Extended Ski Seasons in Colorado Mean More Mountain Time

Every year, Arapahoe Basin has the longest ski season in North America

Arapahoe Basin
Getty Images/Richard Cummins

Ski season isn’t set in stone. When planning your Colorado ski vacation, it’s helpful to know that most ski resorts do fall within a general window: November-ish through April-ish. The majority tend to open later November or early December, and they try to stay open as long as possible. But that window tends to start closing early April when the spring sunshine begins melting the snow.

An occasionally snowy winter can extend the ski season, however. For example, the Purgatory Resort in southern Colorado, commonly associated with Durango (even though it’s about 30 miles away), opted to extend its ski season this year, due to the snowfall. It announced it would push its closing date from a more typical April 7 to a late April 30. For skiers, that’s like Christmas in the springtime.

It’s not uncommon for ski resorts to change their dates in the middle of the season, so keep your eyes on resort websites for announcements that may contribute to a last-minute springtime ski vacation. Often, ski resorts will announce extended dates late March or toward the end of their season, when they realize the snow is going to hold out for a while longer than planned. 

The 2016-2017 Season

Due to some extra snowfall toward the end of the season, in 2017, many Colorado resorts extended the season. Resorts closing early April included Buttermilk, Telluride, Crested Butte, and Beaver Creek. Copper Mountain, Steamboat, Keystone, and Snowmass extended their seasons to mid-April. Vail, Breckenridge, and Aspen extended their seasons to April 23 and Mary Jane at Winter Park extended to April 30. Loveland ski resort stayed open all the way until early May.

The 2017-2018 Season

Colorado resorts open in October are Arapahoe Basin and Loveland. Opening for the season starting in November are Aspen, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Eldora, Howelsen Hill, Monarch, Purgatory, Snowmass, Steamboat, Winter Park, and Wolf Creek.

Check back later this season for updates on Colorado resort extensions. Also, find the snow report here, which provides day-to-day accounts of snowfall, base depth, lifts open, acres open and other weather conditions. You can view each ski resort's webcams to check out conditions for yourself, too. (Or dream about it from afar as you plan.) This is also a great way to see which resorts are packed to try to avoid the lines. 

What Ski Resort Has the Longest Season?

Arapahoe Basin is known for its extra-long ski season, one that makes Loveland's early May closing seem uneventful. A-Basin, as it’s called generally stays open until early June.

It opens the slopes earlier than other resorts, too, mid- to late-October. This can offer more than a month of bonus ski time on the front end and as many as two months on the back end.

Not only does A-Basin offer Colorado’s longest ski and ride season, but it claims to offer the longest season in all of North America.

A-Basin, located on the Continental Divide in Summit County, usually sees more than 350 inches of snow every year, which translates to some of the best skiing in the world (and also some of the toughest runs around). A-Basin’s terrain stretches across nearly 1,000 acres. Get up to the top quickly with its high-speed chairlift; the summit hits 13,050 feet above sea level. Then pick from more than 100 trails to make your way down.

The 400-acre Montezuma Bowl hugely increased the resort's skiable terrain when it opened in the 2007 season. You'll find this on the back side of A-Basin, and it's reserved for more advanced skiers. Its 36 runs are blue, black and double black, making A-Basin a draw for the die-hard locals and ski fanatics. With A-Basin's long season, they can get their fix all the way into the summer. It’s no wonder Arapahoe Basin’s nickname is “the Legend.”