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Wolf Creek March 16-18 ramblings

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Pictures to come

First, let me say thanks to all the members here. I used the tips here to have a very successful trip. If I didn't use the forums here, I think my trip would have been miserable. My son (11), friend (intermediate to advanced) and myself (intermediate, but do a large portion of blacks) were the skiers. We rented equipment Saturday night so we were ready to go first thing Sunday morning.

Wolf Creek is a smaller resort that usually (according to locals) doesn't have a lot of crowds. It turns out, that Spring Break from Texas, Oklahoma had a lot of overlap. The folks in town and working told me these were record crowds for this week. Most of the people I met there were families, who drove from Oklahoma and Texas.

The layout
The main area is only about 500 acres. There were 3 lifts running. One the Raven is a high speed quad lift that serves green and blue runs. It only takes between 2 - 3 minutes to reach the top when they don't have to stop it for "issues". The other 2 lifts running are dreadfully slow. Lines were very long on those lifts 20-30 minutes wait time. So we avoided them, unless trying to head over to the Alberta lift. The runs around the Raven chair are nice, but not overly long vertically like other resorts. The Raven runs are for intermediates to beginners. Advanced and experts would find them boring. The second and third days we had alot of fun making our own paths in and out of the trees back to the runs. The line appeared long to get back on the Raven lift, but it only took 10 minutes max, which was very good considering the crowds.

The other side with only the Alberta lift servers about 1000 acres. They had a large base of snow. The trails markings out there are terrible. Basically, you don't every want to go on a trail called "Coyote trail" all the way around unless you like to push or do cross country. You need to cut off on some blacks and go fast at the bottom. If you go to the other side of the Alberta life, it is a tree haven. We loved it. Once you leave the top, there are no discernible trail markings. It's really a make your own trail area. Its alot of fun, but I was always concerned that my 11 year old would end up on something too nasty. By the way, the regular blacks at Wolf Creek aren't very hard. He skied most of them fine. After a couple of times through the trees, he loved it and we skied over there a lot. The Alberta lift is a quad but slow, but there were no lines. I guess I've been a little spoiled by high speed quads at other resorts.

The Base
Because of Spring Break, Wolf Creek was open from 8 AM - 5:00 Pm. We arrived to buy tickets each day at 7:45. The ticket windows opened at 8 AM and lifts shortly after. I was able to park right in front. If you arrived late, you might have had to walk a long way. We skied from about 8:15 am - 9:30 am before things would get crowded and at lunch at 10:30. After lunch, we would head over to the Alberta lift.

The lodges were a mad house. If anyone tried to show up to eat after 10:30 am, you probably would not get a seat. I thought the food was reasonable priced for a ski lodge and quite tasty. The Green Chile hamburger is excellent. The ones cooked outside taste a little better, but they are all excellent.

A lot of folks, seemed to hang out in the lodge all day. After leaving for lunch there was about zero change of getting a table in any of the lodges until about 2:30 PM.

We stayed at Pagosa Springs Inn & Suites. Its very basic, but it was exactly what I was looking for in a cheap hotel. The beds were nice. If I were too go back for a hotel, I would recommend Holiday Inn Express or The Pagosa Springs Inn & Suites. Some of the other hotel/motels looked a little dingy. The Pagosa Springs Inn & Suites had a ping pong and pool table downstairs that we spent some time on.

Pagosa Springs as a ski town is much better than what I expected. We found some good food and the drive up to the ski area is a piece of cake. The road is well maintained and is 2 lanes up and 1 lane down.

We drove back through South Fork. It is very small. I thought the road from there to Wolf Creek was actually worse. There isn't much in South Fork. I would definitely stay in Pagosa Springs.

We had a great time and skied each day from about 8:15 - 5 with a break for an early lunch. I recommend Wolf Creek strongly over any resort in New Mexico besides Taos, and slightly over Taos. I still found the crowds less there than in Summit County during Spring Break. If I had the money, I would still recommend Big or Little Cottonwood canyon resort areas in Utah for Spring Break families.

The Good
The amount of snow they had and get
Nice family oriented town, Pagosa Springs
Wolf Creek staff friendly and professional
The trees! The terrain isn't overly vertical but very fun
Open from ~8 am - 5 Pm
Summit Ski & Sports - Nice skis, nice price, friendly, courteous

The Bad
A bit crowded (but it was Spring Break)
No new snow in a while, not the powder I was hoping for
Bad trail markings
Lifts need upgraded
How about using a caterpillar on the flats around Alberta so folks don't have to hike or do cross country to make it back to the lift?
We didn't need ski school or equipment there, but I heard a lot of complaining. I heard that some folks were 3 hours before hitting the slopes when getting their equipment at the resort. Others I heard weren't overly satisfied with the ski school because of delays and numbers.
post #2 of 5

Did you or anyone in your group use an instructor? My daughter will be there next week and I'm hoping for a refural.


post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by barrettscv View Post

Did you or anyone in your group use an instructor? My daughter will be there next week and I'm hoping for a refural.


Nope, like I said the group lessons were way to busy, but I heard that private instruction worked well from one lady on the lift. I think it probably won't be crowded next week.
post #4 of 5
Very informative and well outlined. We did not have a chance to head down there this season but will bookmark for our use next season. Thanks.
post #5 of 5
As a transplanted Pacific NW'er currently suffering in Oklahoma, Wolf Creek is our closest resort for decent terrain & dependable snow. I second rmscott's assessment of WC as a low-key, inexpensive, family-oriented resort. Spring Break was a complete madhouse - but crowds like this are an anomaly at WC. All 3 bordering states had Spring Break at the same time; it seemed like 75% were Texans, though. I have seen comparable crowds at some West Coast resorts on weekends.
I've been to WC on the weekends, and I'm pleased to say (but somewhat reluctant to share) that I've rarely had to wait in lift lines, even on a $27 lift ticket day.
The limited size and terrain are offset by the fact that they get more snow than any resort in Colorado (or AZ & NM), and that they have excellent tree skiing. I can usually find great stashes of freshies in the trees 4 or 5 days after the storms have stopped.
We stay in South Fork. There are only about 6 or 7 fairly small hotels/lodges on this side of the pass, and the dining choices are extremely limited. Most restaurants in South Fork are overpriced & of dubious quality. The Allington Inn is a decent hotel (nothing fancy), and they do have 2 family suites that allow you to spread out a bit. The Foothills Lodge has (rustic/older) dual-occupancy cabins with a kitchen for those who want to cook for themselves (a good idea in SF). Next door is the Hungry Logger restaurant & Croakers Pub. The pub is low key & friendly. I like the local Pale Ale, the burgers, and their pizza.
The up-side to staying in South Fork is that it's only about 15 miles from WC. And, the Pagosa Springs side of the pass often closes when the really big storms roll in, while the SF side remains open. (How pissed would you be to have it dumping feet of snow overnight, then being unable to get to the goodies!) :
Definitely go to Pagosa Springs for the food (Kip's is excellent for tacos), a bit more civilization/shopping/amenities, and for a soak in the hot springs! :
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