Village At Wolf Creek Back On Track

Freerider at Wolf CreekHooray! I know some people won’t be as happy about it as I am, but I’m sure they’ll get over it. I’ve found a couple of stories saying The Village at Wolf Creek is back on track. It’s only taken 20 years! There’s an article in Biz Journals and and article in the Denver Post.

The Denver Post takes a very negative slant, “It is clear that the development of Wolf Creek Pass isn’t in the public interest.” I’ve been following this topic for a while now and, frankly, not everyone is all upset about it. There are large groups who are making a lot of noise about potential environmental impact and economic impacts. I’d even say there is a fair amount of validity in this. However, at town meetings that Red and the gang have held in the past, a large number of people have supported his project and the economic gain it could bring to the area.

Honestly, I don’t know the specifics of the project. I would hope that it is fairly eco friendly and uses as much green technology as possible. If it is, indeed, a threat to the local ecosystem – then I don’t want it to happen. However, it’s my belief that the area will some day be developed. It’s an amazing place to ski/board. That said, I think groups should focus on guiding the project down the best path instead of trying to block it altogether. Just my $0.02.



“…it’s my belief that the area will some day be developed. It’s an amazing place to ski/board. That said, I think groups should focus on guiding the project down the best path instead of trying to block it altogether.”

Sigh. I can’t stand the it’s-inevitable-roll-over-and-make-the-best-of-it attitude that comes so often when money is steam-rolling development. I love skiing at Wolf Creek BECAUSE there isn’t a condo in sight. I know I can go into the backcountry for that experience as well, but it would be nice to know some areas will survive to provide large quantities of non-yuppified turns.


Diane: They’ve been trying to build this village since the 80’s… I’d hardly call that steamrolling. If it were truly a case where all of the locals were against the development I would feel entirely different. However, a large swath of area locals welcome the development. The “us” vrs “them” attitude wears thin when “us” isn’t all inclusive.

Wolf Creek is an amazing natural resource and I strongly agree that it should be protected and preserved. I also strongly suspect that Red is going to be sloppy. He’s a Texan and Texans tend to be sloppy. That much scares me.

Wolf Creek is a treasure and I’m sure all of the locals would like to keep it a private treasure. When exploited, treasures can easily be ruined. I would cry if the Wolf Creek area became another Vail.

But as amazing as Wolf Creek IS, I just simply can not accept that it won’t some day be developed… I know all the locals that have been spoiled by the best snow in Colorado for years will be losing something very special. I’m sorry for that…

But if it’s going to happen, why not invest that energy into making it into something remarkable and eco friendly instead of spending the energy futilely bashing the project as a whole?

It’s just my $0.02… as some random blogger who loves snowboarding.


He doesn’t have to make it eco-friendly, but rather just environmentally unobjectionable enough to pass muster. Which is usually the case; please tell me different.

Here’s the thing- what ski areas in Colorado (besides A-Basin) are not resorts or primed to become resorts? Colorado has the highest resort density in the States and while building another might bring some short-term flow of cash to that area, it will be offset by the realization that not a lot of people will go to yet another samey resort experience that can be had elsewhere. there’s no apres-ski hardly, and the mountain’s claim to fame is its snow. This place, like it or not, is never going to be a big draw resort simply because it’s main attraction- snow quantity- is not the main reason upscale customers look for in a resort. I don’t live in Colorado but I work for an agency that reviews Environmental Impact Statements and they are not as stringent as you would like to think. They often have design measures and standards put in that sound good and may be followed for a time but eventually the resort or its owners will try to shortcut something and of course, the inevitable expansion will take place several years down the line. Not to mention, who needs another 90$ a day place in this economy (or any)?


Funny you should say that as – currently – the local resorts are reporting around 30% less bookings this year than the same time last year. The economy is definitely going to hurt the Colorado resort scene.

I don’t think Wolf Creek can really support a huge glump of people, even if the ski area is expanded. It just doesn’t seem like that kind of mountain – I could be wrong. That said, I wouldn’t expect that the Village at Wolf Creek *could* get significantly big… unless it was largely vacant.

From what you posted – and this stuff I did not know – it sounds like Colorado could benefit from passing a few stricter laws on how these resorts operate. I love to snowboard, but I don’t want my favorite pass time to damage our environment.


“I also strongly suspect that Red is going to be sloppy. He’s a Texan and Texans tend to be sloppy. That much scares me.”

Yep, I agree with that sentiment. If the locals were the ones that were actually behind the development (and I suspect if they were, the proposed facilities would be more in accordance with a “ski area” instead of a “resort”), then I’d be all for it. But it’s only people with huge capital that propose projects like these, and they do it to maximize their profits. Understandable. Just scary.

