Winters are infamous for being drab and dull, thanks to the persistent snowfall and chilly weather. While most of us choose to stay indoors watching sitcoms and binge eating, there are also a few passionate individuals who perceive winters as the perfect opportunity for a great adventure! One such destination perfect for adventure mongers is the Wolf Creek Ski Area.
Wolf Creek Ski Area or WCSA as it is commonly called is a magnificent powder-hound destination. This famous ski area is situated in the southwest part of Colorado, between Pagosa Springs and South Fork on the Wolf Creek Pass to be precise. It is located on Highway 160 at a distance of about 84 miles east of Durango. It lays near gateway airports such as Albuquerque in New Mexico which is 247 miles away, Denver International Airport which is around 244 miles to South Fork and Colorado Springs which is approximately 192 miles away. The shuttle transport options from the airports to the towns and then to Wolf Creek is quite limited, which is why most people choose to drive. For this reason, you will find that rental cars are easily available at all three airports.
It is best known for receiving a fairly large amount of snowfall. Any guesses as to how much snow it receives? The average annual snowfall in the Wolf Creek Ski Area is around 480 inches, which is much more than any other ski resort in entire Colorado! The snow in Wolf Creek is very light and dry, and it falls in abundance. In case you are looking for a gateway to the backcountry, Wolf Creek is the place to be.
Base Elevation: 10300 feet
Summit Elevation: 11904 feet
Vertical Drop: 1604 feet
Wolf Creek Ski Area is also well known for its friendly atmosphere, delicious homemade food, deep-powder skiing, and affordable pricing. Its unique location in the San Juan Mountains has always been an advantage for the Wolf Creek Ski Area and has made it one of the leading destinations in the ski industry since its inception in the year 1939. The Wolf Creek’s mountain style offers something fun for everyone and has always drawn many families and ski enthusiasts here.
Many visitors often flock to Wolf Creek for the incredible food served in its restaurants, including the famous Santa Fe style green chili, red chili, hot daily special, gourmet salad bar, and mouth watering dessert menu.
Other features that add to the charm of Wolf Creek are power packed tree skiing, lack of crowds, and of course the splendid snow found here. Since Wolf Creek is not exactly a destination resort, therefore it is mostly visited by the local population. When compared to some glamorous ski resorts in Colorado, the facilities in Wolf Creek Ski Area are relatively very basic, so it’s not surprising that many tourists don’t often rush here. However, the people who do happen to visit from far and wide are well aware of the adventure that Wolf Creek has to offer and know that they are onto a good thing.
Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Wolf Creek Ski Area has a base height of approximately 10,300 ft or 3,100 m, along with a summit elevation of 11,904 ft i.e. 3,628 m and a vertical rise which measures 1,604 ft or 489 m.
The total skiable area available here is about 1,600 acres or 6.5 sq km. The total number of ski trails existing in Wolf Creek is 77 with varying difficulty levels of 25% advanced, 20% expert, 35% intermediate and 20% beginner. The longest ski run here in Wolf Creek is known as the Navajo Trail which has a length measuring 2 miles i.e. 3.2 km. If you are looking for moderately challenging steep and rocky terrain, you can explore the Exhibition Bowl, Bonanza Bowl, and the North Woods as these are accessible on a daily basis. In case you wish to put your expert skiing and snowboarding skills to the ultimate test, the Boundary Bowl, Glory Hole, Step Bowl, Prospector Ridge, Alberta Peak, Montezuma Bowl, the Peak Chutes, Knife Ridge and Horseshoe Bowl would offer the perfect advanced and expert terrain for this purpose. But be careful, as these areas have limited gated access and are open to only confident and seasoned skiers.
The main area of the resort where most of the beginner and intermediate level terrain can be found measures only about 600 acres with a vertical drop of only 489 meters. Even though the ski area can feel a little small, there is a major benefit of such limited verticality. Since the base area is also at high elevation, the snow generally stays in pristine condition all throughout the season.
The remaining 1,000 acres is serviced by the Alberta chairlift and is meant for the advanced and expert riders. One can find an awesome tree that can be accessed by lift, in addition to a double black hike-to terrain which features short yet steep pitches. However, there is a downside of this area, because, in order to get back to the lift, a certain degree of skating and trail riding may be required, which is why snowboarders would not love Wolf Creek as much as the skiers would. In spite of its shortcomings, most powder-hounds do not mind the lift layout because they feel that the rewards from the overall experience are enough to keep them happy. The Wolf Creek Ski Area usually operates between 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m in the evening. If you are keen on exploring the region this year, the best time to visit would be from November 2016 to April 2017, as it is the duration of peak season period.
Wolf Creek Ski Area has a total of 7 functional lifts in the region which include one quad detachable chairlift, one double chairlift, one platter lift, two triple chairlifts, and one ski lift called the magic carpet. All these lifts make Wolf Creek skiing area as one of the best in Colorado.
Wolf Creek Accommodation
Unfortunately, Wolf Creek does not offer accommodations on the mountain, however lodging facilities can easily be found at a distance of around 23 miles west of Wolf Creek and 18 miles east of Wolf Creek in Pagosa Springs and South Fork respectively. The accommodations available here are in the form of hotels, condos, bed and breakfasts and motels. All accommodations in Wolf are very reasonably priced and cater to a wide range of budgets.
Other Facilities and Activities
The amenities offered in Wolf Creek include a cafeteria, equipment rental, adults bar, ski school for kids and two small shops. Even though all these amenities are more than adequate for basic needs, they do not cope well with the crowd that visits during peak times. In addition to offering skiing and snowboarding as the major activities in the region, one can also enjoy the hot springs in Pagosa Springs, as well as the humble souvenir shops in Wolf Creek.
Why Ski or Snowboard at Wolf Creek?
Wolf Creek Ski Resort lies away from the glamor of other commercialized Colorado ski resorts, which is why it is incredibly affordable and super laid back. Be it equipment rentals, lift tickets, ski lessons at the resort or accommodation and dining in nearby towns, everything here is literally as cheap as chips! The best part is that you can get a bed and lift ticket for under $80 a day, and even if you consider the cost of ski rentals and lunch, your day will still be under $100!
So what are you waiting for? Explore this off-beaten track, this hidden gem and be part of the fortunate few who know about this heavenly destination. Go ahead and visit the place with your family and friends and enjoy skiing in this beautiful skiing resort!
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