Mud season is sometimes referred to as the “fifth season”, and here in Steamboat Springs, like most mountain towns in Colorado, we are quite familiar with what it means. So what does mud season mean? Mud season is an informal term used to describe a period in early spring when dirt roads and trails turn into muddy roads and trails from melting snow and additional rainfall. It indeed can be quite muddy and the name mud season defines it well.

Sunrise on April 14th, Closing Day. Compare this image to the featured image (above) to see the snow melt that has occurred over the past month.

In all honesty, it doesn’t sound very appealing. In all honesty, it isn’t very appealing. Muddy trails mean that you can’t ski anymore but also that you can’t mountain bike just yet. Mud season also means that you’re wiping your dogs off constantly as they venture out to explore all of those amazing smells that arise as the last snow melts away. Mud season means completely unpredictable weather and makes it quite difficult to plant your gardens. For all that is unappealing, locals in Steamboat actually do find some aspects of mud season appealing, believe it or not.

The unpredictable weather of mud season can be a harsh reality for spring flowers.

Steamboat Springs is an amazing and beautiful place to call home, and mud season makes it a little bit easier to take off and travel. Many locals flock to sunny beaches in Mexico or Hawaii, while others are ready to spin their bike wheels in Fruita, Moab and Arizona. Leaving the mud and snow melt behind is quite a bit easier than leaving champagne powder days behind. For those that do stick around, town is noticeably quieter and it just has this really nice feeling of calm after such a fun, but also busy winter. And lastly, the term spring cleaning can really come to fruition during mud season as locals typically tackle house projects and such before all of the summer activity begins. In the end, it can be a good time to travel, a good time to slow down and relax, and a good time to find domestic productivity.

Like many locals, our family left mud season for the sunny beaches of Kauai as soon as the mountain closed for the season.

Steamboat Resort has not fully embraced mud season this year, because when April 14th (Closing Day) rolled around, employees immediately got to work on a massive project: replacing the Steamboat Gondola. That’s right, next year you will see a brand new gondola in Steamboat Springs, transporting you from the base of the mountain to the top of Thunderhead. Gondola Construction Updates are available weekly on Steamboat’s website to keep you in the loop.

This week, the focus has been on the removal of lower mountain gondola towers with the use of a crane operated from the base. Upper mountain gondola towers will be removed via helicopter later this month. Last week, all of the old gondola cabins were removed and are now sitting in the Meadows Parking Lot for the time being. Most of those old cabins will be refurbished to be used at ski resorts all over the world, and a select few will be donated to local nonprofit organizations for fundraising efforts. Also last week, the haul rope was completely removed once all of the gondola cabins were off the line.

Photo Credit: Cara Marrs (www.caramarrswellness.com) Old gondola cabins sitting in the Meadows Parking Lot.

Replacing the gondola is a massive and impressive project that will take all the way until the start of next ski season. Currently, Steamboat Resort is highly discouraging uphill access or any on-mountain activity as there is a lot of construction and plowing activity happening daily. Come Memorial Day Weekend, you will be able to enjoy the mountain again with scenic chairlift rides on Christie Peak and limited Land Up activities for the kids to enjoy. These activities will be open weekends until the Bike Park opens for the season on June 14, and Steamboat Resort moves back to daily operations.

I will continue to blog about the gondola construction, so either check back here next week or visit the Gondola Construction Update page. Until then, enjoy the calm and embrace the quiet.

Happy Mud Season and Happy Friday!

Erin Campbell, Alpine Skier, Snowboarder & Mountain Biker

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