Sunlight Mountain
Old Sunlight Trail Maps:
Sunlight Ski Area
Resort History:
The Tercero Chairlift
Sunlight's Base Lodge
Looking up Sun King
The top of the Primero Chair
The Bottom of the Tercero Lift
The trail: Zephyr
The Trail: Blue Tango
Mount Sopris
Current Resort Stats: *
Looking down: Showdown
Pros and Cons to Skiing Here:
+ Affordable prices and lodging
- Slow chairlifts
+ Excellent views of Mount Sopris
and the Glenwood Valley
- Limited overall terrain
+ Wide intermediate and beginner
- Limited snowmaking capabilities
+ Challenging mogul runs and
- No bowl terrain
+ Lodging at base area
Sunlight in the summer
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All Rights Reserved.

*Resort Stats Current for 2009-10

Paul Hauk
The Colorado Ski Museum
Sunlight Ski Area

Picture Credits:
Brad C.
Insider Tips to Skiing Here:
Sunlight Ski Area was the dream of John Higgs, a Chicago native.  
His site selection for a new ski area was at the former location of the
Holiday Hill rope tow just outside of Glenwood Springs.  In 1965,
Higgs met with the U.S. Forest Service to discuss a ski area that
would extend onto public lands.  The Forest Service saw potential in
his plan and issued a special use permit for 2,100 acres atop the
ranch land.  

Financing was the next step for Sunlight.  Stocks were issued to
produce money for construction.  Initially, Higgs was the majority
shareholder at 16,300, while the remaining holders included families
from the Glenwood Springs area, companies, hotels, and skiers
from as far as Kansas.

The Sunlight Ranch Company opened the ski area for business on
December 16, 1966 with a handful of trails expanding over 15 miles
and skier days totaled 15,000.  Lift tickets cost $5.50 during the first
season. The area operated one Riblet double chair, servicing the
entire mountain.  

During the first years of operation, Sunlight ran on a shoestring
budget.  Part time employees and volunteers managed the lift and
outdoor operations.  All other services were controlled by local
contractors including ski rental equipment, restaurant facilities and
the ski school. During the '67-68 ski season, a short double chair
from the failed nearby Glenwood Mountain Park Ski Area found a
home at Sunlight for the cost of $21,000.  This chair served a bunny
slope for the ski school and also was the bottom link to future
expansion on the ridge across the valley. When landowner issues
became a problem within this expansion area, the lift was removed.

A third lift, the Segundo Chair, was installed in 1973 and skier days
climbed to 38,000.  Aspen Skiing Company sold Sunlight the
Segundo Chair for 20,000 Sunlight stocks.  The lift originally
operated on Ajax Mountain as the #3 lift built by Heron in 1954.  The
chair did not run the first season it was installed due engineering
issues associated with its reinstallation.  The following summer,
Riblet was brought in to rectify the situation with new chairs,
replacement towers and a new drive station.

In 1987, improvements were made to the Primo chairlift, and the
Tercero lift was installed. The Tercero lift was purchased second
hand from Snowmass.  The new chairlift doubled Sunlight’s uphill
capacity and improved access to the entire mountain.  From a skier
and rider’s standpoint, these improvements eliminated lift lines,
while skier days continued to increase.

Through a stock purchase, the ownership of Ski Sunlight changed
between 1990 and 1992.  The new owners, Sunlight Inc, comprising
of twelve different shareholders, brought financial stability to the ski
area.  In 1993, “Sunlight Extreme” terrain was added to the ski area,
which included 12 new black and double black diamond trails.  Ski
Sunlight's name was officially changed in 1996 to Sunlight Mountain
Resort for marketing purposes.

On October 13, 2005, Sunlight Mountain Resort announced it was
for sale with an asking price of fifty million dollars.  The sale included
the U.S. Forest Service permit for the 2,081 acres (including 67
trails and 470 acres of skiable terrain), four lifts, a base lodge, the
Sunlight Ski School and Children's Center, food and beverage
operation, snowmobile tour company, and rental-retail outlets onsite
and in Glenwood Springs. The sale also came with 400 acres of
Sunlight-owned land that could potentially be developed and support
more than 700 residential units.

A year later, the ski area announced a buyer named Exquisite
Development, based in Destin, Florida.  Tom Jankovsky, general
manager of Sunlight, said ski area officials were talking with
Exquisite Development since August of that year. They came into
contact with the company through a Sunlight board member, Tom
Brigham, who is a real estate agent back east.