One of the great rewards of skiing is undoubtedly the summit views of the surrounding peaks, facilitated by the chairlifts and gondolas that allow us to immerse ourselves in a part of nature that would otherwise be pretty inaccessible to all but the extreme adventurers among us. Should this massive perk be reserved for proficient skiers? With the debut of McCoy Park this week, Beaver Creek says no.
Mountaintop, beginner-focused McCoy Park adds 250 acres to the ski resort, with 17 new trails and two lifts, a significant expansion at the now-2,082-acre area. It's located skier's right off of the Strawberry Park Express, making it easy to navigate for novice skiers. The new terrain is served by the high-speed McCoy Park Express quad, which was installed last summer.
It's worth noting that Beaver Creek isn't the only ski resort to offer learning terrain high up on the mountain, and that McCoy Park isn't even the only spot for this at Beaver Creek; Red Buffalo Park has 13 runs at the top of the Red Buffalo Express chair on the other side of the mountain.
That said, I had the chance to ski McCoy Park right after it opened, and found a few things that set this expansion apart. First, it sits in its own bowl, adjacent to Larkspur Bowl, but not on the way to anywhere else. You can't ski out or down from the base of McCoy, you have to ride the new Reunion Lift out or ski out from the top of the McCoy Park Express, making it a kind of beginner oasis safe from straight-liners and fast skiers.
It also has a unique, open-bowl feel that most beginners don't get to experience early in their ski career, with several areas of very widely spaced glades so novices can get off the trail and see what ungroomed snow feels like and experience extremely gentle tree skiing. Find these beginner-focused glades between the Bliss, Venture, and Tranquility runs.
Finally the views from back here are a real treat, especially from Eaton Haus, the brand-new warming hut at the top of the McCoy Express that serves hot drinks and grab-and-go eats. Don't miss the expansive vistas from the hut's back deck, a down-valley view of several hulking, unnamed peaks in White River National Forest that few Beaver Creek skiers have ever had the pleasure of taking in, until now.
"McCoy Park is one of the most exciting projects I've been part of during my career," said Nadia Guerriero, Chief Operating Officer at Beaver Creek, during the dedication of Eaton Haus. "Our commitment to this type of learning terrain and progression sets Beaver Creek apart as a destination for families seeking mountain adventures. There's nowhere else on Earth where beginner skiers and riders can experience this type of variety and this distinctive [setting]. It's just really an amazing addition to our family experience here at Beaver Creek."
Also on hand at the terrain debut was Carl Eaton, son of Beaver Creek co-founder Earl Eaton, namesake of the new warming hut. The younger Eaton shared how his family has long lived in the mountains of Eagle County, and how this spot was always a favorite of his outdoor-loving father, who died in 2008.
"The guy this place is named after, Beaver Creek founder Earl Eaton, was born and bred here, homesteaded here, with six or seven generations raised here in Eagle County," said Eaton, who is Director of Lift Maintenance at the resort. "To have this named after him is a huge honor. Make sure to get out on the back deck, that view is unique to us. We share the Gore Range with Vail and other views with lots of other resorts, but this spot is unique to Beaver Creek."
McCoy Park and Eaton Haus are now open to all Beaver Creek skiers. Check it out on the trail map, and make a point to ski it in person, especially if you have new skiers in tow.