Sunlight Mountain Resort Review

We're dubbing Sunlight as "the Midwest on steriods" and for good reason. This is a place where working folks can still enjoy a fantastic day on the mountain, and the quality of riding does not suffer.
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Sunlight Mountain Resort Review


  • Lifts: 3
  • Vertical: 2010 ft
  • Average snowfall: 137" | 40 days
  • Resort Size: 730 acres
  • Daily Lift Ticket: $80 USD

While I've been to Sunlight Mountain Resort a few times, it's normally to go uphilling. I had only ridden lifts here once before, and almost bought a season pass for this winter. After a day riding chairs and exploring the terrain some more, I'm kicking myself for not having done it. 

Firstly, Sunlight is somewhat small. With only three lifts clustered toward the middle of the area, it's admittedly somewhat difficult to get around. If you want to venture east, it's a big traverse. There was a new lift scheduled to go in the summer that COVID hit, and I don't know when that will happen as it seems to be on hold indefinitely. Overall though, it feels like the Midwest on steroids. 

Where to stay

Glenwood is the town closest to Sunlight Mountain, and i70 runs through the middle of it. This area is sustained through tourism to its hot springs. There are two public options to choose from, and Sunlight has a partnership with Iron Mountain. However it's much easier to walk to Glenwood Hot Springs, so that's where we wound up. 

If you're a fan of walking, staying within a few blocks of Downtown is recommended. Beyond here Glenwood isn't very pedestrian friendly. However, the transit service isn't bad and this can make up for some of the uncomfortable walking areas. 

Downtown Glenwood Springs. A real shame the road runs right through the middle of main street!

If you have a day committed to travel, the train from Denver is worth the day trip. It takes several hours, but it is a beautiful and comfortable ride. It also drops you off in downtown Glenwood, but for some reason there isn't a bus stop at the train station. The train also comes in from Grand Junction. Both also have a bus service that's cheaper and faster. Otherwise, you're renting a car. Which is true even if you're going to land in Eagle. 

There is a shuttle service to and from the mountain as well. It looks a bit tricky the first time you use it, but this means you could do the entire trip car free if planned accordingly. There are also some slide-in slide-out condos available for rent at the mountain. Though hopefully these have a full kitchen given the limited dining options on-mountain.


There are a lot of things to do in Glenwood, but it's more of parents/relaxed nightlife sort of place. Casey Brewing is on point, there is a Vaudeville Review, and some historic style bars that are worth checking out. The Hotel Denver also has a brewpub restaurant inside, which is open to the public. Mix all of this with it’s famous hot springs, and there is plenty to keep you entertained once the mountain is closed.

The Mountain

Sunlight is what I refer to as an organic snowsports area. They're not trying to be a brand or push a specific lifestyle. They just exist there, and grow naturally. They do have snowmobile tours, and some fat bike trails. Unfortunately they don't seem to have fatbike rentals even though they have fatbike races on the property. 

A bit of an operational chairlift museum, you can rack up more vertical feet than any of might possibly expect. It really goes to show that high speed chairs really don't get you all that much extra time on the ground. The biggest improvements I would want to see as a local would actually be a rope tow for the parks, lights for night riding, and maybe a T-Bar over by the Alligator Alleys. (These were unfortunately not open yet due to a low tide snow year.) A magic carpet would be huge for their learning space, too.

Sunlight is effectively a functioning chairlift museum. While these can be a trip to ride and feel like your not getting as many laps in, your legs will probably still be too tired to ride before the lifts close.

I was able to find plenty of fresh snow in the trees even though it hasn't snowed in a while. I'm sure a lot of locals will hate me for sharing this, but I want to see Sunlight grow. They have access rights to far more terrain, and with another 100k$ income per year the snowmaking could expand to help make more family friendly terrain. They also have another mountain peak they could expand to if the traffic was too high. And given that on a Sunday we barely ever waited in line, they have room for many more customers before a traffic squeeze is felt. 

Hospitality/Food/Drinks: since Sunlight isn't trying to work brand recognition, the food is what it is. No first class marketing, no trying to make you think it's better than it is and charging you the prices you're used to at resorts. What they have is good and they aren't above chili cheese fries, which set me back something like 12$.

The bar: there's a decent craft beer selection, including some N/A beers as well, which I wish more places did.

The Park

There's one park with some decent begintermediate jumps and handrails/boxes. This space could stand to expand, and a pair of rope tows would do wonders. However they really work with what they have, including a feature built out of a Kayak. I've seen plenty of less creative, less progression-friendly parks at world class resorts. 

While this is very much a beginner park, it was still fun to ride. And I wish more places would do things like turning a kayak upside down in the snow for a jib feature. And yes, there are jumps above the rail yard.

Overall thoughts

A lot of people overlook Sunlight, if they even hear about it. They see the old chairs and that it's small and think little of it. But these smaller places are better for families, and if you're going to explore the trees, there is more than enough terrain for a few days. 

This is the place that spawned my idea of “manufactured vs organic snowsports areas.” It feels like home to me, and I've told the people I was with to force me to buy a season pass there this spring. I'm kicking myself for balking on it this year after the day we spent there.  Not only because of the riding I was able to do, but because it doesn't feel economically exclusionary to keep out “the help.”