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
Superb!5 / 5Oct 09, 2017
DLDalton L.
A true locals resort, Arapahoe Basin has many advantages over it's neighboring resorts. It is located close to Denver, offers extreme terrain at the famous "East Wall," and typically receives less traffic than neighboring Keystone. In addition to this, Arapahoe Basin competes to be the first resort open and last resort to close. Their season will... More
Superb!5 / 5Oct 09, 2017
DJDavid J.
Skiing or riding great terrain without the traffic and dangerous out of state visitors. The parking lot sits at about 10500 feet. The runs are steep and long.. the Beach is awesome...and don't miss out on the Bloodies......
Very Good!4 / 5Oct 07, 2017
Arapahoe basin is great for intermediate and advanced skiers, but not really for beginners. The terrain is mostly steep and at high altitude. There are lots of trees as well.
Superb!5 / 5Oct 07, 2017
A-basin is always fun. If you are the type that would rather ski some gnarly, steep terrain than get caught in the luxury tourist trap resorts, this is the place to go. Great local vibe.
Superb!5 / 5Oct 07, 2017
LLLouis L.
Went to Arapahoe basin for the first time last year. It has great bowls, very good snowpack due it is elevation, and awesome views. Overall it's a great place for some good blue collar skiing.
Superb!5 / 5Oct 07, 2017
CPChris P.
This is my favorite resort o n the epic pass. A great varietyg of terrain, short lift lines, and you can get a great burger and a beer for less than $15. Oh yah, and the beach!
Superb!5 / 5Oct 07, 2017
TRTaylor R.
Best in the West. It has it all. The steeps can't be beat and the powder is epic!! Not to mention after a long day on the Hill they have some of the best deals at the local pub! Great people and great vibes. Forget Vale or Breck if you want to avoid the crowds and get a real mountain experience go to A Basin!
Superb!5 / 5Oct 06, 2017
RHRobert H.
Best beach in skiing. Steep terrain without the crowds. Classic mom and pop mountain feel. High elevation above treeline shredding with the potential for high consequence. Excellent slackcountry offerings for steeps.
Superb!5 / 5Oct 05, 2017
JGJose G.
An amazing amount of options to ride groomers or really push your riding with some hiking on the east wall. The best part about Abasin is April and May. The biggest powder days I've ever had are during this time. The ledgend offers the best late season riding!
Superb!5 / 5Oct 05, 2017
RCIRobert C. Iii
A basin has always been one of my favorite resorts. Liftees and ticket scanners are always friendly and usually have great jokes. Food is very reasonably priced for a mountain and the bacon bloody Mary's are one of my favorite beverages in Colorado. Keep on slaying it a bay! Can't wait to see you soon. You're truly a gift from üllr himself.

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