"Seduced by Legendary Arapahoe" Arapahoe by HermesGuy

Arapahoe Travel Guide: 11 reviews and 14 photos

Known as "The Legend" for its extraordinary skiing, Arapahoe Basin lures snow lovers to its slopes with the highest skiable area in North America, an average of 367 inches of snow a year, and irresistible scenery with lots of steep terrain. As half of the runs are above the timberline, there is often terrific open bowl skiing, sometimes lasting until July.

Arapahoe is also alluring for its simplicity, charming character and quirkiness. It's so down-to-earth and anti-commercial as to be almost eccentric in the over-the-top corporate dominated America of today.

The base lodge is a recycled NASA rocket tester hub of all things, originally located over 100 miles away in Colorado Springs before being picked up and moved here in 1965. Inside is a modest cafeteria, a tightly spaced bar and small store to buy ski gear. Pets are completely welcome on the grounds, and dogs can be seen running around in the snow getting into all sorts of mischief.

Near the parking area is "The Beach", where an energetic 20-something crowd gathers for nonstop partying beneath the brilliant blue sky and intense high altitude sun. In Spring, they are seen very sexily clad in their mountain beachware: the men shirtless with shorts, women in bikinis, both sporting cowboy hats with their ski boots. Blaring music plays out over a small sea of revelers swilling beer, as the flavorful smoke of barbeques wafts though the crowd.

To top it all off, the staff is very friendly, lift lines are short or nonexistent and lift tickets are much less than the larger, more commercial nearby resorts (Keystone, Breckenridge and Vail).

All this, not much more than an hour from Denver.

Arapahoe Basin gets its name from the Arapahoe Indians who are indiginous to the area. In their native language, Algonquian, the word Arapahoe means 'tattooed on the chest', which was a common practice of the tribe.

Perhaps on your lift ride to the top, here is another great Arapahoe legend to entertain, this one The Arapahoe Indian Porcupine Myth, as told by Joseph Campbell in his book "The Hero With a Thousand Faces":

"She [an Arapahoe girl] spied a porcupine near a cottonwood tree. She tried to hit the animal, but it ran behind the tree and began to climb. The girl started after, to catch it, but it continued just out of reach. 'Well!' she said, 'I am climbing to catch the porcupine, for I want those quills, and if necessary I will go to the top.' The porcupine reached the top of the tree, but as she approached and was about to lay hands on it, the cottonwood tree suddenly lenghtened, and the porcupine resumed his climb. Looking down, she saw friends craning up at her and beckoning her to descend; but having passed under the influence of the porcupine, and fearful of the great distance between herself and the ground, she continued to mount the tree, until she became the merest speck to those looking from below, and with the porcupine she finally reached the sky.

There, she was enticed to the camp of the people in the sky and became the wife of a heavenly youth. It was he who, under the form of the luring porcupine, had seduced her to his supernatural home."

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great skiing, dramatic scenery, not too crowded, real people, luxuriously low key.
  • Cons:Fairly small, and in mid-late Spring, snow can get too slushy after lunch on sunny days.
  • In a nutshell:Other worldly
  • Last visit to Arapahoe: Apr 2001
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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