Wagner Custome Skis
Where is Purgatory Resort? Purgatory Resort is located in southwest Colorado in the four corners area in the San Juan Mountains. The Purgatory ski resort is on highway 550, 378 miles from Denver (6.5 hours drive), 241 miles northwest of Albuquerque (4 hours drive), and only 27 miles (30 minute drive) from the town of Durango.

Other Ski Resorts Nearby The closest ski area is Chapman Hill, which is a tiny little patch of snow in the town of Durango (500 Florida Rd) that is open for afternoon and night skiing. It has two little ropetows and the top half is surprisingly steep for a bunny hill.

Hersperus ski area is also nearby, 11 miles west of Durango on highway 160 on the way out to Mesa Verde. Hersperus is bigger than Chapman Hill but it’s still rather small. It’s not just for beginners with various blue and black trails, but it’s primarily designed for no-fuss family skiing. In addition to a terrain park and half pipe there is some squealing fun to be had in the tubing park. Hersperus is open for night skiing every day except Sundays.

The closest substantial ski resorts are:
  • Silverton Mountain (28 miles – 40 minutes) – experts only need apply
  • Ski Telluride (94 miles – 1:50 hours) – the most glamorous ski spot in SW Colorado
  • Wolf Creek (111 miles – 2:10 hours) – an awesome powderhound mountain
Purgatory Resort has a nearby cat skiing operation. Cat skiing can be found with Silverton Powdercats only 20 minutes northeast of Purgatory atop Molas Pass.

Flying Durango has its own airport, the La Plata County Airport, with flights from hubs such as Denver, Albuquerque, and Phoenix. The regional airport is 41.6 miles south of Purgatory. There are several car rental companies at the La Plata County airport, and renting a car is probably the most convenient method of transport to downtown Durango and Purgatory Ski Resort considering that you’ll benefit from the flexibility of a car during your vacation. The exception would be if you stay at Purgatory Resort and have no plans to leave the confines of the resort during your vacation.

Other gateway airports are:
  • Denver airport – 407 miles – about 7 hours depending on weather conditions
  • Albuquerque airport – 244 miles – about 4:10 hours depending on weather conditions
There are Greyhound buses that travel between the city of Albuquerque and Durango, but once again self-drive will be the easiest way to get there.

Getting Between Downtown Durango and the Ski Resort There are shuttles between the town (at Durango Transit Center) and ski resort, but there’s only one trip a day. If you’re staying at Purgatory Resort and want to go into town for the day there is also one shuttle per day. Tickets for the shuttles can be purchased at the Durango Transit office (250 W. 8th St) or the Purgatory ticket office.

For those self-driving, a two wheel drive car will generally be fine. Occasionally the highway from Durango to the ski area is covered in snow and may require a 4WD or chains.

Getting Around Durango The main part of Durango is easy to negotiate on foot especially in the main hub on Main Avenue between 5th and 11th streets. It’s easy to navigate because the avenues parallel to Main St are all numbered, and the perpendicular streets are also numbered.

If your legs are tired, catch the minibus called the Durango Trolley that does laps of Main Avenue, with schedules every 30 minutes from 7am to 7pm, and a very cheap fare.

Getting Around Purgatory Resort There are two main hubs at the Purgatory Resort; down at the Columbine Base Area and up at the Purgatory Village. There are shuttles to get between the two areas and to take skiers from the lower carparks up to Purgatory Village.

Day trippers may find it convenient to park at the bottom in the Lower Columbine Parking or the Gelande Overflow Parking and catch the Graduate chairlift up to the main area. At the end of the day you can just ski down to the car. Two wheel drive cars may want to park here to avoid going up the steep roads and driving on the unpaved slippery parking lot roads.

Considering the upper car parks are not paved, it is sometimes a little muddy so take extra special care if you’ve just bought a new pair of white ski pants!
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