Wolf Creek

Words Paul Bourdon, Photos courtesy Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek is Colorado’s famed powder mecca. The joke is that Colorado doesn’t get much snow, but if you catch a storm cycle at Wolfie you’ll be happy to admit you were wrong. Situated along the continental divide in the storied San Juan Mountains, Wolf Creek is a southern storm track magnet. Storms come up out of the south and are funneled up several canyons to dump on the mountain. Storm cycles get everyone excited though, so don’t be surprised if you show up on a pow day to find a large cross-section of Denverites unloading their 4runners and Subarus along with you in the lot.

This place is special, but the secret has been out now for a few years. That being said, if it’s good in other places around the state, crowds at Wolfie won’t be much of an issue.

Wolf Creek is small, short and sweet. Most riders will find the waterfall zone plenty challenging. Cliff bands abound, and short, sweet chutes litter the zone. Another rad zone is the ‘Knife Ridge’ which can be accessed via a short hike from the top of the Alberta chair. Beware, however. that Wolf Creek is a benchy bitch of a mountain and if you don’t know where you’re going, you may be facing quite the hike to get back to a chair lift. Skiers definitely have a bit of an advantage here in that case. Still, the locals are pretty friendly and the mountain is small enough that you’ll have it wired after your first day so you won’t be unstrapping much at all. Lift tickets are still reasonably priced at $65/day and the food and beverage prices in the lodge reflect that as well.

The side and backcountry access from Wolf Creek are pretty stellar, but once again, know what the snow is doing before you venture out of the gates.

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Parks

Wolf Creek has a small park, but if you’re there during a storm cycle it’ll likely be buried under 3ft or more of snow. If this bothers you, you should probably just stick to Keystone.

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Apres

Like so many of the smaller mom and pop ski areas in Colorado, Wolf Creek has no slopeside lodging which means you have to choose between Pagosa Springs to the south and west, or South Fork to the north and east. Many people like staying in Pagosa Springs as the town is a little larger than South Fork and has hot springs that you can sit and soak in after a long day of hiking Knife Ridge and Alberta Peak. Personally I like staying in South Fork at the Ute Bluff lodge because the rates are really reasonable (~$70 for double occupancy), they have a hot tub, and they offer some deals with local restaurants in town. Additionally, if its really dumping, the Pagosa side of Wolf Creek Pass will close long before the South Fork side does which means that if you’re staying in South Fork you might have the mountain (mostly) to yourself. You don’t wanna be that guy stuck in Pagosa on a 4ft day waiting for the pass to open. That’s rookie shit.

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