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Snow by Southwest: Springtime at Purgatory

Kristen Lummis, Purgatory Kristen Lummis, Purgatory

By Kristen Lummis,

It always seems sunnier at Purgatory.

Maybe it’s the latitude, for along with Wolf Creek, Purgatory is one of Colorados southernmost resorts. Maybe it’s the incredible contrast between the azure ski and the San Juan mountains that encircle the resort. Or perhaps its Colorados version of southern hospitality, where everyone is chill and smiles are as abundant as the snow.

Whatever the cause, the skiing is good and the air is warm in springtime at Purgatory. The snow is still abundant, the sun is brilliant, the days are long and the special events are many.

Spring Ski Love

We skied Purgatory on Sunday and the conditions were springtime perfect. Beginning with daylight savings time, the resorts lifts turn from 9:30 4:30, letting guests take full advantage of the ever-abundant sun.

By 10:00 a.m. the parking lots were filling, reggae was pumping throughout the village and base was full of families and college students on spring break. Purgatory is a mid-size mountain with 1,360 skiable acres, 88 trails, five terrain parks, 10 lifts, a tubing hill, cross-country skiing and a full service village.

The mountain is divided into two distinct regions, the Front Side, served by the Purgatory Village Express, where youll find a set of famous advanced and expert runs called Styx, Hades, Pandemonium and Catharsis. Youll also find Paradise, a great warm-up for intermediates. Two other lifts, with much easier terrain, Twilight and Engineer, are also on the front of the mountain.

Three lifts serve the Back Side of the resort, and this is where we spent our morning, cruising rolling groomed runs off of Chair 3. While there are plenty to choose from, our favorite is Peace, a generous swath of mountain with numerous pitch changes and rollers

By afternoon, the moguls were soft, so we headed to Chair 8, also known as Legends lift. This part of the resort is plenty steep and fun for intermediates and advanced skiers with a good mix of moguls, tree skiing and groomed terrain.

Chair 8 is a long way from Purgatory Village, with two return options. You can either traverse the long, flat BD&M Expressway, or use Chairs 5 and 3 to your advantage, zigzagging from lift to lift to make your way back.

Springtacular Celebration

Kristen Lummis, Purgatory Kristen Lummis, Purgatory

Named by TripAdivsor as one of the Top Ski Values in North America, Purgatory is a busy place in spring. Families and college students descend upon the resort and neighboring Durango in droves.

Still, while lodging at the resort was filling up, we had no problem finding a new, spacious room in Durango and we werent the only ones with skis at the Homewood Suites.

From now until closing on April 5th, Purgatory is rocking with activities. Take your pick of live music, yoga, evening snowshoe tours, deck parties, kids night out, teen dance parties, a daily Burton Riglet Park happy hour for parents, and more.

The fun spills into Durango, just 30 minutes away, where the sun shines even brighter and its decidedly springtime. Enjoy bar hopping, complete with Purgatory specials, running or walking along the beautiful Animas River trail and flyfishing when youre not skiing.

Looking Ahead

Founded in 1965, the name Purgatory comes from early Spanish explorers. More recently, the resort has been known as Durango Mountain Resort and Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort.

In February 2015, James Coleman, a local Durango businessman, purchased the resort and restored the Purgatory name and retro logo in honor of the mountains upcoming 50th anniversary. Coleman now owns four resorts in the Southwest. The 2015-16 Purgatory Power Pass will provide unlimited skiing at these sister resorts, as well as 3 days of free skiing at Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn and Sunlight. Discounted passes are on sale now through April 30th and include summer activities.