The Ski Mountain
It’s small. There’s no lodging or night life. The locals call the mountain’s top après ski hang-out “the beach” – a.k.a. the gravel-filled parking lot. Yet Arapahoe Basin remains one of Northern Colorado’s best resorts for advanced skiers. It’s steep; it’s cheap (lift tickets sell for about 30% less than at Vail); it’s convenient — just 68 miles from Denver; and it’s got a great folksy atmosphere that most often lands it a number-one Mom & Pop Ski Resort ranking. Add to that the longest ski season in Colorado, sometimes extending into July, and it’s easy to see why A-Basin is considered one of the hidden gems among Colorado ski resorts.
The Mountain Experience
Arapahoe Basin prides itself on facilitating a relaxing ski and snowboard environment. From ski bum locals to dedicated Denver ski families, people come to A-Basin not just for its terrain but also for the intimate feel. There are fewer tourists here than better-known resort towns like Vail and Keystone, but that’s part of what appeals to the locals. It’s all about skiing.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Terrain
• Advanced/Expert: This terrain makes up 60 percent of the resort, making it a dream for experienced skiers and snowboarders. If you want to try chutes, take the main chair lift and hike the East Wall, but bring your oxygen tank. The top of the East Wall is over 13,000 feet. If hiking and chutes aren’t your cup of tea, ski the wide steep bowls on the back side of the mountain.
Current Snow Conditions
• Intermediate: Every one of Arapahoe Basin’s main-mountain lifts access intermediate terrain, allowing you to go up the lift with your thrill-seeking friends without worrying about how to get down. However, if you’re an intermediate skier looking for the most variety, stick to the front side of the mountain.
• Beginner: Only 10 percent of the runs are made for beginners, but the mountain facilitates a great learning environment. The Molly Hogan lift and hill is dedicated to skiers and snowboarders looking for a relaxing place to develop their skills. And it’s a steal. If you’re willing to stick to the beginner runs, Arapahoe will charge just $25 for adults and $15 for kids. If you want the whole mountain, you’ll pay almost three times more.
A-Basin boasts the highest-elevation advanced freestyle park in North America – that means it stays open several months after most other Colorado ski resorts have closed. If you’re still learning, head to the High Divide Terrain Park as it’s designed for progressive jibbers trying to learn the trade. Once you’ve mastered the High Divide Park, you can move into the Treeline Terrain Park with more advanced features.
Dress warmly with lots of layers or bring them with you and rent a locker. Arapahoe Basin’s high-altitude makes it colder than your average resort, and it’s at least a 5-mile bus ride back to your suitcase if you want to grab another sweater. If you’re not a local, take advantage of the resorts complimentary ski/snowboard guided tours of the mountain. Mountain volunteers at the base can also answer questions about the mountain and direct you towards appropriate terrain. Beginners should ask about the Molly Hogan area. If you learn on that one lift, you’ll save a fortune on lift tickets and learn in a mellower, slow-ski environment. Finally, plan ahead. If you buy your lift tickets online, you’ll avoid standing in the cold and save a couple of bucks. If you buy at least seven days in advance, the savings are more significant.
There’s one bar and tailgating in the parking lot. The Sixth Alley Bar has music and happy hour specials on Fridays, while “The Beach” is the only tailgating party at 10,000 feet. Unfortunately, the bar closes at 5:30 p.m. so if you want to drink after dark, you’ll have to drive to town, the closest being Breckenridge, just a few miles down the road.
Breckenridge. A charming Victorian town, with 75+ restaurants and bars, historic district and ski-in/ski-out access.
You want to stay here? Sorry. The closest lodging is located five miles down the road in Keystone, with Breckenridge just a few miles further and offering hundreds of more choices. The good news: There’s a free bus that runs hourly from A-Basin to all other ski resorts in Summit County.
Skiing With Kids
Bring the kids. Arapahoe Basin is known for having one of the best ski and snowboard schools in Summit County. Catering to children as young as four years old, the program is designed to foster a child’s passion for skiing or riding. Better yet, because the resort is small, the ski school typically has smaller class sizes facilitating a more personal lesson. A kid’s beginner lift ticket is just $15 and children under the age of 5 ski free.
Lift Tickets and Season Pass Cost*
Lift Tickets (pre-purchase online):
Adult $48-$73; Child $24-$37; Senior $48-$69 (PURCHASE NOW)
Season Pass: Adult $299; Child $139
• Legend 4 Pass = 4 Days for $158
• Epic Pass
Special Deals: $25 ($15 for children) beginner only tickets
*prices reflect our best effort to gather from resort published information.
By Jason Kornfeld