Aspen Highlands will open early for the season, Saturday, Dec. 1, with more than 700 acres of top-to-bottom skiing and riding terrain one week before the resort’s scheduled opening. Skiing and riding will include access to 2,500 vertical feet of steep terrain in Highland Bowl.

Exhibition, Loge and Deep Temerity lifts will be open giving access to 200 acres of terrain in the G-Zones of Highland Bowl and 100 acres of terrain in Deep Temerity. Additional terrain will include Scarlett’s, Gun Barrel, Meadows, Grand Prix, Prospector, Nugget, Jerome and more.

Merry-Go-Round will be open with food and beverage options. Cloud Nine High Alpine Bistro will open Saturday, Dec. 8.

“Given the recent storms, cold weather, and hard work of the Aspen Highlands operations and patrol teams, we are proud to offer an early opening to locals and visitors on Highlands this weekend,” says Kevin Hagerty, mountain manager of Aspen Highlands. “And the rumors are true, we will open Highland Bowl early for the first time in years.”

Through Friday, Dec. 14 lift tickets are $139 per day for adults and $92 for children, teens and seniors. Partial-day tickets for adults are $93 and $61 for children, teens and seniors. Children six and under ski for free.

The Ski & Snowboard Schools will be up-and-running for guests looking to take a lesson and the Four Mountain Sports store at the base of Aspen Highlands will be available for ski and snowboard rentals as well as retail purchases.

Lifts will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Ticket offices are currently open at the base of Aspen Mountain and at the Snowmass Base Village Gondola seven-days a week and will open at Highlands starting on Dec. 1.

Buttermilk remains scheduled to open Saturday, Dec. 8.

As Colorado’s population continues to grow, more people than ever are now living in areas at risk of being affected by wildfires.  Teresa Taylor reports

The Lake Christine Fire is being blamed for a slump for basalt businesses. Basalt businesses took a hit starting in late July apparently from the effects of the Lake Christine Fire.

Sales tax revenue  from “late July” into late August, was down 23.6 percent compared with the same period the year before, according to a report prepared by Basalt Finance Director Christy Hamrick. Collections were down over $150,000

Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said he believes the ongoing fire convinced some travelers and second-home owners to skip visiting the midvalley. The sales tax collections  from late June to late July, were actually up during the fire , “even though the fire was here,” that may have been due to the presence of hundreds of federal firefighters buoyed sales of food at Basalt’s grocery stores and restaurants in the weeks right after the fire broke out July 3.