While most of the country has had its fill of snow for the year, die-hard skiers like those in my family can’t get enough. Arapahoe Basin (aka A-Basin) ski area is Colorado’s last to close (mid-June) with a great deal to offer skiers of all abilities. Half the mountain is above timberline featuring open bowl skiing/snowboarding into early summer. As neighboring resorts are closing for the season, A-Basin is just getting rockin’ with a festive events calendar still full of the “Shakin’ at the Basin'” concert series, festivals and races.
What A-Basin lacks in a glamorous ski village (there isn’t one) it more than makes up for with its friendly, kooky culture. “The Beach” (the parking lot at the base of the mountain) is a scene of silly costumes and festive all-day tailgating: BBQ grills, lawn chairs, and a party that gets going well before après ski.
With high season behind us, airfare, lodging, and lift tickets are at bargain prices. A-Basin’s new Kids Center has irresistible ski lesson deals and a fun zone featuring an obstacle course that builds motor skills kids will need on the slopes. I couldn’t resist taking a mommy n’ me ski lesson with my son. His ability surpassed mine this year and I needed to up my game to keep up.
Getting schooled on ski form
My eight-year-old son was eager to tackle tougher terrain for bigger bragging rights. I appreciated our ski instructor Nina’s insistence on finessing our style rather than tackling a double black diamond. What seemed like too much to think about, two-hours later, had worked its way into muscle memory.
Skills that felt remedial initially—like holding our poles out front and horizontally to underscore proper shoulder placement in relation to the mountain slope—really made a difference. Our turns were more confident and prettier. Most skiers know the upper body faces downhill while the lower body makes the turns. Nina pointed out that a common mistake is to twist the hips along with the lower body, which is unnecessarily exhausting. Imagining our knees as headlights that pivot left and right, while keeping our upper bodies (hips included) quietly facing downhill made turning more efficient.
How had I skied this long and not known this?
Tip: Wax up!
Many skiers hang their skis up for the season the first time they start to stick on late-afternoon, mashed-potato slush. What’s key is the proper wax, specifically suited to spring conditions. If your ski bottoms have started to look ashy along the sides, they need wax. Your local Sports Authority can do a quick belt job or A-basin’s Base N’ Edge Tune Service can turn around a hand wax pretty quickly while you grab a cup of Joe. Opt for a hand wax over a belt wax for longer-lasting results.
Where to stay
- Lakeside Village Condominiums
Stunning lake views make this property a favorite. Full kitchen and upscale furnishings. Plenty of options for varying party size. Opt for an upstairs unit if sensitive to clomping feet above.
- The Seasons townhomes
Ever stayed in a place and wished it was yours? Lucky for you, this cozy unit’s for sale. Washer/dryer onsite made for lighter packing. Fully stocked kitchen helped us save on meals out. Summit Cove offers several places for sale and rent, offering you the option to sleep on it first.
- Antler’s Gulch townhomes
Though ours was located on ground level, we didn’t hear anyone above us in the occupied townhome upstairs. Washer/dryer in-unit and full kitchen made us feel right at home. Two bedrooms with two full baths (with spa tubs) gave my son and I our own spaces. Key to the Rockies’ new breakfast program includes Haywood Café and New Moon Café. Neither disappointed. Return-visit incentives make Key to the Rockies very attractive.
- Haywood Café
Breakfast was so good, we returned for dinner. The bison meatloaf roams with some killer mashed potatoes smothered in gravy and broccoli on the side.
New Moon Café
Breakfast burritos and croissant-wiches rule here. The Nutella-filled grilled croissant had my son moaning “cho-co-late” after each bite, eyes shut. We returned the next morning for a repeat performance.
Black Mountain Lodge
Located mid-mountain, the waft of smoked BBQ will have you salivating before you’ve found a place to lean your skis. The three-meat plate of brisket, ribs, and pulled pork is a carnivore’s delight.
Billed as fine dining without the fuss. Locally-sourced menu of hearty steaks, fresh-caught fish, and seasonal farm finds. Both the Colorado Striped Bass and the steak are big-time good.
Get going—through June!
Last week dumped three full feet of fresh powder on A-Basin and the forecast shows more snow is on the way. Old Man Winter isn’t done just yet. And you don’t have to be either.