A-Basin 101: Mountain Facts
Oct 25, 2021
Oct 26, 2021
Oct 27, 2021
Welcome to The Legend!
What sets Arapahoe Basin apart from other ski areas? Elevation, challenging terrain, and traditions.
Founded by WWII veterans and Olympic skiers, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area opened in 1946 with one tow rope and a $1.25 lift ticket. We now offer more than 1,400 acres, nine lifts, the longest ski and ride season in Colorado, and some of the highest terrain in North America. We are legendary for being true to ourselves, embracing a rich history, promoting a come-as-you-are vibe, and being vocal about our commitment to our environment and local community.
The Basin is a pure skier’s and snowboarder’s mountain and welcomes anyone and everyone. Enjoy some of Colorado’s most adventurous in-bounds terrain, delicious food, uncrowded runs, free parking, easy access, and the friendliest staff in the business.
Season dates: October to June, conditions dependent (longest season in Colorado)
- Location: Summit County, Colorado. 68 miles west of Denver; 5 miles east of Keystone.
- Average snowfall: 350 in / 889 cm
- Base elevation: 10,520 feet / 3,206 meters (higher than many ski-area peaks!)
- Summit elevation: 13,050 feet / 3,978 meters (3rd highest ski-area peak elevation in North America)
- Snowmaking acres: 125/51 hectares
- Earliest opening: October 9, 2009
- Latest closing: August 10, 1995
- Number of times open for skiing on the 4th of July: 7 (most recently in 2019)
- Number of trails: 147
- Vertical drop: 2,530 feet (771 meters)
- Acres/Hectares: 1,428 / 578
- Easiest: 7%
- More difficult: 20%
- Most difficult: 49%
- Extreme: 24% (some of the steepest in-bounds terrain in Colorado)
- Freestyle terrain parks: Treeline Terrain Park (intermediate to advanced); High Divide Terrain Park (beginner to intermediate); Banana Park (beginner to intermediate)
Lifts (9 total)
- One high-speed quad (Black Mountain Express)
- Three quads (Zuma, Beavers, Molly Hogan)
- One triple (Lenawee)
- One double (Pallavicini)
- Two conveyor lifts (Molly and Pika Place carpets)
- One surface lift (Lazy J Tow)
- Total lift capacity: 11,300 people per hour
- Click here for lift hours. Generally, lifts open at 8:30 a.m. weekends/holidays and 9:00 a.m. weekdays.
The Basin is easy to navigate! Most facilities are located in Mountain Goat Plaza (aka the base area).
- A-Frame Lodge: Legends Cafe, 6th Alley Bar & Grill, Arapahoe Sports Retail Shop, administrative offices and restrooms, water.
- Winter Sports Center: Equipment rentals, Base 'n' Edge Tune Shop, adult ski school check-in, restrooms, water.
- Kids Center: Closed for the 20-21 winter season
- Black Mountain Lodge at mid-mountain: Restaurant, restrooms, water.
- Snowplume Refuge at the summit: Ski Patrol headquarters and il Rifugio, a European bistro. There are two bathrooms with composting toilets but no potable water.
A-Basin’s front side terrain offers a little of everything, from the most casual runs to advanced moguls to the three terrain parks. Most of the Basin’s intermediate routes and all on-mountain beginner runs are accessed via this area’s Black Mountain Express and Lenawee lifts.
The Legend’s front-side skiing and riding is still a big-mountain experience. Two, short lift rides and you’re at 12,500 feet—above treeline at the top of the lift-served terrain—exploring wide-open intermediate groomers and introductory glade runs. The front side lifts also offer access to the rest of the mountain areas, making A-Basin extremely easy to navigate.
- EASIEST WAY DOWN: Wrangler to Chisolm. Sundance is a steeper green.
