Forest Service OKs expanding Arapahoe Basin |

Forest Service OKs expanding Arapahoe Basin

the associated press

Summit County, CO Colorado

DENVER ” On the eve of its 60th anniversary, the Arapahoe Basin ski area won permission Friday to nearly double its terrain, another bit of good news for the rustic ski area high on the Continental Divide about 70 miles west of Denver.

The U.S. Forest Service, which leases land for the area nicknamed A Basin, said the resort would be allowed to upgrade one lift and add another, resulting in an expansion of skiable terrain from 490 acres to 837 acres.

The new lift would be the area’s seventh.

“Things just keep moving forward for us,” resport spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer said.

The resort got off to a good start this season by beating out the nearby Loveland ski area for the honor of being first in the nation to open, on Oct. 13.

A Basin, one of the state’s smallest resorts, has the nation’s highest skiable terrain on its East Wall run, which tops out at 13,050 feet.

The expansion means the area will be able to comfortably accomodate 3,910 riders a day, compared with the existing 3,210. The Forest Service also approved 231 additional parking spots.

“If it all goes through, we will start construction this summer and the lift will be operational this summer,” said Hierholzer. It would serve the Montezuma Bowl area, which has been off-limits for skiers.

Hierholzer said no date has been set for upgrading the exiting Exhibition Lift.

She had no cost estimate for the expansion project but said in general a new, basic lift costs more than $1 million.

The expansion was approved because Arapahoe Basin, which drew 325,000 skiers and snowboarders last year, was nearing its capacity, Forest Service spokeswoman Sally Spaulding said.

“This will allow them to be more competitive. It is consistent with what they have in mind,” she said.

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