Arapahoe Basin Ski Area Review
Usually one of the first ski hills to open and the last to close in the USA, Arapahoe Basin has a unique location and culture that sets it apart from the neighbouring Colorado ski resorts
. Locally known as A-Basin and oft referred to as ‘The Legend’, it has a questionable reputation for gnarly terrain and a fair dinkum reputation for vehicle based BBQs and boozing.
A lot of people at A Basin have a generally laid back attitude which on occasion could be mistaken for rudeness and laziness! Arapahoe Basin is popular with brown baggers, telemarkers, car park party animals and summit county locals.
Where is Arapahoe Basin?
Arapahoe Basin is in Summit County, Colorado, and is located high on the Continental Divide, a 154km (96 mile) drive west of Denver International Airport. Vail/Eagle Municipal Airport is another commonly used gateway airport. Neighbouring resorts are Keystone, Copper Mountain, Loveland and Breckenridge
A Basin Ski and Snowboard Terrain
The resort has a compact ski area, but it is uncrowded and still has plenty to offer. The official statistic on the skiable terrain is 364 hectares, but this doesn’t include the famous East Wall, a backcountry area accessed via a hike (to the Upper East Wall) or traverse (to the Lower East Wall).
The Arapahoe Basin ski area
has the highest skiable terrain in North America at an elevation of 3,977 metres. Due to the high altitude and north facing aspect of many of the slopes, the snow quality is good, and the resort has an incredibly long season. The upper half of the mountain is above the tree-line and the resort is well known for its cruisy open bowls, chutes and steep mogul terrain. One of the legendary runs is the challenging Pallavicini trail. Riders earn the right to call it the “Pali” once they’ve conquered it.
Even though Arapahoe Basin has a reputation for tricky terrain, there are also less intimidating groomed runs for the average punter. They run a really cheap program for novice riders, and there is a magic carpet servicing some easy runs. There are also two terrain parks.
Accommodation and Facilities
The facilities and services are mainly at the base in and around the A-Frame lodge – thankfully this is no longer used as a missile testing facility. The Sixth Alley bar is good for a bit of après - after you’ve completed the first five “alleys” on the Pallavicini run (a bit like the 19th hole at a golf course). There is also an eatery further up the mountain.
Varied programs are runs by the ski school, including lessons and avalanche courses to equip riders for the backcountry. There is no accommodation at the base area, but plenty 8km down the road there are plenty of Keystone hotels
or accommodations in the nearby towns of Dillon, Frisco, Silverthorne, or Breckenridge
Why Ski or Snowboard at A Basin?
To avoid disappointment, ski Arapahoe Basin on a freshie day when the snow base is over 60 inches (150cm) and the wind isn’t blowing 50 bastards. Otherwise come on a blue bird day for the stupendous views or for the dubious pleasure of getting sozzled in a ski hill’s car park. Don’t forget to bring your own brown bag lunch - they love it!