Ultimate Guide to Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort

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Arapahoe Basin is referred to as “A-Basin” by those familiar with its slopes, Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort in Summit County, Colorado, is a top choice for both skiers and snowboarders. Known for its long ski season and diverse terrain, Arapahoe Basin offers something for everyone, from beginners to expert skiers and snowboarders. It has one of the longest skiing seasons, typically spanning from October to June.

This winter, my family decided to get a pass to Arapahoe Basin, and it has been a delightful discovery for us. For families seeking a ski resort close to Denver, with a lengthy season, excellent ski instruction, and a welcoming atmosphere, A-Basin stands out as an ideal destination.

Arapahoe Basin Ticket Office

Getting to Arapahoe Basin

 A-Basin is located just about an hour from Denver. This resort is right on Highway 6/Loveland Pass, it is 68 miles west of downtown Denver, only 5 miles east of Keystone, and a 20-mile drive from Breckenridge. Alternative routes through I-70 and the Eisenhower Tunnel are available if Loveland Pass is closed.

ski traffic snow storm

We’ve learned that beating the infamous I-70 traffic requires an early start, particularly on weekends or following heavy snowfalls. Leaving our East Denver home by 6:15 AM usually allows us to avoid the congestion. In order to get to the ski hill early with young kids we heat breakfast burritos/sandwiches and keep them in a cooler until we are closer to A-Basin or we even will eat them at the lodge, just as the ski lifts start operating. Need more ideas for food while skiing? Read about our favorite ski meals here.

We try to leave the resort, ideally between 3:00 and 3:30 PM, to help us avoid traffic on the way back to Denver.

Family riding up ski lift

Places to Park at A-Basin

The parking facilities at Arapahoe Basin ski area are very convenient, especially for families with young children. The resort has several parking lots, with the Early Riser lot being the most family-friendly because it is so close to the lodge. This lot is free for cars with three or more passengers; otherwise, there’s a $20 charge on peak days. Arriving around 8:15 AM typically ensures a spot in this coveted lot.

The High Noon, Last Chance, and Upper Last Chance lots also provide free parking with shuttle service on busy days. My favorite lot after a long day of skiing is the 15-minute drop-off lot steps from the lodge. Being able to have one person grab the car makes the end-of-day gear loading so much smoother and faster.

Toddler skiing

All Levels of Terrain at A-Basin

Arapahoe Basin boasts diverse skiing terrain suitable for all skill levels. The Pallavicini lift offers challenging routes for advanced skiers, while beginners have easy access to gentler slopes. I love that the Pallavicini is so close to the beginner lifts. At some resorts in order to get to more advanced terrain you have to go pretty far from the base. Having more advanced terrain right by the base is perfect for us while we are taking turns in the lodge with the baby.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, The Steep Gullies and The Beavers, added in the 2017-2018 season, present some of the most exhilarating terrains in Colorado. Intermediate skiers can enjoy the expansive Zuma back bowl, with its mix of groomers, tree runs, and occasional cliff jumps.

Ski lift

For beginners, especially those skiing with young children, Arapahoe Basin is welcoming. The resort features two magic carpets, with the Molly Hogan lift being a perfect start for novices. The nearby Black Mountain Express lift opens up a range of beginner-friendly trails, with Wrangler and Sundance being among our family favorites. The beginner lifts are easy to get on and off. Our four-year-old and six-year-old can get on and off the Molly Hogan lift and Black Mountain Express lift by themselves. It took a few times of practice but now they can do laps on the Molly Hogan lift while we work with our two-year-old.

Read Next: 11 Secrets to Skiing with Toddlers (and Actually Enjoying It)

Dining Options at the Resort

With plenty of dining choices at A-Basin. They make sure to cater to a range of preferences. At the base of the resort, they have a couple of options. The 6th Alley offers a bar and grill setup with ample seating. For quicker, budget-friendly meals, Legends Café serves a variety of snacks and classic ski fare.

At the top of the Black Mountain Express lift there is the Black Mountain Lodge. They have great BBQ and a really beautiful view of the Colorado Rockies. Black Mountain Lodge has a lot of seating inside and outside. At the summit, there are two restaurants. One is called Il Rifugio and is the highest-elevation restaurant in North America. The last restaurant is Steilhang Hut. They offer specialty sausages and snacks.

Family eating lunch in ski lodge

We love that the resort also welcomes guests to bring their own food. Bringing your own food is a huge way to save money while skiing. They have a microwave on the top floor of the A-frame lodge if you are looking to microwave some lunch or hot chocolate. If you are looking for more ideas for lunch make sure to check out this post next.

Family-Friendly Facilities

Ski Lodge

Arapahoe Basin stands out for its family-friendly amenities, especially in the lodge. The top level of the A-frame lodge offers a comfortable space with tables, a microwave, and play areas for kids. It’s a welcoming environment, perfect for families taking turns skiing while caring for younger members. Some other resorts are perfectly fine when you come in the lodge to warm up for a bit but they start getting pushy for you to buy something if you are planning on having someone stay in the lodge most of the day with babies or toddlers. Arapahoe Basin has such a welcoming environment for families. They even have reusable cups by all of the water fountains.

Nearby Accommodations

Though there are no overnight accommodations directly at Arapahoe Basin, nearby towns like Keystone, Frisco, and Dillon offer a variety of lodging options.

Looking at other Colorado resorts? Find our other favorite Colorado ski resorts.

Ski Lessons

Arapahoe Ski Resort, Skiing

The resort’s Snowsports School is notable for its range of lessons catering to all ages and skill levels, including adaptive programs. If you are a first-time skier or need to brush up on some skill they have a class available. They teach kids as young as three years old and offer a variety of options to best suit your needs. They have group lessons, semi-private and private lessons.

Need more help? Read these posts next.

Ticketing and Pass Options

A-Basin provides various pass options to suit different needs and budgets. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Arapahoe Basin doesn’t sell any tickets at the ticket counter for that day.  They also have a limit on their day passes to avoid overcrowding.

Girl skiing

The resort offers a full-day, beginner area, discounted family and friends, and group tickets. With an IKON pass, you can get 25% off their daily rate. You can also reload your Mountain Collective pass at 50% off the daily rate. Make sure to double-check your ticket because it is only valid for the date you select.

Season passes include midweek options, holiday packs, and an unrestricted pass for the entire season. They usually sell out of the unrestricted adult passes so make sure to purchase early. A-Basin also offers a unique Uphill Access Pass.

Why Choose A-Basin?

Kids skiing

Arapahoe Basin retains a nostalgic, family-oriented charm that sets it apart. It’s a place that values quality time over commercialization, a tradition that continues to make it a favorite among ski-loving families. With its diverse terrain and friendly atmosphere, A-Basin is a ski resort that caters to everyone, from the avid skier to the entire family.

Written by Jessica Averett

Hi, I'm Jessica! After meeting my husband on a chairlift, we now live in the mountains of Utah with our 5 kids. As a former ski instructor and mom, I'm here to help you make your family ski trips as easy, and FUN, as possible!