DENVER — It was announced Monday that Arapahoe Basin would be purchased by Alterra Mountain Company, the Denver-based ski giant beyond the Ikon Pass. And that got us thinking about the ski area’s ownership history and the time period A-Basin was owned by the pet food company Purina.
A-Basin was founded in 1946 by Colorado ski legend Larry Jump and quickly became a “week-end ski rendezvous for Denver’s younger set,” according to the Rocky Mountain News. But in 1972 Jump sold A-Basin to the resort’s general manager, who then sold the property to Ralston Purina, a St. Louis-based conglomerate with holdings in pet food, restaurants, consumer products, and entertainment at the time.
Ralston Purina purchased Keystone just four years before acquiring A-Basin. The company treated the two resorts as sister ski areas and called the combined resorts Keystone-Arapahoe Basin Resort. A free shuttle operated between the two ski areas and $12 (in 1978) got you on both mountains, according to the Nov. 9, 1978 issue of the Golden Transcript.
Ralston Purina ended up purchasing other properties in Colorado, including Breckenridge in 1993. However, in 1997, Purina's Colorado empire came to an end when the company sold all three properties — Breck, Keystone, and A-Basin — to Vail Resorts. But soon after, A-Basin changed hands again, this time to Toronto developer Dundee Realty, later known as Dream. The company continues to own A-Basin until the acquisition is complete later this year.
With the addition of A-Basin, Alterra’s portfolio grows to 18 North American ski resorts, including Colorado’s Steamboat and Winter Park resorts. Aspen, Copper Mountain and Eldora are also accessible via the Ikon Pass. There will be no change to A-Basin’s access for the 2023-24 winter season, according to Alterra.
Ralston Purina merged with Switzerland-based Nestlé in 2001. The division is still based in St. Louis.