Wolf Creek is renowned for getting more snow that anywhere in Colorado, an average 430 inches / 11 metres of super light powder a season. No surpise winter has kicked in already: Wolf Creek received 10 inches in the last 24 hours, and 27 inches in 72 hours. The all-natural settled base is 21 inches at mid-mountain, with 27 inches year-to-date this season. So Wolf Creek Ski Area will be open for the season (for weekends only) from this weekend, beginning Saturday October 13th!
Treasure Stoke, Bonanza and Nova lifts will also be operating with very early season conditions and obstacles. Lift tickets to access Treasure, Bonanza and Nova will be $50 for adults, $33 for seniors and $27 for children.
The Wolf Creek Lodge will be open with a limited lunch menu. Pathfinder Bar will also be open. The Ski School will be available for both adults and children, including the Wolf Pup Program. The Ski Rental and Boarder Dome will be open, as well as Treasure Sports.
So where is Wolf Creek and how good is it? Our roving super photographer and senior correspondent Kirk Owers checked it out for Snow Action last year and filed this enthusiastic report – he loved it, so will you.
Wolf Creek Colorado lies off the beaten path between Pagosa Springs and South Fork, where it habitually sucks in a whopping 40 feet of snow every year.
The contrast between the ab-fab resorts and this privately owned, no frills operation couldn’t be starker. The breakfast menu is scrawled in texta and includes biscuits and gravy for a fistful of change.
But what Wolf Creek lacks in modernity and après bars it makes up for in waist deep powder, double black steeps, thriller hikes, and some of the best tree skiing in the state.
The resort spreads over two wide bowls and offers 1600 acres of skiable terrain (nearly half is expert or advanced).
Out wide the Alberta Bowl hogs many of the best runs and is serviced by a lone chair. It’s slow, but then it’s voluminous terrain is equally slow to be torn apart. And then there’s the hiking. A ten-minute boot up a fixed staircase gets you on to the Knife Ridge, which stretches off into the far distance and offers countless choose-your-own-adventure descents.
The steepest pitch hits 49 degrees and is lipped with a cornice and includes rock and tree hazards.
On day two we awake to a melancholic dusting of snow, dandruffing Pagosa Springs. Thirty minutes up the road though it’s boot deep in the carpark, and our mood jump starts. Breakfast is thrown down and then we’re up the hill and down it at speed, leaving contrails of gun smoke in our wake. Press repeat for three hours. There’s just enough snow to make the mountain look like a freshly erased whiteboard. It’s also a long weekend, and is actually busy, but the only queues we see are for lunch.
Word arrives that Horseshoe Bowl is open and we waste no time thrashing over to the awaiting cat. How many resorts do you know offer cat skiing as part of a $66 lift pass? Wolf Creek looks after its locals and regulars who, understandably, don’t want their beloved mountain to grow too big. A Texas billionaire is said to have spent decades trying to get a large scale mountain village development with zero success.
While a faster chair would be handy, I hope the resort maintains its small scale charm for many years yet, and that the Gray Wolves, the resort’s hard-skiing over 50s club, continue to roam free in the Alberta Bowl.
Well the good news for 2018-2019 is that faster chair is coming! The final days of construction for the Charity Jane Express, Wolf Creek’s 10th lift, are coming together with the cable splice complete and now moving into the critical wiring stage. The last phase is drawing closer and summer projects are nearing completion. The lockers from Poland, are being installed in the Lynx Building and the Powder Room.
The new lift is a Doppelmayr high-speed, detachable quad chairlift named the Charity Jane Express. The name is a salute to Charity Jane Pitcher, past owner of Wolf Creek Ski Area. The new Charity Jane Express will be the third chairlift in the spacious 900-acre Alberta Area.
Wolf Creek is also launching a new point-of-sale system in the rental shops, sport shops and all restaurants mountain wide! the lift and new point-of-sale system will debut during the upcoming ski season.
Getting to Wolf Creek
Closest airport is Durango-La Plata, 80 miles/134km, with daily flights on American from Dallas & Pheonix, or from Denver on United.
Or it’s a 244 mile/392km drive from Denver to South Fork.
Accommodation at Wolf Creek
Plenty of off-mountain options, stay at South Fork to the east side or Pagosa Springs to west, check links on ski area site below.
Ski area www.wolfcreekski.com