Arapahoe Basin (Abasin) Colorado Ski Area Review

The Virtual Sherpa

Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin) seems to be like a fine wine, getting better with age. Before my first visit years ago, I heard a lot of positives things about the mountain. Certainly a local favorite, the basin seems to have a different vibe from some of the more commercial resorts right down the street. A Basin offers a variety of terrain, but for the most part is suited for those with a stronger skill level on the slopes. What makes this mountain unique, is the exposed open top that most other local resorts do not offer, unless you hike up to the terrain. This makes for spectacular views, wide open runs and a variety of riding/skiing. Arapahoe Basin really gains its strengths when the back side (Montezuma Bowl) and East Wall open up. Both of these areas offer a very unique offering of expert terrain that feed right back into the other resort trails. A-Basin is definitely worth the trip if you are looking for a closer drive and a few less people then some of the neighboring resorts. During the 2017-2018 season, A-Basin expanded its terrain adding another 468 acres to ski or snowboard on in the Beavers section of the mountain. If you like steep runs and loads of trees, you will be sure to love your time at Abasin.

Arapahoe Basin Website

Arapahoe Basin Trail Map

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 Stars)

Season Pass: As of 2022, Arapahoe Basin is officially a free agent. They will no longer be part of the Epic Pass (Vail Resorts) moving forward due to large crowds flooding their infrastructure. However, limited riding/skiing can be available through Mountain Collective Pass and the Ikon Pass.

Strengths: Arapahoe Basin has many open bowls and is far less crowded that some of the neighboring mountains (note: this does not mean you will not have to wait for lifts). It has the feel of a “mom and pop” resort without losing quality. Looking to ski/ride some steep terrain? Check out the east wall and the runs to the mountain right of the Pallavicini lift. Some of the runs here are among the most gnarly and steep in the state of Colorado. The difficult terrain it offers paired with the (slightly) less expensive lift ticket is what makes Arapahoe Basin a local favorite.  A-Basin also has a parking lot that is friendly for grilling and is one of the handful of resorts in Colorado that is dog friendly (you can't bring your dog on the mountain, but expect the base area to be loaded with people grilling out with their furry friends). Arapahoe Basin also has one of the longest seasons of Colorado, generally opening in late October and sometimes staying open into July. 

Weaknesses: Compared to surrounding resorts, getting to the top of the mountain at A-Basin (mostly) requires 2 separate lifts in some cases which can be a pain. Even with less people on the mountain, having 5 main lifts servicing all of the terrain can translate to longer lift lines. For those looking for a pure “park” experience, you might want to look elsewhere as this is certainly not Arapahoe Basin's strength. Finally, A-Basin is not the easiest mountain to ski or ride so while they offer beginner terrain, it might not be your best bet to learn.

Resort Tip: Bring your dog and bring your grill. If you can end up in the early riser lot, there is a great opportunity to park close and grill out with your furry (and human) friends. If you like riding the East Wall - wait until spring when the snow coverage is better and be sure to give the snow time to warm up otherwise it will be a very icy trip down the steep couloirs.

Parking: Parking is free with multiple lots within walking distance of lifts. In recent years, these lots have filled up very quickly which is one of the main reasons that A-Basin choose to leave the Epic Pass. 

Photography: Arapahoe Basin is one of those mountains where it really is hard to find an angle that is not breathtaking. Bring your camera phone when you hit the slopes here and you will be sure to not disappointed you did. Some of my favorite views are of the east wall and Montezuma Bowl.

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