The best place for spring skiing in Colorado — The Know

For avid skiers in Colorado, spring skiing conjures up vivid images of days when the sun is shining, the high-altitude sky is impossibly blue, the snow is soft and the pace is laid back. It’s about days when it just feels good to relax and cruise around a mountain with stunning views.

It’s not about trying to get in as many vertical feet as possible. It’s not about racing to a resort hoping to snag first chair. It’s seldom about the powder we crave the rest of the season. Often it’s less about skiing than about lingering on a deck high on a mountain, savoring a lunch, hanging out with family or friends and gazing at mountains that won’t be snowcapped for much longer.

Related: When Colorado ski areas are planning to close

Arapahoe Basin is ideal for all of those reasons, which is why it’s my favorite spring skiing destination. Part of the appeal is A-Basin’s old-school vibe (I almost called it “ambience,” but that would be way too fancy for The Legend). The base lodge, after all, dates to 1961.

Thanks to elevation that reaches well above timberline, Arapahoe Basin is typically the last Colorado ski area to close for the season, sometimes extending into July. Hanging out on the deck at the mid-mountain Black Mountain Lodge on a spring day is wonderful. On the upper part of the mountain there is a large alpine pond that fills with snowmelt in the spring, daring skiers to skim across it, always egged on by spectators hoping for epic fails. In non-COVID years, the famous “Beach” at the base area turns into Margaritaville by the Continental Divide.

Related: CDOT proposing new way for skiers and hikers to beat Interstate 70 traffic

But what I love most about Arapahoe Basin in the spring is the backside known as Montezuma Bowl (nicknamed Zuma), which opened in the 2007-08 ski season. It’s so massive that it increased A-Basin’s in-bounds terrain by 80%.

Zuma is the side of the mountain you don’t see when approaching A-Basin from Loveland Pass. You get there by taking two lifts up to 12,500 feet and dropping off the other side. It encompasses 36 runs (six intermediate, 21 advanced, nine expert) with a vertical drop of 1,100 feet. The views, which include glimpses of Summit County neighbors Keystone and Breckenridge (the latter being more than 10 miles away) are enchanting.

Visiting Zuma feels like sneaking away to a secret spring refuge, celebrating what it means to live in Colorado.

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