Colorado’s A-Basin: Spring skiing at its best (into mid-June)

Above timberline means more snow longer (and sweeping views)

Above timberline means more snow longer (and sweeping views)

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.

A wacky ski culture gone bananas

A wacky ski culture gone bananas

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.

My son Ames, our ski instructor Nina Wise, and me

My son Ames, our ski instructor Nina Wise, and me

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?

Ski pole drill to underscore proper shoulder placement

Ski pole drill to underscore proper shoulder placement

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.

Lakeside Village condo

A condo at Lakeside Village

Where to stay

  1. 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 townhome

    The Seasons townhome

  2. 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 townhome

    Antler’s Gulch townhome

  3. 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.


Ames ready to dig in at Black Mountain Lodge

Ames ready to dig in at Black Mountain Lodge

Dine right

  1. 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.
  2. A face that says Nutella nirvana

    A face that says Nutella nirvana

    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.

  3. A single serving that two of us barely made a dent in

    A single serving that two of us barely made a dent in

    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.

  4. "Grilled Beef Tenderloin Filet 38 Balsamic Cipollini Onions And Baby Portabellas, Potato Puree And Asparagus"

    “Grilled Beef Tenderloin Filet 38 Balsamic Cipollini Onions And Baby Portabellas, Potato Puree And Asparagus”

    Bighorn Bistro
    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.


Jammin’ at A-Basin’s “Beach”

Jammin’ into summer at A-Basin’s “Beach”

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.

Lori Mayfield

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About the Author

Lori Mayfield
Lori Mayfield is the writer of By day she’s a freelance advertising copywriter. By night, and any chance she can get away, she’s a freelance travel writer (more recently with a parenting slant). She’s published in The Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, Shape, Women’s Health & Fitness, Dallas Child, and and her story, “Scared Shitless on Safari” was Editor’s Choice in the best-selling anthology "Sand in My Bra & Other Misadventures: Funny Women Write from the Road." Lori and her 10-year-old son, Ames, live near Boulder. You can email her at

3 Comments on "Colorado’s A-Basin: Spring skiing at its best (into mid-June)"

  1. barbara blanchard | April 26, 2015 at 8:49 am | Reply

    Hi Laurie, thanks for that wonderful write up about your breakfast in Keystone, we really appreciate the feedback, one thing if you could correct is the name, we are “New Moon café ‘ not blue moon…ahh, easy to confuse, glad your son enjoyed his nutella croissant.!!!

  2. Thanks Barb and Ian. The snow continues to pile on. A-basin just got another 44 inches in this month alone. Unprecedented precipitation for this time of year. I took my snow tires off too early!

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