According to a recent announcement by the US Forest Service, Arapahoe Basin has intentions of launching a new project that will bring two via ferrata sections and 9 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails to the area. All construction would take place within Arapahoe Basin’s current operational boundary and will fall under Arapahoe Basin’s current special use permit.

In case you’re wandering what a via ferrata is, the term is Italian for “iron road.” Generally, a via ferrata is put in a spot, often on sheer cliffs, to allow those without technical climbing abilities to safely traverse a section of rock by clipping into a series of pre-set wires and rungs.

This would be a big deal for summer recreation at Arapahoe Basin, which is currently relatively limited. The addition of mountain biking trails and via ferrata climbs would likely be big draws for those coming from places on the Front Range like Denver.

Here’s the official project report with more details, but there are two things that stuck out to me the most:

  1. Mountain biking trails may involve banked turns – This means that Arapahoe Basin could be thinking about adding some serious downhill biking terrain. That being said, their 9 miles of trails will be much less than what’s found at nearby Keystone Resort (100 miles). This is still exciting news for mountain bikers looking for new spots to ride. Expect the biking atmosphere here to be more laid back, attracting the casual rider compared to the expert.
  2. Via ferrata guests will navigate the experience “under supervision of a guide” – If there’s no option to cross without a guide, this means the via ferrata experience will almost certainly cost money. While some via ferratas around Colorado are free, pay-to-play seems to be the trend. With growing popularity of the experience and the big risks involved, groups with an experienced guide add an extra layer of safety for hikers.

This is a big step for Arapahoe Basin, often viewed as one of the little guys when it comes to Colorado resorts. Coupled with their recent expansion into new lift-accessible ski terrain via the Beavers lift, I’ve got a feeling that Arapahoe Basin is about to start growing fast.

Here’s the map of what’s been proposed:

New Trails Arapahoe Basin Photo credit US Forest Service
This map shows proposed features that may be coming to Arapahoe Basin. Photo Credit: US Forest Service.

Leave a Reply

What We Believe

We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More