Wolf Creek Ski Area
Pull off scenic Wolf Creek Pass and step back in time. Across the Colorado industry that becomes more plush every year, Wolf Creek Ski Area keeps its bare-bones appearance. That is a point of pride for the Pitchers, overseeing one of the state's last family-owned ski areas. Kingsbury Pitcher came to the slopes above Pagosa Springs in the late 1970s, and his managing sons haven't introduced much in terms of luxury since. They've avoided condos or overnight lodges. Lift tickets are some of the cheapest in the state, and where else can you find a cup of homemade chili for less than $5?
The Wall Street Journal recently counted Wolf Creek as a best-kept secret among the country's ski areas. The parking lot that regularly fills with Texas vehicles would imply the secret is out. Southerners are spoiled by supreme powder - Wolf Creek is said to get more natural snowfall than any other ski area in Colorado.
The split between beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain also invites skiers and riders from near and far. For the experienced, a variety of bowls and glades are hike-to gems.
Skiable terrain: 1,600 acres
Trails: 20 percent beginner, 35 percent intermediate, 25 percent advanced, 20 percent expert
Average annual snowfall: 430 inches
Mountain stats: 11,904-foot summit, 10,300-foot base, 1,604-foot vertical
Check out: Pagosa Springs' hot springs, The Rose for brunch, Higher Grounds Coffee, Riff Raff Brewing Co., Pagosa Dogsled Adventures
Getting there: Off Interstate 25 south, exit for U.S. 160 west, continuing through Monte Vista, South Fork. The highway turns become Wolf Creek Pass, and the ski area is to the left.
More information: wolfcreekski.com, 970-264-5639
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE