Four Resorts Collectively Epitomize Colorado Skiing
Nestled in the southwest corner of Colorado, Purgatory, Silverton Mountain, Telluride, and Wolf Creek are four very different ski resorts with one thing in common superior Colorado skiing.
Combined, these four resorts offer more than 6,700 acres and 11,000 vertical feet of skiable terrain. Individually, they offer lift accessible, guided adventure skiing (Silverton), the only two helicopter skiing operations in Colorado (Telluride and Silverton), the largest snowcat skiing operation in the state (35,000 acres at Purgatory), and typically, the most snow in the state (nearly 500 inches of powder at Wolf Creek).
With Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ), Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) and Durango La Plata County Airport (DRO), the southwest corner of the state is easily accessible with direct flights or a connecting flight through Denver International Airport (DEN). A visit to Purgatory, Silverton, Telluride and Wolf Creek can be condensed into one week or less, as all four of these resorts are located within two hours of each other, guaranteeing that precious turns wont be lost to travel time.
Unique Terrain and Family Friendly Value
Purgatory is located in the rugged San Juan Mountains in Southwestern Colorado. The ski area sits just 25 miles north of historic downtown Durango. Carved by glaciers thousands of years ago and averaging 260 inches of snow a year, Purgatorys terrain is a unique blend of roller-coaster benches and headwalls, steep tree skiing trails and wide-open cruisers with stunning views.
Renowned as a family-friendly resort and recognized as a Top Value Ski Resort by TripAdvisor, Purgatory offers guests an incredible value with very affordable stay and ski packages. Accommodations range from luxurious, slope-side and mountain homes to value-priced lodge rooms and everything in between. It features seven restaurants that offer a variety of cuisine for all palates and caters to families.
For those looking for an out of bounds experience, the 35,000 acres of snowcat terrain should suffice. Based at Purgatory, the San Juan Ski Company is Colorado’s largest snowcat skiing operation. Escorted by experienced guides, skiers and riders will find untracked bowls, chutes, ridges, glades and treed slopes in an area that receives between 20 and 30 feet of snow each season.
After a day on the slopes, visit historic downtown Durango to get a taste of southwest Colorado nightlife and then some. The Ska Brewery tasting rooms is a local favorite, or enjoy happy hours specials at Steamworks Brewery. After sampling the local flavors, the pork medallions at Ken and Sues Restaurant are considered a must-have for dinner. Other ways to enjoy your time at Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort include Alpenglow snowshoe tours, guided day snowshoe tours, horse-drawn sleigh rides, the Snow Coaster Tubing Hill, and snowmobile adventures.
One Chairlift and More Snow than People
Imagine a ski area where the average total snowfall (more than 400 inches) exceeds the number of daily visitors. Silverton Mountain is an extreme skiers dream and no place for the faint-of-heart. With a peak elevation of 13,487 feet, Silverton is the highest ski area in North America. A single chairlift unloads at the top of a beautiful cirque which provides easy hiking along a ridge to access the mountains 1,819 acres of snow fields.
Silverton caps the number of unguided skiers at 475 per day, but most days Silverton sees less than 80 skiers on the mountain. During early and late season, guests will find unguided skiing opportunities, but during the heart of winter Silverton Mountain offers guided skiing only. With some of the steepest slopes found at any resort in Colorado, there are loads of bowls, chutes, cliffs and wonderful natural terrain features to be discovered.
Before hitting the slopes at Silverton, be sure to grab breakfast at the Avalanche Caf (The Eggalanche is a must have), and when you return from your day on the mountain, Gradys Bar at Silverton Mountain has a great aprs ski, and the Avalanche Brewing Company and Miners Tavern are lively nightlife spots.
Its been said that the best non-ski activity at Silverton Mountain is sleep. If you visit, youll know why. When planning your trip, look to the Triangle Motel and the Bent Elbow for affordable room rates.
