Purgatory Resort is a place that I vaguely remember from my childhood. Thirty some-odd years have passed since I had been there, but since we were going to be nearby this spring break, we decided to take our kids and enjoy some spring skiing.
Purgatory is still a family-friendly resort with lots of charm, good snow, and kid-approved groomers top to bottom. It's small enough to be comfortable and not overcrowded, but has enough amenities to keep you coming back. Despite the Dante-inspired name, Purgatory Resort is the perfect place to have some fun and enjoy some great skiing together as a family.
It's just a short drive from the old mining town of Durango, Colorado, making it an easy place to spend a week skiing and enjoying the incredible scenery. We had a wonderful visit, and we think your family will love skiing here on your next ski vacation. Skip the expensive mega-resorts, and come to Purgatory. Your family will have just as much fun at a fraction of the price.
Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links, meaning we earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. There is no additional cost to you, and it helps to support this site. We were also provided with 2-day lift tickets for skiing. All other costs were paid for by us and all opinions are ours. Thanks for reading!
Skiing at Purgatory Resort - Great From Top to Bottom
Purgatory Resort is a little larger now than I remembered, which is great for younger families and experienced skiers alike. We loved all the terrain to choose from, and the kids really worked the intermediate runs on this trip, which was fun. Families can enjoy 1,605 acres of terrain spread over 99 trails, along with a tubing hill and terrain parks scattered around the mountain.
Beginners have their own learning area at the very bottom of the mountain with two short lifts and a magic carpet. For those who are out of ski school, Purgatory offers a lot of beginner and intermediate terrain, which is a great feature of this resort. You can ride the 6-pack chair all the way to the summit (covering over 1,500 vertical feet) and cruise green groomers all the way down.
Intermediate skiers and boarders will find something to love anywhere at the resort. Head over to the backside of the mountain for lots of blue and black runs, glades, and powder stashes to keep you busy all day long. We had plenty to keep our family busy over on the front side, but now that our kids are skiing more blues and making better turns, it's nice to have those options.
Skiers with disabilities have lots of options here also. We saw all types of skiers during our two days here, and Purgatory has state of the art equipment and gear for any skier. For something different, go for a cruise on a snow bike, or try the tubing hill.
Related: For other great ski resorts for families, see our guide: North America's Best Ski Resorts for Kids.
The Village at Purgatory
Purgatory's village is small, but is nice and offers everything you need for a great day on the slopes. Our favorite stop (of course) was Paradise Pizza and Ice Creamery.
Families can also enjoy a burger at Purgy's Slopeside, or grab some lighter fare or hot cocoa at Hoody's or the Bear Bar and Grille. Have them put a little something special in it for Mom or Dad - just the thing to warm you up and help you relax after chasing your kids across a snowy mountain all day long!
We rented all of our gear in the village at Purgatory Rentals, and the process was easy and smooth. Staff was helpful and courteous, and we got on the slopes quickly.
Lockers are available for all your extra gear, and overnight storage for skis and poles is available, so you don't have to haul it all back to your hotel or keep it in your vehicle. Lockers can be rented for more than one day which is helpful, and allowed us to use the same locker for our gear the entire trip.
If you want to shop or need a few souvenirs, check out Alpine Chic or Halfway to Heaven. If you forgot a piece of gear or just want to get in on the spring clearance sales, Purgatory Sports has you covered.
Lodging at Purgatory Resort
Purgatory offers up slope-side lodging if that's your style, and it's perfect for families. The kids will immediately hone in on the heated outdoor pool and water slide. Access to hot tubs, discounted lift tickets, and WiFi are all included. Rooms are condo-style with kitchens, and are available in studio configurations all the way up to 5 bedroom layouts to accommodate large families.
During our visit, we saw kids having a blast in the pool with great views of the ski beach and mountain. Talking with parents confirmed our suspicions- staying here is super convenient, and they wouldn't want to stay anywhere else.
We decided for this trip to stay in nearby Durango. It's a charming little town with plenty to do and some really great restaurants. Perhaps the coolest feature is it's narrow-gauge railroad that runs between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. Even if you don't stay here, you should make the trip and at least grab a bite to eat and walk around downtown.
Getting to Purgatory and Other Information
For this trip, we drove north from New Mexico to Durango where we stayed at the DoubleTree Durango Hotel. Durango sits in the southwest corner of Colorado where highway 160 and 550 meet. Purgatory Resort is about a 30 minute drive north on highway 550.
If you plan on flying in, Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO) has direct flights from Denver (DIA), Phoenix (PHX) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). American and United Express have daily service to Durango.
Shuttle service is available from downtown Durango if you don't have your own transportation and is available for $10 per person as of this writing. Check back here for more information on getting around the area.
Coming soon to Purgatory Resort - Inferno Mountain Coaster!!
We're really excited about this one! Set to open in 2018, the Inferno Mountain Coaster will zip riders at 30 mph around 4,000 feet of track and a 300' vertical. Construction was moving along nicely when we were there, and it's shaping up to be an awesome addition to this resort. When it opens, it will be open year-round, so pick your favorite season and go have some fun!
Durango, Colorado - What to See and Do (and Eat!)
Durango works great as a home base, not only for families skiing at Purgatory, but also for other activities in the area. Mesa Verde National Park is very close (less than an hour's drive), and Moab, UT, Pagosa Springs, CO, and Santa Fe, NM are also within a short drive. We had originally planned on visiting Mesa Verde, but Ranger-led tours of the ruins are not available during the winter, so we decided a return trip is in order when it's warmer.
Food and cuisine are pretty amazing here. We found a wide variety of things to try including street tacos, Italian cuisine, and our favorite, Rendezvous Doughnuts. Seriously, find a way to have breakfast here one morning.
It's amazing. Any time you see things like 'brown-butter' and 'sea-salted caramel' on the menu combined with doughnuts, it's probably a winner!
Downtown Durango is a fun place to stroll around and do some window shopping, find some souvenirs to take home, or grab a tasty snack. This is also where the train station is if you're planning to ride the narrow-gauge railroad.
Purgatory Resort is Great for Families
Colorado is full of great resorts, but we were a little shocked at how uncrowded it was here. Families will also love the prices - they're half of what other resorts are charging only a few hours away. Winter Park is a sentimental favorite and resorts like Beaver Creek and Vail are great for families too, but you'll have just as much fun at Purgatory. Splurge a little to stay at the lodge with the heated pool and water slide, and you'll probably still come out ahead. It's a bargain.
Purgatory Resort is a place that we'd really like to spend more time at. It wasn't crowded (despite being spring break), it's easy to get to (no I-70-esque traffic backups), and is a lot of fun. Even with a challenging year for snow, the snow was good, and we found plenty of great terrain to keep us busy. Plus, we can't wait to try out their new Inferno Mountain Coaster when it opens. "Ski You Next Time!"
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