If you are like me, you have been spending far too much time on I-70 lately. So I have decided that a change in direction is paramount. If I am going to spend 4 hours in a car, I would desperately love to be driving all four of those hours and end in place that has no one around, or a least, size-ably less people on the hill. Follow me, heading south to Wolf Creek.
Wolf Creek Ski Area installed its first rope tow in 1938. Since then the ski resort has changed many hands but has continued to expand into the Rio Grande National Forest and maintain a simple, even retro ski experience. The resort is sandwiched between South Fork and Pagosa Springs, Colorado, just to the east of the summit of Wolf Creek Pass.
The snow and absence of crowds are both notable at Colorado’s snowiest resort, boasting 260 inches of snowfall this year alone. Wolf Creek may not be know for steeps, but powder, hidden cliffs and trees are abundant; and if you are lucky, on select days the mountain offers free cat access. This backcountry cat eliminates the majority of the hike to the best-kept secret of the mountain, the Horseshoe bowl. This bowl is located just beyond the Alberta chairlift and is regularly accessible via a rigorous hike, spanning one to two hours depending on your lung capacity.
When you arrive at Wolf Creek the fastest way to get to the Alberta Chair is to take the Treasure Stoke Chair located to the far left of the base as you walk up. Head skier’s right off the lift towards Glory Hole or Navajo Trail and you will be funneled to the Alberta Chair. At the top of Alberta you will see the access gate just to the right, there will be a visible boot pack and a sign notifying you if the cat is running. If the sign says the cat is open for business, get excited, you just saved yourself solid hours of hike time.
You will need to hike up Knife Ridge Staircase, but once you reach the ridge-line you can traverse across the top with relative ease. Just pass the entrance to the Dog Chutes you will see the cat turn around. Jump into the metal cage on the back and get cozy with your new neighbors.
The cat drops you almost to the summit of the Horseshoe Bowl. The views of the Rio Grande National Forest are endless, this place screams photo shoot. Then pick a line and go; there is no wrong way down. Wolf Creek is where you will find me over the spring break madness, and with a backcountry cat service at no extra charge, my love affair has definitely sparked with this rad mountain.
- Hwy 160 E, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
- 252 miles south of Denver
- 10,300 ft.
- 11,904 ft.
- 1,600 acres
Lift Ticket Prices?
- Adult Full Day(13-64): $58
- Children/Senior Full Day: $31
- Tot Full Day(5 and under): $6
- Rio Grande National Forest, Pagosa Springs, Pagosa Hot Springs, South Fork, Wolf Creek Pass, Cross-country Ski Access, Snowmobiling Access, Snowshoeing
Local Appreciation Days: No I.D. required & Discounted lift tickets
- $38 Adult lift ticket
- $22 Children/Senior
- February 19th, 26th
- March 5th, 30th
- April 2nd, 6th
College Days: $38 Adult lift ticket with valid college photo ID
- February 23rd
- March 23rd, 29th
- April 5th