Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort Terrain

Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Open Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    10,780 – 12,472 (1,692)
  • Average Snow Fall
    350 inches
  • Lifts (9)
    1 high speed quad
    2 quads
  • Ski Season
    Mid Oct - early June
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 147
    1,428 acres
    Longest run – 1.5mi
    Beginner - 7%
    Intermediate - 20%
    Advanced - 49%
    Expert - 24%

Arapahoe Basin Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort has various zones within its 1,428 acres of terrain, although some of the expert areas don’t open until very late in the season. When these zones are not open, it considerably shrinks the size of A Basin.

The Front Side as the name suggests is the zone up the guts from the base lodge, which features mostly beginner and intermediate terrain. Pallavinci on the front side is part of the legend of Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort, with its iconic double black terrain. To the west is the Beavers which has a couple of steep groomed blue runs, moguls and advanced trees. Adjacent is The Steep Gullies for experts with its challengingly steep and rocky chutes, which often don’t open until late in the season. This zone necessitates a 20 to 30 minute hike out. Montezuma Bowl aka Zuma is a south facing back bowl which offers a few intermediate groomers. From the top, skiers’ left along the aptly named Mountain Goat Traverse appears to be effectively rock (rather than snow) for most of the season. Suffice to say it was noted that skiers at Arapahoe Basin Colorado don’t mind skiing on rocks. Then there’s the East Wall with its extreme terrain, which usually opens in February and requires significant avi work to keep it work. The Lower East Wall appears to be a vast skiable area on the trail map, but is in fact a relatively short, none too steep (or interesting) area that only opens when the snow depth is over 60 inches.

The hike-to-terrain of the East Wall and the Steep Gullies are included in the official vertical of the Arapahoe Basin Resort which is stated as 2,530 feet. In reality a good chunk of those feet (The Upper East Wall) are up a near vertical rocky summit that is skiable to about 0.00001% of the skiing public for about 2 days a year. The real vertical at Arapahoe Basin is closer to 1,692 feet, which is adequate for a ski hill.


Arapahoe Basin Colorado used to be a delightfully low key ski area that was the antithesis to the other Summit county resorts. However the advent of the Epic Pass and then the Ikon Pass contributed to a significant change, and there are often crowded lift queues on slopes on weekends and peak holidays.

Arapahoe Basin Lifts

Arapahoe Basin has a series of 5 old style chairs that allow you to suck in the scenery on the way up, as well as one high speed quad to service the front side and a couple of conveyor lifts and a surface lift.

As much as it pains me to say it, the much heralded addition to Arapahoe Basin Colorado, the Zuma quad chair, is a dud. It promises so much and delivers so little. The area should have been left to the back/side-country skiers that were prepared to ski in and hike out when the snow was good. The terrain on skiers’ left of the lift is practically snowless for much of the season, and the terrain on skiers’ right is cool enough, but so short that the lift really only needs to be half as long as it actually is and aligned differently. Such a waste!

The star of the hill is the Pallavicini double, which accesses a good chunk of the advanced and expert terrain.

Arapahoe Basin Snow and Weather

Arapahoe Basin is high. Its lifted terrain tops out at 12,472ft above sea level. As such, the top is very exposed to freezing winds. There is a refuge hut up there for a very good reason. Winds also mean cornices, which are a highlight of A Basin.

Whilst touting an average annual snowfall of 350 inches, the upper reaches are often snow blown and have minimal cover and because of its terrain, this is a resort that needs at least a 60 inch (150cm) base to really fire. Major pluses for Arapahoe Basin snow quality are its elevation and that many of the slopes are north facing.

Mother Nature is also helped along with a small amount of snowmaking on the frontside.

Beginner Skiing Arapahoe Basin

Surprisingly considering there is limited beginner terrain, Arapahoe Basin is an OK place to learn to ski or snowboard. The Molly Hogan double and a couple of magic carpets provide a great novice area at the base of the mountain. The Black Mountain Lift then provides lovely progression (Chisholm, Wrangler then Sundance runs) but that’s about it for variety.

Ski Arapahoe Basin for the Intermediate

Some great intermediate cruising can be had off the Lenawee lift and if you can be bothered to climb the hill near the bottom of the Larkspur run you can head into the Montezuma area. Some good intermediate schooming is available in The Beavers on the two steep blue runs.

Terrain Parks

A Basin prides itself on having the highest terrain parks in North America and also having them open for longer than any other resort, so knuckle draggers can break bones and get mindlessly concussed from late October through to the end of May every ski season. There are a few terrain parks, the best of which is the Treeline Park which is aimed at intermediates to advanced riders. It is situated in front of the deck at the Black Mountain Lodge so you can comfortably sip hot chocolate and watch your mates getting pole-axed trying to get huge airs off some of the features.

Advanced Skiing A Basin

Skiers’ right in Montezuma Bowl, whilst marked for experts, is fine for most advanced skiers. The real challenge is jumping off the cornices. After that it’s quite cruisy. Otherwise some of the lines in the Pali area are suitable; Pali Face and Pali Main St to name but two. Lots of shortish but fun lines to skiers left and right of Grizzly Road are also good for advanced skiers.

For the Expert

This is where Arapahoe Basin has the potential to excel, with an abundance of gnarly steep terrain, but the downside is the potential for areas not to be open and/or snow cover being inadequate.

Part of the legend of Arapahoe Basin, aside from the beer swilling in the car park, revolves around the skiing in the Pallavicini Bowl. A series of icy bumped up chutes, rocks, glades and a steep bowl coupled with the Pali Cornice will ensure you need a diaper and a complete ski base replacement at the end of a day’s skiing. On a powder day, head down Powder Keg or Grizzly Road off the Pallavicini chair and drop into some lovely short gladed runs called No Name, Radical, Challenger Scudder and Powder Keg. They are out of the wind, suck in the powder and the trees provide some vis.

Arapahoe Basin is all about the cornices. The wind howls up in the rarefied air of A Basin, creating some truly impressive (read intimidating) cornices. Three main lines of cornices exist in the Pallavicini, former Norway and Montezuma areas, all of which have varying degrees of huckability.

If you’re up for a hike at dizzying heights, true experts can head up the East Wall, so long as it’s one of those rare moments when the snow conditions are just right.