East of Durango is a rugged and unusually high alpine ski resort, known as Wolf Creek. Located between Pagosa Springs and South Fork, this ski area has been a pleasure, as well as a challenge and inspiration, for skiers for a very long time.
Most residents of Colorado are familiar with Wolf Creek Pass. That's because there is a lot of snow here—465 inches a year, on average. That alone makes it a rare treat, but when you add that the base is at 10,300 feet and the summit mounts to 11,900 feet, you're in for a kind of skiing seldom seen anywhere else in North America. There are runs for all levels of skiers, from beginner on through intermediate and expert. It is a family resort and even has classes just for children. The higher elevation changes things a lot, though, so it's advised to take all trails slower and with caution until you know them for yourself. Ski Patrol is the best of the best here. They are there for everyone's safety and trained to deal with medical emergencies, should they arise. Paid professionals, they and the ski instruction staff are a vital part of this invigorating alpine experience.
While there are three restaurants and a bar on the mountain for food and beverages during the day, lodgings and the après ski are in Pagosa Springs and South Fork. You can expect to find the usual fast food and commercial chains, but the charm of this exceptional ski resort isn't diminished by their presence. Places like Club Coyote, the Sidekick Lounge, and the Wild Horse Saloon set the mood by their names alone, and give you an idea of what the nightlife is like. If partying is a bit lower on your priority list, perhaps you'll enjoy a soak in one of the hot mineral spring/spas. Pagosa Springs just happens to be home to the world's largest and deepest hot mineral spring.
High Alpine skiing requires special precautions. The higher elevation means that you're getting less oxygen, the sun's UV rays are more potent, and the air can be much colder. Wolf Creek just about qualifies as a national treasure. Ski the exceptional Wolf Creek this winter and you'll be back again and again, for years to come.
Wolf Creek is a wonderful Colorado resort with a total of seven lifts, comprising of one magic carpet, one poma lift, one double chair, two triple chairs, and two quad chairs. Enjoy 77 trails where you can snowboard on their longest run of 10,560 feet atop 465 inches of powder. Their trails are rated 20 percent for beginners, 35 percent for intermediates, 25 percent for advanced, and a really thrilling 20 percent for experts.
There’s no terrain park, but with the natural features and a snowboarder presence of over 30 percent of all the people on the slopes at any given time, this is the non-artificial snowboarder’s terrain park. Some of the extremely challenging runs include Black Diamonds, Horseshoe Bowl, Knife Ridge, Prospector, Holy Moses, and Glory Hole. In order to get up to Waterfall, the new Alberta lift will get you there.
Is there any winter outdoor extreme sports activity you can’t do in the area? You wouldn’t think so when you consider that you can choose to engage in memorable fun such as hot air ballooning, ice skating, jeeping and off-road driving, rock and ice climbing, sledding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, fishing, and horseback riding. Pagosa Hot Springs has 11 different pools each at different temperatures so you can find exactly the warmth to soothe you after your dynamic day of snowboarding.
There is some good action and fun to be found at Pagosa Springs. The Hog’s Breath is a good ol’ fashioned western cowboy hangout with reasonably priced drinks. Other decent hangouts include The Wallis Aspen Springs Bar, the Hungry Logger Pub, and the Greenhouse Bar. If you want to taste a few different brews, you might want to head out to the Pathfinder Bar. When you’re hungry, visit the Bear Creek Salon (not Saloon) for some huge burgers and a green chile soup that will really warm you up. The two best restaurants in town are The Wolf Creek Lodge and The Prospector Lodge and everyone can enjoy them, including the under 21 crowd. In South Fork, the Croaker’s Saloon is a place that can really get rockin’.