Winter is coming! In this year’s installment of the Edge, Westword’s annual guide to winter activities, we’ve got the what’s what, the what’s new, and the what to do at ski areas and mountain towns across the state. From skiing and snowboarding to new mountain roller coasters, fat-bike tours, snowmobile adventures, hot-springs soaks and more, the Edge — inserted in the November 16 edition of Westword — will help you plan your vacation days, personal days, powder days and sick days from now until spring. Here's the scoop on Purgatory, which just opened.
Purgatory opened on November 18. Hesperus, another small ski area near Durango now owned and operated by Purgatory owner James Coleman, opens on December 15.
Here are five things you need to know about Purgatory:
1. Purgatory expanded its terrain for the 2017-2018 season with new intermediate and expert trails on the back and front sides of the mountain, and also added new gladed tree skiing.
2. Check out the new mountain coaster, which will be open year-round. It runs along a 4,000-foot track with a 300-foot vertical drop.
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3. Book a $350 seat with Purgatory Snowcat Adventures to access over 35,000 acres in the San Juan backcountry, the state’s largest backcountry ski and snowboard operation. Price includes avalanche gear, lunch, drinks and private guides. Reservations are required and must be made at least 48 hours in advance; call 800-208-1780.
4. For winter adventure beyond skiing and snowboarding, check out the dog-sledding tours from Durango Dog Ranch ($195 per sled, perfect for one or two people, reservations at durangodogranch.com) or the trips from Snowmobile Adventures (two- or three-hour tours starting at $200, reservations at snowmobiledurango.com).
5. While you’re in the area, check out Hesperus, a 55-year-old ski hill eleven miles west of Durango that is now part of the same ownership group as Purgatory and offers night skiing. Full-day lift tickets are just $39; the night-skiing-only option is $29 (ski-hesperus.com).