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Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort, also known as “A-Basin” among the locals is in Summit County, Colorado, and is a premier destination for skiers and snowboards. Renowned for its high elevation, the resort has one of the longest ski seasons it often is open from October to June. The resort is also known for its efficient lift system and impressive annual snowfall, ensuring a consistently high-quality experience. Our family got a pass to Arapahoe Basin this winter and it has been such a great place for our family to ski. If you are looking for somewhere that is close to Denver, open for a long time, has great ski instructors, and is very family friendly then A-Basin is the place for you!
Location and Accessibility of A-Basin
Arapahoe Basin is only about an hour from Denver. It is one of the closer ski resorts to downtown Denver. Arapahoe Basin is on Highway 6/Loveland Pass, situated 68 miles to the west of downtown Denver, a mere 5 miles to the east of Keystone, and 20 miles away from Breckenridge. In case Loveland Pass is inaccessible, you can still reach the A-Basin by traveling through I-70 and the Eisenhower Tunnel.
If you have skied in Denver before you know that I-70 traffic can be terrible. We have found that if you leave extra early you can miss most of the traffic in the mornings. The traffic is especially bad on weekends and after a big snowstorm. We leave our house at 6:15 and miss all the traffic. We live on the East side of Denver and it typically takes us an hour and a half to get to Arapahoe Basin. We bring heated-up breakfast burritos in a cooler and eat them when we are almost there or even eat them in the lodge right before the ski lifts open.
To beat the traffic leaving the canyon we try to leave the ski resort around 3 to 3:30. Anytime after that you will be stuck in traffic the whole way out of the canyon.
Parking at Arapahoe Basin
One of the best parts of Arapahoe Basin ski area is the parking. We have little kids so finding a resort that had close, free parking was important to us. They have five parking lots. The best one for families is the Early Riser lot. It is so close to the lodge, ski lesson area, and rental shop. It is always free if you have 3+ people in the car. On peak days and holidays, it does cost $20 if you have less than 3 people in the car. The trick to parking in the Early Riser lot is to get there early. Try to make it to A-Basin around 8:15 and there should be plenty of parking in the Early Riser lot. The High Noon, Last Chance, and Upper Last Chance lots are all free and within walking distance. They offer a shuttle during peak days. They even have a drop-off lot (15-minute limit) that is steps away from the lodge. At the end of a long ski day, it is so nice to have someone grab the car to load up all the skis and gear.
Skiing at Arapahoe Basin
There is a lot of diverse terrain for all ski levels at A-Basin. I love that there is a great lift for advanced/experts right next to the Beginner lifts. In some resorts, it takes a while to get to the more advanced terrain. The Pallavicini lift has tons of advanced and expert terrain. Which is perfect for us to take turns on while the kids are taking a hot chocolate break.
TIP: Grab this FREE Family Ski Trip Packing List so you don’t forget anything important at home
If you are looking for some of the steepest and most challenging terrain in all of Colorado you will have to check out The Steep Gullies and The Beavers. Both were added to the resort in the 2017-2018 ski season. Make sure to look at a map before you go because some of the trails require a 20-30-minute hike back to the lift.
There are so many great Intermediate trails at Arapahoe Basin ski area. Off almost every lift are some great trails for intermediate skiers. You can even ski to the back side bowl of A-Basin named Zuma. There are over 400 acres in Zuma, full of groomers, trees, and even some cliffs.
If you are a beginner skier or skiing with younger kids there are plenty of options. Arapahoe Basin has two small magic carpets. One is even too short for my youngest kids. I wish that it was longer or that the hill it was on was just a little steeper. But they have a bunny hill lift called Molly Hogan. It is perfect for beginners. It is easy to get on and off. My six-year-old and four-year-old can get on and off the lift by themselves after just a few times practicing.
Next to Molly Hogan is another lift called Black Mountain Express. It takes you to a lot of beginner and advanced terrain. This lift is my kids’ favorite. It fits four people and the seat is low to the ground so that even my four-year-old can get on by herself. My kids love Wrangler and Sundance trails. They even have been skiing on High Noon, which isn’t too much steeper than Sundance.
Dining at the Lodge
There aren’t a ton of dining options at A-Basin. In the lodge, there is a restaurant called 6th Alley, which is a bar and grill. There is always plenty of seating available. There is an upstairs for more seating for the bar. At the top of the Black Mountain Express lift there is the Black Mountain Lodge that has good BBQ food and an amazing view of the Colorado Rockies. There are two more smaller restaurants at the summit.
If you are looking for a faster and cheaper option, there is Legends Café which has plenty of options. They have some self-serve items as well as chicken fingers, fries, onion rings, etc. The lodge also has several water fountains with water cups you can use.
