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Very few resorts have as devoted a following as A-Basin—only Vermont’s Mad River Glen comes to mind—and readers this year have bumped it up an astonishing 10 spots. This Colorado gem is one of the highest in North America, topping out at 13,050 feet, and is known for its hard-charging steeps, no-frills vibe, and parking-lot “beach” parties come spring—and even into summer if the snow holds. There is no lodging, no cell service, and no village—earning its well-deserved reputation as a soulful hill (and a No. 3 ranking in Value).
One reader sums it up best: “Screw the five-star lodges and nightlife—this is a skier’s mountain.” That doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll have to rough it—the on-hill fare at Black Mountain Lodge is superb (try a slab of ribs or the salmon) and affordable (“A craft beer is only $6!”), and all the other frills are just eight minutes down the road at Keystone. Though A-Bay’s old-school feel earns it a No. 6 for Charm, that doesn’t mean it’s not improving: The new Beavers and Steep Gullies, formerly hike-to steeps and trees that became lift-served in 2019, make the now-1,428 skiable acres ski even bigger than before. “The new Beavers lift puts A-Basin on par with top destination resorts in terms of terrain,” one reader correctly assesses. The only issue anyone has with the place is the parking, which fills up early. Now you know. — Kimberly Beekman
A-Basin’s 2021 Reader Resort Survey Result: No. 18 in the West
- WHAT’S NEW: In classic A-Bay fashion, the new Pallavicini fixed-grip double is the same as the old Pali, just with a different paint job.
- BRAGGING RIGHTS: The Steep Gullies are rowdy, narrow, and, well, steep. Be prepared for a wild ride and a hike out at the bottom.
- APRÈS SPOT: The 6th Alley Bar & Grill in the A-frame base lodge is a classic. Try the bacon Bloody Mary.
Read about No. 19 in the West: Keystone, Colo.
No. 17 in the West: Winter Park, Colo.
Arapahoe Basin’s 2020 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey Rank: 28th in the West
After Exiting the Epic Pass last season, the Crown Jewel of Summit County hopped on the Ikon and Mountain Collective passes for 2019-20, making A-Basin one of the most talked-about ski areas of the summer. Last season’s large terrain expansion into the Beavers and Steep Gullies—complete with a new quad chairlift—means that skiers who didn’t check it out last year will be frothing for the phenomenal new-to-them terrain this season (they’ll also be able to enjoy upgraded bathrooms in the base lodge after getting unpuckered from the gnarly exposure of SG1).
Readers rated A-Basin No. 3 in Value, commending it for being “all about the skiing” and praising its lack of lodging, shops, and fine dining. While there’s the usual complaint about lack of parking, time will tell what A-Basin’s pass swap will actually mean, especially for the early-season crowds. “It’s the Mad River Glen of Colorado—the best compliment one can give a ski area.” — Jon Jay
- WHAT’S NEW: Trail crews gladed two new runs on the skier’s left side of Loafer in the Beavers.
- LOCAL TIP: Every part of the mountain features intermediate through expert terrain, making A-Basin a great option for groups with mixed abilities to explore.
SKI Magazine’s 2019 Review of Arapahoe Basin, Colo.
One of the longest ski seasons in the West, an authentic local vibe, and a new terrain expansion should land this homegrown Colorado favorite on your bucket list this season. From its throwback A-Frame base lodge to the Bacon Bloody Mary at Black Mountain Lodge, A-Basin is an homage to the very best parts of the sport. And the terrain: Bomb down the steeps of Pallavicini Face, test your mettle on East Wall, or sample the goods in the Steep Gullies—the most extreme terrain at a resort known for its extreme terrain: tight chutes, high vert, high consequence. Be prepared for a 20-minute hike back—just the way the locals like it.
- What’s New: A quad opens in The Beavers, putting 339 acres of former hike-to steeps solidly within your grasp. Two blue runs are also added with the chairlift.