Skiing in Beaver Creek

The base elevation of Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch is 8,100 feet (2,469 m) rising to the summit of Beaver Creek Mountain at 11,440 feet (3,487 m). The adjacent Grouse Mountain is higher, with a steep, out-of-bounds, forested gully between the two.

Beaver Creek Ski Area 660X260
A panoramic shot of Beaver Creek (photo credit: Vail Resorts)

Beaver Creek Ski Area Overview

Unique to only a handful of North American resorts, Beaver Creek has beginner terrain positioned at its summit with easy lift access from the Cinch Express #8 or the Drink of Water #5. Also of note, from the Cinch Express and summit, advanced skiers access the “Birds of Prey” World Cup Downhill course—the only regular men’s World Cup event in the United States. Mogul enthusiasts will want to ski the Grouse Mountain terrain which is accessed via the Grouse Mountain Express #10.

Beaver Creek’s trails and ski lifts also allow skiers of all levels the ability to easily maneuver among the three village areas: Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, and Arrowhead. The Beaver Creek section encompasses the majority of the resort’s terrain. The Bachelor Gulch area offers good intermediate skiing and convenient ski-in, ski-out access for guests staying in Bachelor Gulch village. Arrowhead is a bit farther flung and the terrain is generally uninspiring, but deserted.

Steep slopes and endless trees are the key to skiing here, and a northerly orientation means the snow tends to be light and dry. Here’s another fact that might surprise you. Rumor has it that Beaver Creek intentionally under-reports its snowfall to keep crowds away, which may be a plus since the hoards tend to stay at Vail. Additionally, Beaver Creek’s strong commitment to grooming means you can cruise fresh corduroy on a majority of the mountain’s terrain daily.

For skiers and non-skiers alike, Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park is a unique opportunity to snowshoe or cross-country ski with scenic views and at high altitude. The terrain services all ability types and all necessary equipment is available for rental at the Nordic Sports Center.

Recently, Beaver Creek has taken a lead among many ski resorts to emphasize safety and in-control skiing. Beaver Creek’s Ski Patrol routinely patrol the high-traffic trails and merging ski areas with radars to deter dangerous, reckless or out of control skiing. As a result of this emphasis on safety, Beaver Creek was the recipient of the 2010 National Ski Area Association’s Best Overall Safety Award.

Beginner Skiing in Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek beginner skiing is amongst the best in Colorado. Almost 20% of Beaver Creek’s skiable terrain is suitable for beginners and, uniquely, much of it is at the summit of the mountain. This allows beginners to experience “all mountain” skiing amid spectacular views of the nearby Gore Range.

Beaver Creek Beginner Skiing 660X260
Miles of green trails await beginner skiers at Beaver Creek (photo credit: Vail Resorts)

Few ski resorts can match the beginner experience provided by Beaver Creek. For first timers, the experience begins in the Beginner’s Center, a living room environment at the base of the beginner area, in which students preview their ski or snowboard experience, watch video presentations on aspects such as loading and unloading a chairlift, and ask questions before they move onto the snow.

Recently, Beaver Creek installed the Buckaroo gondola to service The Ranch, a ski school learning area near the main village. The Buckaroo Gondola allows beginners to easily learn the basics of skiing and get comfortable before learning how to ride a chairlift. When they’re ready to progress to a chairlift, the adjacent Highlands Lift #2 accesses the same beginner terrain.  

When ready to explore the mountain, beginners can ride the Centennial Express #6 chairlift from Beaver Creek Village then make a short traverse to the Cinch Express #8 chairlift, visible straight ahead at the top of the Centennial Express. From the summit, beginners now have access to wonderfully groomed terrain and extraordinary views from 11,400 feet (3,488 m).

Take a left off the Cinch Express, and try Red Buffalo, a wide, groomed and winding green to the Drink of Water #5 chairlift. Piney and Booth Gardens are two other beginner trails accessible from the Drink of Water lift. When you’re ready to move elsewhere, follow the signs for Cinch (or also try Dally), another long, groomed green that leads you back to Beaver Creek Village.  For those in the Bachelor Gulch village area, use the Bachelor Gulch Express #16 and the Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express #18 chairlifts to access more beginner trails in Primrose, Stirrup, and Sawbuck.

Intermediate Skiing in Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek offers a variety of trails for intermediate skiers – groomed trails, moguls, bowls, and glades – and with almost half of the groomed terrain at Beaver Creek rated blue for intermediates, there is no shortage of trails for intermediates to explore.

