LEADVILLE, Colo. — The U.S. Forest Service's Ski with a Ranger program will return to Ski Cooper this year, with free, family friendly tours every Sunday until the end of March.
The program was established by the Pike-San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands Leadville Ranger District, which partners with Ski Cooper.
Visitors to Ski Cooper can enjoy the hourlong interpretive ski and snowboard tour, which depart at 1 p.m. each Sunday from the base of the 10th Mountain double chairlift as weather conditions allow.
Rangers — on skis or a snowboard — lead the tours as participants wind their way down the snowy slopes from 10,500 feet. The guides will cover a multitude of topics, including winter ecology, the U.S. Forest Service's role in ski area management, and cover cultural and natural history from a local perspective. In some cases, specialists will join the tour to discuss information in more depth. In the past, they have included wildlife biologists, archeologists and wilderness rangers.
Kate DeMorest coordinates the Ski with a Ranger Program for the Pike-San Isabel National Forests.
“When you join in on a Ski with a Ranger tour, you’ll learn about the partnership between Ski Cooper and the Forest Service to share in the responsibility of supporting recreation opportunities on public lands, maintaining wildlife habitat, and protecting our forests’ ecosystems,” she said. “We offer the unique opportunity to ski/ride alongside forest rangers who are happy to share their knowledge of the area, answer questions, and of course – encourage visitors to take in views of the Continental Divide, Camp Hale, and the state’s two tallest mountains, Mount Elbert and Mount Massive.”
The program is free, open to people of all ages and abilities, and registration is not required. Participants must have a lift ticket and gear, and be able to go down beginner slopes.