Overview of Purgatory, Colorado
Written by Jack Lee
Located in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado, Purgatory is a super friendly south western ski resort, perfect for families and folks that want a genuine kicked-back Colorado ski vacation. It's a Top 10 Colorado Ski Resort. Purgatory offers a convenient well-planned ski base with a small pedestrian village and great lodging just steps from the slopes. Durango Colorado offers plenty to do besides skiing - but the skiing on Purgatory is so pleasing - you may not need any other diversions.
Purgatory's slopes are fun and playful, starting with the six pack lift, The Purgatory Village Express, from the base that serves dozens of great groomed undulating blues and greens plus the super challenging Styx black diamond trail, all with extraordinary views at every turn. Purgatory Mountain at Durango sprawls across 1,360 acres with ten lifts flanking the Front and Back sides, wrapping East to West with 88 trails, 5 terrain parks, and some exciting glade terrain. Durango is perfect for families with its forgiving terrain, and just enough steep pitches and glades for the go getter. Who needs those extreme steeps and cliffs and hike to ski terrain many other resorts offer that you are never going to ski anyway?!
As the locals say at 11,822’ Purgatory Mountain, the next stop is heaven. Until you meet your maker, this mountain provides redemption on playful groomed trails that dip and curve down the front and back sides. Well placed lifts like the Purgatory Village six-pack and Hermosa Park Quad rarely see a lift line. Punish yourself on Purgatory’s steep challenging runs like Styx – far skiers right, Bull Run and the glades like McComacks’ far skiers left served by a new high-speed Legends Lift 8.
Durango is one of the friendliest ski resorts and towns we have encountered, affordable with an excellent ski and ride school, plus fun family après ski activities and great festivals in town. Kids will love the five unique terrain parks, and little ones will insist on skiing the Animas City Adventure Park – a ski through frontier town on snow – makes for great family photos opportunity too. Skiing Purgatory is a delight as you cruise past islands of grand pines with views of the surrounding San Juan 14,000-footers, Engineer Peak, and The Needles. Be sure to lunch at Dante's at the Backside Bistro for the best views, table service, and a great Colorado tapas style menu.
Purgatory Mountain has been through ownership and name changes since its opening in 1965, Durango recently merged with Arizona Snowbowl, and Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort and Pajarito Mountain Ski Area of New Mexico, but continues to be blessed with ample snow and amiable people. Staying at Purgatory is also a great value, much less expensive than nearby resort towns of Telluride or Vail Resort for example. Purgatory at Durango has a nice manageable ski village plaza, a few good shops and bars like Purgy’s and the Beach. The lux place to stay is Purgatory Lodge, opened in 2008 – steps from slopes with spacious suites all styled in rich Rocky Mountain décor, you will enjoy slope views during Continental breakfast and après ski in the lovely private Mountain Club Room, and the outdoor pool and Jacuzzi - all included in your Purgatory Lodge stay.
Downtown Durango is a must visit some afternoon or evening (a half hour drive), this lively western cowboy and miners’ town is home to over 100 restaurants, and enough modern shops, boutiques, and art galleries to keep a non-skier happily browsing along Main Avenue. Ken and Sue’s is a fantastic Durango restaurant – great local cuisine creatively prepared- and a bargain versus most ski resort town restaurants.
Trip Advisor recognizes Purgatory Durango Mountain Resort as the best value ski resort – we agree, prices are not jacked up in this great ski town, unlike other snow county resorts. You can stay at a chain motel for $39-50 a night, but we recommend you stay on the mountain at Purgatory Resort on a ski and stay deal, as low as $99 with your lift ticket – a better value and a better place to be poised for the first and last chair without the drive. Purgatory Lodge is perfect, right down to the ski lockers steps from the slopes, and the spa and pool outside.
Durangotangs, a funny nickname for this fun-loving ski society, celebrate winter with spirit, lots of skiing and après ski brews from their local breweries, and Snow Down – one of the best on snow annual events in ski country. For off the slopes fun, Durango offers Hot Springs, Cascade Canyon Ice Climbing even for kids and first-timers, dog sledding, sleigh rides, 18 km of Nordic ski trails, night skiing at Ski Hesperus in town, four top local breweries, and scenic train rides on the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway.
The Mountain was beautiful. The Kids ski school program was great. The runs for a beginner skier is great
While not a huge resort, Purgatory offers great advanced intermediate skiing on varied terrain with a back drop of breath taking beauty.