|Left: Overlooking Wolf Creeks Upper Bowls
Right: The Base Area
|The Raven lift provides a quick ride.
|Gladed trails off of the Aberta lift.
|Pros and Cons to Skiing Here:
|+ The most snowfall in Colorado
||- Remote, limited lodging options
|+ Excellent expert terrain
||- Small vertical drop
|+ Modern chairlifts
||- No nightlife
|+ Reasonably priced tickets
||- No snowmaking ability
|+ Outstanding views of the Sangre
de Cristo Mountain Range
|Copyright © coloradoskihistory.com
All Rights Reserved.
* Resort Stats Current for 2009-10
The Colorado Ski Museum
Wolf Creek Ski Area
During the 1930's, people were taming the mountains of Colorado by
building highways and mountain passes. Roads were constructed through
Glenwood Canyon, the Big Thomson Canyon to Estes Park, and a new
project connecting the San Luis Valley to Pagosa Springs. Prior to 1936,
Cumbres Pass was the only direct route through the mountains in this area
and during heavy snow storms it often closed. The construction project
between San Luis and Pagosa Springs was dubbed Wolf Creek Pass.
According to the Pagosa Springs Sun, many pass roads in Colorado saw
wintertime maintenance to allow car travel.
By 1938, construction on the pass was complete. That same year, Kelly
Boyce installed a rope tow on the north side near the summit of Wolf Creek
Pass. The lift was driven by an old Chevy truck with tickets at $1 per day.
By the summer of 1938, the Civilian Conservation Corps, under contract
from the Forest Service, built a warming shelter for the new ski area. That
same summer, the Colorado Department of Highways graded a dirt road to
the new ski tow and hut.
The Colorado Business Magazine listed Wolf Creek Pass in their December
1946 issue as located atop the Continental Divide on Thunder Mountain.
According to their account, the area offered lunches, two rope tows, a
warming hut, and lodging in nearby Pagosa Springs, Del Norte or Monta
Vista. Two years later, another article lists the ski area adding a portable
rope tow, bringing their grand total to three. The Denver Post ran an article
on the area in 1949, referring to the ski area as South Fork Ski Area.
The ski operation on Wolf Creek Pass underwent drastic changes during
1955. Under the control of the Wolf Creek Development Corporation, the
ski area moved to its present location across the road. Stocks for the new
project sold at $25 per share. A local resident of Monte Vista, Ed Sharpe,
served as an unpaid manager for the ski area until 1959.
During Wolf Creek's first year at its new location, the area installed a new
platter lift. The following season a lodge was constructed. The ski
operations were sold in 1960 to a Dallas based investor group. The Texans
held on to the area until 1963 when the area entered foreclosure. The
original ski corporation bought back the rights to Wolf Creek and Ed Sharpe
regained control as manager. According to the Denver Post, a typical
season for the area back in 1961 was from mid-November through mid-
May. Tickets cost $2.50 for adults and a dollar less for children. The ski
area also offered a ski school, volunteer ski patrol, and transportation to
hotels. A Heron-Poma high-speed detachable platter lift was installed in
1967 to the summit of the ski area. Since avalanches were a problem with
this new terrain, Kelly Boyce headed to Alta, UT to gain guidance for Wolf
Another Dallas investor group purchased Wolf Creek in 1972 for a total of
$275,000. The group consisted of Ben Pinnel who was an investment
counselor along with Mike Ditka and Dave Edwards of the Dallas
Cowboys. Wolf Creek's first chairlift was installed by Borvig, an east coast
lift manufacturer, in 1974. The chair was called the Dickey lift and provided
skiers with a 702' vertical drop serving beginner and intermediate terrain.
The ownership changed slightly when a portion of the ski area was sold to
Kingsberry Pitcher in 1976. Pitcher also owned and operated Ski Santa Fe,
New Mexico. By 1978, the group of Dallas Cowboys took complete
ownership of Wolf Creek.
During the 1980's, attendance at Wolf Creek skyrocketed. The area's stats
for 1983 included 5 lifts, 580 skiable acres, $16 lift tickets, and operated
daily throughout the winter. Wolf Creek's second ski lift called the Treasure
chair was installed by CTEC in 1983 and ran parallel to the high-speed
platter. By 1985, ticket prices climbed to $18.50 and the original lodge was
torn down and a new one constructed. The area now offered the following
services: ski school, ski shop, rentals, restaurant, snack bar, picnic area, and
accommodations in South Fork.
Wolf Creek's ownership changed in 1986 back to Kingsberry Pitcher.
CTEC was brought back in 1988 to install the Bonanza triple chair that
served the ridge between the Treasure and Dickey lifts. Skiing Magazine ran
an article on Wolf Creek during the winter of 1990. It detailed Pitcher's
family as running every aspect of the area from the business, to cooking,
rentals, ticket sales, and rentals. The Montezuma Bowl, east of the
Treasure lift, opened regularly during the 1993 season with the addition of a
new winch snowcat.
On January 23, 1993, a lift accident occurred on the Treasure chair.
According to investigators, a woman was critically injured after her chair
collided with a tower, throwing her 25-30 feet to the snow below. The
Colorado Tramway Board closed the lift until inspections deemed the chair
A major expansion at the ski area occurred during 1999 when the lift
company CTEC-Garaventa installed a new quad chair called Alberta. This
lift opened numerous bowls, glades, and the expert Waterfall area (although
shuttle buses were used before).
Many locals and environmentalists were upset to learn that a base village
proposal was submitted to the Forest Service back in 2004 by Billy Joe
“Red” McCombs of Texas. McCombs made his fortune running car
dealerships in Texas and in the Clear Channel Corporation. His career
ventured into to the ski business previously when he had a stake in the now
defunct Cuchara Valley Ski Area. The new development is slated to be built
by the base of the Alberta lift. Lawsuits are ongoing, blocking the
development as of now. The ski area has not endorsed the development
plan and does not support the proposal. (Editor's note: Please click here
to learn how you can help block this development.)
During the summer of 2006, Doppelmayr CTEC installed Wolf Creek's first
detachable quad chair. This lift replaced the old Dickey double. The new
Raven Express is intended to aid beginners loading and unloading more
|Insider Tips to Skiing Here:
Old Wolf Creek Trail Maps:
|Expert Terrain on the Treasure Chair
|Looking from Knife Ridge back to the
|Looking out towards Wolf Creek Pass
|Intermediate Crusing Terrain