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Resort policies

Our resort policies are in place to help us provide a safe and friendly environment for our guests. Your safety on the mountain is our highest priority at Purgatory Resort. Because there are some inherent risks to snowsports, we encourage you to learn about about the risks, and to adhere to responsible skier/rider conduct.

Purgatory Mountain Patrol, National Ski Patrol Hosts (in orange jackets) and Mountain Management enforce skier safety at Purgatory Mountain every day of the season. They can also answer any questions about mountain safety policies.

Purgatory Resort’s mountain safety program includes safety education, awareness and enforcement. The program is built on “Your Responsibility Code”, the Ten Foot Rule, and the Colorado Ski Safety Act.

Mountain Policies

Skier/Rider Responsibility Code

Know The Code

The National Ski Areas Association established “Your Responsibility Code” in 1966 as a code of ethics for all skiers on the mountain. The code reflects not only skier safety, but snowboarder and lift safety as well. Ultimately, safe skiing and snowboarding is each guest’s responsibility.

  1. Always stay in control. You must be able to stop or avoid people or objects.
  2. People ahead or downhill of you have the right-of-way. You must avoid them.
  3. Stop only where you are visible from above and do not restrict traffic.
  4. Look uphill and avoid others before starting downhill or entering a trail.
  5. You must prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Read and obey all signs, warnings, and hazard markings.
  7. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  8. You must know how and be able to load, ride and unload lifts safely. If you need assistance, ask the lift attendant.
  9. Do not use lifts or terrain when impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  10. If you are involved in a collision or incident, share your contact information with each other and a ski area employee.

The Ten-Foot Rule

In order to minimize on-mountain accidents and enhance safety for our guests, Purgatory skiers/riders must stay outside a 10-foot radius of any and all other skiers/riders while in their path of descent.

By staying at least 10 feet away from other skiers/riders, the chances of a collision are reduced dramatically. The Ten Foot Rule also promotes respect and courtesy toward people of all ages and abilities on the mountain.

Purgatory Mountain Patrol, Mountain Safety (Yellow Jackets) and Mountain Management enforce the Ten Foot Rule in high-traffic areas so that everyone has a safe experience at Purgatory Resort.

Colorado Ski Safety Act

Recognizing risks that are inherent in the sport, The Colorado legislature passed the Colorado Ski Safety Act, which describes inherent risks of the sport and relative responsibilities of the skier and the ski area.


Under Colorado law, a skier assumes the risk of any injury to person or property resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing and may not recover from any ski area operator for any injury resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing, including: changing weather conditions; existing and changing snow conditions; bare spots; rocks; stumps; trees; collisions with natural objects, man-made objects, or other skiers; variations in terrain; and the failure of skiers to ski within their own abilities.

The Ski Safety Act includes cliffs, extreme terrain, jumps and freestyle terrain as inherent dangers and risks of the sport.

View the entire Colorado Ski Safety Act

Uphill access

[Updated 12/9/23] For public safety and to avoid disruption to the safe and timely opening of the mountain for winter Alpine Skiing operations, Purgatory Resort does not permit uphill travel of any kind.

Uphill travel includes hiking, snowshoeing, skinning, or any other method of traveling uphill over snow. 

Ski trails and other ski area improvements are designed for use by downhill travel by guests utilizing alpine ski, telemark, snowboard, or ski-bike equipment. These trails and improvements are constructed to be accessed via the resort’s ski lift system. Alternative use of trails and improvements are prohibited for safety considerations, including prevention of downhill/uphill collisions, ongoing resort operations including snowmaking (high pressure air/water, high voltage electrical equipment), trail grooming (heavy equipment traffic and presence of high tension winch cables), avalanche mitigation (explosives use and avalanche/debris run outs), employee transportation via snowmobiles, snowcats and track vans, and other operational practices and exercises that may present visible and unseen hazards to uphill travelers within the ski area boundary.

Those recreationists seeking an uphill travel experience may access the Hermosa Creek Watershed Special Management area of the San Juan National Forest via National Forest System Road 578 (Hermosa Park Road) that exits the resort base area adjacent to the Snowmobile Adventures compound north of the Village Main parking lot off Purgatory Boulevard. Parking to access NFS Road 578 is located along the east side of Skier Place below the Snowmobile Adventures compound.

General Access Policies

Four types of trail access are regularly requested at Purgatory Resort. The following details the four types of access and the ski area’s policies addressing each. With the exception of these four types of trail access, all other types of resort access are prohibited:

  1. Pre-season access to private and public land both inside and outside the ski area boundary (Nordic and alpine skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, snowmobilers, and dog sledders).

