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SAM Magazine—– Kremmling, Colo.—July 10, 2023—After three seasons of operation, Bluebird Backcountry, a ski touring-only area operated on a private ranch between Kremmling and Steamboat Springs, is permanently closing, citing future financing and the economy as factors.Bluebird Bluebird Backcountry co-founder and CEO Jeff Woodward said that the business cannot go on without a capital partner or a more central location. 

“While Bluebird’s financial model is more lightweight than a traditional resort that invests in chairlifts, permanent buildings and real estate, any venture in the ski industry is cash-intensive, and Bluebird would need a multi-year capital partner to keep the business going,” Woodward said in a press release. 

Originally funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, Bluebird opened on Bear Mountain Dec. 31, 2020, providing uphill skiers and snowboarders access to 1,200 acres. It offered day and season access passes, equipment rental, lessons, and a number of other on-site amenities. The area drew more than 19,000 new and experienced backcountry skiers and snowboarders from around the country and world. 

Still, Woodward said the remote location worked against the operation. “Bear Mountain has good snow and terrain and has been a beautiful home, but we’re not located near our core customer, more than 60 percent of our guests live in the Front Range, which means lots of folks are driving three-plus hours each way for the day or weekend.” 

Bluebird encouraged camping in the parking lot and experimented with rustic cabins, located nearby, this past winter to accommodate traveling guests. Woodward said the 41 beds were sold out every weekend they were available. Bluebird’s busiest day occurred in March of this year with 300 visitors.

“There is no question that countless people had life-changing experiences here,” Woodward said. “Our team helped inspire and educate the next generation of backcountry travelers, and we introduced a much-needed antidote to the overcrowded and overbuilt ski industry status quo.” 

“If there are readers out there with an immediate desire to start their own backcountry ski area, Bluebird is supportive,” he added. “The company will be selling its base buildings, lodging domes and equipment fleet, essentially a ski area in a box.”