Wolf Creek Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
Wolf Creek Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    10,300 – 11,904 (1,604)
  • Average Snow Fall
    460 inches
  • Lifts (9)
  • Ski Season
  • early Nov to early Apr
  • Terrain Summary
    Acres – 1,600
    Trails – 120
    Longest run – 2mi
    Beginner – 20%
    Intermediate - 25%
    Advanced - 25%
    Expert - 20%

Wolf Creek Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The Wolf Creek ski and snowboard terrain is perfect for the astute powderhound, with an abundance of dry powder snow, no crowds, and an assortment of great lines. The Powderhounds have awarded Wolf Creek with 5 out of 5 paws as a powderhound resort, so it must be good!

Some complain that the Wolf Creek ski area is too small. The skiable acreage is only 1,600 (647 hectares), which is small compared to some of the behemoth ski resorts in Colorado, but it’s still a very respectable size compared to the average ski resort. (See our USA ski resort statistics for comparison information). Wolf Creek may seem small to some of the Texan visitors that only ski the beginner and intermediate terrain in the main area. However the locals and powder hounds that venture out to the Alberta lift have another 1,000 acres of powder fun and an infinite number of awesome lines in the trees.

The resort may also seem small because the lift served vertical is only 489 metres (1,604 feet), one of the smallest in Colorado, but is vertical all it’s cracked up to be?

Wolf Creek is well suited to all levels of skiers, except those that want an abundance of extreme terrain. Beginner and low-end intermediate snowboarders will enjoy Wolf Creek, but some advanced snowboarders may get frustrated with the amount of skating required around the Alberta lift area, as well as the traversing required off the Treasure chair.

Wolf Creek Lift Tickets

Lift tickets are fabulously cheap and about half the price of what you’d find at Vail, Beaver Creek and Keystone. Keep an eye out for “local appreciation days” where lift tickets are ever cheaper. And best of all, you don’t have to be a local as no ID is required.

Wolf Creek Lifts

With cheap lift tickets, it would seem wrong to have high expectations for the lift infrastructure, so it’s no great surprise that the lifts are just OK. 

The main area is well serviced with a magic carpet, 4 fixed grip chair lifts, and the new Raven detachable quad that services predominantly green and blue trails. Two of the chair lifts run parallel to each other, so one of them remains superfluous for much of the season.

During peak holiday periods the lift queues in the main area can be horrendous, whilst in stark contrast the ski area and lifts are almost deserted during the regular season.

Snow and Weather

Wolf Creek is well known for getting the most snow in Colorado, and renowned for having great snowfall early in the season. The powder isn't as dry as some other Colorado ski resorts such as Steamboat, but occasionally it's super dry (we were lucky enough to score it on a really dry day). With a north facing aspect and high elevation (329 metres higher than neighbouring Durango), the snow quality is well maintained.

There are lots of rumours amongst the locals that Wolf Creek understate their snow report. The snow report may state that 4” fell overnight, yet when you get there it is apparent that there’s a foot of new snow. This may seem incredibly strange considering the marketing ploys of other USA ski resorts, but the talk on the street is that Wolf Creek don’t want to encourage any more visitors. They must want to keep all the powder to themselves!

For the Beginner

Wolf Creek is a great ski area for beginners. Complete novices have the magic carpet at the base area. They can then progress to the Nova chair, an area dedicated to beginners and free of fast skiers zooming past. From here there are great progression runs off two other chair lifts, and the short vertical is an advantage for beginners who don’t tire too easily with massive long runs.

Ski Terrain for the Intermediate

There is some potential that lower end intermediates will get a little bored if they spend a week at Wolf Creek. There are enough runs in the main area for just a day or two of entertainment. Mid-level intermediates can venture further afield, although if they journey across to the Alberta chair area they’ll get stuck on cat track trails that require some skating.

For more confident intermediates, Wolf Creek offers a fantastic playground in which to gain some powder experience. In the main area there are lots of spots to whizz off the trails into the powder, knowing that the comfort of a groomed run is not too far away. Experienced powder riders can play in the Alberta area on blue tree runs such as Serendipity and Pitch’s Gate.

For the Family/Kids

The novice area and magic carpet is conveniently located next to the day lodge, so parents can easily keep an eye on the kids. As the main area of Wolf Creek is somewhat petite, it’s reasonably easy for a family to ski within close proximity without losing each other.

Parks & Pipes

Shredders will have to rely on natural features in the Waterfall area as there is no terrain park or halfpipe at Wolf Creek.

Advanced Skiing

Wolf Creek is absolutely perfect for advanced skiers who love powder. There are no steep groomed runs whatsoever, so it could be a bit boring if it hasn’t snowed in a while, but with recent snowfall there is an abundance of awesome tree skiing and open bowls in which to play. Good mellow tree runs can be found to the left of the Raven chair between Gun Barrel and Thumper, and between Thumper and Bunny Hop. The trees are not widely spaced but they are very rideable, especially if there’s fresh snow.

Moving east, amazing lines can be found in Bonanza bowl which can be accessed with a short slide/walk from the Treasure chair. The bowl collects loads of powder and the steep pitch is very sweet indeed, albeit somewhat short. Similarly the Glory Hole and Boundary Bowl offer amazing powder skiing.

The showpiece of Wolf Creek for advanced riders is the area serviced by the Alberta lift. Drop in anywhere that takes your fancy for fabulous tree skiing. The Abracadabra tree run is particularly magical. Much of the terrain is not super steep, but if there’s powder you won’t care. The exception is the Waterfall area (marked as double black) and strong advanced skiers will have an absolute ball in here, but keep an eye out for the cliffs and drop-offs if hucking is not your thing.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

With the exception of the Waterfall area, all the double blacks require a degree of hiking, and the steep pitches are fairly short. Wolf Creek calls their double black runs “extreme”. Some of the runs are extreme for a moment or two, but otherwise they are just your average double black diamond expert runs ie “expert”.

To the lookers left of the Alberta chair there are a whole series of lines off the Knife Ridge. Access starts with a steep 30 metre walk up to the patrollers’ hut which puts most people off. Some of the locals call this pitch the “Texan filter”. From here it’s a reasonably easy hike up a staircase amongst the rocks, and then a relatively gentle walk along the ridge. It can be hairy if it’s icy; otherwise it’s a piece of cake (unless you live at sea level!). The Knife Ridge Chutes and Dog Chutes require a 10-15 minute hike. The former has rocks to huck off, whilst the entries into the Dog Chutes aren’t quite so scary.

Hiking much further east along the ridge will take you to Horseshoe Bowl where you’ll be rewarded with fresh powder, but you’ll also have to hike at the bottom to get back to the Alberta lift.

Hiking to the lookers’ right of the patrollers hut takes you to Alberta Peak. Drop in early into Step Bowl for a mellow pitch, or continue hiking to get to gnarlier lines.

The Bonanza cliffs off the Treasure Chair can be another spot for experts to play. The degree of difficulty depends largely on the amount of snow cover. With thin cover, they are so technically difficult they are almost suicidal.

For the Powderhound

Even in the height of a peak holiday period it’s still possible to ski fresh tracks all day. And during the average season, freshies remain for days, especially in the hike-to-terrain. Wolf Creek is also a great gateway to the backcountry with various access gates at the top of the ski area. This is backcountry, not slack-country, so there’s no easy access back to the lifts.

With so much snow at Wolf Creek, avalanche control is a big job for the patrollers, particularly at the top where there are steep pitches. To assist with control there are avalanche gates into many of the expert zones. It is also recommended that riders wear an avalanche beacon in these areas.