Arapahoe Basin

Karl Sander
SnowPak Local Insider
Karl Sander
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  • 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 snowfall180″ 200″
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Arapahoe Basin Reviews

Very Good 4.2 / 5
based on 106 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
Average!3.5 / 5Dec 04, 2017
TMTravis M.
intermediate snowboarder
A-Basin is a fun resort to hit up. Whether you feel like dropping down shoots that feel like a free-fall or you just want a nice leisurely ride, A-Basin is the way to go.... More
Average!3.3 / 5Dec 03, 2017
YKYanni K.
advanced skier
beautiful and nice, allowing uphill skinning and a layback ski resort with great snow and trails. Close to Denver and close to other ski resorts. A great choice to ski on high altitude!... More
Fabulous!4.4 / 5Dec 03, 2017
CMChristian M.
advanced snowboarder
Arapahoe basin is a fantastic resort for all ages and levels of skiing and snowboarding. Very welcoming group of staff that will help you with any thing c your could want or need. Keep up the swell work.... More
Very Good!3.9 / 5Nov 30, 2017
BLBen L.
intermediate snowboarder
Great resort that caters to all skill levels. You could drop off the kids for lessons in the morning and go hit the back country yourself for the day and meet up with them later. Worth the drive to get away from the crowds from the other resorts.... More
Very Good!4 / 5Nov 30, 2017
intermediate snowboarder
Although I went when it was just starting with a very few lifts open, a-basin most definitely is pretty big and has enough lifts and many different terrains for all levels. I was really glad to see that for the people just learning to snowboard or ski, this resort has their own personal staff help every individual. They also separate you as you... More
Superb!4.6 / 5Nov 28, 2017
JRJohn R.
expert skier
Great value ski area. Great terrain. The snow at the Basin is usually better than surrounding areas in summit county. Great kids learning programs and an awesome kid center. Great bbq at mid mountain (sweet potatoe fries rock!) Parking can be a challenge but once on the hill, it's not usually as crowded as you would expect it to be. ... More
Good!3.6 / 5Nov 24, 2017
DJDaniel J.
expert snowboarder
A Basin is rad and always have a good time there. It has some good terrain variance and if you are willing to hike you can get into some absolutely gnarly chutes. I also like how they let you hike and if you want to get up crazy early you can start hiking before the rooster crows. Also, of course have to mention the long season. Good spot to go. ... More
Good!3.6 / 5Nov 23, 2017
advanced skier
This is my favorite place to head to on a snow day from the front range. Manageable crowds. Parking is navigable if you show up early and you can ski to your truck for lunch! Best bar too!... More
Average!3.1 / 5Nov 23, 2017
FTFrancis T.
expert skier
Arapahoe Basin is a Great mountain with challenging terrain to keep you on your "A" game. Lifts are slow fixed other than the Black Mountain Express, which is a detachable high speed quad. The slow lifts help keep a high amount of people off the mountain at once, however with the partnership with Vail Resorts, the mountain has drawn increasingly... More
Superb!4.8 / 5Nov 23, 2017
SWSteven W.
intermediate snowboarder
I absolutely love A-basin!!! It's up the road and away from all the rush and crowds, but still only minutes away from Silverthorne and keystone. There bloody Mary's are delicious!! The terrain for boarding is awesome, perfect for beginners to the adventurous advanced backcountry folk!! I love it there and can't wait to scrap up the money to go... More

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