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Arapahoe Basin

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Arapahoe basin
Karl Sander
SnowPak Local Insider
Karl Sander

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

Overall

4.6

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 shuttleier 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.
Airplane

FLY TO

Denver International Airport

Bus

SHUTTLE TO

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

Find accommodations around here

Summit Cove (5-10 mi)

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

Find accommodations around here

Dillon/Silverthorne (10-15 mi)

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

Find accommodations around here

Frisco (15-20 mi)

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

Find accommodations around here

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.

Families

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 122
ski area960ac 1,040ac
summit elevation13,050ft 11,677ft
total lifts8 5
child lift ticketFree Free
adult lift ticket$100 $155
uncrowded
snow
back country
value for money
average total snowfall179″ 200″

Arapahoe Basin Reviews

Very Good

4.2 / 5

based on 95 reviews

How well the resort caters for beginner skiers / boarders

Beginners

How well the resort caters for intermediate skiers / boarders?

Intermediates

How well the resort caters for advanced skiers / boarders

Advanced

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

Accessibility

Quality of the off-piste terrain

Side/Backcountry

Overall value for money of the resort

Value for money

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

Lifts

Quantity and quality of the snow

Snow

How uncrowded is the resort

Uncrowded

Après ski and dining options

Town

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

Facilities

How family friendly is this resort?

Family Friendliness
Have your say on Arapahoe Basin
Very Good!

4 / 5

Oct 29, 2017
TTanner
Very fun resort, of course one of the first to open too! Such a great resort especially for how close it is to Denver as well! I can't wait for the snow to pick up, most resorts are icy to begin with!
Superb!

5 / 5

Oct 29, 2017
TTad
This place is great to get away from the larger crowds of the bigger resorts. It's great for the advanced ski/boarder with a great mix of terrain. I would definitely recommend.
Superb!

5 / 5

Oct 27, 2017
MVMike V.
Best resort in summit county for hitting the gnarly terrain and getting those pre season turns in beautiful place with great people no better place to visit then a basin!
Superb!

5 / 5

Oct 26, 2017
GCGreg C.
I went to A-basin for the first time in 17 years last February. I still think this is the most scenic mountain, and by far has the greatest staff. In addition, the back bowl is sweet, especially w the cornice to drop off of into the bowl. Then finish the run off w some easy, fast trees leave only three words: Aye May Zinnnnng!
Superb!

5 / 5

Oct 26, 2017
JBJoel B.
Arapahoe Basin has the longest season in the US! It typically opens in October and closes in June. The front side of the mountain faces north allowing it to hold snow better than other resorts. During the winter, check out the south facing Zuma bowl. It has intermediate terrain in the middle and more advanced terrain off to the sides. A Basin has a... More
Very Good!

4 / 5

Oct 26, 2017
FBSFrank B. S.
Some of the best riding in CO. Smaller, off the beaten path, not a lot if beginner terrain. Get there early for a spot on "The beach" to party slope-side.
Very Good!

4 / 5

Oct 26, 2017
EWEvan W.
Great resort focused more towards a serious rider. High altitude can make for exiting weather conditions. Longest season in Co. Closest summit county resort. Surprisingly great food and drinks for a small resort.
Superb!

5 / 5

Oct 26, 2017
GEGenesis E.
A basin is a really great place to fulfill all of the fun winter activities that many people appreciate. They maintain the mountain very well and the friendly staff is very professional and willing to help. A basin is a really great place for all levels of skiers and is a really great place to enjoy some family fun. It is also close to Denver and... More
Superb!

5 / 5

Oct 24, 2017
KLKyle L.
By far the best terrain and vibe in Summit County. A classic Colorado ski area, a throwback to the age of box lunches, cheap beer, and short lift lines. The Pallavacini lift on the front side is long time locals favorite. Long season and the Beach is a must do on any Spring Break trip.
Superb!

5 / 5

Oct 22, 2017
BMBrett M.
Love this mt. The long season and the small mt feel. Always gets the most snow. Not as busy as many other nts. They always open first. More of a local feel
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