ARAPAHOE BASIN RESORT GUIDE
Images courtesy of Arapahoe Basin
Arapahoe Basin Resort Overview
**Covid Operating Guidelines: Arapahoe Basin will require lift tickets to be puchased online, in advance. Ikon Pass holders must make reservations at ikonpass.com to ski at Arapahoe Basin any day this winter. A-Basin and Mountain Collective Passholders will NOT be required to make reservations. Indoor dining will be closed. To-go options will be available, however, there will be no indoor gathering places. Your car is your locker and warming hut. Lessons will will be available and must be reserved at least 72 hours in advance. For the latest on Arapahoe Basin's covid operating guidelines check their Winter 2020-21 Visitor's Guide.
You know something big is about to happen when you see signs warning that cars parked on the side of the desolate mountain road you're driving up will be towed. You're approaching Arapahoe Basin (known as A-Basin or the "Legend"). This is the resort that left the Epic pass because it was reaching overcapacity. If you think parking at A-Basin is the hardest thing, try skiing down the 46% pitch on 5th Alley. A-basin is not for the faint-hearted - no late morning starts, no ski in ski out and definitely no night life. The Legend is all about skiing and that it takes very seriously. It's one of the first Colorado resorts to open and last to close (we skied July 4th in 2019), 73% of its terrain is marked difficult (49%) to extreme (24%) and hiking up in search of the best lines is a given. Yet, anyone who loves this sport should visit the "Legend" at least once to see how skiing used to be before mega-development became standard. Plus, it's close enough to other great resorts that if intermediate or beginner skiers tire of the adequate, but limited slopes, they can opt out and easily explore other great resorts, like Keystone (10 minutes away). A-Basin offers 5 or 7 days on the Ikon Pass or 2 or 3 days on the Mountain Collective.
Pass Summary: A-Basin offers great deals for season pass holders, including incredible value for mid-week skiing and specialty groups - seniors, college students, and kids. Subject to availablity.
Snow-Making & Grooming
Extreme / Off-Piste Terrain
On Mountain Dining
Pure skiing for the sake of skiing - chill, unpretentious and focused. Be sourrounded by seasoned skiers and boarders
Long season, start as early as Thanksgiving and go through July 4. Less crowded than other CO resorts with extended seasons
Compact, yet lift lines tend to be short and the intermediate and exoert terrain is highly varied, spanning open bowls and gnarly chutes
Easy to get to from the Denver airport and other destination ski resorts - free bus services from most major hubs
Explore new terrain on The Beavers, a 400 acre expansion (to previous backcountry). This area opened during the 2018-19 season
Parking is free, but limited, so arrive early, carpool or consider the bus if staying nearby
Ski-bum vibe with a slight expectation that this isn't your first time on the slopes
A-Basin has a "Ski Area" designation, this means no resort trappings; don't be fooled though, there are on mountain dining options to fit every taste and budget
Slower than usual lifts (only 1 high speed quad), but less waiting and amazing views to pass the time
The A-Basin Equipment Shop is the only option at the Base and can be a bottleneck for those in need of gear
First timers should consider a mountain tour, a great way to see the whole mountain in ~2 hours. These are run regularly by volunteers. They won't take you on anything harder than a blue (which tend to be closer to an easy black by most standards)
Follow Al's Blog (Al is A-Basin's COO) for daily tips and updates on where to find the best snow, where to hike and how to carpool
While your Google Maps (or other GPS app) will always direct you to A-Basin over the Loveland Pass, off of I-70 from Denver, this route can be treacherous. When conditions are bad, head into Dillon and continue past Keystone on US-6
If time is more important than money, consider paying $30 for reserved parking or book a slot at the beach
The Beavers and the Steep Gullies are now accessible via the Beaver Quad lift (the Steep Gullies still require a walk out). These areas became lift accessible for the 2018-19 season and still feel like the least discovered part of the mountain
For an in-depth breakdown of Arapahoe Basin's terrain, head to our Mountain Guide. Top trails and mountain stats included.
Getting To & Around
We prefer the freedom a car provides, especially for parties of 4+. Exploring A-basin and the surrounding ski areas can also be done on the free local shuttle buses. The Summit Stage Swan Mountain Flyer runs to A-Basin every hour from Keystone's River Run, though can be crowded