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Snowcat Skiing

Skiing takes first down down a step pitch on a snowcat skiing trip
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Purgatory Snowcat Adventures runs the largest cat skiing operation in Colorado, with 35,000 acres of breathtaking terrain, outside of the resort boundaries. Guests can expect an average of 8-10 runs and 10,000′ of vertical depending on skier ability and terrain conditions. With exceptional views of the Northern and Southern San Juan Mountains all to yourself, this will be a day of skiing you’ll remember forever!

Your day of snowcat skiing or snowboarding includes avalanche gear, lunch and water (bringing your own water bottle is recommended). Morning orientation begins at 8:00am in the Purgatory Snowcat Adventures office located in the Village Plaza. Our highly trained guides will make an assessment of up-to-date snow conditions and skier ability to choose from three primary zones in our 35,000-acre terrain area. Skiers must be comfortable skiing black diamond runs consisting of deep powder, tight trees, steep pitches and unmarked hazards.


Cost$600 per seat; $6,000 private cat rental
Includes lift ride to the snowcat, a full day of skiing/boarding, lunch (please let us know about dietary restrictions in advance), powder ski or snowboard rental and avalanche beacon
DatesScheduled start date of January 1, 2023
AgesAge restrictions based on ability and experience level
Departure Times8:00am
Return Time4:30pm
Trip Duration8.5 hours total
  • Group unloads the snowcat and prepares for the first decent of the day
  • Snowcat guide sends it off a built up pillow of snow
  • Snowcat guide points out peaks on top of Grayrock Peak with Purgatory Resort in the distance
  • Snowcat skiing group gathers before advancing down the next pitch
  • Skier takes first tracks on snowcat skiing trip
  • Skiers turns through waist deep powder on a snowcat skiing trip
  • Skiers catches air in the trees on a snowcat skiing trip
  • Snowboarder slices through waist deep powder in the trees
  • Snowcat skiing guide gives instructions before heading down the first pitch
  • Group unloads the snowcat and looks out at the vast amount of terrain

Your Ticket to Untracked Powder

Snowcat skiing guide and group bask in the views at the top of Grayrock Peak

With access to over 35,000 acres of expansive terrain in the San Juan backcountry, Purgatory Snowcat Adventures’ Highly trained guides choose from 500-1500 foot runs on light, untracked powder through trees, glades, and open bowls of varying pitch.

The fine print

  • Reservations are required and must be made at least 48 hours in advance.
  • Trips canceled 30 days or more in advance will receive a 75% refund or the option to reschedule the trip for during the same season for no fee. Trips canceled less than 30 days in advance will receive no refund but can reschedule their trip for another date in the same season for a $50 fee Purgatory Snowcat Adventures reserves the right to cancel a trip at any time due to weather, safety concerns, or mechanical issues. Refunds and the option to reschedule are at the discretion of PSA and on a trip-by-trip basis, lunch is provided. Please communicate any dietary restrictions at the time of booking. A minimum of 5 riders for the cat to go out for the day.
  • No refunds will be given for late arrivals or no shows 
  • Purgatory Snowcat Adventures reserves the right to cancel a trip at any time due to weather, safety concerns, or mechanical issues. Refunds and the option to reschedule are at the discretion of PSA and on a trip-by-trip basis
  • Minimum of 5 guests are required for snowcat skiing trips to operate. 
  • For more information contact us at (970) 385-2115 or [email protected].

Our terrain

We do not ski or ride in terrain immediately adjacent to the ski area. Instead, the snowcat takes you deep into the San Juan backcountry. Our permitted area lies to the north (including Grayrock and Graysill Mountains) and west of Purgatory (including Hotel Draw and Scotch Creek). Cascade Creek is our eastern boundary and the East Fork of Hermosa Creek is our southern boundary.

With expansive acreage, consistent temperatures, and an average 300+ inches of snow annually, we enjoy cold, light untracked powder weeks after the last storm. We have the freedom to choose from various terrain types and elevations to ensure the best possible powder experience. Runs vary in length from 500 feet to almost 1,500 vertical with an elevation range between 10,000 and 12,300 feet.

Terrain ranges from expansive bowls to steep, tight trees, open cruiser glades, undulating gullies and windlips. A short hike accesses chutes and there are cliffs and cornice jumps as well. Our trees range from nicely spaced old-growth spruce to regenerated Forest Service clear cuts, where the sapling-size trees can be tight.

On stormy days we typically ski and ride trees where the visibility is better. Storms can also create some uncertainty with snowpack. The snowpack in the San Juan Mountains always requires careful and constant observation and skier safety is our number one concern. When storm systems clear out and snow conditions have been properly assessed, we have more options and often head up to the high alpine areas to ski and ride more open terrain. 

Our guides

Purgatory Snowcat Adventures employs only the highest trained backcountry guides and snowcat drivers, proficient in avalanche awareness and wilderness rescue techniques. Observing the snowpack and weather conditions is a full-time job that our guides take very seriously. Skier safety is of primary importance at Purgatory Snowcat Adventures. Many of our guides have been on board for 10 or more years. They know the best possible lines in each zone and are happy to share the goods. Our guides keep detailed records of terrain skied between storms to allow for untracked powder every time.

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