Grand County was one of the first areas in Colorado to enjoy sport skiing. While mail carriers, loggers and other workers used the "Norwegian Snowshoes" as necessary winter transportation, it was a natural progression to begin racing down the slopes for fun.
An 1883 newspaper noted that in Grand Lake "Coasting on snowshoes has taken the place of dancing parties. Quite a number of ladies are becoming adept at the art. First class snowshoers, B.W. Tower and Max James are the best; or at least they can fall more gracefully then the rest".
According to famous Hot Sulphur Springs champion Barney McLean, that town had three jumping hills in the 1920s and held the first Winter Carnival in the West there in 1911. By 1925, Denver sent special "snow trains" there for the recreating tourists. Skiers such as Bob McQueary and Jim Harsh competed in statewide events along with skiing "veterans" Horace Button and McLean. Grand Lake's Jim Harsh became the first Coloradoan to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team.
In 1932, the Grand Lake Ski Club held its first winter sports week on Denver 25-January 1st. Featured was a motor sled with an airplane engine which pulled skiers over the frozen lake are speeds of 90 miles per hour.
Colorado's first ski tow was opened at the summit of Berthoud Pass in 1936. Berthoud Pass operated on and off throughout the next 60+ years but was finally closed and the lifts dismantled in 2002.
What became the resort of Winter Park featured skiing at the West Portal of the Moffatt Tunnel and the Winter Park Ski Area opened as a result of efforts by Denver Parks & Recreation Director George Cranmer. Early lodging resorts in the area, then known as Hideaway Park (now Winter Park), included Sportland Valley, Timberhaus Lodge, and Millers Idlewild Inn. Eventually trains made daily runs to Winter Park, loaded with intrepid skiers. Steve Bradley invented the first effective snow packer on the slopes of Winter Park.
With a strong record of winning high school ski teams, Grand County accounted for a remarkable number of skiers who later took park in FIS (International Federation of Skiers) meets and U.S. Olympic teams.
A later ski area, now know as Sol Vista Ski Basin (formerly Silver Creek Resort) opened in Granby in the 1980's. World class cross country ski areas in Grand County include Snow Mountain Ranch and Devil's Thumb Ranch.