Purgatory Mountain kicked of it’s 50th season on November 21, 2015. Here is a brief history and introduction to this hidden gem located in Southwestern Colorado.
Formally Durango Mountain Resort, Purgatory Mountain has recently gone back to its original namesake when controlling ownership changed hands in 2015. James Coleman purchased the resort assets at the beginning of the year. (http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_27597794/sale-durango-mountain-resort-finalized-name-change-back) The resort’s real estate rights continue to be held by the founding family, Duncan, who started the resort with partner Chet Anderson in 1965.
There are two main theories on how the area received the name Purgatory. One is that during the 1776 Spanish expedition led by Sylvester Velez de Escalante the explorers named it “El Rio de Las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio” after several members of the party fell into the river and disappeared. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durango_Mountain_Resort) Translated it means “The River of Lost Souls in Purgatory”. Another theory is about the miners from Durango who wanted to travel to the lucrative Silverton mines. In order to travel to the mines they had to journey on a toll road which costs $0.50. No one could afford the toll therefore they were trapped in the Durango area which became known as Purgatory Flats.
According to coloradoskihistory.com, the mountain started with one double chair lift and a few skiable trails, cost was only $4.50 per adult. The governor of Colorado and his wife, John and Ann Love, came to the grand opening in January 1966, where Ann christened the Ribbit chairlift. With continued success the mountain expanded during the 60s and 70s and began to see most of its resort facilities and ski homes develop during the 80s. In the 90s the mountain had financial trouble but it has since come back to life, now celebrating it’s 50th year in operation.
Introduction to the Mountain
Purgatory Mountain is a wonderful beginner to intermediate slope. It has over 1,360 skiable acres, with 91 trails, 10 ski lifts (including 1 quad lift and a 6 person lift sometimes referred to as a 6-pack). Roughly the trails breakdown to the following:
As compared to some of Colorado’s other famous resorts like Aspen Mountain, which offers zero trails for beginners or Vail which has only 18% beginner and over 50% advanced trails. This makes Purgatory a very accessible and family friendly mountain.
Average snow fall is about 260 inches per year. Elevation at the summit of the mountain is 10,822 feet with a vertical drop of 2,029 feet (both Aspen and Vail are much steeper with vertical drops of over 3,000 feet). Click here for the most current snow conditions and weather reports for Purgatory.