Beaver Creek is a fascinating resort in the evolution of the global ski industry. It has many claims to fame, perhaps most notably that, having opened as recently as 1980, it’s one of the ‘youngest’ of the world’s great ski areas. As a result of its modern evolution it is also sometimes described as being “the first resort to be designed by computer” (and if so, it’s a good argument in favour of computers!).
The most interesting fact is that Beaver Creek, which was built by Vail, 18km (11 miles) away to the east, to be “America’s most elegant resort”, is located in the territory which Vail’s founders had chosen as first choice for Vail itself. However, back then in the 1950s, the rancher who owned the land was happy with his lot and didn’t want to sell. It was 16 years later, in 1972, that Vail, by then one of North America’s leading resorts, succeeded in purchasing the land where Beaver Creek now sits. Work began in 1977 and, since the resort’s opening, it has become the epitome of the general popular perception of high class, high taste lodging, dining and other facilities with an exceptionally well designed resort and lift system.
Direct access to the slopes is made easy with covered escalators leading from the village to the base of the Centennial Express Lift, another unique asset. Naturally, pricing reflects this luxury although, as with all ski resorts branded particularly expensive, you can find affordable prices and packages if you’re prepared to travel off-peak. In conjunction with Vail, Beaver Creek has hosted the Alpine World Championships three times in its short history, most recently in 2015, another unique achievement. The ‘Birds of Prey’ downhill course constructed for the event has quickly established itself as the toughest downhill in North America and on a par with the classic Alpine world cup runs, generally perceived as tougher than anything North America could offer prior to this new run opening. ‘Birds of Prey’ is now considered one of the top three downhills in the world.
Beaver Creek also claims to offer ‘European style village to village skiing’ – a rare phenomena in North America where only Stowe and Smugglers Notch in Vermont are as yet linked together by ski lifts, although others could if they chose to be. In Beaver Creek’s case the ‘villages’ it is linked to have had to be built from scratch by Vail, just like Beaver Creek. Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch are currently the focus of new building development and look set to become even more up- market than Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch being described as “a private residential resort community” by planners. Development of Beaver Creek resort was officially declared ‘complete’ in February 1998.