Wolf Creek in beautiful southwestern Colorado is frequented by copious natural snow, but most folk have never heard of it. Located 90-minutes from Purgatory Durango and 30 minutes from Pagosa Springs to the west and Del Norte to the east. Wolf Creek is small compared to other Colorado ski resorts, just seven lifts serving 1,600 acres of skiing and snowboarding – but the price and the vibe are very family-friendly.
Wolf Creek doesn’t get the big crowds, but it does get “the most snow in Colorado” – so much so that they have trademarked it – Wolf Creek receives 450-470’ annually – rivaling Utah’s Snowbird and Alta, with a fraction of the skier crowds. While Wolf Creek is as far south as Virginia, its high elevation above 10,000′ results in very dry light powder and plenty of it in the San Juan Rio Grande National Forest. Wolf Creek Ski Photos
Families like Wolf Creek, you can park free and walk up to the nearby base lodges and lifts, its not fancy, but friendly, with all the full services you get at big Colorado ski resorts, without the big price tag, lift lines and hustle and bustle. There’s ski school and rentals, a ski and snowboard shop and a pleasant base lodge for breakfast, snacks, lunch and an après ski beer.
Raven Quad Chairlift serves up beautiful blue and green groomed ski runs like Bunny Hop, Thumper and Charisma. The Bonanza Triple accesses more pleasant runs like Powder Puff. Star Wars under the lift is a fun bump run.
The Treasure Chair, our personal favorite, gets you to 11,775′ with great views and plenty of vertical down Alberta Face for a wide open bowl, or Tranquility, Treasure or Silver Streak for perfect corduroy. Wolf Creek’s all natural terrain on Alberta Peak at 11,900′ and Boundary Bowl are reached with a short hike off the Treasure lift. You can also take Summer Day to the double black chutes of the Waterfall Area, short but crazy cliff-like steeps that deposit you at the Alberta Quad chair.
Alberta Lift serves all natural, un-groomed, unaltered ski slopes like Tsunami and Abracadabra. From the top of this outermost Alberta Quad Lift (a fixed grip), you have access to 1,000 acres on natural glades and snow bowls. You can hike up to the Ski Patrol Shack then walk along the Knife Ridge after ascending the Knife Ridge Staircase. Here you earn your turns in the legendary Knife Ridge Chutes – all double black diamond. This is not for family skiing – experienced expert skiers only should advance to the steep chutes off Knife Ridge at Wolf Creek.
Wolf Creek provides a cat certain days to save you some steps and deliver you to the eastern most ski area boundary and Horseshoe Bowl, no extra charge for the cat ski ride, just good timing and luck.
For lunch go upstairs in the spectacular Raven’s Nest Lodge at the top of the Raven Quad. Enjoy homemade soup, fresh pizza and salad bar cafeteria style, with floor to ceiling window views of the mountains in the Rio Grande National Forest. Don’t forget to have the fresh baked Two Mile High Pie or today’s homemade dessert.
Wolf Creek debuted in 1939, and has been owned and operated by the Pitcher family for three generations since 1974. Wolf Creek’s 20-year master plan to add five lifts and 1,000 acres with a tram to the backside. But Wolf Creek must work with The US National Forest for these expansion plans which includes first replacing the Treasure Chair with a quad and relocating that double.
Durango Mountain Resort is 80 miles west from Wolf Creek. Most Wolf Creek visitors stay in nearby Pagosa Springs where there is lodging including chain hotels and Pagosa Hot Springs. We stayed in Del Norte, a small Colorado town closer to Denver. The Windsor Hotel is a beautifully restored 1874 hotel with 14 grand guestrooms, the après ski Bistro Barbara, and an elegant dining room.
Wolf Creek is a fun, snowy ski area that doesn’t get the acclaim or the crowds – typically open from Early November to early April. At Wolf Creek you and your family are likely to get fresh snow and meet friendly local Coloradans.
Wolf Creek Ski Images
Wolf Creek Stats:
1,600 Acres, 1,604′ Vertical, 10,300′ base, 11,904′ summit, 9 Lifts, 77 Trails
4:45 to Denver, 2 hours to Purgatory at Durango, 3 hours to Crested Butte