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Arapahoe Basin, A-Basin, The Legend, however you want to call this ski resort, its reputation precedes itself. Shrugging off the idea that ski resorts need to offer a multitude of facilities and amenities, it instead focuses solely on riding the mountain. This draws a younger crowd that like to drink beers and rip through the steeps – giving the A-basin a very authentic local flavor. Thanks to its north facing slopes and high elevation, Arapahoe Basin enjoys one of the longest ski seasons in Colorado, opening in October and sometimes staying open until July!

As the firm favorite among locals, who appreciate the affordable lift tickets and relaxed attitude, there’s one big drawback for visitors. There’s no accommodation at the base of the lifts here. If you don’t mind driving to the resort then you’ll be just fine, with a variety of accommodation options at nearby Keystone. For some great value lodgings, it’s also worth checking out the town of Silverthorne, a 20-minute drive away.


Terrain: A-Basin doesn’t wow you with an expansive ski area or huge vertical rise, instead its strengths lie in the extreme chutes and gnarly steeps that keep the blood pumping for advanced skiers and snowboarders. There are few other resorts in Colorado that serve up as much expert terrain within ski area boundaries with the intimidating East Wall as its crowning glory. One downside to the emphasis on big mountain riding is the limited intermediate and beginner terrain here, so for more relaxed slopes try Keystone just around the corner, which is altogether a more family-friendly resort.

Investment in the lift system is another thing that’s lacking, and while you’re unlikely to find yourself waiting in long queues you will have to be patient while the old chairlifts creak up the mountain. The Black Mountain Express is the only high-speed chairlift in the entire resort and that only takes you up half the way! On the plus side, you’ll have plenty of time to choose your off-piste routes while watching other skiers and boarders brave new lines through the freshies.

Town: At the base of the mountain you’ll find just a few older buildings with the essentials, all centered around the A-Frame Lodge, where the usual cafeteria and coffee shop can be found. There’s also the 6th Alley Bar and Grill, which doubles as an après-ski spot, but the front of the nearby car park, dubbed the ‘Beach’, is the heart of A-Basin’s party scene. Barbecues, snow-cooled beers, music and good times, there’s always a reason to celebrate here, and everyone is welcome!

A-Basin is a true locals mountain, with a funky vibe that will delight some but put off others. The more experienced and low-maintenance you are, the more fun you’ll have here, so skiing newbies or those looking for a more catered experience should probably look elsewhere.

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