This year, one of my friends is turning 70.
It is an auspicious occasion, and while this friend doesn’t know my name, I know all about my friend.
I know the ups and downs, where to get lost and where to get found, as well as where to score lunch and a well-deserved beer.
And while I don’t know as much about Arapahoe Basin as many other people, what I know I cherish.
So put your party hat on: A Basin is having a birthday!
Happy Birthday A Basin
Arapahoe Basin was “born” in 1946, a labor of love for early Colorado skiers and the Denver Chamber of Commerce which commissioned a survey to identify promising ski area sites.
Identified as a prime spot for skiing by Larry Jump, a 10th Mountain Division Veteran and Sandy Schauffler, an Olympic skier, the duo brought in Olympic medalist Dick Durrance to strengthen an application to the United States Forest Service.
It took only 11 days for the Forest Service to approve the plan and assign a ranger, Wilfred David, to design the trails.
Local residents Max and Edna Dercum rounded out the group of directors and in December 1946, Arapahoe Basin opened with one rope tow running from midmountain to the top.
Twelve hundred skier days were logged that first season. That number jumped to 13,000 the next season when two single chairlifts were installed.
Arapahoe Basin has grown significantly over 70 years. Annual skier visits now surpass 425,000 and the resort recently announced approval of a new expansion plan.
History aside, “the Legend” is legendary for it’s ultra-long season on true-north slopes, the rampant party scene and some of the steepest and deepest skiing in Colorado.
Platinum anniversary celebrations begin on December 10th with discounted lift tickets and a party. Look for birthday cake, live music and a celebration at the 6th Alley Bar and Grill at the base on Saturday.
This year also marks the 125th anniversary of the US Forest Service. So as part of Arapahoe Basin’s birthday festivities, you’ll find Ski with a Ranger tours, special Junior Ranger events for kids, and a commemorative photo booth in celebration of this 70-year public/private partnership.
What’s New at The Basin
Over the summer, Arapahoe Basin invested more than $1 million on guest improvements, doubling the size of Arapahoe Sports and completing the Base Area Plaza project.
As for skiing, lift tickets are now included with all kids’ group full or half-day snow sports lessons, and children enrolled in multi-week kids’ programs can get a discounted season pass.
What You Need to Know About Arapahoe Basin
A Basin has an average annual snowfall of 350” that usually skis from October into June. With 960 acres and 2,270 vertical feet, the mountain has 109 trails, a glorious midmountain lodge with a sundeck and the best tailgate scene anywhere.
It’s also one of the most family-friendly ski areas anywhere.
In addition to deals on kids’ lessons and tickets, A Basin provides relaxing and warm places to hang out and play, whether you’re taking a break from the snow, or tag-team babysitting.
50th Anniversaries at Sunlight and Powderhorn
Located on the western slope, these two ski areas serve up great snow, fun terrain and a friendly atmosphere.
50 Years of Sunlight
Driving west on I-70, you’ll find Sunlight near the Roaring Fork Valley, between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
With 680 skiable acres, three lifts and 2,010 vertical feet, Sunlight boasts one of Colorado’s longest beginner runs, Ute (2.5 miles), and one of Colorado’s steepest pitches, Heathen (52°).
Between these extremes, 55% of the terrain is intermediate, making Sunlight an affordable place for families and anyone else looking to build their skills, have fun, and kick back with a 50th anniversary beer from Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company.
Sunlight’s party is season-long with a menu of special events and commemorative products, including custom 50th Anniversary skis and snowboards from Meier and 50th Anniversary ski chairs from Colorado Ski Furniture.
On December 8th check out the Winter Stoke Film Fest in Carbondale, featuring the winners of a local short video competition, a 50th Birthday video series and feature length films.
Sunlight opens on December 9th with donuts for the first 50 people in line at the Tercero chairlift.
The official Birthday Bash is December 16th-18th, while January 6th is Skier Appreciation Day with $20 lift tickets. The party continues into February with Ski Spree on the 4th and 5th.
A Golden Celebration at Powderhorn
Drive further west on I-70, and you’ll find Powderhorn Mountain Resort, near the towns of Palisade and Grand Junction. Known for prodigious powder, pristine aspen glades and a welcoming atmosphere, Powderhorn installed a high-speed quad last season which raised the resort’s profile.
With 42 trails, 2 terrain parks and plenty of off-piste terrain to explore across 1200 skiable acres and 1,650 vertical feet, Powderhorn is a great place to escape, build skills and turn your kids loose. There is a dedicated beginner lift and slope, along with intermediate and advanced terrain off of the Flattop Flyer and the West End lifts.
The West End lift is also where you’ll find the Golden Chair: chair #50 painted gold in honor of this special birthday.
Powderhorn is currently open on weekends, with a full opening on December 15th.
The anniversary celebration is on December 17th with an Ice Bar, live music, giveaways and a screening of a 50th Anniversary video.
A reunion is planned for February 4th for the many people who have given their time and passion to Powderhorn.
More Arapahoe Basin, Sunlight and Powderhorn
- Why Our Family Loves to Ski Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, April 5, 2012.
- Tips from a Pro: Ski and Snowboard Safety for Families, April 7, 2014.
- Why We Ski Early Season, October 30, 2013.
- Sunlight Mountain Resort: Friendly, Fun and Unexpectedly Extreme, February 15, 2013.
- Colorado’s Powderhorn Mountain Resort is Worth the Drive, March 6, 2013.
- The “Pow!” Is Back at Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Colorado, December 21, 2011.
- Celebrating the “Free Heel Life” at Powderhorn Resort, February 2, 2011.
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