This is an old, but interesting article from 1982 you might be interested in:

Basically, it says that ski areas are turning to real estate development to make profits. And it was prophetic. Intrawest, a canadian company that runs many of the CO resorts, reported in 2002 that their profits from real estate ($487.7 million) exceeded their profits from resort operations ($485.1 million). What’s more pertinent about those numbers is that the revenue from real estate was increasing while revenue from operations was decreasing from the prior year.

So, when I said “steam-rolling,” I was referring not to the speed of the project, but the sheer weight of money behind it looking to make more money on real estate. I would love for Wolf Creek to stay a place to ski and board, instead of a place to pay a lot of money for a hamburger in a ritzy bar in the “Village.” I’m pretty sure these guys are only going to worry about the environment as much as they have to.

John Diaz

The fact that some locals still think its a good idea or have been led to believe is that they are willing to sell out the land for a minimal econimic gain…They themselves wont benefit greatly…The corporation will.
This will not send their kids to college..

Im forgetting the most important factor right now…The economy!
Its no longer a reasonable plan. It never really was.
If you think its going to be a minor impact think again!…This is planned to be built directly on top of a watershed/wetland…
High mountain wetlands provide everyone below with water…The natural filtration that takes place is vital to the entire surrounding eco-system…If you have been there then you have seen that large flat area directly behind the albera lift…Thats where he wants to build this thing!
He wants to also build directly underneath the Alberta lift where we currently ride…It will decrease our ridable terrain.
He has not been as open as this editor would like to believe.
If you want to delete this comment than it will show how un-open your side is to a debate…
My personal anger witth this comes from my understanding of water and how it is in such short supply right now and in particularly where this development is supposed to happen.
In the end we will learn that the environment is much more valuable thatn we have treated it as so…
I wonder how long we have if all we do is listen to the laziness that keeps this horrible cycle in motion.


Marcus – Yes, it was a huge generalization. However, if you travel much, you’ll see where Texas lags far behind in being eco friendly in their building techniques as well as lifestyle. Just like any other generalisation, it doesn’t mean all Texans are sloppy.

Diane – I follow you with the steam-rolling comment. It does seem that Red has already invested a lot and intends to keep at it. I wonder why he wants it so very badly.

Jihn Diaz – More tourism will increase the overall cash flow in the area, benefiting everyone economically. This is one point that I have to make often to local park rats who complain about tourists – typically those from Texas. It’s the tourism that makes it possible for the resorts to provide epic parks for the locals to master. As for the rest of your comment, I suspect you’re probably right. I don’t know the water details well enough to have an opinion. I wonder if it’s possible to build responsibly enough not to have a significant negative impact? Better water treatment and recycling? For example, all the urinals at Keystone are now eco friendly and don’t use any water.

J Diaz

Z-If Red wished to work with the community he would have long ago been welcome…He has not done this and I believe it has more to do with his overall attitude and is unlikely to change…If you ask the majority of long-time residents I know you will find that the opposition is much larger than a few vocal and likely benefactors. The support comes mostly from outsiders.
The environmental impact is worth looking into before you blindly go supporting this HUGE project…Its going to dwarf Durango…Its meant to compete with the I-70 crowds…
Its no joke…this guy has not made himself out to be anyone who takes the environment into consideration in the past and I doubt he will honestly attempt to do this if it were at all possible in its current design, which it is not.
Unless he wants to build it on stilts and pipe all the sewage far away from the natural wetlands…Create huge sunroofs to aid the photosynthesis that takes place in those wetlands…Raised roads all on stilts…Essentially he would have to let all natural cycles keep taking place to not adversely impact the entire surrounding ecosystem and preserve the current water cycle ….Then he cannot build this thing without hurting a very delicate balance that supports not only wildlife but nearby towns like Pagosa and South Fork.
Its a bowl of soup that is essential to everything…Where water is cleansed, stored, and distributed to huge swaths of surrounding land.
The plans call to build directly on this…
It will be expensive and not a place for most people…
Right now “most” hardcore Colorado and New Mexico riders come here often enough…We come for the powder.
The people he wants to lure are attracted to groomers and fine-dining restaurants…If that werent the case than he wouldnt be giving this place the image he has thus far…The price tags, etc…They dont flock to any ski area for the powder…they are “sold” on human made attributes…Not what wolf is currently all about.

