Arapahoe Basin offers some of North America’s highest skiable terrain and one of the longest ski seasons in the state of Colorado.
Thanks to a base elevation of 10,780 ft high up on the Continental Divide in Summit County, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area – known to most as A-Basin – has a ski season that runs from October to June, making it the longest season in Colorado. While the 1,300 plus acres of skiable area isn’t vast compared to neighboring Keystone or Breckenridge, A-Basin is a local favorite because of it’s fun-loving vibe, breathtaking views, and an area known as The Beach, where skiers and boarders can hang out and barbecue at the base of the lifts. A-Basin also just added 468 acres of new terrain, called The Beavers and The Steep Gullies, and a new lift for the 2018-2019 season.
A-Basin gets an average of 350 inches of snow annually. The area has a 2,270 ft. drop from a 13,050 ft. summit, with 1,331 acres of skiable terrain that is geared towards more advanced skiers. Only 7 percent of the 132 runs are ranked as beginner, while 24 percent are extreme. Snow-making covers 125 acres here. There are two terrain parks – High Divide and Treeline – but no night skiing, tubing, ice skating or other activities geared towards winter tourism. Travelers will have plenty of that to chose from at neighboring resorts. At A-Basin, it’s purely skiing and snowboarding.
A-Basin is a Mountain Collective member and and has a children’s lift package deal. The ski area has a rental shop at its base, as well as a ski and snowboard school that offers children’s, adults and private lessons. There is no overnight accommodation at A-Basin, but there are a few dining options at the three day lodges, including a full cafeteria and bar as well as an outdoor grill and patio and a bistro menu at Black Mountain Lodge, at the top of the Black Mountain Express lift. The parking lot at A-Basin backs onto an empty stretch known as The Beach. With a view to the three lower lifts and the mountains, The Beach is first-come, first-serve, with 15 spots holding a picnic table and spots for two vehicles. It’s a common to find birthday parties, reunions and company parties being held here during the ski season.
While the season at A-Basin is long, many note that the best times to visit for the best snow is between December and April – those Spring months are also the best time to enjoy warmer temperatures while still getting good snow coverage.
While there is no lodging at A-Basin, there are plenty of options in Keystone, about a five minute drive away. Other towns close to A-Basin are Frisco, Silverthorne, Breckenridge and Dillon.
Silverthorne-based Wildernest Vacation Rentals has a variety of accommodations in Dillon, Frisco, Keystone and Silverthorne as well as Breckenridge, from one-bedroom condos to large private homes with a fireplace and hot tub ( www.wildernest.com ). Just off of Frisco’s historic Main Street, is The Frisco Inn on Galena, offering a complimentary wine and cheese gathering in the afternoons during the season, as well as a free breakfast, indoor and outdoor hot tubs and a sauna ( www.friscoinnongalena.com ).
Coming off the lifts, there are a few options at the three base lodges at A-Basin, from a taco truck to burgers, to house-smoked barbecue. The 6th Alley Bar & Grill has legendary Bloody Marys, 20 beers on tap, as well as comfort winter fare like chicken and waffles as well as calzones and pork posole. Located mid-mountain, the Black Mountain Lodge serves up grilled sandwiches, barbecue and soups and stews, along with views of the Continental Divide from their patio. Mountain Goat Plaza also has The Taco Truck, with options like street tacos, taco salads, burritos and fajitas ( www.arapahoebasin.com ).
A-Basin is in Summit County, 68 miles west of downtown Denver or a 96 mile drive from Denver International Airport via I-70 west. The Denver International Airport has daily flights from cities around the U.S., though the Vail/Eagle Airport is a closer option, 45 miles away. There are regular shuttle services from the Denver airport to nearby towns like Keystone and Breckenridge. From mid-November through late May, the free Summit Stage bus runs daily service from anywhere in Summit County to Arapahoe Basin.
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