Arapahoe Basin Ski Area visitors will have the chance to ski some of the highest skiable terrain in all of North America. The summit elevation for this Colorado ski resort is 13,050 feet above sea level. Only Telluride Resort and Silverton Mountain have higher skiable terrains, and as you might imagine, these destinations can also be found in lofty Colorado. Thanks in part to its especially high location in the Rocky Mountains, the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort tends to stay open longer than any other resort in the state. It also tends to open much earlier than the others.
In recent years, the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area has been known to open in early October, so if you want to get a jump on your Colorado ski vacation, it's a destination worth keeping in mind. The Loveland Ski Area also tends to be among the first in the state to open. As far as closing is concerned, the Arapahoe Basin Resort has been known to stay open into early July. More often than not, however, it closes in June. This encourages a late spring Colorado ski vacation, especially if you're not yet ready to put the skis away and embrace the summer season.
A long season isn't the only reason to keep the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort (also known as A-Basin) in mind when planning your next ski or snowboard vacation. A fine collection of runs that offer something for every level of skier or snowboarder is another reason why A-Basin is such a fun place to visit. No fewer than 105 trails can be found at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort and the total skiable area is approximately 900 acres. The resort wasn't always this big. During the 2007-2008 season, it added the 400-acre Montezuma Bowl to its terrain. This newer terrain unfolds on A-Basin's backside and offers a delightful mix of bowls, glades, chutes, and cornices.
If you are a skilled skier or snowboarder, you might click your skis or snowboard off and do some hiking at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. This is how you can get to some of the more advance runs. The famed East Wall offers some of the most difficult terrain, and you can only get to the double black diamond Upper East Wall portion by hiking. On the backside, you can access a backcountry area by way of foot just past the lower lift terminal. If tricks are your thing, then you might spend more of your time at one of the two terrain parks during your visit to the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort. The resort has two excellent terrain parks, or freestyle parks as they are also known. Found within these terrain parks are half-pipes, jumps of all kinds, and plenty of rails to ride.
A day on the Arapahoe Basin slopes can be just what the doctor ordered if you want to enjoy some Colorado skiing or snowboarding and aren't in the mood for the more glamorous resorts, such as Aspen or Vail. This isn't the kind of resort where seeing and being seen is part of the culture. It's more of a place for laid-back skiing with a hardcore twist. It is worth noting that the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort offers some beginner slopes, so you don't have to be an expert to enjoy a rewarding visit. It is also worth noting that Arapahoe Basin ski rentals are in good supply if you need some equipment. You can also take some lessons at the resort if necessary.
Should you be interested in Arapahoe Basin ski rentals, the resort's rental shop can be found near the lifts at the bottom of the mountain. You might not need to rely on Arapahoe Basin ski rentals during your visit, but you are likely to need something to eat or drink at some point during your visit. Complementing the rental shop in terms of facilities are a lodge-style restaurant, two cafes, and a bar. The main restaurant enjoys a mid-mountain location and is known for its excellent views, not to mention its smoked meats, stews, and hot sandwiches.
The Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is just off Interstate 6 in Dillon Colorado. Approximately 65 miles away to the east is Denver. While there aren't any lodging options at the base of the mountain at A-Basin, the more developed resort of Keystone isn't far off. You can also keep the Breckenridge hotels in mind if you want to stay in the general area. A lift ticket that is purchased at A-Basin is also valid at Breckenridge and Keystone, not to mention the more upscale resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek. It's possible to go night skiing at Keystone, so you might venture over after A-Basin closes.
Image: Peter Grannis for Arapahoe Basin Ski Area