Colorado ski season is in full swing. While that’s totally awesome, it also presents a few dilemmas…like which ski resort should you try? Should you stick with your 2016 season favorite or venture further from the Front Range to picturesque Crested Butte? Here’s our list of all 26 Colorado ski resorts. Click the links for a more in-depth overviews of each destination to help you choose which one to try this season.
“I have too many stories of A-Basin to tell just one. I learned to scare the heck out of myself on double black diamond runs here. I learned that sometimes you have to hike to find fresh tracks. I learned that enjoying a few beers and burgers on the grill in the parking lot beats an overheated and crowded ski lodge.”
“This humble mountain has a wonderful laid-back local’s feel while boasting some of the steepest terrain in Colorado. Leave the tourists behind at Buttermilk or the groomers on Snowmass and come to Highlands to get your fill of steeps, trees, and hiking terrain.”
“This legendary mountain sits right next to the world-famous town of Aspen in the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley. Ajax (as the locals call it) is full of famous black diamond terrain, and you’ll find everything from bumps to glades to steeps. Of all four Aspen resorts, this is definitely the mountain to go to on a powder day—you’ll find untouched fresh snow all day, and secret stashes stick around for several days after a storm.”
“Snowmass is a one-mountain quiver: it offers everything you could want in a mountain. For beginners and kids, there is a wonderful ski school program and plenty of mellow terrain for learning and honing skills. The park rat will have plenty of room to jib in the expansive Snowmass Makaha Park, and even the beginner’s, Lowdown Park. The Poma lift opens up massive terrain in Hanging Valley and the Cirque, boasting amazing steeps and glades that hold powder stashes for days.”
“Beaver Creek is one of the more luxurious ski resorts that you’ll find in Colorado. Tucked back in the hills away from the highway, Beaver Creek has a certain magical charm felt all the way from the base up to the high-alpine Birds of Prey bump runs.”
“Breckenridge differs from other ski resorts of its kind because of its vibrant town and because the ski mountain is set uphill, apart from town. This isn’t an inconvenience though—it allows the town of Breckenridge to have more character and to have more than a couple blocks of interesting shops and restaurants, unlike many other resort towns. This old mining town still maintains its old-west mining charm while still boasting upscale restaurants, great shopping, and a smattering of festivals throughout the year.”
Often considered to be the easiest mountain in the Aspen area, Buttermilk has 3 high-speed quads that service over 400 skiable acres and over 40 runs.
“Variety – that’s what skiers get at Summit County ski area Copper Mountain. Located right along Interstate 70, the lower slopes offer a mix of mild and steep wide-open runs, ending at three different base villages. There are enough green and blue runs for the beginner or intermediate skier to stay occupied for days. But it’s the upper reaches where Copper truly shines: massive back bowls and high peaks make the expert skier feel on top of the world.”
“Crested Butte has aptly earned the title of “the last great Colorado ski town”. Locals have created a strong, inviting community with an old charm feel that is rarely captured in other large resort towns today. Unlike travelling to ski resorts along the I-70 corridor, you’ll rarely face traffic getting to Crested Butte and lift lines are scarce.”
The closest ski resort to the Denver metro area, Echo Mountain was only recently reopened to the public. Prior to that, it was a private hill that focused on providing a great spot to practice ski racing. Covering 600 feet of elevation, quick lift rides allow for plenty of laps.
“Eldora Mountain Resort, 45 miles northwest of Denver, is a great alternative to the big ski areas with affordable lift tickets, plentiful snow, and a 30-minute drive from Boulder. Eldora is a local’s mountain that has lots of beginner terrain at the Little Hawk Family Zone as well as steep black diamond runs on the back side, like Corona Bowl with its steep chutes and mogul runs.”
“Granby Ranch is perfect for a family ski adventure. The resort offers lesson packages to teach you to ski or snowboard through their Get on the Snow program. The Snow School gets beginners skiing with an approach that uses specific body movements and shaped skis. The school has a beginner hill and seven Progression Terrain Parks to learn how to connect turns and do jumps. If you complete two lesson packages you’ll graduate with a GOTS season pass.”
“Nestled in the heart of Yampa Valley lies the oldest running ski resort in Colorado – Howelsen Hill Ski Area. Since 1915, Howelsen Hill has been the training epicenter for 79 Olympians and boasts holding the largest natural ski jump in North America. Located on the outskirts of Steamboat’s downtown, this resort is a small 50-acre oasis for Nordic, alpine and freestyle skiers, snowboarders, fat tire bikers, tubers and winter enthusiasts of all abilities.”
14. Keystone Resort
“Keystone does not offer the dramatic terrain or lift-served bowl skiing of other major Colorado resorts. That being said, Keystone does offer long, winding green and blue runs, an excellent terrain park, and the most extensive night skiing in Colorado. Throw in free parking and views of Lake Dillon, and Keystone is a worthy destination.”
