Skiing in Durango, CO

Skiing in Durango, CO

Durango, Colorado is located in the southwest corner of the Rocky Mountains and perfectly nestled in the San Juan Mountains. At 6,512 feet elevation, our winters are graced with snowy days allowing activities like snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating, sledding, and skiing to be enjoyed. The snow usually sets in and builds up enough for opening day in mid-November and continues typically through early to mid April.


Purgatory Ski Resort

The largest ski area in Southwest Colorado, Purgatory Ski Resort, is located just 26 miles north of downtown Durango on Highway 550. With over 1,600 acres, there is easy, intermediate, and expert terrain spanning across the mountain via 105 trails. There are park areas, groomed trails, and moguls to explore, all with stunning views. The 11 lifts transport skiers, snowboarders, and snowbikers to the top of the mountain to begin the fun!

Views from the Powderhouse at Purgatory Ski Resort

The mountain hosts Purgy’s, The Powder House, and Dante’s Bistro to enjoy a bite to eat on the mountain. The Bear Bar is also available by “the beach” at the main lodge. Shops, more dining, and sledding is also available at Purgatory. There are many vacation rentals, most of which allow access to amenities including: the lodge, fitness center, a large hot tub, and swimming pools. Throughout the season, Purgatory holds events including live music, exclusive mountain access, demo days, holiday parties, and a big party at the end of the season.


Rentals and lessons are available, as well as Snowburners - a ski school for kids. There are also ski team competitions held on the mountain. Season passes are part of the Power Pass group and grant unlimited access to Purgatory, Hesperus, Snowbowl, Brian Head, Sandia Peak, Sipapu, Pajarito, Nordic Valley, Lee Canyon, and Willamette Pass. Day passes and punch passes are also an option.


Hesperus Ski Area

Just 11 miles west of downtown Durango off of Highway 160, Purgatory’s little sister ski area offers 60 acres to enjoy. 26 different trails featuring 700+ feet of descent are accessed from the chair lift. There is easy to expert only terrain, in addition to a sledding hill, and ski/snowboard rentals.

Night skiing at Hesperus Ski Area, Durango, CO

Hesperus Ski Area is most known for its night skiing, creating unforgettable memories. As previously mentioned, this ski area is a part of the Power Pass season pass, and day passes and special night skiing passes are also available. 


Chapman Hill

500 vertical feet can be enjoyed on skis or a snowboard right in town in Durango. This unique ski hill is accessed off of Florida Road, just minutes away from downtown and many other amenities. Two rope tows replace a chair lift, and this slope accommodates beginners and expert terrain, as well as a park with jumps and rails. 

Run by The City of Durango Parks & Recreation, there are affordable day passes, punch passes, and seasonal passes for Chapman Hill. Open until 8pm most nights, this is a convenient option to get some turns in after work or school.


Cross Country Skiing

The Durango Nordic Center, north of Durango, across the highway from Purgatory, offers a flat track as well as other groomed trails with some incline and decline to enjoy. When all trails are open, there are 23km of trails for skate skiing, classic skiing, and dedicated snowshoeing trails. There are lessons, rentals, and seasonal and daily trail passes available to buy on site.


Vallecito Nordic is another option at Vallecito Reservoir in Bayfield, Colorado.  You will find approximately 15km of nordic trails groomed for classic and skate skiing along the beautiful shores of Vallecito Reservoir.  All of their grooming work is done by volunteers and offer a great option for a cross country or skate ski workout all along the shore of the reservoir. 


There are many “off-grid” locations to try out nordic skiing farther north and into San Juan County. You can usually see tracks from other cross country skiers in areas around Andrews Lake, Molas Pass, and other spots in between.


Backcountry Skiing

Backcountry skiing generally refers to “off-grid” downhill skiing where you skin to the top of the mountain and ski down. This is a popular sport in the area especially around Silverton, Colorado with one-of-a-kind views of the surrounding area. This type of skiing allows experienced skiers and boarders to cut their own tracks and explore more of the area’s offerings. Backcountry skiing is a dangerous activity as there is no ski patrol and avalanches are not uncommon to our area. Having the correct gear and knowledge are critical for any backcountry exploration.


Nearby ski resorts such as Telluride and Silverton in addition to many cross country and alpine ski spots are accessible from the loop, a drive on the San Juan Byway. Buying or renting your gear is no problem in Durango, with many outdoor gear shops fully stocked for winter sports.  Please reach out to The Durango Team for more information on skiing and other winter activities


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