Arapahoe Basin

Karl Sander
SnowPak Local Insider
Karl Sander
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  • Deep fluffy powder; 889 cm of the good stuff each year!
  • Some of Colorado's best extreme steeps
  • Small local mountain vibe
  • Relatively cheap lift tickets compared to larger resorts
  • One of the longest ski seasons lasting till spring and early summer
  • Old lifts, only one is high speed = queues, ugh!
  • Small ski terrain area compared to nearby Colorado resorts
  • Very limited dining, après ski and no lodging or resort amenities
  • Limited ground transport options to get there
  • Limited beginner terrain

Arapahoe Basin Ski Packages

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Meet “the Legend.” If a ski resort is going to have a nickname like that, it’s got a lot to live up to - but believe me, Arapahoe Basin delivers! It’s been offering up some of the gnarliest big-mountain terrain in a part of the country known for white-knuckle skiing since 1946, after the site retired from its career as a defence contractor test site. Perched near the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass, its elevation helps give it a yearly average of 889 cm of snow and some of the longest ski seasons anywhere in North America, often lasting into late spring and early summer (and, at least once, into August!). It maintains a small “locals’ mountain” vibe, complete with quirky staff, less stringent policies (at least compared to Vail resorts) and a more laissez faire atmosphere.

17/18 Historical Snowfall

Best month to go

Mid-December to April

With its long season, it might seem like you could go to A-Basin almost any time. The snow is usually deep with good coverage for the majority of winter, from mid-December through April. Of course, that timeframe also includes some of the coldest months of the year in the highest of high country, so you’ll want to pack and layer accordingly if you visit from December through February. Arapahoe Basin doesn’t usually get too crowded, though like any resort it has times that are busier than others. These are typically over the Christmas / New Year’s holiday, the US federal holiday weekends in mid-January and mid-February, and spring break in March. During those times, you might see some crowding on the beginner and intermediate runs due to the simple fact there just aren’t many of them to begin with. That said, with its reputation for extreme terrain, it doesn’t really draw a lot of beginners and intermediates to begin with.


Denver International Airport


Arapahoe Basin (approx. 2.5 hours)

Base of Keystone (8-16 km)

  • Most skiers stay here as there is no lodging at A-Basin
  • Wide range of accommodation options
  • 15 minutes drive away

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Summit Cove (8-16 km)

  • Closest town to Arapahoe Basin
  • Wide range of vacation rentals
  • Quieter compared to Keystone

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Dillon/Silverthorne (16-24 km)

  • Both towns are around 20 mins drive away
  • Inexpensive lodging
  • Limited nightlife

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Frisco (24-32 km)

  • 25-30 minutes drive away
  • Inexpensive lodging; has many hotel and motel chains
  • Easy access to Breckenridge and Copper Mountain

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For beginners

Beginner terrain is limited here but if you must, the base area is a good learning area for beginners, with two magic carpets, the Molly Hogan Lift and a gentle slope for practising on. More experienced beginners can lap the greens off Black Mountain Express including the Wrangler, the longest green run here with wide and gentle turns through the trees.

More beginners tips

For intermediates

The resort has a handful of intermediate runs. You'll have a few good choices off Black Mountain Express we definitely think you should try out Larkspur and Columbine, two long groomed runs in the Montezuma bowl.

More intermediates tips

For experts

The advanced and expert runs are what Arapahoe basin is known for! Anything off the Pallavicini lift is great with steep trees, massive bumps, cliff drops, cornices and tight turns. This is how we'd tackle it: warm up on the Beach before heading up to the Pali Chair. From here try out the bumps on Pali Main Street and then duck into the Timber Glades when you're halfway down! Once you're out of there, weave through the boulders at Rock Garden and onto Poli Wog. 

More experts tips

Find freshies

Lap Pallavinci (Pali) until East Wall opens; then, dash over to the bowls in Land of the Giants and Lower East Wall. 

Ditch the crowds

You won't see many crowds at A-Basin, but if you do, it'll probably be around the Zuma Lift, which is the only chair on the backside, or perhaps The Montezuma Bowl and mid-mountain areas. 

Non skiers

Theres no tubing, sledding, heli or catskiing in Arapahoe Basin. There is the Frisco Adventure Park nearby, but Arapahoe basin is really all about the skiing and snowboarding.


