Sunday, November 29, 2009;
Arapahoe Basin lies 96 miles west of Denver International Airport via I-70. Continental and United fly nonstop from BWI to Denver; fares start at $219 round trip.
WHERE TO STAY
There's no lodging at Arapahoe Basin, but there are many hotels and vacation rentals at Keystone Resort (five miles away) and throughout Summit County, including the towns of Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne.
Keystone Lodge and Spa, 22101 US Hwy 6, Keystone, Colo.; 877-753-9786, http://www.keystoneresort.com. A family-friendly, lush 152-room hotel in Keystone's Lakeside village, with easy access to ice skating and an on-site spa. Rooms start at $156 per night.
Arapahoe Inn, 22859 Highway 6, Keystone; 970-513-9009, http://www.arapahoeinn.com. A 60-unit facility and the closest to Arapahoe Basin, with a sauna, spa and complimentary continental breakfast. Winter rates start at $94.
Key to the Rockies, 23024 US Highway 6, Suite 202, Keystone; 800-248-1942, http://www.keytotherockies.com. This lodging company offers a variety of vacation rentals, from slope-side condos to multi-person homes. Larger groups should consider the four-room multi-level River Meadows condo, with midwinter rates starting at $425 a night (sleeps up to 10). Or opt for a one-bedroom condo with a full kitchen in Dillon Valley East, with midwinter rates starting at $125.
WHERE TO EAT
Black Mountain Lodge, At the top of Exhibition lift, http://www.arapahoebasin.com. Serves cafeteria-style comfort food such as white bean chicken chili, Kobe beef burgers and grilled salmon. Entrees start at $10.95. Also hosts the Mountain Full Moon Snowshoe Dinners (Feb. 27, March 27, and April 24) for $55.
Alpenglow Stube, At the top of Keystone Resort's North Peak, 970-496-4386, http://www.keystoneresort.com. Ride the Keystone gondola up to 11,444 feet and eat in a cozy, fire-lit Bavarian room. The fixed-price, multi-course menu starts at $85.
Dos Locos, 22869 US Hwy 6, Keystone; 970-262-9185, http://doslocoskeystone.com. Freshly prepared Mexican food and a lively happy hour. Entrees start at $10.
WHAT TO DO
Arapahoe Basin, 888-272-7246, http://www.arapahoebasin.com. Opened in mid-October to skiers and snowboarders and currently has an 18-inch base.
The resort has 105 designated runs spread across 900 acres, with 10 percent designated for beginners, 30 percent for intermediates, 37 percent for advanced and 23 percent for experts.
Single-day "early season" lift tickets are $49 for adults; a full-day children's ticket (ages 6-14) costs $25; youth tickets (ages 15-19) are $44; children 5 and younger ski free. Prices for the regular season, which starts Dec. 19, have not been announced.
Full adult ski package rentals (boots, skis and poles) are $25 for a half-day, $29 for a full day. Snowboard packages run $31 for a half-day and $35 for a full day. Children's rentals (ages 3-14) are $16 for half-day and $20 for a full day; kid snowboard rentals are $21 for a half-day, $25 for a full day.
The resort also has one of the best ski schools in the state. Its "Guaranteed to Succeed" program promises that you'll be skiing intermediate runs after the third lesson (if not, you get free lessons till you do). The $339 price tag gets you a full season pass to A Basin, three half-day lessons and three days of equipment rentals.