Telluride Ski Resort
Conde Naste Travelers Americas Best Ski Resorts: Readers Choice Awards 2014
Telluride lives up to its billing as being Unmatched in North America. The ski area was ranked as one of Americas best ski resorts in the 2014 Conde Nast Reader’s Poll. A five minute shuttle ride from Telluride Regional Airport (TEX), accessing Telluride Ski Resort couldnt be easier. Once there, guests will find a unique mountain town that has retained its historic roots. Funky shops, original flare and unique characters are as commonplace as the great service, terrain and accommodations youll find during your visit.
Tellurides Revelation Bowl features European-style terrain, located directly off the back side of famous Gold Hill and Chair 14. Situated above tree line, the natural, wide-open bowl offers advanced and expert skiing in an unbelievably scenic setting. From the top of Revelation lift, skiers and riders will be able to choose ridgelines in either direction, offering steeper pitches and rock features on the far sides of the powder bowl. The center touts an expanse of rolling, advanced terrain with a groomed path for cruising.
Even if youve explored the entire mountain, the skys the limit with heli-skiing.Tellurides Helitrax provides an untracked, pristine powder experience for small custom groups.
For parents who are looking for some alone time in the evenings, Telluride provides an evening experience for the kids. The Kids Night Out program offers the young ones night tubing, movies, and dinner leaving parents with time to get a massage at the Atmosphere Day Spa, or head to town to enjoy the local nightlife at spots like the Bubble Lounge, the Last Dollar, and Poachers Pub.
Wolf Creek Ski Area
Ask any skier who lives in Colorado what Wolf Creek is known for, and you will hear a resounding snow. The area averages 430 inches of snow a year thats more than 35 feet! Less known, however, is everything else that makes Wolf Creek one of the best southwest Colorado.
For starters, Wolf Creek is unassuming. Upon arriving, guests will notice a small base area with parking nearby. Guests who ski and snowboard at Wolf Creek run the gamut from a never-ever skier, to local expert who can ski glades with their eyes closed. The resort takes pride in its friendly employees, lift attendants, and ski patrollers who are always willing to stop and lend a helping hand or direct you to little known powder stashes that stay fresh long after the last snow storm.
Speaking of lending a hand, Wolf Creek provides a free shuttle for skiers and snowboarders accessing its four backcountry access gates located on top of Wolf Creeks ridgeline. Every half hour the shuttle picks skiers up from the top of the Continental Divide on Wolf Creek Pass and returns them to the ski area.
A tree lovers paradise, more than 1,000 acres of glade skiing exists at Wolf Creek. Its seven lifts serve everything from chutes and drops, to glades and groomers. Even the little ones have a place of their own. The Wolf Pup Center, designed especially for children ages 5 to 8 years old, contains a pint sized Magic Carpet lift, tables, chairs and restroom facilities.
Those staying in the area can find very affordable lodging a short drive away at the Pinewood Inn in Pagosa Springs, or Americas Best Value Inn and the newly renovated Wolf Creek Lodge in South Fork. These same areas also provide some of the best nightlife options around, including the Summit Lounge in Pagosa Springs and Croakers in South Fork.
Guests will also want to mark the second weekend in February, as Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce hosts Winterfest. Activities for the weekend include: Anything Goes Sled Race, a balloon rally, snowcross racing, an ice fishing contest, and a triathlon at Wolf Creek Ski Area that includes cross country, snowshoe, and downhill skiing.
Savor Colorados Southern Hospitality
Southwest Colorado is steeped with Old West history and ancient culture. When youre not skiing or snowboarding, or eating, or sleeping, there is plenty of rich tradition to explore. Study the culture of Native American tribes or take a road trip to an old mining ghost town. The options are endless.
Whether youre a lifelong skier looking for an affordable bunk, cheap eats, and an intense ski experience, or your family is looking for lush accommodations, fine food, and plenty of beginner terrain with great ski instructors, a southwest Colorado ski adventure is sure to please.