When winter arrives at Fort Lewis College, there's only thing to do: Get outside!
Fortunately, here in beautiful and rugged southwestern Colorado there are plenty of places and ways to get out-of-doors, with adventures suited to any and every skill level. And at FLC – and in Durango – there are plenty of others excited to head out there with you.
Get started at Outdoor Pursuits
Here when people look at mountains, they say 'Let's GO!' And going is what Outdoor Pursuits is all about.
Recreation Services' most popular student program, OP makes getting outside easy, loaning members outdoor equipment for almost any adventure, including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and backcountry gear, as well as winter camping gear. OP also offers frequent clinics, movies, and guided backcountry outings for all abilities.
The program also maintains an alpine ski cabin deep in the San Juan Mountains, and members have free access to the 18 km of trails at the Nordic Center at Durango Mountain Resort.
Compete with Ski & Snowboard Teams
If you're the competitive type, Fort Lewis College fields both a Ski & Snowboard team as an intercollegiate club sport. Like all club sports, the Ski & Snowboard Team is open to any student with equipment and a craving to carve turns. The Team competes in alpine, big mountain, and freestyle in the Rocky Mountain Division of the United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association.
Find world-class skiing right nearby
If you want to experience that famous Colorado powder, you don't have to go far. Our own San Juan Mountains are home to two major resorts and two smaller -- but big-snow -- ski areas.
Closest by is Purgatory Ski Area, at Durango Mountain Resort. A quick 25 miles north of Durango, the ski area features two terrain parks and 85 runs on 1,325 skiable acres ranging from green to double-black, all backdropped by the stunning Twilight Range. Durango Mountain Resort also offers discounted season passes to college students.
Telluride Ski Resort sits on the north side of the San Juan Mountains, but is well worth the drive. Starting from the beautiful downtown of historic Telluride, the ski area rises 3,500 vertical feet and is surrounded by the dramatic peaks of the San Juan Mountains -- which also help create the weather that feeds Telluride's bowls, steeps, glades, half-pipes and terrain parks with an average of 325 inches of snow each year.
For less glam and more pow, locals like to head two of Colorado's snowiest -- and smallest -- ski areas, Wolf Creek Ski Area and Silverton Mountain.
Wolf Creek Ski Area is 75 miles east of Durango, just over the Continental Divide on Wolf Creek Pass. Since 1939, the family-owned area has been serving up an annual average of 465 inches of Colorado powder. Wolf Creek owes its long season (usually October through May) and big dumps to its extreme altitude: its base lies at 10,300 feet and the summit crests at 11,900 feet.
Silverton Mountain is an experts-only lift-served backcountry area an hour north of campus, featuring extreme high-country terrain and lots of snow. From the area's one chair, skiers can hike to 13,487 feet for a 3,000-foot drop through couloirs, bowls, and glades.
You don't have to go far ...
Winter is right at home here in Durango, too. Cross country skiers can walk -- or ski -- just north of campus to Hillcrest Golf Course. When the links are covered with snow, the course is opened to the public free-of-charge (donations welcome) for cross-country and skate skiing. The views are magnificent.
If you prefer gravity, on the northwest side of the mesa, on the slope between the Fort Lewis Campus and Durango's Florida Road, is Chapman Hill. Run by the City of Durango, the Chapman Hill ski area features 500 feet of vertical slopes serviced by two rope tows, and provides under-the-lights night skiing.
The Chapman Hill facility also offers an ice skating rink, a tubing hill, and a supervised warming house with hot drinks and snacks. Chapman is also a great place to get a start in winter play: Ski lessons, ice skating lessons, and snowboarding lessons are offered throughout most of the winter.
If you're looking to ski after class, Ski Hesperus ski area, just 11 miles West of Durango, offers lighted night skiing on 80% of its terrain.