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History

retro ski sign

How did we get here?

For nearly six decades, the visionaries, leaders, and stakeholders of Purgatory Resort have focused on one mission: to give people like you the freedom to ski. As the ultimate collaborative, creative project, the establishment of Purgatory and its evolution into the premier family ski destination in the Southwest is a story of camaraderie and community.

Once upon a powderhound’s dream

With Mother Nature’s canvas as a fresh backdrop, ski visionaries stepped onto the scene, orchestrating the symphonic handiwork that would become Durango’s treasured home mountain. Some of these key developers include Forest Service snow ranger Chet Anderson, beloved Olympic ski coach Dolph Kuss, innovative painter Paul Folwell, and the inimitable Ray Duncan, the man who wrangled them all together.

two guys doing a ski jump - vintage
  • two vintage skiers
  • two guys doing a ski jump - vintage
  • vintage photo of a skier with a tow rope
  • vintage Purgatory ski sign
  • retro ski sign
  • 80s skier
  • Ann Love, the wife of then-Colorado Gov. John Love, christens Lift 1 with a champagne bottle at Purgatory Resort. The ski area held its first day of skiing Dec. 4, 1965, but the grand opening celebration, with the governor and his wife in attendance, was held Jan. 8, 1966.
  • vintage brochure

The mighty San Juans

From shifting oceans and spewing volcanos to ice fields and creeping glaciers, Mother Nature has been hard at work crafting the San Juan Mountains for millions of years. To better monitor the land, water, and wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service ensconced these gorges, ridgelines, and meadows into the San Juan National Forest in 1947. Today, the San Juan National Forest encompasses 1.8 million acres, including Colorado’s largest, steepest mountain range, the mighty San Juans. 

The moon rises over the needles mountains