A Top 10 Ski Town. Durango, Colorado is an all-year long getaway destination. For the outdoor enthusiast, Durango is an outdoor hub of action. Breathtaking scenery, crisp refreshing air, mountain biking, river rafting, fishing, and hiking. But when winter snow falls, Durango soon becomes a ski paradise with some of the best skiing conditions in the country. In fact, Ski Magazine has called Durango one of "America's Top 10 Ski Towns" featuring slopes for every skill level from beginner to expert, world-class skiers.
Ski season value. Although Durango boasts some of the best snow-skiing conditions in the country, surprisingly winter is not the peak tourist season in Durango CO. So when the deep base and powdery perfect conditions beckon the real ski-lover, hotel rates in Durango become more affordable.
Durango Mountain Resort (a.k.a. Purgatory)
More than a ski area, this is a destination. Durango Mountain Resort at Purgatory is a slice of both winter and summer recreation heaven. A magical playground for families with children, and couples with winter romance in-mind. Whether you are a world-class avid skier or a young bare beginner, if you love the snow, this is the place. Durango Mountain Resort has been selected as one of the "7 Great Mountains to Ski" by Ski Magazine. This a village with amenities, world-class shopping and some of the finest dining establishments. Choose your desire. Ski, snowboard, snowshoe, snowmobile, cross-country, or take a sleigh ride. All this and some of the most spectacular views you will ever imagine.
Forever will be known as Purgatory. When built in 1965, it was named Purgatory Ski Resort which as since changed to Durango Mountain Resort. Located about 25 miles north of Durango, Colorado in the rugged, scenic San Juan Mountains, the Resort boasts an average annual snowfall of 260 inches accented with over 300 days of sunshine creating fantastic ski conditions. Steeped in a rich history, its name "Purgatory" originated in 1890s by miners that got stuck at Purgatory Flats on their way to Silverton CO. Not being able to afford the cost of getting on the toll road, they were stuck in "limbo".
The good ski stuff. The ski area at Durango Mountain Resort spans 2,400 acres including 723 acres of maintained terrain including three terrain parks. Pitchfork Terrain Garden is home to a 260 foot Half Pipe, plenty of rails, moguls, and a medium size jump at the bottom. Divine Comedy is located just above the base of a high speed 6-rack chairlift. The Paradise Freestyle Arena will cure all of your rail-riding, big-air-ills. There also over 40 miles of maintained Nordic trails. An additional 125 acres of steep tree-skiing in the Legends Area rewarding expert skiers with trail avenues that drop 1,200 vertical feet.
Summit Elevation: 10,822 feet
San Juan Ski Company at DMR
One of the best ski days ever. That's what most highly skilled skiers conclude. about San Juan Ski Company. This breathtaking back country skiing experience is only for advanced, expert skiers that can handle 8,000 to 12,000 foot vertical drops that navigate through treed slopes, bowls, chutes, ridges and glades. Based at Purgatory Durango Mountain Resort, , San Juan is the largest Cat Skiing thrill in Colorado with 35,000 acres of terrain in the rugged West San Juan Mountains.
Guided ski tours only. This amazing day of snow-skiing begins at the Durango Mountain Resort with a ride on the first chair lift of the day and then a short ski to the Bombardier Snow Cat rendezvous. The Snowcat then takes skiers to the top of the runs where the guide prepares you for one of the most incredible skiing experiences you'll ever imagine.
Expect 8 to 12 runs during the day. The Snow Cat continually takes skiers back to various elevations from 8,800 feet at the Durango Mountain Resort base to 12,500 foot summit of Greyrock Peak. At about 4:00 PM, ski guests are dropped-off on the edges of Purgatory where they can ski to the base are on groomed slopes and relish this once in a lifetime backcountry skiing experience.
San Juan Ski Company
Silverton Mountain Skiing
Few are good enough to ski Silverton Mountain. Rising from the wilderness is a ski freak that many consider as the most challenging skiing in America. Only exceptionally skilled skiers should test this highest ski area in North America. And when you arrive at the summit at 13,487 feet, you will notice that is it is also the steepest with no easy path going down. Primarily, Silver Mountain is a guided adventure although on some days it does permit a very limited number of unguided skiers and avalanche gear is required. This high alpine setting is in Sliverton CO, about 52 miles from the Durango Airport.
Skiing at Silver Mountain. This is raw nature. No groomed trails with 10,000 plus feet of vertical drop. Just black diamond, adrenalin-inducing skiing. There is only one chairlift and unloads you to the most striking panoramic views. An easy hike across a ridge accesses over 1,800 acres of the most powdery snow fields in wilderness backcountry. The base lies at 10,400 feet with lift peak of 12,300 feet. Skiers can hike to the summit at 13,487 feet which would maximize the vertical drop to over 3,000 feet. Heli is available to the tallest peak. No crowds here. This is true tranquility. Guided groups limited to 8 skiers. Private guides are available. When permitted, unguided skiers are limited to 475 per day, but most days there are fewer than 80.
Summit Elevation: 13,487 feet
Chapman Hill Ski Area
Conveniently located below Ft. Lewis College. Chapman Hill provides ski terrain for both beginners and experienced skiers but will not challenge an advanced skier. Ski slopes are relatively small with a base area that is gently just right for beginners. For the experienced, there is a steep vertical drop of about 700 feet from the top of Chapman Hill.
No fancy ski-chair lifts here. Only "tow-ropes" that handles both small and large skiers. As a winter sports center, Chapman Hill is the perfect spot for families with younger children and features a tubing and sledding hill that is separate from the ski slopes. It has an ice-skating rink, a supervised warming house with snacks, offers skiing lessons and runs both youth and adult competitive hockey and ski race league programs. Rates at Chapman Hill are very modest.
Ski and sledding season. Snow recreation is dependent upon snow and weather. Typically the winter season begins early January through March. Night-time skiing makes for convenience. The ice-skating rink is converted to roller-skating during the non-snow months.
Hesperus Ski Area
Inexpensive day or night ski. Only 80 acres of skiable terrain, but has character with a 700 foot vertical drop and steep slopes. Hesperus has one double chairlift, nine alpine runs with night skiing, including snowboarding until 9:30 PM during the ski season. A beginner's ski area is served with a rope tow. Located just 12 miles west of Durango and 32 miles from Farmington, New Mexico, Ski Hesperus is convenient for a quick snow-ski getaway.
No frills, fun and great views. Hesperus has just a few tough ski slopes but features a higher average of easy slopes than most other ski places in the Durango, Colorado area. It not only enjoys an average snowfall of 275 inches annually, but some incredible panoramic views of the snow-covered highlands of Mesa Verde. Hesperus is definitely a family-friendly place.
Kendall Mountain Ski Area
A mini-ski area in the San Juan and Jemez Mountains. With just 35 acres of skiable terrain and one third the vertical drop compared to the other Colorado resorts (400 feet), Kendall is a perfect companion to Silverton Mountain Ski Area which has expert only terrain. Three slopes, 11 trails, 1 lift and lift tickets as lows as $10! A perfect locale for beginners and dropping off the kids while dad and mom seek the adverture of Silverton Mountain.