Just 25 miles from Durango, this sprawling resort offers 1,360 acres of terrain in the stunning San Juan Mountains. Formerly known as Durango Mountain Resort, it was sold and returned to its former name in 2015. Skiers (and especially snowboarders) sometimes deride the ski area as “traversatory,” because it takes a lot of traversing to get around, especially trying to reach the expert terrain. So you can either spend the start of your day racing to the next chair or enjoy where you are. It’s worth working your way to the new Legends Express Lift, the farthest from the base, just for the stunning views of the Needle Mountains in the distance. Park rats can enjoy five terrain parks and there are several on-mountain restaurants where you can warm your toes. Purgatory can feel like a party mountain at times, but whether you’re here to shred some serious powder on your own or enjoy some runs with friends or family, a smile is guaranteed.
- Get there early on weekends (always a good idea anyway) because if the main lot fills it’s an uncomfortable walk in ski boots from the overflow lot to the lifts.
- This can be a perplexing mountain for first-time visitors. Be sure to get a trail map or ask some advice about how to reach the terrain you want to ski.
- There are plenty of lodging options at the ski area, but staying in Durango lets you experience one of the most vibrant small-town dining scenes in America, which once boasted more restaurants per-capita than anywhere else in America.
Recommended season(s): November to April.
—R. Scott Rappold