Don’t be afraid to bring your own food. Some resorts won’t let you bring your own food into the lodge. We love being able to bring all the snacks and lunch food for our family. Especially with young kids who seem to eat their weight in snacks when we go skiing.
Family-Friendly Areas in the Lodge at A-Basin
Now that we have a lot of young skiers and a baby we have to spend a lot of time in the lodge as we take turns watching the baby. When we first started having kids we skied at all our usual I-70 resorts like we always had but were somehow treated differently. Most of them didn’t care when we came in for 30 minutes to warm up, but staying all day was another issue. We wanted a place where we could feel comfortable staying with him without the stares and comments about us buying something else if we wanted to stay in their lodge. It was annoying and uncomfortable. Not only that but by the time we found a suitable place to hang for the day, we would have to take several lifts to get to the good skiing – much harder when you only have a few precious hours to ski. One by one, resorts started to slip from our radar of ‘family skiing’. Finally, we tried out Arapahoe Basin ski resort. It was like we were a match made in heaven. We went into the a-frame lodge and quickly found ourselves surrounded by other families like us. Families trying to still maintain their passion for skiing while they had kids. Not only that but there were things set up by the resort for the kids to play with. LOVELY!
Our favorite family-friendly area of the lodge is at the top level of the a-frame lodge. There are plenty of tables with room to have all our kids’ stuff. There is a microwave to heat hot chocolate or lunch. There is even an area with some couches and an area for the kids to play while warming up or waiting their turn. It is the best. There are plenty of other families there too. The only downside is that the top level is where the ski team takes breaks and eats lunch so on Saturdays and Sundays it can get a little crowded during lunchtime, but the ski teams are usually pretty quick to get back out to the mountain. It is a very comfortable spot to hang out all day taking turns with the baby.
Don’t forget to read our posts on best ski gear for kids
- Ultimate Guide for Winter Clothing for Babies
- Top Rated Guide for Winter Clothes for Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Best Ski Coats for Kids
- The Best Waterproof Gloves and Mittens for Kids
Accommodation Near Arapahoe Basin
There aren’t any places to stay at Arapahoe Basin but there are plenty of hotels and places to stay if you look in Keystone, Frisco, and Dillon.
Snowsports School- Ski and Snowboard Lessons
Arapahoe Basin has some of the best instructors and a wide variety of lesson options. They have group lessons, private lessons, a 4-pack, kids club lessons, they even have lessons starting as young as three years old. They will cater to you, or your kid’s specific needs and skill level. They also have adaptive lessons available.
The lessons are very reasonably priced at A Basin. They also have package deals to get everyone rentals for the day.
Want to teach your own kids to ski or have questions about ski school lessons check out these posts next?
- How to Teach Your Kids to Ski
- Best Way to Teach Your Toddler to Ski
- Getting the Most Out of Ski School: Multiday Lessons
- The Complete Guide to Skiing with Kids
Tickets and Passes to Arapahoe Basin
A-Basin has a lot of pass and ticket options to find one that is most affordable and fits your needs. Make sure you plan ahead because A-Basin doesn’t sell any tickets at the resort. You must buy online ahead of time. They limit ticket sales to keep the lines shorter and the resort more enjoyable.
Arapahoe Basin has a full-day ticket, a beginner area ticket, family and friends discounted ticket (must have a season pass to share this discount), and a group discount. If you have an IKON pass you can get 25% off the daily ticket price. They are also part of the Mountain Collective Pass to get a ticket at a great rate.
This pass has mid-season weekend blackout dates but is a great price.
Perfect if you are planning on visiting between December 22nd and January 7th. It comes with 3 days that you can use anytime between those dates.
The Midweek pass gives you unlimited access to the ski resort anytime Monday-Friday.
Gives you access to the resort during the week. Great if you are free during the week to ski.
Unrestricted Season Pass
This pass gives you unlimited and unrestricted access to Arapahoe Basin during the whole season. Make sure you order these in advance because the adult pass typically sells out.
Uphill Access Pass
One of the coolest parts of A-Basin is the uphill access pass. With this pass, you have uphill access to the resort when it is open. You don’t have any lift access but if you are looking for some great areas to ski with a little exercise this is the pass for you. You can also add this pass to the other season passes at a discounted price.
Why Arapahoe Basin Stand Out
Certain places around us seem to somehow be stuck back in time. Places where technology and renovations have been put on the back burner, to allow the soul of the area to permeate you. A-Basin is one of those places, and that’s why we love it. Growing up, it was known as the old-school resort. The place where people would live in the parking lot for the season and where you could always find someone grilling out of their trunk. Where families were more concerned about spending time together than spending money. Luckily, it’s still that way today! It is the perfect resort for families. There is amazing terrain for every ability, and everyone is so friendly.