Purgatory Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Durango Mountain Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
          8,793 – 10,822 (2,029)
  • Average Snow Fall
    260 inches
  • Lifts (12)
    1  Six pack
    2  Fast quads
  • Ski Season
    late Nov to early Apr
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 99
    Acres – 1,605
    Longest run – 1.3mi
    Beginner - 20%
    Intermediate - 45%
    Advanced - 30%
    Expert - 5%

Ski Purgatory Resort Terrain

Purgatory Resort aka Durango Mountain Resort is absolute bliss for intermediate riders, particularly strong intermediates. Ski Purgatory for the many groomers that have terraces, rollers and banks, so there’s plenty of super fun to had whilst hooning down the rollercoaster slopes. There are a couple of runs with warnings to indicate that jumping is not allowed (unfortunately you can’t be a speed demon down Demon), but otherwise you can succumb to the temptation of catching air off the rollers.

Purgatory Resort is also well suited to kids and beginners. Advanced riders will have to be fans of moguls or groomers; otherwise they’ll feel like they’re stuck in purgatory because there is limited powder or tree skiing to be had. The “expert” terrain off the Legends lift was sorely needed, but it’s not enough to keep experts entertained, and combined with the lack of alpine terrain, there’s not enough variety for most advanced or expert riders.

Purgatory Ski Resort has three main areas. The ski zone above the Columbine base area has most of the beginners’ runs and the tubing hill. Up from the Purgatory Village base area is the front side that has a variety of runs for different ability levels. The third area, the backside, features blue, black and double black runs. The BD&M Expressway travels from the back side to the front side, but the trail is inappropriately named as there’s nothing express about it. Considering the many flat spots on the trail, snowboarders may want to borrow some ski poles or befriend a skier to give them a tow.

The Purgatory ski resort seems larger than its statistic of 536 hectares (1,325 acres). Even though the whole resort is below the treeline and there’s very little gladed terrain, there is a high concentration of fully cut runs. They must have many ,many grooming machines to groom all those trails!

Purgatory Resort Lifts

The lift infrastructure at Purgatory Resort is reasonably good such that waiting in a lift line is a rare occurrence. The lay-out is well done and lifts include an express 6-pack chair lift servicing the main front face, and a detachable quad on the backside. All other 7 chair lifts are fixed grip and a little slow, and the planned replacement of the Legends chair will be a welcome improvement.

The chair lifts have names as well as numbers that are used interchangeably, so occasionally orientation gets a little confusing.

Lift Tickets

The lift tickets aren’t the cheapest in Colorado but they are significantly more economical than the big commercial ski resorts, and cheap enough to make this ski resort popular with families.

Purgatory Snow and Weather

The best Purgatory snow is commonly in February and March, and early in the season the resort often relies heavily on snowmaking that covers 21 percent of the terrain. Purgatory Resort receives a respectable 6.6 metres of annual snowfall on average, but this is measly in comparison to nearby Wolf Creek (11.8 metres) and Silverton (10.2 metres). The elevation of the resort is also substantially lower than its neighbours and most other Colorado ski resorts. On the plus side, Purgatory is renowned for plenty of blue ski days so you can work on your goggle tan.

For the Powder Hound

A few powder stashes may be found in Paul’s Park, Poet’s Glade and the new Hoody’s and McCormack’s Maze area, but with limited tree skiing and no alpine areas, most of the terrain isn’t conducive to powderhound pleasures. Most of the terrain consists of cut runs that are either groomed or heavily bumped up. Significant snowfall is required to eliminate the bumps, so the frequency and likelihood of finding awesome powder skiing is low.

Purgatory Resort is not a highly trafficked ski resort like the big boys on I70, but you certainly wouldn’t describe it as uncrowded. You’ll need to use your elbows a little bit on a powder day. Alternatively go cat skiing with Silverton Powdercats where you won’t have to compete with anyone for freshies.

Ski Purgatory - Beginners

Purgatory is a great resort for beginners with good progressions from one level to the next. Other than the magic carpet area for the little kiddies, the main novice ski area is below the main village. The lifts that ascend from the Columbine base area are for beginners only, so they can learn there without intimidation. Once they “graduate” the next step is the #4 lift in an area largely dedicated to beginners. More confident beginners can ascend lift #2 and then go to the backside of the mountain.

Intermediate Ski and Snowboard Terrain

With 46% of the trails devoted to intermediate riders, Durango Mountain Resort is absolutely perfect for blue runners. Lower end intermediates trying to perfect their technique may find challenges on some of the runs that have rollers and banks, but there are plenty of runs with no camber to practise drills.

The greatest concentration of popular intermediate terrain is off #3, an express quad chair. The Boogie and Peak runs are plenty of fun, almost like a natural terrain park or mini boarder cross course. Dead Spike off #5 is often split groomed and a good place to attempt bumps, whilst Chet’s off #8 is a beautiful groomer where you won’t have to compete with any crowds.

For the Family/Kids

Purgatory isn’t just popular with families because it provides good value for money. The terrain is also ideally set-up for kids and is conveniently accessed by parents. The little tackers’ area is serviced by a magic carpet that has a roof, and on exit there is a non-slip mat to allow an easy traverse. This learning area has little play features and parents can spectate from the comfort of the sunny deck at Hoody’s. Nearby is the specific family ski zone with a variety of green runs.

Parks & Pipes/For The Shredder

Purgatory has three terrain parks for different ability levels. The Paradise Freestyle Arena has big hits for the big boys, whilst the Pitchfork Terrain Park has a half pipe and a variety of hits. The Divine Comedy (DC) park has only a couple of jumps and a box, but it’s near the base area adjacent to the Purgatory Express lift, so it’s a great place to show-off.

Advanced Skiing Purgatory

Check out the daily grooming report because sometimes one or two of the black runs are groomed to form a great speedway. Pandemonium on the front face is sometimes split groomed, but avoid the temptation of showing off on the bumps. I know from firsthand experience that this can lead to pandemonium! Thank goodness for Ibuprofen.

Advanced skiers will need to love moguls as this is mainly what’s on offer at Purgatory. The Bull Run is the most infamous bumps run. It starts off as a single black diamond slope and it lulls you into a false sense of security. You can bail out at the Legends run or continue where it flattens out and really tricks you into thinking it’s a mellow run. The double black diamond status then kicks in where the slope steepens and the bumps grow and go on and on.

Other than bumps, bumps and more bumps, there’s a little bit of tree skiing available at Paul’s Park and Poet’s Glade, but that’s about it.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The new “expert” terrain in McComick’s Maze & Hoody’s is not too steep and offers beautifully spaced tree skiing for experts or upper advanced riders. The most challenging part is the trail out, especially if there’s a shallow base and the fallen logs are poking through. This could be a great powder hound playground after fresh snowfall, but with only 125 acres you’ll need to get there before all the punters turn it into another bumps run.

Experts looking for a range of terrain or really challenging terrain will be sorely disappointed with Purgatory Resort. But don’t fear - Silverton Mountain is just down the road and there’s enough seriously scary terrain there to keep your palms sweaty for days.