Winter is here at Purgatory Resort! Snowfall has blanketed the landscape of the San Juan Mountains. A 30-minute drive north of Durango, Colorado, Purgatory Resort is the ultimate winter getaway location. Everyone is excited to begin vacationing again, and after the past year, winter enthusiasts are stoked to get back on the slopes. The 2021-22 ski season is expected to be one of the most eventful yet. Save 20% on your dream ski getaway today. Sunday to Thursday, standard blackout dates apply this winter.
Purgatory has invested over $2 million in resort and mountain improvements this past year while eagerly waiting for temperatures to drop. Upgrades include overhauling lifts, amplifying snowmaking capability, a new fleet of Burton snowboards for rent, and more. Every dollar spent has been purposefully dedicated to each improvement to maintain the health and safety of guests and staff and improve guests’ experience. Several changes implemented last year have been kept in place, too.
This past summer and fall, everyone was busy preparing for the 2021-22 winter season. Lifts 1 and 3 (Purgatory Express and Hermosa Creek Express) have been completely modernized. Plans to renovate and modernize Lift 6 (Needles Triple Chair) have been delayed but are scheduled to occur in 2022. Snowmaking at the resort is a priority with recent expansions. In November, general manager Dave Rathbun stated they had made an “overhaul to the pumps and compressors in the primary and booster pump houses.” Additionally, they purchased four new TechnoAlpin fan guns to add on the mountain. The integration of these new fan guns has more than doubled the capacity in the past three years.
Keeping the slopes groomed is a fundamental part of daily maintenance for the resort as the annual average snowfall is 300 inches, coupled with the newly accelerated snowmaking ability. Over the past two years, the resort has been in the process of replacing all grooming machines. This year the purchase of two brand new machines — a Bison X park groomer — brings the count to five of the six replaced. Additionally, Mountain Patrol has received new trucks, snowplows, snowmobiles, and safety equipment. New trail and wayfinding signage have been added to serve guests better.
Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase lift tickets. Purgatory’s demand-based pricing system grants you the best prices when you buy at least seven days of lift tickets in advance. Additionally, there’s no need to fret over changing plans. If something occurs, the online self-service portal allows you to make changes until the night prior to your arrival.
New for the 2021-22 season, lift tickets purchased during select dates of each month are eligible for the Fun Fund. With the purchase of three or more consecutive days you receive a $20 credit for each day. This credit can be used on apparel, dinner, drinks, a full ski or snowboard tune, snowcat tours or skiing, and more. March 13-16, four or more consecutive days are required for Fun Fund eligibility.
The Fun Fund isn’t all that’s new this season. Those who have the Power Pass, Power Pass Select, Weekday Pass, and Parent Share Pass can take full advantage of savings on discounted lift tickets. Redeeming your lift tickets will now be done online where you can view the varying dates and choose the days and rates that are most suitable for you.
Adaptability is necessary, and changes established during last season (some in part due to public health orders and others because of a decrease in staffing) were more efficient and have been kept in place for this year. These changes consist of contactless payments, the new Purgatory Card, appointment-only fittings, and more.
The Purgatory Card will be a necessity for guests planning a trip to the resort. Lift access, rental reservations, and resort credits are all loaded onto this one card. The Purgatory Card is free of charge and will be given to you upon arrival at the resort. Each guest receives one ‘reloadable’ card, allowing for trip extensions and future visits.
Contactless payment and fulfillment with lift tickets, rentals, lessons, and cafeteria F&B orders will be completed online. Information will be loaded onto your Purgatory Card, allowing ease of access and all in one place. Plus, you only have to keep track of one thing amidst all the excitement. If you plan on renting gear, be sure to schedule your fitting at the time of your purchase. Scheduled fittings are now required to reduce the number of people in the rental shop at a single time.
There are COVID-19 recommendations in place at and around the resort. Purgatory Resort follows the advice given by the San Juan Basin Public Health and follows the National Ski Areas Association’s “Ski Well, Be Well” practices. The staff recommends that guests follow up on any COVID-19 advisories before arriving at the resort, as they can change rapidly.
If you seek something new or more remote, Purgatory Snowcat Adventures will take you away from the crowded parks and provide access to over 35,000 acres of San Juan backcountry. When you sign up for a day of snowcat skiing, included are powder-specific skis or snowboards, avalanche gear, brief safety training, pre-packed lunch, and water. If you have dietary restrictions, be sure to disclose this information when booking, and bring your water bottle. Expert, highly experienced guides will take you on runs through light, untracked powder. Runs include but are not limited to bowls, tight trees, cliffs and cornice jumps, and wind lips. Typically, you get anywhere between eight to 10 runs of 500-1,500 feet of vertical with elevations ranging between 10,000 feet and 12,300 feet.
Terrain conditions and the ability of skiers determines how much acreage is covered. The expertise in navigating deep powder, tight trees, steep pitches, and unmarked hazards is highly recommended. A minimum of five people are required for snowcats to venture out.
Sleigh rides, provided by Buck’s Livery, have moved locations. This December, sleigh ride operations are now taking place at the all-new Bears Ranch — formerly Rapp Corral. The site is a short five miles south of Purgatory Resort, and sleigh rides take you through Chris Park in a caravan style. Along the way, you can get magnificent views of Haviland Lake and Engineer Mountain. This year, Buck’s Livery introduces a new option, evening VIP Tiki sleigh rides.
The Nordic Center offers an exciting alternative to park terrain for the days you may be looking to take things a little slower. Located a third of a mile north of Purgatory Resort, between Engineer Mountain and Twilight Peaks, there is something here for everyone in the family to enjoy. There are twenty kilometers (approximately 13 miles) of forest trails specially groomed for cross-country skiing and skate skiing, along with six kilometers (roughly four miles) of snowshoe trails. Be sure to pack snacks and a lunch. There are places trailside to picnic or check out the all-new Community Center and lunch on the deck. Durango Nordic Center requires that visitors purchase trail passes, lessons, and rentals before arrival through their website.