Road Trip: Cat’s Cradle

Cat skiing offers an easy, accessible way to ski Colorado’s backcountry.

As Coloradans, we know that every type of skiing has its place. Sometimes, a lax day of inbound groomers is just what the doctor ordered—especially if the promise of an early après waits at the bottom of the mountain. Other times, the urge arises to get farther out. Sure, you can traverse the backcountry on foot, but unless you’re looking for a demanding workout, a day of skinning up mountains in exchange for a few runs might not be worth it. Another option is cat skiing: a best-of-both worlds solution for advanced skiers who have experience in the backcountry. Instead of hoofing through out-of-bounds territory on foot, cat skiing involves a snowcat carrying you up the mountain, dropping you off in virgin powder, and meeting you at the bottom again for another lap. If you’re considering a day of cat skiing this winter, take a look at these guided operations around the state.

Aspen Powder Tours

What makes it special: A full day of fresh tracks in 1,500 acres of ungroomed terrain, featuring open bowls and deep glades, on the backside of Aspen Mountain; lunch served in a heated cabin at midday; snacks and drinks on board the snowcat throughout the day; a driver and two guides to keep everyone safe and happy.
Cost: $499 per person

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Steamboat Powdercats

What makes it special: A full day of skiing in Buffalo Pass (25 minutes from Steamboat Springs), an area that routinely sees one of Colorado’s deepest annual snowpacks; eight to 16 runs in a day; continental breakfast and a full catered lunch; a photographer to snap photos ($1 per image or $10 for all of them).
Cost: $675 per person

Keystone Adventure Tours

What makes it special: A full day of guided skiing in Independence Bowl, Bergman Bowl, and Erickson Bowl; 400 feet of elevation gain with each 1-mile snowcat ride; lunch in a heated yurt.
Cost: $475 per person ($425 with a lift ticket or season pass)

Tucker Mountain Snowcats At Copper

What makes it special: Access to 273 acres and 12,000 vertical feet of Copper’s back bowls; no planning or booking required; a backcountry experience within the bounds of a resort.
Cost: Free
Book: None needed. Catch the snowcat directly above the base of the Mountain Chief chairlift. Cats run from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tucker Mountain closes at 2 p.m.