The Region's history has included several waves of settlement and activity. The first wave, prior to early to mid 1800's, was the use of the Region by Ute and Arapahoe Indians for hunting grounds. The discovery of valuable materials such as gold and silver in the area in the mid-1800's brought fortune hunters and settlers from the east in droves. The first town to discover gold was Breckenridge in 1859, and thus the Town of Breckenridge was the first permanent town in Region 12 as well as on Colorado's western slope.

While mining was the prominent economic activity in the late 1800's early 1900's, ranching was established in the valley areas of the Region. Because of the high elevations throughout the Region, ranching was limited to primarily cattle and hay. As mining claims dried up in the early to mid-1900, the seeds of developing ski areas were planted in the minds of 10th Mountain Division soldiers training at Camp Hale near Red Cliff, in Eagle County, Colorado. These 10th Mountain Division soldiers training in the High County of Region 12 returned to the area after World War II and became the pioneers of the ski industry which continues to be the mainstay of this region's economy.

The Ski Industry was officially born in 1940 with the opening of Winter Park Resort in Grand County. Soon to follow were Arapahoe Basin (1946), Aspen Mountain (1946), Aspen Highlands (1957), Breckenridge Ski Resort(1961), Vail (1962), Snowmass (1967), Keystone Resort (1970), Copper Mountain (1972), and Beaver Creek (1980). These resorts provided a new industry to replace mining in the four resort counties of Eagle, Grand, Pitkin and Summit while ranching and agriculture remained the mainstay of the economy in Jackson County. The ski industry lead to a thriving tourism economy and today's economy is based primarily on the Region's tourism and outdoor recreational amenities. This has also lead to another mainstay of the economy - the construction and servicing of second/vacation homes.

Historical Opening Dates for Ski Areas in NWCCOG's Region

Ski Area Opening Year
Arapahoe Basin 1946
Aspen Mountain 1946
Aspen Highlands 1957
Beaver Creek 1980
Breckenridge 1961
Copper Mountain 1972
Keystone 1970
Snowmass 1967
Vail 1962
Winter Park 1940

More history....
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