    Ski Area Policy: Due to snowmaking, grooming, pre-season maintenance activities, and associated vehicle and equipment traffic, public safety issues will exist during this pre-season period. Therefore, to protect the public from potential injury, prior to the opening day of the ski season, Purgatory Resort will post signs at access points on the mountain trail system closing trails to all public access. This may include areas immediately adjacent to the roads. At no time is the general public allowed to access skiable terrain through interior gates, interior roads, or USFS Roads.

  2. Early season access to public land outside of the ski area boundary (Nordic, alpine, snowboard skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers, and dog sledders).

    Ski Area Policy: Persons desiring to access lands outside the permit boundary must utilize the USFS Road #578 located at the east end of the upper parking lot.

  3. Trails that have not opened for the season are closed to downhill skiing and may not be used to gain access to lands outside the ski area boundary.

    Ski Area Policy: There is no access through private lands at any time during the operating season. However, access to public lands outside the ski area boundary is permitted via USFS Road #578 to the snowmobile bypass.

  4. Trails that have closed at the end of the ski season.

    Ski Area Policy: Front side trails that have closed at the end of the ski season are closed to all public access and shall not be used for downhill or uphill skiing, snowmobiling, or any other use unless express written permission has been granted by the General Manager. The resort will be conducting end of season operations such as snow removal, lift maintenance, and drainage control on the following roads – Elbert Creek USFS Road #581 from the Junction of USFS Road #578 to the southern boundary of the ski resort, as well as access roads into Dante’s Lodge, the tops of lifts 1,2,3,4,5,6,8, and the Mid Mountain Maintenance Shop. All other roads will be allowed to melt out on their own. Back side trails will remain open to the public and must be accessed from USFS Road #578. No access is allowed from private property through the base area.

Terrain parks

The terrain parks at Purgatory Resort are a great place to take your skiing and snowboarding to the next level, but we always want to make sure our park riders are safe.

It is important to be mindful of your ability level and not take on anything too challenging. Our parks are designed for skiers and riders to progressively learn how to handle different features.

Learn more about park safety from the National Ski Areas Association.

Some resorts designate features as small, medium and large. Be aware these ratings are determined by size, not degree of difficulty, and are relative only to that resort. Freestyle Terrain use, like all skiing and riding, exposes the user to the risk of serious injury. Prior to using freestyle terrain, it is the user’s responsibility to become familiar with all instructions and posted warnings and to follow Your Responsibility Code and PARK SMART.

Service dogs

Service Dog Policy

The law* defines a Service Animal as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

NOT service animals are those animals whose sole purpose is to provide emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship or to serve a crime deterrent.

Individuals with disabilities are permitted to be accompanied by their service dog in all public areas of the Resort. However, in the interest of safety, service animals will not be allowed on chair lifts or in ski terrain, including tubing hills, or on any ride or attraction that is not equipped or designed for accessibility to service animals. If you require a service animal that is restricted from an area or activity, the Resort will make reasonable accommodations as long as requirements for safe operations are met. Guests will be asked to provide the Resort with a minimum of 72 hours advance notice regarding accommodations needed for service animals.

The Resort will not discriminate against individuals with disabilities who use service animals if the task or work performed by the service animal are directly related to the individual’s disability.  All service dogs must meet current ADA guidelines to include, but not be limited to: remaining under the direct control of the user at all times; be house broken; and be trained and utilized for a specific disability approved by ADA regulations. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).

Where it is not obvious that a dog is a service dog, Authorized personnel may inquire as to the following: 1) if the animal is required because of a disability and (2) what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

Authorized personnel will request that a service dog be removed from the premises if: (1) The animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take immediate effective action to control it; or (2) The animal is not housebroken. If the service animal is removed, the Resort will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate the individual with a disability despite the absence of the service dog.

Adaptive Sports offers a specialized adaptive skiing/snowboarding program. Professionally trained instructors work with a range of disabilities. Due to the specialty of this program, a reservation is strictly required at least two weeks prior to your visit. For more information please call (970)259-0374 or email [email protected]

It is the Resort’s objective, for everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time while visiting the ski area.

* 28 C.F.R. Part 35.136 which also applies under 42 U.S.C. section794


Drone Policy

Due to safety and privacy concerns, Purgatory Resort prohibits the operation or use on or above Resort property of unmanned aerial systems, or drones, by the general public—including model aircraft by recreational users and hobbyists—without prior written authorization from Purgatory Resort.

This prohibition includes drones used for filming or videotaping, as well as any drone use by media or journalists operating above or within the boundaries. This prohibition extends to any devices launched or operated from Resort property, as well as any launched from public or private property outside of the Resort boundaries.

