Purgatory Resort's golden anniversary season has already seen plenty of white gold coating the slopes to the delight of skiers and snowboarders. The southwestern Colorado ski area located 25 miles north of Durango in the San Juan Mountains started its 50th ski season earlier than recent years. 

Aside from excellent early season conditions, Purgatory has a new owner – James Coleman – who is a Durango local, diehard skier and dedicated to taking the resort to the next level while keeping the focus on what has helped Purgatory endure: the skiing and snowboarding.

Though now 50-years old, Purgatory is a fully modern ski resort, and millions of dollars were recently invested to further improve the skiing and riding experience. Upgrades include the new Legends Lift 8 high-speed quad chairlift (officially opening December 19) on the backside of the mountain replacing the old triple, two new trails off of Ray's Ridge, a new intermediate trail to access the bottom of the Legends Lift 8, and new snowmaking infrastructure.

Additionally, the ski area, formerly known as Durango Mountain Resort, was renamed when Coleman took the helm. "When the ski area was founded in 1965, it was called Purgatory, and I believe the Purgatory name and all it represents have a special place in the hearts of locals and long-time guests," said Coleman. "With this season being Purgatory’s 50th anniversary, we thought it was appropriate to officially change the resort’s name back to Purgatory."

Coleman, 47, truly has a vested interest in Purgatory. "One of my first memories of skiing is at Purgatory when I was a teenager," he recalled. "It was the second mountain I skied, and it’s one of the ski areas that inspired my love for skiing."

Coleman said that he skis 50-60 days per year, which he said is "not enough." 

"I love skiing Purgatory," he said. "The varied terrain offers so many different kinds of experiences on the slopes, including the steep tree skiing trails, exciting rolling intermediate terrain and wide-open cruisers great for beginners with stunning views."  

Enhancing the overall skiing experience at Purgatory is Coleman's first priority, he stated, as well as making improvements that will have a lasting and positive effect on resort guests, homeowners, and locals. The big upgrades this year are just the beginning.

"My plan for Purgatory is to add new terrain, make improvements to lifts and enhance snowmaking infrastructure every year," he said.

Though no longer named Durango Mountain Resort, Purgatory and the community of Durango are closely intertwined. For 50 years this unassuming southwestern Colorado ski area has been integral to the local culture. Coleman has witnessed the effect on the community.

"Purgatory is a special place for our loyal passholders, resort guests, past and present employees and community," he said. "The resort’s history has made a longtime and lasting impact on the community, residents and businesses."

This season, Purgatory is hosting special events to honor these individuals and businesses, produced historical exhibits and a commemorative book to honor the history of the resort and those who helped make it what it was and is today.

Don't miss the 50th Anniversary Kick-Off Party-Noel Night today starting at 4:30 p.m. in downtown Durango. Locals Benefit Day is on December 13. See all events, and the official opening of the Legends 8 quad chairlift on December 19.