Beaver Creek Intermediate Sking 660X260
A view over towards Larkspur Bowl (photo credit: Vail Resorts)

If carving turns on long groomers interests you, be sure to check out the “Groomer of the Day” usually listed at the base of the Centennial Express #6 chairlift. Some of the regulars’ favorites include Redtail and Centennial (access both from the top of the Centennial Express lift) and the Larkspur bowl (accessible via the Larkspur Express #11 chairlift). The Bachelor Gulch area offers additional cruisers (Grubstake and Gunder’s) which rarely see significant skier traffic.

The Larkspur area also offers intermediates three short, but wide and reasonably pitched trails to work on their mogul techniques (Lupine, Shooting Star, and Loco). Head to the left at the top of the Larkspur Express Lift and make the short traverse to those three which feed back into the Larkspur bowl. Also in the same area, take the Grouse Mountain Express #10 chairlift, and try Raven Ridge and Screech Owl, two more challenging mogul runs, but easily navigable by an intermediate skier comfortable in moguls.

If some easy tree skiing piques your interest, try Thresher Glade, especially after a fresh coating of snow off the Strawberry Park Express #12 chairlift. From the top of the Centennial Express #6, the trees to the right via West Fall Road to Stickline hold good snow and are generously-spaced with a good, consistent pitch.

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek’s expert skiing is amongst the best in Colorado. The small crowds and express lifts mean that expert skiers and riders can log a lot of vertical on run after run of steeps, chutes, bumps and trees.

Beaver Creek Expert Skiing 660X260
The Stone Creek Chutes challenging black diamonds at Beaver Creek (photo credit: Vail Resorts)

No trip to Beaver Creek is complete without a top-to-bottom run on the Birds of Prey Downhill Course. To access the start, ride the Cinch Express #8 chairlift then head to the right—you won’t miss the entrance. The Golden Eagle trail encompasses the Downhill course all the way to the Red Tail Camp area. The trail is steep, has turns and sections that run against the fall line, and is home to the alpine World Cup circuit every winter. In 2015, Beaver Creek will host the World Championships.

For those who like ungroomed terrain, the Grouse Mountain Express #10 chairlift would be a perfect backyard. Any of the trails off the Grouse Mountain will provide over 1,800 vertical feet of imposing mogul trails. Bald Eagle, Falcon Park, and Osprey are three of the locals’ favorites and hold snow extremely well. When finished in the Grouse Mountain area, ride the Birds of Prey Express chairlift then ski down under the liftline on Peregrine, another wide, steep, and long bump run.

After big storms, the trees and glades hold snow for days, and fresh tracks can still be found many days after the last snowfall. Start your powder day skiing at Grouse Mountain. Take the Grouse Mountain Express chairlift and veer to the right off the lift to Royal Elk Glade. An insider’s tip: go beyond the initial openings further down the catwalk. The headwall is steeper and less skied—wherever you jump in, it the route down leads back towards the Grouse Mountain lift.

Beaver Creek’s one drawback is the lack of off-piste skiing for experts. The best place for cliffs, chutes and difficult terrain are the Stone Creek Chutes (pictured above), which are short but fun. From the Red Tail Camp and Grouse Mountain area, take the Birds of Prey Express #9 chairlift, ski the top part of Centennial then ride the Cinch Express #8 chairlift. At the top, head left and stay on Red Buffalo, which is a heavily patrolled Slow Skiing Area and Kids Adventure Zone, so ski slowly and in control. Stay on the right side of the trail and keep a lookout for the Upper Stone Creek trail sign. If the upper chutes are closed, keep skiing down Red Buffalo to the entrance for the Lower Stone Creek chutes. Both trails release skiers onto Ripsaw which leads to the Rose Bowl #4 chairlift. Locals know that the upper chutes are only accessible from Red Buffalo from the summit, so the upper chutes see much less traffic than the Lower Stone Creek chutes.

Out-of-bounds terrain can be accessed by hiking or skiing past the boundary ropes. Be warned though, if you ski outside of boundary ropes you are on your own; no ski patrol or rescue service is provided. Advanced and expert skiers are encouraged to go with a guide to find some of the mountain’s best powder stashes and discover where the locals ski and ride.

Boarding & Freestyle in Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek has a number of terrain parks for boarding and freestyle and while the Beaver Creek Ski and Snowboard School offers lessons, the majority of guests are skiers and you won’t find a strong snowboarding culture on Beaver Creek’s slopes.

