Arapahoe Basin

Karl Sander
SnowPak Local Insider
Karl Sander
  • Deep fluffy powder; 350 in of the good stuff each year!
  • Some of Colorado's best extreme steeps
  • Small local mountain vibe
  • Relatively cheap lift tickets compared to larger resorts
  • One of the longest ski seasons lasting till spring and early summer
  • Old lifts, only one is high speed = queues, ugh!
  • Small ski terrain area compared to nearby Colorado resorts
  • Very limited dining, après ski and no lodging or resort amenities
  • Limited ground transport options to get there
  • Limited beginner terrain

Meet “the Legend.” If a ski resort is going to have a nickname like that, it’s got a lot to live up to - but believe me, Arapahoe Basin delivers! It’s been offering up some of the gnarliest big-mountain terrain in a part of the country known for white-knuckle skiing since 1946, after the site retired from its career as a defense contractor test site. Perched near the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass, its elevation helps give it a yearly average of 350 in of snow and some of the longest ski seasons anywhere in North America, often lasting into late spring and early summer (and, at least once, into August!). It maintains a small “locals’ mountain” vibe, complete with quirky staff, less stringent policies (at least compared to Vail resorts) and a more laissez faire atmosphere.

17/18 Historical Snowfall

Best month to go

Mid-December to April

With its long season, it might seem like you could go to A-Basin almost any time. The snow is usually deep with good coverage for the majority of winter, from mid-December through April. Of course, that timeframe also includes some of the coldest months of the year in the highest of high country, so you’ll want to pack and layer accordingly if you visit from December through February. Arapahoe Basin doesn’t usually get too crowded, though like any resort it has times that are busier than others. These are typically over the Christmas / New Year’s holiday, the US federal holiday weekends in mid-January and mid-February, and spring break in March. During those times, you might see some crowding on the beginner and intermediate runs due to the simple fact there just aren’t many of them to begin with. That said, with its reputation for extreme terrain, it doesn’t really draw a lot of beginners and intermediates to begin with.


Denver International Airport


Arapahoe Basin (approx. 2.5 hours)

Base of Keystone (5-10 mi)

  • Most skiers stay here as there is no lodging at A-Basin
  • Wide range of accommodation options
  • 15 minutes drive away

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Summit Cove (5-10 mi)

  • Closest town to Arapahoe Basin
  • Wide range of vacation rentals
  • Quieter compared to Keystone

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Dillon/Silverthorne (10-15 mi)

  • Both towns are around 20 mins drive away
  • Inexpensive lodging
  • Limited nightlife

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Frisco (15-20 mi)

  • 25-30 minutes drive away
  • Inexpensive lodging; has many hotel and motel chains
  • Easy access to Breckenridge and Copper Mountain

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For beginners

Beginner terrain is limited here but if you must, the base area is a good learning area for beginners, with two magic carpets, the Molly Hogan Lift and a gentle slope for practising on. More experienced beginners can lap the greens off Black Mountain Express including the Wrangler, the longest green run here with wide and gentle turns through the trees.

More beginners tips

For intermediates

The resort has a handful of intermediate runs. You'll have a few good choices off Black Mountain Express we definitely think you should try out Larkspur and Columbine, two long groomed runs in the Montezuma bowl.

More intermediates tips

For experts

The advanced and expert runs are what Arapahoe basin is known for! Anything off the Pallavicini lift is great with steep trees, massive bumps, cliff drops, cornices and tight turns. This is how we'd tackle it: warm up on the Beach before heading up to the Pali Chair. From here try out the bumps on Pali Main Street and then duck into the Timber Glades when you're halfway down! Once you're out of there, weave through the boulders at Rock Garden and onto Poli Wog. 

More experts tips

Find freshies

Lap Pallavinci (Pali) until East Wall opens; then, dash over to the bowls in Land of the Giants and Lower East Wall. 

Ditch the crowds

You won't see many crowds at A-Basin, but if you do, it'll probably be around the Zuma Lift, which is the only chair on the backside, or perhaps The Montezuma Bowl and mid-mountain areas. 

Non skiers

Theres no tubing, sledding, heli or catskiing in Arapahoe Basin. There is the Frisco Adventure Park nearby, but Arapahoe basin is really all about the skiing and snowboarding.