“Loveland Ski Area sprawls over 1,670 acres above the Eisenhower Tunnel, offering some of the best above-timberline skiing in Colorado. In fact, most of the ski area is above timberline. But there’s an amazing variety of terrain up here, and intermediate skiers will enjoy cruising through some of the less-steep aspects. For the expert, the sky is the limit.”
“Let’s face it. Skiing can come with a lot of hassles: bus rides just to reach the lifts, expensive parking, lift lines, and ridiculously expensive lift tickets. You’ll find none of these at Monarch Mountain Resort in central Colorado. What you will find is a great Colorado local’s hill. Spanning 800 acres along the Continental Divide, the resort offers a great variety of terrain with just enough hike-to or traverse-to terrain that experts will be able to find fresh tracks well into the afternoon.”
“Powderhorn Mountain is an off-the-beaten track ski area with lots of parking next to the lifts, quick lift lines, and few skiers. Quad 4, the main chair lift on the right side of the base, accesses groomed beginner slopes to mogul glades. EZ Rider beginner area is served by a double chair lift that allows novices to learn new skills. The West End lift reaches mostly uncrowded terrain with glade runs and open slopes.”
18. Purgatory Resort
“Just 25 miles from Durango, Purgatory Resort offers 1,360 acres of terrain in the stunning San Juan Mountains. Formerly known as Durango Mountain Resort, it was sold and returned to its former name in 2015. Skiers (and especially snowboarders) sometimes deride the ski area as “traversatory,” because it takes a lot of traversing to get around, especially trying to reach the expert terrain. So you can either spend the start of your day racing to the next chair or enjoy where you are.”
Attracting some of the best big mountain skiers around, Silverton has one lift and it services only advanced and expert terrain. It’s ungroomed nature means that avalanche gear is required to ski at all times, but that also means plenty of powder and plenty of uncrowded area to shred. Silverton is also a great place to test out heliskiing, with over 20,000 acres accessible by helicopter.
20. Ski Cooper
“Ski Cooper is one of Colorado’s most family-friendly ski areas. It’s not very large, just 400 acres, with 4 chairs, so parents can let the kids ski on their own. There aren’t steep chutes or epic cliff jumps, but skiers also won’t encounter long lift lines or steep prices. Without crowds, the all-natural snow takes longer to get tracked out as well. This is how skiing used to be.”
21. Steamboat Resort
“There are few places where you can find better snow than Steamboat’s trademarked “Champagne Powder”. It’s the crème de la crème of Colorado ski snow. This light, dry, fluffy snow is hunted by powderhounds from all over. Come to tear up the expert chutes, perfectly gladed trees, and advanced terrain. Not only do seasoned skiers and those who love it steep and deep revere this mountain, but Steamboat has also been recognized as the “Premier Family Ski Resort” by Jetsetter and has ranked within the top 10 family ski resorts by SKI Magazine and Forbes Magazine in the last three years.”
Sunlight caters to the locals with a wide variety of terrain and uncrowded slopes. If you’re in the Glenwood Springs area, it’s a great place to check out.
“There’s a reason that Telluride is consistently ranked one of the top ten ski resorts in the world. Unbeatable scenery meets a five-star resort experience meets some of the most challenging in-bounds terrain in North America—all set deep in the rugged San Juan Mountains. The adventurous spirit of Telluride’s first pioneers and hardy miners endures in this special place.”
24. Vail Ski Resort
“With 5,289 skiable acres – by far the most of any Colorado resort – Vail truly has something for everyone. Intermediate skiers can easily lose themselves on the endless groomers of the front face. Vail’s seven back bowls, tamer than their black diamond rating suggests, offer highly accessible bowl skiing without the exposure and altitude gain that such skiing typically requires. And if that’s not enough, Blue Sky Basin is a massive playground of bumps, glades, and cliffs, with stunning views of the Sawatch Range. Skiing purists may bemoan the sprawling resort village and luxurious amenities of Vail, but when the powder piles up, the skiing is tough to beat.”
“In its 75-year history, Winter Park has grown and expanded to include 3,081 acres of wide-ranging terrain. Whether you are looking for groomers, tree skiing, terrain parks, hidden powder stashes, bowls, technical moguls, or extreme double black diamond terrain, you’re bound to find it in one of Winter Park’s seven distinct territories.”
“There are Colorado ski areas, and then there is Wolf Creek. This southern Colorado resort is in a class of its own, not for the terrain (though it offers some of the best hike-to runs in Colorado). It’s the powder—an average of 450 inches a year—that makes it a gem. Through a combination of geography and meteorology, the ski area gets huge dumps when storms thick with moisture come out of the Southwest.”
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