What is Champagne Powder® – Everything You Need to Know

The Steamboat Resort in Colorado has some pretty unique snow. So unique in fact, that it has its own name – Champagne Powder®.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Champagne Powder® and how to ski it, then keep reading to find out more.

Champagne Powder® is the exclusive name given to the snow found at the Steamboat Resort in Colorado. With a water content of only 6%, compared to 15% at other ski resorts, this snow is extremely light and fluffy making it some of the best powder skiing snow in the USA.

The name Champagne Powder® originated in the early 1950s from a local rancher, John McElroy, who was out skiing on the terrain that would eventually become the ski area.

He said that the snow tickled his nose like champagne.

Champagne Powder® at the Steamboat Resort in Colorado
Champagne Snow (Credit: Steamboat Resort)

Why does Steamboat get Champagne Powder®?

What makes Champagne Powder so unique is the extremely low water content found in the snow.

The snow that falls at the Steamboat Resort has a water content of only 6%, compared to 15% found in other resorts. That means that the snow is “dry”, light and fluffy.

You might be wondering why the water content is so low and why the snow is only found at Steamboat.

The storms that bring snow to Steamboat start in the Pacific Ocean. As the storms move east across the Mojave Desert, the moisture is taken out of them.

These storms eventually run into the western side of Colorado’s Park Range, where the Steamboat Resort is located. The storm clouds rise and cool very rapidly due to orographic lift.

In this process, the storm clouds lose their ability to retain whatever moisture is left in them.

So when the snow falls in Steamboat, it’s so light, fluffy and dry that it has its own name – Champagne Powder®!

Is Champagne Powder® trademarked?

The term “Champagne Powder” is a registered trademark that is owned by the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation.

No other ski resort has trademarked its snow, so Steamboat is the only place you’ll be able to ski Champagne Powder®.

If you want proof, you can find the official confirmation of the trademark on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.

Where to ski Champagne Powder®

If you’re heading to Steamboat Resort this season, there are a few alternative ways you can experience this quality snow on offer.

First Tracks Pass

One of the best ways to do this is to purchase a First Tracks day ticket or a Season Pass Add-On.

First Tracks tickets allow visitors to be first on the mountain and enjoy the fresh snow, groomed trails and Champagne Powder®.

This is an add-on so you’ll need to have either a season pass or a full-day lift ticket.

Participants access the gondola at 7:45 am and ski or ride Spur Run/Huffman’s to Sundown Express.

You will have special access to terrain from the Sundown Express, Sunshine and South Peak lifts before anyone else.

First Tracks tickets can be purchased online, through the Steamboat Ticket Office, or through Steamboat Central Reservations®.

At the time of writing, a First Tracks day ticket costs between $55 – $75, depending on the date of purchase and the day of use (holiday days are more expensive).

A First Tracks Season Pass Add-On costs $799.

Cat Skiing

An alternative option you can consider to take advantage of the Champagne Powder® is cat skiing.

The folks over at Steamboat Powerdercats offer a “..unique experience, one that may reward you with the best, on a snow day, of your life.”

They are conveniently located at Buffalo Pass just 25 minutes from the Steamboat Ski Area.

Buffalo Pass has one of Colorado’s deepest snowpacks and Champagne Powder®.

And don’t think cat skiing is only reserved for those expert skiers. The team at Steamboat Powerdercats split the groups into 3 levels (intermediate, advanced and expert).

That way you get terrain and fellow riders that match your ability.

Although it is a pricey outing ($850 at the time of writing), if you want to find a way to experience Champagne Powder® with no crowds and untouched slopes then this is an experience worth considering!

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