Arapahoe Basin

Karl Sander
SnowPak Local Insider
Karl Sander
  • Great advanced terrain
  • Budget friendly compared to other Colorado ski resorts
  • One of the longest ski seasons (Nov - May)
  • Very limited amenities and no lodging at the base



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 defense contractor test site. Perched near the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass, its elevation helps give it a yearly average of 350 in 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.

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 (5-10 mi)

  • 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 (5-10 mi)

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

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Dillon/Silverthorne (10-15 mi)

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

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Frisco (15-20 mi)

  • 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

Arapahoe BasinAspen Snowmass
beginner10 %-
intermediate30 %48 %
advanced37 %26 %
expert23 %26 %
total runs109 76
ski area960ac 675ac
summit elevation13,050ft 11,214ft
total lifts8 -
child lift ticketFree -
adult lift ticket$100 -
back country
value for money
average total snowfall181″ -

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Arapahoe Basin Reviews

Very Good 4.2 / 5
based on 154 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
Fabulous!4.5 / 5Apr 20, 2020
Arapahoe Basin ReviewsChristian B.
intermediate snowboarder
A basin is where I learned. It has everything from beginner runs with friendly staff, to easy, intermediate, and then advanced runs. It truly is a mountain for everyone. Small mountain feel with some really cool people makes this worth coming back to everytime. Not the biggest terrain park but that's not what this resort is about. This is my... More
Superb!4.9 / 5Apr 20, 2020
Arapahoe Basin ReviewsBen K.
intermediate snowboarder
The best one out there the people are always friendly. It is dog friendly and a awesome mountain to board. I was just there for early season and the busses where not running yet. I was able to get rides up and down the mountain from the locals going up and down. That should tell you what kind of people hang out here. It has become my mountain to go... More
Fabulous!4.3 / 5Apr 20, 2020
Arapahoe Basin ReviewsAlexander P.
expert skier
If you like steep terrain and a resort that easy to get to from Denver International Airport. This is the place to go. A-Basin has some of the best hike to terrain that you can find in bounds that really gives you a big mountain feel. The new expansion of the Steep Gullies has amazing 50 degree plus chutes too, make sure you are fit and ready to... More
Average!3.5 / 5Feb 25, 2020
Arapahoe Basin ReviewsJenni M.
expert snowboarder
Amazing skiing, super high altitude with lift access, highest in North America! Tremendous views of the valley, really steep stuff to ski and ride, backcountry options too. Friendly staff, local vibes and an a convenient restaurant too. Experts paradise.... More
Superb!5 / 5Feb 25, 2020
Arapahoe Basin ReviewsKathy V.
expert skier
The expansion of my eyes open as far as they could stepping out of my truck in anticipation of my first run of the season. Everyone was smiling. A real feeling of happiness that was contagious to your soul. Greater by the best people who always have the willingness to make everytime an exceptional experience. No matter what level you are and there... More
Good!3.8 / 5Feb 20, 2020
Arapahoe Basin ReviewsKen S.
advanced snowboarder
A-Basin is a great mountain that caters to advanced ski/snowboarders. The new lift to the beavers adds a great back country feel with good tree density. Something for all riders... More
Fabulous!4.4 / 5Feb 20, 2020
Arapahoe Basin ReviewsEddie L.
advanced skier
A-Basin is a mountain that is for the skier or boarder whose primary concern is getting on the slopes. There is a variety of terrain that is suitable for all levels of experience, and this is an excellent no-frills mountain. No on-slope lodging, or any lodging whatsoever for that matter. If you're serious about hitting the mountain without any type... More
Average!3.5 / 5Feb 20, 2020
Arapahoe Basin ReviewsKeith L.
advanced snowboarder
A-Basin as it’s affectionately called, The Legend. Is a unique place among the other larger and more resort focused ski areas. The location, terrain and snowfall combine to create a unique big skiing but local feel. It is a great place to get lost. With the addition of The Beavers lift last season and the always challenging East Wall, countered by... More
Superb!4.6 / 5Jan 15, 2020
Arapahoe Basin ReviewsMatt E.
advanced snowboarder
By far one of my favorite spots! I’ve been coming here since I was a kid, and it’s always an amazing time. The mountain is always perfect and the people are always great. Never a bad drive from Fort Collins, and always look forward to it every season!... More
Fabulous!4.3 / 5Jan 15, 2020
Arapahoe Basin ReviewsTory S.
expert snowboarder
DEEP snow when I was there, and all smiles. Expert terrain was awesome. lots of fun rocks to drop. tons of fun steeps and chutes. Wish I had more time to explore.... More

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