[Editor's Note: The Gems & Brews Tour was a two-week ski pilgrimage in Feb. 2013 devoted to sampling some of the best small mountain resorts, fine craft beers, spirits and food across Colorado. The tour was a collaboration between Colorado Ski Country USA and Exploring Elements, with the idea to give a small taste of what you can expect when exploring these spectacular Colorado Gems. Be sure to check out the FULL Gems & Brews Tour A-Basin report with great images from Exploring Elements here.]
by: Bryon Dorr (http://www.ExploringElements.com)
The “Legend” goes by many names, A-Basin, The Basin or its official title Arapahoe Basin. In the end, all you need to know is that this little mountain resort high above Denver, on the backside of Loveland Pass, is the place to find snow, amazing terrain and fun people for 9+ months a year! With a season that goes from October to June, and beyond, A-Basin has one of the longest ski seasons in the US and hosts one of the most rockin’ parking lot ski parties in the nation, “The Beach.”
With 60% of the mountain covered in expert terrain you can be sure that you’ll find a line that will push your personal boundaries. The resort has not forgotten about the families that love its snow and local vibe, as they recently added a number of kids programs, a kids’ terrain park and the super beginner friendly Pica learning area. A great place to relax with friends and family, of all snow riding ability, is at the mid mountain Black Mountain Lodge, which is accessed by a hi-speed quad and features free wifi, a cafeteria and a bar. A-Basin also embraces uphill skiing throughout the season, as it is free to earn your turns at the resort.
In the end, A-Basin offers up some of the steepest terrain, best open bowls, amazing natural freestyle features, a ton of annual natural snowfall and one of the longest seasons in the country. Combine all that with a great local vibe, close proximity to Denver and the ongoing party scene that is “The Beach” and you’re sure to find a good time at The Basin.
A-Basin Apres Ski Hot Spots:
Breckenridge Brewing (http://www.breckbrew.com/)
Dillon Dam Brewery (http://www.dambrewery.com/)
Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse & Brewery (http://pugryans.com/)
Backcountry Brewery (http://www.backcountrybrewery.com/)
Best Of Gems & Brews Tour 2013 Awards:
Best Natural Freestyle Terrain: A-Basin offers up some amazing wind lips off Cornice Run and rocky knolls near West Gully where you can huck till your hearts content.
Best Bowls: A-Basin has some great open bowl skiing. Check out Pallavicini and the Northern Spy areas.
Most Annual Avg Snowfall: Monarch and A-Basin both average 350” of fresh Colorado snow each season.
Longest Season: A-Basin opens in October and usually lasts into June and beyond. July 4th skiing has been known to happen!
Best Parking Lot Party: “The Beach” at A-Basin is a tailgate/party scene like no other.
Best Brown- Dillon Dam Brewery Sweet George’s Brown
Best Porter- Breckenridge Brewery Vanilla Porter
Best Stout- Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse & Brewery Gorilla Vanilla Stout
Best Wheat- Backcountry Brewery Wheat