Overview of Wolf Creek, Colorado
Written by Greg and Heather Burke
Wolf Creek is situated in a beautiful southern Colorado bowl drenched with natural snow in the San Juan Rio Grande National Forest. Wolf Creek offers seven lifts serving 1,600 acres of skiing and snowboarding - at great rates. Wolf Creek doesn't get the big crowds, but it does get the big snow - over 450 inches annually. In fact, The U.S. Olympic Team trains here because the season is long and snowy at this high elevation South West Colorado ski resort. Wolf Creek has trademarked "the most snow in Colorado" and backs up their claim scientifically by typically receiving 450-470’ of snow in this South West Snowbelt. Interestingly, this part of Colorado has a similar latitude to Virginia but you are skiing above 10,000'.
Arriving at Wolf Creek, you conveniently park and walk up to the nearby base lodges and lifts. Wolf Creek ski area is nothing fancy, but very friendly, with all the services you need from ski school and rentals to a ski shop and a pleasant base lodge for breakfast, snacks, lunch and an après ski beer. Families like Wolf Creek for its friendly vibe, affordable tickets, and great blue trails. Experts meanwhile like the big dog skiing at Wolf Creek - all natural skiing on the 1,000 acre Alberta area.
The Raven Quad Chairlift serves up beautifully blue and green groomed ski runs and has a spectacular lodge at the top called Raven's Nest - a great spot for a scenic lunch of homemade soup or fresh pizza and salad bar. Save room for the fresh baked Two Mile High Pie and pastries at this lofty lunch spot - be sure to sit upstairs. A few steeper pitches and sparsely treed trails on this western side of the Wolf Creek get your ski legs going before you tackle the steeper more backcountry style skiing offered in the Alberta area. Intermediates love the Navajo - a two-mile blue off the Treasure Chair, and Charisma which winds its way under the Bonanza Triple. The Treasure Chair also accesses the double black chutes in the Waterfall Area, short but steep and fun runs that deposit you at the Alberta Quad chair.
Experts love Wolf Creek's all natural terrain of Alberta Face on a fresh powder day, then head over to Alberta Peak at 11,900' and Boundary Bowl with a short hike. The Alberta Lift serves all natural, ungroomed, unaltered ski slopes like Tsunami and Abracadabra. From the top of this outermost Alberta Quad Lift (a fixed grip), you have access to 1,000 acres of natural glades and snow bowls – the pitch of Vail with a lot fewer people. You can hike up to the Ski Patrol Shack then walk along the Knife Ridge after ascending the Knife Ridge Staircase. Here you earn your turns in the legendary Knife Ridge Chutes - all double black diamond. Other ski resorts, like Telluride, claim to have the first stairs to extreme ski terrain in North America, but Wolf Creek's ski stairs predate that - they're just more humble less hype here.
Certain days, Wolf Creek even offers cat skiing - delivering skiers out to the eastern most ski area boundary and Horseshoe Bowl, no extra charge for the cat ski ride. You are just a lucky Wolf if you hit the Wolf Creek cat ski timing right.
Most Wolf Creek visitors stay in nearby Pagosa Springs where there are lots of lodging options, chain hotel and of course Pagosa Hot Springs. We stayed in Del Norte, a small Colorado town closer to Denver. The Windsor Hotel is a beautifully restored 1874 hotel with 14 grand gorgeous guest rooms, an après ski Bistro Barbara, and gourmet dinners served in the elegant dining room - all prepared by the super friendly culinary proprietors of the Windsor. Durango Resort is 80 miles west of Wolf Creek.
Wolf Creek opened in 1939, making it one of the longest continually operating ski resorts in North America. Wolf Creek has been owned and operated by the Pitcher family, three generations now since 1974, and the current president Davey Pitcher has unveiled a 20-year master plan to add five lifts and 1,000 acres on the backside. Stay tuned as Wolf Creek must work with The US National Forest for its expansion plans which include replacing the Treasure Chair with a quad and relocating that double, plus adding a Tram on the back side of Wolf Creek. For now, Wolf Creek is a fun, snowy ski resort that doesn't get the acclaim or the crowds - so you are bound to find freshies here and very friendly local Coloradans. On your ski trip to Wolf Creek, you can also check out Crested Butte, Telluride, Silverton, and Durango ski areas. on our suggested Southwest Colorado Ski Safari.