When I first started going out West on a regular basis it was clear where I needed to start my adventures, I-70. It’s a bit cliché, but it’s a great place to get acclimated to some bigger mountains and larger terrain. Surprisingly with bigger mountains and way more terrain there seemed to be just as many people crowding runs and lift lines as there are in the east. Then a buddy of mine brought me up to Arapahoe Basin for my 21st birthday. No crowd, steep runs and good snow. When people ask me where to ski, I recommend Arapahoe Basin.
Arapahoe Basin or A-Basin is a treat to ski or snowboard. You can pull into the parking lot and park. You’re not opening your wallet before you open your car door (free parking). When you do open your wallet for a ticket it costs less than the price to ski at Killington, I won’t get specific. The views are not too shabby either.
Once you're ready to go, I’d recommend hopping on the new Black Mountain Express quad, located right near the base lodge, this is a big upgrade for A-Basin. Before the Black Mountain Express there were no high speed chairs on the entire mountain. If you take a look at a trail map you will find nothing but fixed lifts throughout the rest of the ski area. Some may see this as a negative, I see it as crowd control.
Once at the top of the B.M.E. I’d recommend taking a run, it gets cold on those fixed chairs heading up to the summit first thing in the morning especially if the blood isn’t flowing yet. High-Road or Ramrod are super nice, wide blue square trails, great for warming up on and end up right back at the base of the B.M.E. If you're into lapping that same lift a few times, both green and black trails are easily accessible. Sundance is a mellow, wide green run and Standard is a fun steep pitch I’d recommend, usually pretty bumped up but super fun.
As you’re riding up the Leenawee Triple to the Summit you will see the impressive East Wall to your left. You can ski it if there is enough snow, but not without hiking a minimum of a half hour. If you’re not into earning your turns there is plenty of expert terrain inbounds. From the top of the Leenawee you have the choice to drop in on the front side of the mountain which starts out as a series of wide open blue runs which turn into a series of open tree black diamonds.
The other option is dropping off the backside into the Montezuma Bowl, named after the extremely cheap, guaranteed to cause a headache, tequila. Just kidding. Although the thought of dropping into a bowl stacked full of double black diamond chutes may give some people a headache, or make their stoke levels rise to absurd heights, everyone's different, but hey it keeps the world interesting. Similar to the frontside, these chutes empty into a series of tree runs. Technically these are more glade-like than open tree skiing, so pull back on the reigns of your trusty steed before you go hell bent for election into a bunch of objects that don’t move.
Back over on the frontside, the Pallavicini Lift accesses a ton more double black diamond terrain, too many options to list, but tons to explore. On the more mellow side of things, the Molly Hogan lift provides access to a great learning center if your traveling with the family and your kids aren’t quite to the hucking cornices level.
For the Apres hours, the 6th Alley Bar is the place to be. $1.50 taco’s, $4 margaritas, I don’t think it gets any better.