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Despite less snow, Purgatory Resort says visitation was up this season

Telluride and Wolf Creek ski areas to close this weekend
Purgatory Resort’s annual pond skim will be held April 14. (Tyler Brown/Durango Herald file)

The ski season is coming to an end this weekend at Wolf Creek Ski Area and Telluride Ski Resort, while Purgatory Resort will end daily operations next weekend.

Wolf Creek is ending the season with a super-G downhill race on Saturday with proceeds benefiting the Wolf Creek ski team. It does not plan to reopen for weekend skiing this spring.

Purgatory Resort will cap off its season April 14 with the annual pond skim, but it plans to remain open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through April 28.

General Manager Dave Rathbun said there will be a DJ and live music during the pond skim. The competition will feature prizes for best skim, best costume and best wipeout.

Despite less snowfall this season, Rathbun expects visitation numbers will surpass last year’s totals.

“Through the collaborative relationship we have with Colorado Ski Country USA member ski resorts, we understand Purgatory is one of the few Colorado ski resorts that expects to surpass last year’s visits,” he said.

The resort does not disclose skier visit numbers.

Rathbun said the resort’s variable lift ticket pricing has been successful for bringing in more skiers.

“This model is working so well we increased overall visits this year while never exceeding our daily capacity, even during Christmas and spring break periods,” he said. “This has also helped us increase visits when the resort is historically less busy.”

Rathbun said natural snowfall was at 83% of the average total during the 2023-24 season. The resort expanded its season into May last year when it was 144% above average.

“We feel really confident we’ll still be open with plenty of terrain (and terrain parks) on the front side of the mountain (after the pond skim), Friday through Sunday, through our projected closing date of April 28,” Rathbun said.

Looking ahead to the 2024-25 season, the resort is in the final stages of finishing its capital planning process. Purgatory invested $1.25 million into renovations for Dante’s Lodge before the 2023-24 ski season.

“So far, the biggest project we are committed to is the last step in the multiyear upgrade and modernization of the Hermosa Park Express (Lift 3)” Rathbun said.

This summer, Purgatory will replace the ski lift controls with new digital equipment. Season pass sales for the 2024-25 season have already started and Rathbun said there won’t be price increases from this season.

The summer season at Purgatory is scheduled to begin on June 15 with daily operations through Aug. 18.

In addition to mountain biking and sporting events, summer guests can expect more family events, such as weekly live music sessions and the return of Oktoberfest in September.

Rosanne Pitcher, Wolf Creek Ski Area vice president of marketing and sales, said this season was not the ski area’s best season, but it was still a strong season.

Like other ski areas, the season started slowly for Wolf Creek and picked up around Christmastime.

“We're not going to hit the numbers that we did last year, but it still was a successful year,” she said.


Herald Staff Writer Christian Burney contributed to this report.

A previous version of this story gave the incorrect date for Wolf Creek Ski Area’s end of season race. The race is scheduled for Saturday morning. Incorrect information was given to The Durango Herald.

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