12 Apr 2014, 10:22am
Breckenridge Colorado Skiing & Snowboarding Vail:
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Arapahoe Basin and Vail: Where Spring Skiing is King in Colorado

Spring Fun After a Spring Storm in Vail

Spring Fun After a Spring Storm in Vail

Spring Skiers and Riders

Spring Skiers and Riders

Now that the Telluride Ski Resort has closed, I’m on the Front Range reveling in the great skiing of this part of Colorado. And boy, there are so many resorts from which to choose, including Keystone, Copper, Loveland, Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin and Vail. You can make a town such as Breckenridge—where I am currently for the Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS)—your base and ski or ride at a half dozen resorts during your stay.

After this season’s historic snowfalls in this part of the Rocky Mountain state, many of Colorado’s top ski resorts including Aspen have extended their closing dates through early May. A-Basin, the highest ski resort in Colorado, typically closes toward the end of May/early June, so who knows what this season will bring? (They don’t announce their closing date in advance. It’s contingent upon the spring storms and crowds, both of which swell in this part of the Rockies.)

A-Basin

Above Tree Line Glory in A-Basin

Black Mountain Lodge at A-Basin

Black Mountain Lodge at A-Basin

I skied A-Basin this week with my boyfriend, Steve, and we experienced fine snow, some real winter-like fluff toward the top. Founded in 1946, Arapahoe Basin still exudes a ski-area charm lost years ago by the big resorts. It also offers some of the highest skiable terrain in North America. Half the mountain is above tree line, offering open-bowl skiing for intermediates and experts alike. I was impressed with the breathtaking, up- close views of A-Basin’s rocky peaks, the friendliness of the people that work there and the nice variety of terrain, including a lot of hike-to options (both for back and side country skiers and riders) best suited for the most avalanche-aware snowsports enthusiasts on the mountain. We enjoyed a terrific lunch at Black Mountain Lodge and some memorable runs off of the Pallavicini lift (although in truth, the long and steep Pallavicini run can’t quite compare to Telluride’s Plunge or Bushwacker).

All day long it felt like a “locals’ mountain” to us, sentiments which were further reinforced by the brigade of tailgaters spotted at the parking lot at the base toward the end of the day. I can only imagine how much fun it is to ski and party there on a bright, sunny day in May.

Spring Fun at A-Basin

Spring Fun at A-Basin

Looking A Lot Like Summer at A-Basin

Looking A Lot Like Summer at A-Basin

Part of the Tailgate Brigade at A-Basin

Part of the Tailgate Brigade at A-Basin

A-Basin Avi Dog and Ski Patrol

A-Basin Avi Dog and Ski Patrol

Steve and Me at Loveland Pass/Continental Divide

Steve and Me at Loveland Pass/Continental Divide

Important Signage

Important Signage (The Orange Sign in the Background Carries Stern Warnings About the Avalanche Danger)

We drove up nearby Loveland Pass at an elevation of 11,991 feet along the Continental Divide after skiing, one of the state’s renowned passes that I had not yet experienced. Hurling winds nearly blew us off the mountain, powerful gusts that made picture-posing almost impossible. I couldn’t help thinking about the many back country skiers that launch themselves from the top of this great divide for the ski or ride of their lives. The tracks up above were too numerable to count.

Impeccable Grooming at Vail

Impeccable Grooming at Vail

Vail is not on the program this week, however, I do hit it most Aprils. Last year I skied Vail closing weekend during very wintery conditions and the snow was fantastic. It was so abundant and sweet, in fact, that the resort extended its opening by a whole other weekend. Depending on how the next couple of weeks play out, I’d guess that others—perhaps Vail included—will be offering bonus weekends as well. (It will likely be August before this year’s snow melts!)

Go to Vail’s iconic back bowls after a big storm and go early while the snow is still soft and fresh. If you hit it right, here you can delight in some of the best skiing in Colorado. Whether you’re seeking powder or corn, bumps or groomers, this mega resort manages to please on all fronts. They’re successful at everything they do—from a wide assortment of on-mountain restaurants to fantastic grooming to a variety of terrain for skiers and riders of all levels. Vail’s lift service throughout reigns supreme as does access to the mountain from every point of entry at the base. Whether you’re a day tripper or a week-long visitor, the folks at Vail provide all for a convenient and enjoyable mountain experience, one likely filed away as many people’s best overall ski memories forever more.They’ve also perfected the whole spring fling in the mountains with their Spring Back to Vail concert series and events.

Why choose between the mountains and the beach? In Colorado, most spring days offer a divine combination of both. Unless, of course, it’s a powder day.

Spring Break Vail Style

Spring Break Vail Style

For related articles, read Vail Resorts:  Fun of Epic Proportions, Ski In/Ski Out to Great Snow in Colorado and Shopping, Dining and Spa-Going Small in Breckenridge.

Thank you to Dave Camara, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Vail Resorts for some of the above images.

 
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