My Favorite Colorado Mountain

Most people who plan to go skiing in Colorado set their sights on resorts like Vail, Breckenridge, Telluride or Steamboat Springs. Each resort has plenty to offer the avid skier - some like Vail offer great skiing and a great atmosphere while others like Copper Mountain are more about the mountain and less about the village. When it comes to pure skiing, my favorite (and the favorite of many Colorado locals) is Arapahoe Basin.

A Beautiful Day of Skiing in May of 2003

Located just a short drive up the road from Keystone, A-Basin has the highest base of any mountain in North America, over 10,000 feet. That means A-Basin has a long season, lots of snow and plenty of great above tree-line skiing. So, what's so great about A-Basin? Below are my top 5 reasons.

Taking a Break on the East Wall

Great Skiing - A-Basin is not too big and not too small... that means you get plenty of great skiing on a varied mountain with above tree-line skiing, plenty of steeps, moguls - just a lot of variety. I messed up a pair of demo skis on Pallavicini (site of a big avalanche during the 2004-2005 season) It's not for beginners which means...

Smaller Crowds - Since the mountain isn't covered with greens and blues (yes, there are some so an intermediate skier will find plenty to do), there aren't a ton of families. You'll see lots of good skiers and snowboarders but not long lines. I don't think I've ever waited in a line longer than a couple of minutes at A-Basin.

A Long Ski Season - October 13, 2006 marked the earliest opening for A-Basin in its 60 year history. The resort is know for fantastic late season skiing with hefty bases. Of the times I've skied A-Basin, one time was early May (over a 90" base with a snowstorm) and another time was over Memorial Day weekend in 2003 (the pictures you see in this post). This past year, A-Basin closed on June 3rd and it has been known to stay open as late as July 4th weekend.

Reasonable Lift Ticket Prices - Nowadays, lift ticket prices are absurd. Fortunately, A-Basin has kept costs relatively low. Daily lift rates are still within reach and season passes are as low as $259.00 for adults, $169.00 for youth and $99 for a child.

No-Frills Skiing - If you've been to A-Basin, you know it's all about the skiing. There isn't much there save for a base lodge, a big parking lot known as the beach (where people hang out and even camp out to save money), a big mountain and not much else. If you want to go shopping for souvenirs, head towards the other Summit County resorts. If all you care about is hitting the snow, you'll do fine at A-Basin.

Locals Hanging Out and Camping on "The Beach"

At the end of the day, it all depends on what you want in a resort. You can stay in Keystone for a more family-friendly experience or Breckenridge for the ski town experience and know that A-Basin is a short drive away and is always worth adding to your itinerary.

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