Kids in backpacks


To ensure safety, children riding lifts at Purgatory Resort must be able to load, ride, and unload the lift without being carried. Children in backpacks are not allowed on any lifts or ski trails at Purgatory Resort.

Tips from Ski Patrol

  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids. Your body’s tendency to dehydrate is greater at higher altitudes.
  • Ultra-Violet rays are more severe at higher elevations.  Protect your skin from the effects of the sun and keep in mind that the snow reflects the sun’s rays.  Wear sunscreen rated at least 30 SPF or higher.
  • Wear eye protection such as sunglasses or goggles. These should filter both UVA and UVB rays and be rated at 90%.  Eyes can sunburn just like your skin.
  • Packed snow can be abrasive. We highly recommend wearing garments that cover your hands, arms and legs completely.
  • Be prepared for quickly changing weather conditions. Dress in layers with your outer layer of clothing being of a water repellent fabric.
  • Wear or carry a ski hat with you. Sixty percent of all body heat is lost out of the top of your head.
  • On especially cold days, be aware of the potential for frost-bite. Drink warm fluids and take breaks often.

Summer Safety

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking is different from road or street riding and is confined to marked unimproved or partially improved trails where rocks, dirt, loose gravel and stumps and trees may be encountered at any time. Purgatory Bike Park offers miles of downhill, cross-country (X-C) and even an uphill trail starting at the base of Purgatory Express/Lift 1 (the World Champs XC trail). Changing weather conditions, variations in terrain, including steepness, natural and man-made obstacles and features, and other dangers or conditions that may be encountered such as vehicles on the mountain, are inherent risks that are part of the challenge of mountain biking. Be aware that trees, live or dead, can blow over during wind events. Watch for and avoid trees or branches that may have fallen on mountain bike trails. Riding trails under construction is dangerous and strictly prohibited. Expect jumps and features on many downhill trails. Inspect each feature before using. Do not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above or to other riders. Wooden features become slippery when wet. You control the degree of risk when using the jumps and features. Ride-arounds may be available. Features can change due to use, weather or maintenance. You must ride in control and within your own ability. Expect and yield to riders going at different speeds than yourself. Announce your presence when approaching other riders. You are using these premises at your own risk, and assume all risks in this activity. Helmets must be worn while riding at Purgatory Resort. Downhill trails within the Bike Park are designed for downhill biking and should be enjoyed with appropriate equipment and protective gear, including freeride/downhill full suspension bikes. Lower your seat and stand on your pedals for safety. Use of jumps, features and airborne maneuvers can cause equipment failure and can significantly increase the risk of serious injury. Read and obey all signs. Riding downhill on mountain roads is prohibited unless otherwise posted. Equipment allowed on mountain bike trails is limited to mountain bikes and approved adaptive equipment. Fat bike tires or oversized tires may not fit in the Deasonbuilt bike trays provided for uplift transport on Purgatory Express/Lift 1.


E-bikes are only permitted to travel uphill on the World Champs XC uphill trail starting at the bottom of Purgatory Express/Lift 1 and on US Forest Service Roads 578 (Hermosa Park) and 581 (Elbert Creek) that access the Resort boundary.  E-bikes are only permitted to be loaded two (2) per bike tray on Purgatory Express/Lift 1 and may not be hung on chairlift bike hooks.

Reporting Accidents

Report accidents at any of our designated on-mountain emergency telephones, or when within the resort boundary by dialing (970) 385-2178 (cell phone coverage may be limited). At lodging properties, parking lots, in the Village or outside the resort boundary please call 9-1-1 for assistance.

Weather Policy

Weather in the mountains can change quickly and unexpectedly. Our Operations Team follows a strict inclement weather protocol with guest and employee safety as their top priority. Up until the time that activity wristbands are redeemed you can receive a full refund.

A resort credit may be available should inclement weather force the suspension of operations after 3 consecutive hours of delay or resort closure before 2 PM. Resort credits will only be eligible on and for the day the product is purchased for and must be redeemed in-person at our Ticket Office within 1 hour of closure announcement. Guest wristbands must be presented at time of request.

Note that credits are not calculated from the time that wristbands are issued and are not based on the usage of the ticket. Please plan on using all of the time to get the best value out of your ticket. Please expect weather delays as we frequently have afternoon thunderstorms. Activities will reopen when weather passes and operations pass safety procedures.

Lightning & Thunderstorms

Inclement weather, such as afternoon thunderstorms, is common in the Rocky Mountains. Seek shelter when you see a storm developing. Keep off ridge tops and stay clear of lift houses, lift towers, power lines, open ski runs, the tallest tree in the vicinity, fences and signposts. 

