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Gold Pass

The Wolf is Howlin (Again)

The calendar says winter begins Dec. 21st, but it rolled in this past week at Wolf Creek. The medium-sized family-owned ski area in southwestern Colorado might not offer the glitz and glamour of its mega-resort brethren, but its definitely near the top of the heap when it comes to snow.

Because of its location at the junction of two branches of the San Juan Mountains, Wolf Creek often gets the highest snowfall total of any of resort in the state, averaging a whopping 465 inches per year. Last year it all went out the window when more than 600 inches fell on its slopes. (Thats 50 feet of snow, if youre doing the math!)

When snowstorms swirl through southwestern Colorado, Wolf usually gets hammered with big dumps. Like this week, when the resort picked up 36 inches in a few days.

And its been snowing all day, says Tana Fulton, who works in the resorts sales office. Last year was just incredible, and it seems like were having a carbon copy this year.

Not surprising, Wolf Creek once again became the first in the state to have 100 percent of its terrain open. Time to point the skis (and the car) toward Wolf Creek Pass. As of Dec. 18, its mid-mountain base was listed at 66 inches second only to Silverton Mountain, its San Juan neighbor that has also gotten bombed recently.

Wolfs 1,600-foot vertical drop isnt big by Colorado standards, but with the enormous snowfall spread over 1,600 acres of terrain, you wont miss a thing. And if you like the steep and deep, trails like Keiths Glade, Dog Chutes and the many lines off of Knife Ridge are virtually incomparable in Colorado.

And when it comes to designing a perfect day in the mountains, Wolf Creek and Pagosa Springs have to rank right up there with any place in Colorado. After skiing or riding deep powder until your legs fall off, you can mosey into town for a massage and soak at one of the best hot springs spas in the state, followed by a tasty dinner in Pagosas quaint downtown.

The only thing better would be if you could do it again the next day. Which, of course, you can.