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Blue Mountain Ski Area - Monticello, Utah

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
This is a bit of a stretch, but does anybody here have any memories, photos, stories about the abandoned Blue Mountain Ski Area near Monticello, Utah? I've found the area on Google Maps (link), and would love to head if any of the Bears (or their friends) have any knowledge of this tiny place.

From what I can find, it was a small, 2-3 run area with about 400'-500' of vertical and one T-bar lift. I've doctored up the Google image to create an image of what it might've looked like with snow cover (link). The place closed in the late-80s or early-90s due to lack of business and lack of reliable snow (and the fact that Durango, CO, was only a little more than an hour's drive away).

Anyone care to chime in?
post #2 of 11
Looks kinda flat.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Yeah, the place wasn't very steep and didn't have much vertical. But it is a relic of a different age, and it would be great to hear from people who have experienced the area.

The closest I've ever been to it is during a mountain bike race some years back (the Blue Mountain Bike Chase). After the race was over, I rode up the access road (which is still in semi-decent shape) and saw the remains of T-bar equipment and some shacks. This was before I had carried a camera arond with me, so no pix.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
After consulting the rusty-but-trusty Terraserver, I've added topo lines to the satellite image map of Blue Mountain (link). So it's not the steepest, but the base elevation is decent enough to get some snow come winter.
post #5 of 11
Hey Songfta,
I grew up in Moab and skiied Blue Mountain a few times in the 1960's. It consisted of a poma-lift and a warm-up hut. (Sorry, no pictures, but I'll ask around.)

A fun little hill that suited me as a beginner. As you mentioned in your post the area suffers from unreliable snow pack so if we wanted to ski we usually had to go to Durango (Purgatory), or to Grand Junction (Powderhorn).

I tele ski now and have been thinking of hiking around the Blues some time. This would have been a good year probably (The La Sals had up to a 100" base at times and I think the Blues did too!) I wasn't sure of the access, and whether or not it's National Forest or private land?

I also remember seeing a mention of this ski area in a Ski or Skiing magazine in the last couple of years. They showed a picture of the guy who ran it in his shop working on the Pomas.

Thanks for bringing back some sunny memories!
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
jxb -

Thank you for your recollections of Blue Mountain. I also recall the article in Ski, but can't place it, date-wise.

As far as the Abajo Range is concerned, most of it is NFS land, part of the Manti-La Sal National Forest. They post a backcountry forecast and alert on their website (URL escapes me at the moment, but I found it via Google), and it looks like there's some popularity in terms of backcountry winter activities.

And I'd imagine that this year would've been great! I went a couple of times to the areas around my old stomping ground in SLC, and the skiing was superb.

You wouldn't happen to have any photos of the area, would you?
post #7 of 11
Originally Posted by songfta
jxb -

You wouldn't happen to have any photos of the area, would you?
All I've got at the moment are some pictures from tours in the La Sals. We try to go there around mid-February and this year it was dumping. They benefited from the same wet flow that hammered the Sierra and Wasatch this winter. Actually it is still snowing in the Wasatch so I have to go now. I will ask some friends that still live in Moab if they have any pictures of Blue Mtn.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for asking your friends - that's most generous.

Having learned to ski at a now-repurposed Wasatch Front ski area (Parley's Summit, now the Gorgoza Tubing Park), I feel a certain sympathy for the small, local areas that don't attract huge crowds. Parley's Summit was a great place to learn: small hill (440' vertical), great ski school with a favorable student:teacher ratio (I think the largest class I was in had 3 others in it - really great), and affordable prices, both in terms of lift tickets and food. It was a place where kids could safely learn away from the big-mountain bottlenecks.

Now, as a tubing hill, I'm glad to see Parley's Summit being used again.

Another small area in Utah that I skied at back in the 80s was Nordic Valley, in Eden. Again, a small area with small vertical (1,000'), a couple of lifts and less-that-favorable elevation - but a place that was great for learning, a great training hill for the local junior ski team, and most affordable. I know they've been off-and-on over the past 6 or 7 years - does anybody know if they opened this year?
post #9 of 11

I grew up skiing at Blue Mountain Ski Area.  It was great.  There was a lodge with a fireplace and a puma lift.  There were about 5 runs that were all accessed by the Puma Lift.  It was a great place to learn.  After a day of skiing (the whole town skied and brought our bag lunches and left them in the lodge) we could ski home.  The resort was only open on Saturday and Wednesday.  Wednesday was ladies only day.

post #10 of 11

Hi Songfta - sorry this is so late I was googling a related issue and ran into this thread.  I grew up skiing Blue Mt and have never found an area I liked as much since.  I was actually ski patrol at the area when I was 16 - 18 yrs old, '76 - '78.  No idea what the vertical was; as others have said there was a poma lift and a smaller t-bar.  The t-bar was put in around '78 for an improvised Bunny hill.  The area was actually open weekends (both Sat and Sun, skibuny must have gone to church on Sun :) ) + Wed, Wed mostly for High School ski classes. 


There were primarily two runs -- the "North" side, accessed by turning right from the poma (the lift went up and west).  The North side was actually fairly steep, enough to provide fantastic powder runs even knee/thigh deep after a storm.  The side ran a little further north then back, so that an aerial photo of the pruned run and the lift line looked like a bow. The run was subdivided into 5 "get off" points (get your minds out of the gutter kids, you can get off a poma lift wherever the heck you want).  The get-off points were flat areas to allow a more or less graceful disembark from the poma lift, after which you could follow a trail several hundred meters out to join up with the "North" side.  Or you could side trip into the pine forest and relieve yourself, as necessary.  There was no grooming at the area so after the powder was skied off there were huge moguls to bounce across, which with any luck had been cut with the right frequency to provide a base line to "Brown Sugar".


The other run was the "South" side (turn left from the poma lift).  The South was several tracks split by a mature Aspen forest, which made for some really fantastic tree skiing.  Skiing the Wasatch front you probably know that Aspen are great to ski around, being self pruning (there's no branches to hit).  I still smile thinking of gliding in and out of Aspen bowls, finding surprise clearings for a few turns, back into the trees, turn now or meet the tree.  The South was a wonderful side after a storm.  And once it was packed out the terrain made for a great downhill run, with steeps and flats alternating just enough to keep you under 60.  Of course as ski patrol I had to keep it under 40. :)


Man what a fun recollection.  Sorry for getting kinda carried away.  Thanks songfta.  Hope you see this one day.  BTW my Grandfather George Palmer was one of the founders of the area.  That's how I ended up in this thread, looking for history stories about that.  Thanks Grandpa!


- Rick Cahoon

post #11 of 11

Ironically, for those who pooh-poohed the resort, this pic actually looks a *lot* like the warming hut at Blue Mtn, back then:  http://dcski.com/images/article_photos/1321184333_pic6.jpg

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