- FIRST TIME ON BLUES: Lenawee Face --> Dercum's Gulch --> High Noon
- MOGULS: Exhibition, Ramrod (Looking for serious moguls? Get on the Pali Lift)
- EASIEST TREES: Easy Gully, Cabin Glades, Lynx Lane
Please note that the green-blue-black trail ratings are relative to an individual ski area's unique terrain. Some of our greens and blues might be steeper than what you're accustomed to. If you're just starting out, please visit our Molly Hogan learning hill.
The Beavers and The Steep Gullies are 468 acres of terrain added in the 2017-18 season, growing A-Basin’s skiable area by nearly 50 percent. Construction was done with minimal environmental impact and completed the vision A-Basin’s founders had back in 1946. A quad lift gives you access to 36 runs in The Beavers, including rolling intermediate groomers, open bowls, steep chutes and some of the best glades and powder stashes in the state.
- Please note that the two blue runs in The Beavers are considered to be the most challenging blues on the mountain.
- WHEN DOES IT OPEN? Late November - late December (Beavers). The Steep Gullies require significant snow coverage and avalanche mitigation work. Expect that terrain to open late winter.
The Steep Gullies is as-advertised and features expert-only terrain comprised of steep, narrow and rocky chutes. This is some of the most challenging in-bounds terrain you'll find in the state. Skiing or riding it requires serious skills and commitment, followed by a 20-30 minute hike back to the base area.
“Zuma” was A-Basin’s first major expansion, completed in 2007-08 season, and grew the mountain’s terrain by 80 percent. This south-facing backside bowl offers stunning mountain scenery including views of multiple 14,000-foot peaks. The terrain is home to 400 acres of wide-open intermediate groomers, well-spaced trees and rocky cliffs. A small hike-back zone below the lift almost always guarantees great snow and solitude.
- EASIEST WAY DOWN: Larkspur --> Independence
- EASIEST TREES: Miners Glade
- WHEN DOES IT OPEN? Mid December - mid January
The Pallavicini area is A-Basin’s legendary, front-side advanced and expert terrain. Served by a lift of the same name, the primarily double-black Pallavicini runs are accessible directly from the base area with a single lift ride. Don't miss The Spine, one of our favorite runs on the mountain.
Pallavicini has also been hosting the A-Basin Enduro for 30 years. During the event, teams of two ski and ride as many runs as possible off the “Pali Chair” over 10 consecutive hours to help raise funds for a community member in need.
WHEN DOES IT OPEN? The lift usually starts turning after Thanksgiving. The steep terrain requires more snow coverage than other parts of the mountain. Not all of the runs open right away or at the same time.
A-Basin is an adventurous mountain and to hike the East Wall is to experience one of The Legend’s biggest adventures. Make your way to 13,050 feet to enjoy the ski area’s most iconic views and some of its most extreme terrain. Access the East Wall chutes with just two, short lift rides, then use the hiking routes to spend an entire day (or lifetime) exploring.
Important information for skiing / riding The East Wall
- Enter through gates only (do not duck ropes)
- Observe all signage and closures
- Rescue from this area can be difficult and time-consuming
- Do not hike above the traverse except via designated bootpacking routes (Willies Wide, Tree Chutes)
- Expect hidden and unmarked obstacles
- This is expert-only terrain
WHEN DOES IT OPEN? The East Wall requires significant snow coverage and avalanche mitigation work. It usually opens in February, beginning with terrain below the East Wall Traverse. Sometimes it opens in January, sometimes in March. The East Wall is conditions-dependent and can open/close at any time.
Molly Hogan is A-Basin’s learning hill at the base of the mountain. Easily accessible from the lodge, Snowsports headquarters and the rental shop, the area is served by two magic carpets and one lift. Molly Hogan has welcomed multiple generations of fresh faces to The Legend not just teaching them to slide on snow, but transforming them into skiers and snowboarders. When you learn to ski or ride here, you can ski or ride anywhere!
WHEN DOES IT OPEN? Early to mid November.
Ski + snowboard lessons start mid-November