For families of differing ability levels should lap the runs off Black Mountain Express which serves a range of greens, blues and black runs. Cheaper lift tickets here are a great bonus for families though bear in mind there is no accommodation or resort amentities here.

Arapahoe Basin vs
Arapahoe BasinAspen Highlands
beginner10 %-
intermediate30 %23 %
advanced37 %12 %
expert23 %65 %
total runs109 144
ski area388ha 421ha
summit elevation3,978m 3,559m
total lifts8 5
child lift ticketFree Free
adult lift ticket$100 USD ($139 AUD) $155 USD ($215 AUD)
back country
value for money
average total snowfall457cm 508cm
Save up to 33% when you book a Arapahoe Basin package! View Arapahoe Basin packages

Arapahoe Basin Reviews

Very Good 4.2 / 5
based on 124 reviews

How well the resort caters for beginner skiers / boarders


How well the resort caters for intermediate skiers / boarders?


How well the resort caters for advanced skiers / boarders


How accessible and convenient it is to get to this resort from a major destination


Quality of the off-piste terrain


Overall value for money of the resort

Value for money

Quality of lifts, lift speed and lift layout in the resort


Quantity and quality of the snow


How uncrowded is the resort


Après ski and dining options


Services and facilities e.g. child care, tubing, health care, equipment hire


How family friendly is this resort?

Family Friendliness
Very Good!4.1 / 5Dec 02, 2018
Adam T. Adam T.
expert skier
Great snow, nothing fancy at the bottom of the hill, great bunny hill, most likely to have good late season conditions. Terrain variety is great! The only thing going against A-basin is it's proximity to Denver.... More
Fabulous!4.4 / 5Nov 19, 2018
Keith S. Keith S.
expert skier
absolutely legendary! The most fun mountain I have ever skied in CO, it has everything you could ask for all without the massive crowds and flash of places like Vail or Keystone (both which are great as well but for different reasons). This is skiing the way it should be, beautiful scenery, excellent variety of terrain, great snow, glades to ski... More
Average!2.5 / 5Nov 19, 2018
Jimmy C. Jimmy C.
advanced skier
Arapaho Basin is the coolest! Their end of the year events are killer and the terrain is epic! Massive natural features and hike access big mountain on piest terrain make it so cool!... More
Good!3.7 / 5Nov 11, 2018
Jason N. Jason N.
advanced skier
Arapaho Basin is great for locals and visitors to the area who want to get away from the crowds. There is plenty of terrain for intermediate through expert skiers, but it is a bit limited for beginners. The parking lot next to the ski area, or "The Beach" is a great place to park, but be sure to bring your grill and patio chairs to get the most out... More
Fabulous!4.4 / 5Nov 07, 2018
Bruce B. Bruce B.
advanced snowboarder
A-Bay, the closest extreme ski area to Denver, They have the steeps, the trees, the wall, Montezuma Bowl and the beach (slopeside parking/tailgating/barbeque). This place is mostly hard core locals. Not really for beginners. After you get done beating up your body on the slopes at 13,000 feet. You can get great food and drinks at the base lodge or... More
Very Good!4.2 / 5Nov 06, 2018
PRParker R.
advanced snowboarder
Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin) is a must visit for anyone looking for fantastic skiing or riding in the summit county area. Breck, Keystone, Copper, and Vail are all great RESORTS, but A-Basin gives the best true skiing experience. The snow and terrain are fantastic, lift lines are generally short, and it feels like your neighborhood ski resort, only 10x... More
Very Good!4.2 / 5Oct 09, 2018
CBCody B.
advanced skier
Arapahoe Basin is all about skiing! None of the other distractions or costs that come with the “big resorts.” Additionally, everyone there is very friendly and helpful on the slopes!... More
Very Good!4.1 / 5Oct 04, 2018
Adam D. Adam D.
intermediate skier
A great small resort especially if you want to take your dogs and small kids here. Super friendly family feel for a day out on the slopes. Lacks some amenities but cant really complain about that... More
Very Good!4 / 5May 31, 2018
Greg W. Greg W.
intermediate snowboarder
This is a smaller resort but still has quite a few good runs. It is usually not very crowded and the snow quality is good. It is also open very early/late into the season... More
Good!3.6 / 5Apr 25, 2018
Kris S. Kris S.
advanced skier
Love this place so much! I wish I could live here. So nice to see an area that's all about the skiing, and not about all that other crap. The variety of terrain and quality of the snow is outstanding, and the employees are helpful and chill.... More

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