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Afton Alps marks 50 years

This is a big year for Afton Alps. The area ski destination is celebrating its 50 year anniversary. In addition, it is the ski area’s first full season owned by Vail Resorts.

“During the off season, we have made $10 million in capital investments,” said Amy Reents, marketing manager.

The improvements include the addition of 72 new snowmaking machines, a new guest services facility, a new ticketing and scanning system. The biggest and most dramatic addition is the new Terrain Park, which has four runs.

“The Terrain Park is a freestyle ski and snowboard area designed by the same people who designed the courses for the Winter X Games,” said Reents.

Other additions include two high speed rope tows in Terrain Park. Food and beverage offerings have been upgraded in every chalet.

Afton Alps employs 1,000 people in the winter, Reents said.

Afton Alps sprung to life on 300 acres of bluffs along the St. Croix River on Dec. 21, 1963. Opening day drew 37 guests. One of the founding family farmers was Reents’ dad, Paul Augustine.

“I grew up here,” said Reents, who worked part-time through high school and became a full-time employee in 1993.

The 1970s brought rapid grow with more chairlifts, new trails and a very dedicated ski school staff. The area continues to add new facilities with the advent of snowboarding.

Vail Resorts $10 million investment is the most significant one time influx of capital improvements in the history of Afton Alps.

Local community hills like Afton Alps can create the consumers for mountain resorts like the other Vail Resorts properties, which include: in Colorado; Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge; in Utah, Canyons; and in Nevada and California, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.

Afton Alps and Mount Brighton in Michigan are considered urban resorts.

“The new tag line ‘Where EPIC Begins’ reflects the concept that the passion for skiing starts locally,” said Reents. “We are the place where people learn to ski. A lot of people learn on their hometown hill. Our roots have always been in families learning how to ski.”

“We survive by church and school groups that bring students during the week nights after school,” said Reents. “These groups are our partners to help get people into the sport of skiing.”

Vail Resorts managers recognized the connection with local hills and their customer base at their mountain resorts. Vail Resorts Season Pass options now include Afton Alps. 

Afton Alps offers 50 trails on 300 acres, 18 lifts, four terrain park runs and new guest services offering.

Tickets may be purchased at any guest services location including the Highlands, Meadows, and Alps.

A 50th anniversary celebration was held Jan. 10.

For more information about Afton Alps and other Vail Resorts, go to