What comes to mind when you think about Colorado?
Is it the scenic Rocky Mountains, monster snow dumps, or mammoth ski resorts?
Well, you’re right on all accounts.
The combination of amazing champagne powder and unbeatable bluebird days make the ski resorts in Colorado the stuff of legend. With over 30 world-class snow playgrounds and home to the famous Vail, the state is one of the most coveted winter destinations.
From magical snow sports events, rugged picturesque mountains, and a wealth of snow activities for the entire family, Colorado is the ultimate winter playground.
To help you pick your next winter escape, we’ve compiled a handy list of the best places to ski in Colorado. Find out which resort gets its name from the mumbled phrase, “To hell, you ride.”
Vail Mountain Resort
The Vail Mountain Resort is the flagship of Vail Resorts and has been delighting snow lovers since its inception in 1962. It is one of the most notable ski resorts in Colorado and North America.
Vail’s extensive terrain suits all abilities and levels. If you wake up early, you’re guaranteed to find freshly manicured corduroy runs.
How To Get to The Vail Mountain Resort
Vail is located in Colorado’s Eagle County, about 157 kilometers west of Denver. It’s a 2-hour drive on the I-70 highway from Denver if traffic conditions are favorable.
The closest airport is the Eagle County Regional Airport which is just under one hour away from the resort. Here, you can find connecting flights from Denver Airport and every major city in the US. Alternatively, you can ingress through the Denver International Airport, which is a 2.5-hour drive from the resort.
Vail Mountain Resort’s Terrain
The ski field receives an average seasonal snowfall of 8 to 9 meters. Even so, Vail has invested in state-of-the-art snowmaking machines that cover 25% of the slopes.
The ski field features an extensive 5,289 acres of skiable terrain, with 33 lifts helping thrill-seekers access the 234 kilometers of slopes. The terrain is located between the elevations of 2,457 and 3,433.
The terrain is classified as follows:
- 24% (57 km) easy runs
- 36% (84 km) intermediate runs
- 40% (93 km) advanced terrain
These stats show that Vail is more skewed towards advanced riders with three terrain parks and seven super bowls. That said, the resort also features gentle slopes with well-groomed runs for beginners and intermediates.
Where to Stay and Dine in Vail Mountain Resort
Vail has magnificent European-style villages with plenty of dining and lodging options. The resort’s town offers deluxe accommodation services with fine dining and high-end shopping.
The town is divided into East and West Vail. East Vail has more accommodation features such as condos and houses. West Vail is more of a shopping section, with grocery stores, fast-food joints and restaurants, and other shopping options.
If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, you can try the nearby towns of Silverthorne, Frisco, Avon, and Eagle.
Aspen Snowmass is a snow mecca for the rich and famous, and one of the most exclusive ski resorts in Colorado. The ski domain is actually a combination of four snow areas that include:
- Aspen Mountain
- Aspen Highlands
These constituent snow areas are lift-linked and accessible. You can purchase a single pass to access all of them.
The snow area’s massive terrain is only second to Vail in sheer size.
How To Get to Aspen Snowmass
The snow domain is about a 4-hour drive from Denver, via the I-70 and Highway 82. It lies to the South of Aspen City and is located on the upper end of the Roaring Fork Valley in Pitkin County.
The closest airport is the Aspen/ Pitkin County Airport which is 15-minutes away. There are various connecting flights from this local airport to Denver Airport. The Epic Mountain Express operates shuttle transfers from Denver Airport, which has many connecting flights to and from major cities in the US and the world.
Aspen Snowmass’s Terrain
The four snow areas combined to form a massive 5,517 acres or skiable terrain. Their slope characteristics are as follows:
This is the oldest of the four snow fields, with terrain that is ideal for experts and intermediates. Its terrain stats are as follows:
- 48% intermediate
- 26% advanced
- 26% expert (double black)
If you’d rather avoid crowds, you’ll love Aspen Highlands. It is located on the Loge and Highland peaks on the northern end of Aspen. The Aspen Highlands terrain is expert only with a mix of chutes, steep verticals, and wide groomers. Its 118 trails are classified as:
- 23% Intermediate
- 12% Advanced
- 65% Expert
This is a beginners’ haven located north of the Aspen Highlands. It is also known for its excellent terrain park and has been the host of the ESPN X Games since 2002. It is the annual host of various snow sport activities such as snowmobile racing and alpine skiing, which attract revelers from all over the world. Its terrain is classified as:
- 35% green
- 39% blue
- 25% black
- 5% double black trails
This snow area is the largest of the four constituent ski fields (at 3,339 acres) and its terrain dwarfs the other three. It is closer to Snowmass Village, which offers great accommodation and friendly amenities. Its terrain characteristics are as follows:
- 6% Beginner
- 47% Intermediate
- 17% Advanced
- 30% Expert
Where to Stay and Dine in Aspen Snowmass
For accommodation at Aspen Snowmass, you have two main choices, the Snowmass Village and the Town of Aspen.
The Snowmass Village has the most family-friendly accommodation facilities. It is more composed and homely, and has less nightlife than Aspen Town. It is a pedestrian-only village with a charming atmosphere and many upscale shopping opportunities.
The Town of Aspen has the best après-ski and is more vibrant than Snowmass. It has karaoke bars, restaurants, galleries, and shops.
Telluride Ski Resort
Snow lovers fondly refer to Telluride Ski Resort as the Jewel of San Juan.
Legend has it that the name Telluride was adapted from the mumbled phrase, “To hell, you ride.”
