told the Post. “This is something I still believe the world needs … We do have a ton of great memories of the place, and feel like we were able to accomplish something. We brought 19,000 skiers a ton of joy. We’re really proud of what we built.”

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