Arapahoe Basin, looking pretty thin at the end of October

Not So Epic: Arapahoe Basin Breaks Up With Vail Resorts

Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort will no longer be part of Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass for the 2019-2020 season.

It’s always been a bit of a quirky, local resort. Now it looks like Arapahoe Basin is going back to its roots.

A-Basin today announced it “will not be renewing” its pass partnership on the Epic Pass for the 2019-2020 ski season. The news comes at the heels of the President’s Day ski weekend, one of the busiest weekends at ski resorts across Colorado.

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Arapahoe Basin: Busier Than Ever

For years, skiers considered Arapahoe something of a locals’ mountain. It has some of the steepest terrain in Colorado, there are few amenities, and no hotels sit at its base.

But with expanded terrain in 2019, Arapahoe Basin has begun outgrowing its base area. Booming popularity — in part due to its membership in the Epic Pass program — packed parking lots and lift lines.


“The ski area has developed a very special community that feels like home. In order to continue to build on this spirit and the experience we have created, Arapahoe Basin and Vail Resorts will not be renewing their pass partnership for the 2019-2020 season,” said Alan Henceroth, Arapahoe Basin’s chief operating officer.

A-Basin reported seeing “exceptional growth both in popularity and skier visitation.” The resort has invested $40 million over the past 15 years. It also opened 468 total acres for ability levels from intermediate through expert — The Beavers and The Steep Gullies — during the 2018-2019 season.

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That, coupled with a new four-person Beavers lift, pushed A-Bay well beyond the mom-and-pop mountain of yore.

The ski area today reported “feeling a pinch on parking and facility space.” Due to these constraints, Arapahoe Basin believes its staff can take better care of its guests by separating from Vail Resorts.

No New Partnerships — Yet

The resort said it doesn’t have a new partnership in place yet. Several other large ski resort partnerships exist in North America. The competing Ikon Pass, for example, gives skiers access to nearby Copper Mountain and Winter Park. Other collective passes give skiers access to many smaller resorts.

“Looking forward, we strive to provide ready and easy access for our guests. Our goal is to minimize waiting and crowding and maximize experiences and fun,” said Henceroth.

The resort announced it will be discussing opportunities with several resorts and resort groups. “These actions are designed to preserve that special culture and vibe people expect when they choose to spend a day at The Basin,” the brand reported on its blog.

Current 2018-19 Vail Resorts season passes valid at A-Basin will continue to be valid for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.