Rain, or the imminent prospect of rain, immediately triggers closure of the alpine slide due to the friction braking system requirement for a dry track surface. Also, rain may result in trail closures should the amount of rain and/or guest traffic be deemed to negatively affect trail conditions, or the forecast is for an extended period of persistent rainfall.

In the event of lightning strikes, the resort policy is to progressively cease activities as soon as lightning strikes are detected within 10 miles of the top of the Purgatory Express/Lift 1 (generally for storms coming from the north or west), or the Village (generally for storms coming from the south or east). At 10 miles, scenic chairlift rides and mountain coaster rides are halted to allow guests to clear each activity. Any strike detected within 5 miles will trigger a mandatory shutdown of all activities for a minimum of 30 minutes. Only after 30 consecutive minutes without another strike within 5 miles will activities be permitted to restart.

Construction Warning

Base area and mountain improvements and repairs are made during the summer and fall months. Vehicles may be encountered at any time. Terrain may be temporarily closed for construction activities.

Adequate Clothing

Be aware, the weather changes quickly here. There is usually at least a 10-degree temperature difference from the bottom to the top of the lifts. Rugged footwear for hiking and biking are advised (i.e. closed-toe with appropriate sole/tread for the activity). Take a jacket in case it becomes windy or there is a thunderstorm. The sun is very intense at an elevation of 10,000 feet. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and sunscreen for skin protection, or bring a hat


Please leave wildflowers for others to enjoy. The growing season is quite short at high altitudes. Stay on designated hiking and biking trails and give the fragile ecosystem an opportunity to thrive. Do not cut switchbacks. Hiking is not allowed on bike trails. Watch for falling limbs and trees. Be aware and “keep your head on a swivel” when recreating in the high alpine. Hazards may exist above, below and all around your location.


National Forest System Lands at Purgatory Resort are permitted both for developed recreation and cattle grazing. It may be a strange sight, but at times cattle may wander into areas where guests recreate at the resort. Stress and fear may provoke a cow to defend itself and its calf by behaving aggressively towards you. If you encounter cows, slowing down, giving the cows some space, and having a calm demeanor, will give the cows a chance to move along with no conflict. Lifted heads and ears signal awareness. The cows are evaluating, “is this person a threat?” Slowing down and stopping can help signal that you are not a threat, thus preventing a fear-based reaction by the cows.


Drinking water is available in the Village through multiple locations including water fountains and bottle fill stations in Purgatory Lodge, Kendall Mountain Lodge, Village Center and from coolers located on the back wall of the Bear Bar & Grill. Bottled water is available from the Village Market & Deli. Don’t drink from streams on the mountain. Carry water with you while biking or hiking and increase your fluid intake to prevent dehydration.

Fire Danger

Per Colorado State Law, smoking is prohibited in public buildings and in public areas. Smoking (including the use of vaping devices and e-cigarettes) is only permitted at designated smoking locations in the Village. Due to the ongoing risk and dangers of wildland fires, smoking and fireworks are strictly prohibited at Purgatory Resort. No smoking is permitted on the mountain, including on chairlifts, on public decks and patios where food service operations are conducted, or within 25 feet of a door or window.


Be alert for wildlife and avoid wildlife encounters. Moose, bears, foxes, coyotes, chipmunks, ground squirrels and various other wildlife may be present, whether seen or not. Do not approach or feed wildlife. Keep the wildlife wild and keep your distance to help avoid injury. Moose are unpredictable and may charge especially if dogs are present. All dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times when in developed recreation areas of the San Juan National Forest or in Purgatory Resort areas.

Altitude Hints

The base of the Resort lies at 8,800 feet above sea level, while the top of the Purgatory Express/Lift 1 is just under 11,000 feet. The air is thinner and less oxygen is available. People coming from lower elevations may experience altitude sickness. This usually occurs within the first 48 hours. You may experience headaches, nausea, insomnia, and loss of appetite. The best remedy is to take it easy on your first day here: increase fluid intake, decrease salt, alcohol and caffeine intake, and select high-carbohydrate, low-fat foods. Be aware that high elevation can also accentuate existing health problems. Seek medical assistance if problems persist or get worse. There is about 50% more ultraviolet radiation at 10,000 feet than at sea level. Always wear eye and skin protection.


Anyone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited from riding the lifts or participating in Resort activities.

Contact Us

If you have questions about these policies or the practices of this site, please contact:
Purgatory Resort Attn: Website Manager

#1 Skier Place Durango, CO 81301
(970) 385-8901
[email protected]

The Site reserves the right to change these policies at any time. All changes will be posted to this page, and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to notify you of any significant changes to these policies. However, it is your responsibility to check this site for any such updates as you will be bound by them should you choose to visit our site(s).

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