Skiers on the Lookout for a Responsible Vacation? Consider Wolf Creek, Colorado

As a leader in the eco ski movement, Wolf Creek is a responsible vacation choice for anyone in search of resort snow. Wolf Creek began pushing sustainable practices long before they were trendy or necessary; and this season, the ski area promises to continue going greener and greener.

Wolf Creek has a policy that forbids cutting down trees that are larger than 6" in diameter. Well, healthy trees, anyway. Beetle-infested trees are removed by helicopter. Like most of the state of Colorado, Wolf Creek suffers from an infestation of the spruce beetle. The ski area hopes that by removing the trees that are struggling, they can save the rest of the forest. It seems to be working for them, so far.

In 1982, Wolf Creek installed low-water usage toilets, long before saving water became a focal point for sustainability advocates. This season, two modern, water-free restrooms will be installed at the top of the Raven Lift and Treasure Chairlift. The toilets compost waste and produce no discharge. No, they are not outhouses: they are heated, and 800 square feet in size. They are nice, eco pitstops for those individuals who want to make responsible vacation choices.

For the past five years, 100% of the power on the mountain has come from Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Tri-state uses green energy from wind farms near Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The Forest Service has recognized Wolf Creek's positive power usage, and their willingness to pay more for sustainability. Wolf Creek also uses solar power in small buildings and has shares in San Juan Biodiesel. In doing so, Wolf Creek has also made itself a more responsible vacation option for skiers who care.

In 2008, Wolf Creek established a free carpool program, called "Share the Ride, Share the Fun" which helps skiers connect to carpool. The service is available for both regional and local visitors. Other eco-friendly practices include their advanced recycling policy, which accepts batteries, phone books, old computers, steel, and so forth.

Wolf Creek, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is a fairly low-profile resort known for it's puffy powder. Their environmental policies have not received as much attention or praise as those of other Colorado resorts, such as Aspen (including Buttermilk and Highlands) and Telluride. Nor have they received criticism on their environmental policies, (like Breckenridge and Copper).  In any case, Wolf Creek has made a quiet, consistent effort to create a responsible vacation resort for environmentally friendly skiers.

Skiing, like golfing, is not a particularly eco friendly sport. However, most avid skiers are often also nature-lovers. Skiing in the open mountain air helps people connect with the serenity of the outdoors. Smart ski resorts like Wolf Creek are well-aware the irony on their mountain tops, and they know that their guests appreciate their greening-efforts.

Photo credit: Philippe Rameau