This resort is best known for the picturesque views of the surrounding San Juan mountains. It is also famed for its challenging terrain loved by advanced skiers and snowboarders.
The resort also caters to non-skiers/snowboarders. It has many other fun activities including snowshoeing and snowmobiling tours.
How To Get to The Telluride Ski Resort
Telluride is tough to reach and is the farthest resort among the ski fields in Colorado. It is located in the remote southwestern corner of Colorado, about 6 hours away from Denver by road. The journey is even more harrowing in winter. Telluride Ski Resort is situated near the border of Colorado with Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.
The closest airports are the regional airports in Telluride (a 20-minute drive) and Montrose (1.5 hour away). Both airports have plenty of direct flights to major North American cities. There are many airport transfer options from Telluride and Montrose airports to the resort.
Telluride Ski Resort’s Terrain
Telluride Ski Resort features about 2,000 acres of skiable terrain with a whopping 3,700-meter summit elevation. The terrain is dynamic, with a larger proportion dedicated to beginners and intermediates. Telluride’s 88.2 kilometers of pistes have the following classification:
- 8% (6.7 km) easy runs
- 58% (51.7 km) blue intermediate runs
- 34% (29.8 km) advanced slopes
Advanced snow lovers enjoy the steep forest runs near Telluride Town and Mountain Village while easier slopes are located near St. Sophia, Meadows, and Ute Park. Generally, the higher you go up the mountain, the steeper the slopes become.
Where to Stay and Dine in Telluride Ski Resort
Telluride ski Resort has many on- and off-mountain dining spots. Some great lodging and dining locations include Alpino Vino (which is America’s highest restaurant at 3,600 meters above sea level) and Allred’s.
Breckenridge Ski Resort
If you’re looking to push your skills beyond the intermediate level, this is the perfect resort.
Breckenridge Ski Resort offers a polished holiday experience, from good customer care and well-developed infrastructure to well-maintained and manicured slopes.
Thrill-seekers love the Breckenridge Ski Resort as it is fairly easy to navigate. This is mainly because the terrain is spread out along the front-facing section of a series of peaks.
How To Get to The Breckenridge Ski Resort
The Breckenridge Ski Resort is located in Summit County, about 129 kilometers west of Denver. This is a 2.5-hour drive on the I-70 with favorable road and traffic conditions. There are several other ski resorts near Breckenridge including Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Vail, and Beaver Creek.
Denver International Airport is the main airport near Breckenridge Ski Resort. The main airport transfer options are shuttle services, both public and private.
It is easy to get around most places in the resort as much of Breckenridge is within a walking distance. However, there are free buses that transport visitors between the ski villages and the connected resorts.
The resort receives a fantastic average seasonal snowfall of about 8.9 meters. Even though this is relatively high, the resort has invested in modern snow-making machines that cover about 22% of the slopes to complement the natural snow.
The resort’s terrain has something for everyone, from beginner, intermediate, and advanced black diamond runs. The slopes are spread across 2,908 acres, with 187 trails accessed via 34 efficient lifts.
Official stats for the resort’s 153 kilometers of slopes include:
- 18% (28 km) easy runs
- 39% (60 km) intermediate runs
- 43% (65 km) advanced runs
Where to Stay and Dine in Breckenridge
Breckenridge’s Main Street has great amenities including bistros, saloons and bars, and a brewery. You’ll also find plenty of non-ski activities including snowmobiling and dog sledding. The resort is known for its affordable lodging facilities which are cheaper than in other resorts such as Vail and Aspen.
Keystone is the most family friendly resort in Colorado. Its night skiing operation is also the largest in the state.
The resort offers the best facilities for families looking for the big mountain thrill.
Keystone Ski Resort’s terrain is sprawled over three mountains. Each subsequent mountain location takes you further into the wilderness and the further off-field you go, the less crowded it becomes.
How To Get to The Keystone Resort
The Keystone Ski Resort is located in Summit County, about 90 minutes west of Denver, International Airport. You’ll find many transfer options from the airport, including rental cars and shuttles. The resort is also a short distance from adjacent ski resorts such as Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, and Loveland.
Keystone Resort’s Terrain
The resort receives an average seasonal snowfall of 5 to 6 meters, slightly lower than the other snow areas on this list. It complements the natural white stuff by use of snow making machines.
It features 3,149 acres of skiable terrain with 135 kilometers of pistes accessed via 21 lifts. The lifts help thrill seekers ascend the 954-meter vertical. The resort’s terrain is classified as follows:
- 19% (25 km) easy runs
- 48% (65 km) intermediate
- 33% (45 km) advanced slopes
The different ski areas are spread across a number of peaks and are linked by high-speed chairlifts and gondolas. The Keystone terrain is perfect for beginners while intermediates love the smooth cruisers and fairly steep groomers.
Where to Stay and Dine in Keystone Resort
The resort has a few village areas with ample lodging and dining options. River Run is the largest of these and is a pedestrian-only village with bars, restaurants, hotels, shops, and lodging areas. You’ll also find more accommodation areas in Mountain House and Lakeside.
Let’s Make Your Next Winter Getaway Adventure-Packed
Colorado is one of the best places to ski in North America with great ski resorts that cater for individuals, groups, and families.
Did you know that there are also tons of other great places to ski in North America? Find these and more from Brealpa’s carefully curated information on major resorts in the world. You’ll find plenty of handy information such as:
- Best times to visit various ski fields to avoid crowdedness or for immersive experiences where you can also make friends.
- Top-tier accommodation options
- Fun activities you can take part in various ski fields in addition to skiing and snowboarding