Beaver Creek Snowboarding 660X260

photo credit: Vail Resorts

Although most of Beaver Creek guests are conventional skiers, there are a number of terrain parks for boarders and freestyle skiers and from beginner to expert level. Park 101 is a beginner-level terrain park located at the top of the Cinch Express #8 chairlift. There are small jumps, boxes, and rails. For interested park-and-pipe newbies, Beaver Creek Ski School offers a program call Parkology which is a gradual progressive program to help beginners learn about park terrain and technique.

Zoom Room is a second intermediate level terrain park also located off the top of the Cinch Express #8 lif. Dubbed a “medium-sized park” with 20-30 feet jumps, Zoom Room also has regular park features.  The Rodeo terrain park for expert riders and freestylers is accessible from the Centennial Express #6 chairlift and contains large features and 40-60 ft jumps. Also accessible from the Centennial Express  (head left at the top of the lift) off the Barrel Stave trail is a 350 foot long, 18 foot high half pipe for expert freestyler skier and riders.

Mountain Restaurants in Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek has taken on-mountain dining to a level rarely seen in North America. Beaver Creek’s mountain restaurants including several noteworthy restaurants open daily to the public and a number of extremely elaborate cabins (private clubs), open only to members during the day but open to the public for fine dining in the evenings.

Beaver Creek On Mountain Dining 660X260
Beano’s Cabin (photo credit: Vail Resorts)

Beaver Creek has numerous on mountain restaurants but availability and options of some vary depending on the time of day and time of the season, so it’s worth asking a member of the Beaver Creek Hospitality staff for advice when planning where to eat on the mountain.

The Spruce Saddle Lodge and Red Tail Camp are both open daily for the general public and offer an impressive array of reasonably priced All-American cuisine, delicatessen, cafe and bakery options. The Spruce Saddle Lodge is located at the top of the Centennial Express #6 chairlift and offers more casual dining options than the Red Tail Camp. The Red Tail Camp has a delicious outdoor barbeque pit that with an irresistible smoky smell that will draw you in from a mile away. With plenty of indoor or outdoor seating options as well as an upstairs deck and bar area it’s a great place to enjoy a beer on a sunny afternoon. The Red Tail Camp’s central location, at the base of the Birds of Prey Express #9, the Grouse Mountain Express #10 and the Larkspur Express #11 chairlifts, makes it a great location to meet up, eat up, and warm up while you watch your kids tackle the steeps of Grouse Mountain from the safety of the deck.

For a unique experience try Mamie’s Mountain Grill, located at the top of Bachelor Gulch Express #16 chairlift and also open daily to the public. Mamie’s offers guests a do-it-yourself grilling experience including specialty reserve steaks (which must be pre-ordered the day before), European-style hotdogs, and burgers. Locals love stopping for a quick mulled cider or a local microbrew beer on the deck area. Beaver Creek recently completed an expansion of the outdoor deck area adding tables and seats and also yurt providing some covered seating.

The Broken Arrow, in Arrowhead Village at the base of the Arrow Bahn Express #17 chairlift, serves traditional American fare including pizzas, soups, salads, and sandwiches.

The other various ‘cabins’ strewn throughout the mountain are actually private clubs. As such, they are generally closed to the public during the day, but offer exquisite and memorable evening dining options for everyone to enjoy.  All require reservations, and for some of these locations, reservations must be made months in advance.

Beano’s Cabin is reachable for dinner by horseback, a tractor-pulled wagon or a van and offers incredible cuisine with an extensive wine list and renowned service. Located just off the Larkspur Bowl area, the meals are usually offered as a fixed price five-course meal and group dining options are also available. Meat lovers will enjoy Beano’s rack of lamb, elk chop or beef tenderloin while seafood enthusiasts can choose among fresh trout, scallops and more. In short, Beano’s is an unforgettable dining experience.

Saddle Ridge is located at the far end of the Beaver Creek Village area (near to the Highlands #2 chairlift) but easily reached by complimentary village shuttle bus. With huge ceilings and western decor, its elegance and emphasis on the area’s cuisine and heritage is extraordinary. Saddle Ridge’s wine list was recently awarded the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Serving buffalo prime rib, venison chops, and Angus tenderloin, Saddle Ridge’s all-wood dining room with mounted game and chandeliers made from train wheels is a sight to see and taste.

Another option for mountainside dining, Zach’s Cabin, is located above Bachelor Gulch and offers other specialty dishes from Executive Chef Tim McCaw including seared muscovy duck, salmon, elk and lamb.

Allie’s Cabin is available for private parties and for groups of up to 100 people for events, activities and functions.


Back To Top