For families of differing ability levels should lap the runs off Black Mountain Express which serves a range of greens, blues and black runs. Cheaper lift tickets here are a great bonus for families though bear in mind there is no accommodation or resort amentities here.

Arapahoe Basin vs
Arapahoe BasinAspen Highlands
beginner10 %-
intermediate30 %23 %
advanced37 %12 %
expert23 %65 %
total runs109 144
ski area960ac 1,040ac
summit elevation13,050ft 11,677ft
total lifts8 5
child lift ticketFree Free
adult lift ticket$100 $155
back country
value for money
average total snowfall179″ 200″

Arapahoe Basin Reviews

Very Good 4.2 / 5
based on 98 reviews

How well the resort caters for beginner skiers / boarders


How well the resort caters for intermediate skiers / boarders?


How well the resort caters for advanced skiers / boarders


How accessible and convenient it is to get to this resort from a major destination


Quality of the off-piste terrain


Overall value for money of the resort

Value for money

Quality of lifts, lift speed and lift layout in the resort


Quantity and quality of the snow


How uncrowded is the resort


Après ski and dining options


Services and facilities e.g. child care, tubing, health care, equipment hire


How family friendly is this resort?

Family Friendliness
Good!3.5 / 5Nov 18, 2017
RCRuss C.
advanced skier
One of my favorite resorts in CO. if there is traffic on I 70 we take Loveland pass which is very scenic and much quicker than going through Dillon. I'd highly recommend the resort to anyone. ... More
Fabulous!4.5 / 5Nov 18, 2017
JCJeremy C.
advanced snowboarder
A Basin has always been my favorite summit county destination. It is less crowded and has great snow to go along with the biggest vertical decent in the area. I always have a great time especially in the spring time.... More
Average!3.5 / 5Nov 18, 2017
JBJustin B.
advanced snowboarder
Great resort for the locals! The beach is the best, BBQ and friends. What more can you ask for at a ski resort? Well beer. Let's add beer. Now you got a party... More
Very Good!4.1 / 5Nov 18, 2017
advanced snowboarder
I would recommend this resort to alll levels. All the staff are friendly and very welcoming. Can't wait to refer friends from our of town to this resort and Keystone. Perfect resorts that really have terrain foyer all levels of riding.... More
Superb!4.7 / 5Nov 17, 2017
CCCody C.
intermediate snowboarder
This is a fantastic resort. They tend to be the first open and last to close. The snow is always very good and the terrain is awesome to ride. Employees are friendly and helpful. Would recommend this to anyone looking for a fun family friendly place to ride. ... More
Superb!4.5 / 5Nov 17, 2017
JMJonathan M.
intermediate snowboarder
Had a great time here a couple of years ago. Enjoyed the little park section in the middle, and the lifts were all fast. Uncrowded place that I'll definitely return to next time I'm in Colorado. ... More
Fabulous!4.4 / 5Nov 17, 2017
JMJonathan M.
intermediate snowboarder
This place was awesome, awesome views, fast lifts, and not too crowded. Enjoyed the little park section about half way up the mountain. Restaurant and bar was a great place to relax for lunch. I'll be back!... More
Good!3.5 / 5Nov 17, 2017
RSRyan S.
advanced snowboarder
A-basin is a great place for intermediate to expert riders looking for a challenge. The steep runs on the East Wall never disappoints and the powder filled tree runs are heavenly. What the resort lacks in hotels and restaurants it more than makes up with its local, small town vibe that is hard to find these days. ... More
Fabulous!4.5 / 5Nov 13, 2017
SCSean C.
intermediate skier
Fantastic smaller resort with something for everyone. Amazing vertical, and slopes for every style of skiier. Usually uncrowded on weekdays and the slopes don't fill up too much. Lodge at mid mountain has great food at very reasonable prices. Overall, good bang for your buck but go during the week to avoid the crowds. ... More
Good!3.5 / 5Nov 13, 2017
JYJohn Y.
intermediate skier
A-basin is called the legend for a reason. There are beginner runs and facilities, but they are small. At Abasin you can get buck wild with the bad boys on opening day, and the mountain forces you to be a better skiier. There are no lodging facilities, but keystone is just down the road with tons of facilities. For me as a newly intermediate skiier... More

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