He wants to build directly under the Alberta lift and this would destroy a huge part of the ride-able terrain…leaving us with less mountain…

It wouldnt matter because ski acres dont actually make money…shops, pro-stores, restaurants, and real estate make money…screw the hippy out-door folks…what they really want is a city in the mountains!
Them folks with money will pay to park closer and ski right out of their door steps…

Then those who once loved this mountain for its beautiful experience, deep untouched powder, (not desired by average rich vail-village at wolf creek heaven forbid people) great views, and overall true wealth will ultimately lose a place they regularly came to…

Lemme guess, Im gonna get censored just like ol Red wants to do to the opponents of this horrible, and dangerously short-term economic gain of a plan…A plan that has so many reasons to be entirely scratched all together or drastically downgraded and relocated to an entirely different location…preferably in one of the adjacent towns.



J – No, dude… you’re not gonna get censored… and you’ve done the most to convert me thus far. I want a condo at Wolf Creek so I can spend a couple of seasons riding regularly. I don’t want that the price of epic natural destruction.

I was aware of some of the environmental impact issues, but I would need to read the impact report to form my own honest opinion.

Still, I stand by the notion that some day someone is going to develop the area because the powder is so good.

I wish the locals could get together and form the healthiest plan and then start to execute on it as a co-op. That would put them in control of the future of Wolf Creek.

From a developer point of view, the adjacent towns are simply too far away to have significant value… folks want to be right next door to the runs.

One of my biggest concerns is having more people at the resort… Will that destroy the riding conditions? Is there anywhere for the existing operations to expand that will allow more people in an efficient manor?

J Diaz

Its that developers point of view that has to go…It has NO place in our environment. The laziness of a few should not destroy the work of thousands of years of natural progress.

Yes, the adjacent towns are close enough if we invest in better and quicker ways of getting to the top of the pass.

Its a high-mountain pass. Not a good place for this kind of development which is in fact regression…development implies somethings being built…I see it as something being destroyed.

The altitude is too high for out-of towners.

People that prey on local communities like Red has are criminals in my mind and I hope that a new era of respecting and protecting nature will unfold under a more youthful and conscious America.

Red is not a good man…He is the quint-essential slob-texan.
All one has to do is study this man for a few hours to totally realize his character is flawed and his decisions in the past have proven he is not the person to head this development.
My dark wish is that he finds the grave before he can make his personal dream of building this trash on our beautiful mountain a reality.

The fact is he will have to confront the same people (and more this time) as we saw in Vail with the blue-sky basin…How much money will he be willing to throw away on security and multiple efforts to build this thing…

I really feel its alright to fight for mother nature…
I believe that the short term minds of humans needs to be confronted with force in the end.

McCombs has made a fool of himself and Pagosa Springs is the first to know this.

peter m

This has been an interesting read.

One thread running through all of this is an unquestioned assumption that somehow the same rules that have dictated our economic progress since World War II are still in force. ~ We hear the news but none of it seems to be sinking in.

Our economic drive has been based on the greatest profit for the least investment – with a key component being pushing as many liability onto other entities as possible.

The new economy that is dawning, demands, yes demands, total focus on sustainability, taking responsibility for ones fallout. The new reality is that: ‘No Suzy you can’t have everything you can dream up.’

Alberta Park is a key component of an incredibly big watershed that gathers more snow than any other non-maritime area of our country. It is a major headwaters of the Rio Grande River. Large portions of it are “Fens” – amazing biologically active bogs, built up of centuries of organic material (no soil). Fens have awesome water holding & filtering abilities, to say nothing of biological productivity. Tear it up and it is impossible to replace.

I believe it is time we start considering people’s real needs, fresh water, productive farmland, a healthy biosphere. These interests would be harmed by plowing a doomed vacation town into the middle of that watershed resource area. LEAVE IT ALONE to continue accomplishing it’s biological duties!

As for McCombs and his Leavell-McCombs Joint Venure – it is quite typical of the Texan substance-less bravado (hell consider the texan breed foreign policy that has so radically damaged our economy, world and future.) .
Leavell-McCombs Joint Venure wants us to believe they can be trusted to build a town with all the infrastructure that requires and maintain >>> yet, they are a virtual company with no physical existence…. try finding an address for them anywhere. If you do please do share, because I can’t find them through the BBB or phone books. (They do have a website, but it’s years our of date.). Yes I know McCombs can be tracked down, but that is no excuse.

The fight for Alberta Park should be one of total opposition to any and all development on McCombs ill gotten property (another can of worms in itself ) .

>>> If the man has an ounce of patriotism in him, he would re-deed that land back to the National Forest Service who, I’m sure, would be happy to take it back and name it the Red McCombs Wildlife Preserve, a monument that will gain the man respect from generations to come.

J Diaz

Good Environmental policy IS good Economic policy!
Well said…The giant sponge that makes our water clean and safe.
He’ll wear his giant hat with a cigar in his mouth but when it comes to this he’s gonna wear a vest and act like he gives a damn about any future but his own.
Davy Pitcher-you rock!

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