Brain Post: Ralston Purina (Yes, the Pet Food) Owned Which Colorado Ski Resorts?

Luke Guilford | | BrainsBrains
Ralston Purina
The “free” smells of the Purina factory in Denver. Photo Credit: The Denver Post

This is breaking news to me, but in case you were wondering who owned Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, and Keystone before their current owners… it was Ralston Purina. So, next time you’re heading westbound on I-70 through Denver on your way to ski, and you get that big whiff of Purina pet food from the factory that seems to overlook the city, you’ll have a fun fact to annoy your friends with.

This story starts with Ralston Purina, a St. Louis, Missouri-based American conglomerate that began in 1894 selling farm animal feed. Through the years, Ralston Purina spread its wings from traditional animal food into hockey, whole-grain cereal (human food), batteries, baking, pizza, fast food, canned seafood, and eventually skiing.

In 1974, Ralston Purina purchased and further developed Keystone Resort. The vision was for the mountain to be ideal for beginners and kids. Ralston Purina played a significant role in the resort’s expansion, as Keystone developed two more mountains during the ownership (North Peak and the Outback).

The Purina Era
The Purina era at A-Basin. Photo Credit:

Later, in 1978, Ralston Purina thought, “Why not pair Keystone with a challenging mountain like Arapahoe Basin?” so they bought the ski area. Ralston Purina snatched A-Basin up for $3 million, and the mountain was treated as an extension of Keystone. Jon Reveal was A-Basin’s manager during the Ralston Purina era, and he had this to say about his time working with Ralston Purina on A-Basin’s website.

“We called ourselves the stepchild… I say that with regards, regret, and affection. It made us who we are today… We made A-Basin what it should have been—a ski area for skiers, the new and coming snowboard group, people exploring the outer reaches of their abilities, like skiing out in The Beavers then walking back up to the road. It is a wonderful niche—for the real true skiers…”

With the Ralston Purina ski era in full swing, they purchased Breckenridge in 1993 from Victoria U.S.A. Ultimately, Vail entered the scene, and in 1997, Breckenridge and Keystone were sold to Vail for $331 million. Technically, Vail took ownership of A-Basin, but the Department of Justice ruled that the ownership of A-Basin, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone controlled the ski market of the Summit County area. Therefore, Vail decided to sell A-Basin.

So, I hope this served as some fun little history, and maybe it’ll make an appearance at your next trivia night.

A-Basin for sale
Vail’s rein of A-Basin was short-lived before being sold to Dundee Realty Corporation of Canada. Photo Credit:

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