Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Wolf Creek Ski Area. With more than 430 average inches of snow annually, Wolf Creek Ski Area is Colorado's best-kept secret. The trails accommodate all ability levels offering a variety of terrain, from beginner to wide-open bowls and steep glades, with commanding views of remote valleys and towering peaks. Because there are no slope-side accommodations, Wolf Creek has a reputation as a laid-back place for those with an aversion to the long lift lines and the other hassles of faster-paced, better-known ski areas. The quaint mountain towns of Pagosa Springs, which is home to the healing waters of the Pagosa Hot Springs, and South Fork offer comfortable and affordable accommodations.

At 2 miles, the longest run at Wolf Creek is Navajo Trail. The Raven Chairlift has great beginner runs for new skiers. Skiers and snowboarders can start on the Raven chairlift to Upper Bunny Hop or Kelly Boyce Trail; both hook up with the Lower Bunny Hop back down the hill.

The best area for advanced skiers stretches back to the Waterfall area, serviced by the Alberta lift. The more intrepid will want to climb the Knife Ridge Staircase to the more demanding Knife Ridge Chutes and out to the Horseshoe Bowl. Facilities: 77 trails; 1,600 acres; 1,604-foot vertical drop; 10 lifts. U.S. 160, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 970/264–5639; Lift ticket $80. Early Nov.–mid-Apr., daily 8:30–4. Closed mid-Apr.–early Nov..

Lessons and Programs

Wolf Creek Ski School. Wolf Creek offers individual and group private lessons, starting at $115 for one hour for a single and $495 for a half day of up to five people. Also ask about group lessons, which can be less expensive, and the Wolf Pups program for children five and older. In the past, Wolf Creek has offered the Hot Shots program for kids ages 9 to 12, which took both skiers and boarders for about $84 per day. Wolf Creek Ski Area, U.S. 160, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 970/264–5639;

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