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Top 10 Most Beautiful Ski Resorts in Colorado

Colorado offers some of the best ski and snowboarding opportunities in the United States, and snowfall can be spectacular during a major storm. Ski resorts range from world-class resorts with vast terrain to single lifts to family-run ski resorts that offer skiers regular trails and some of the best hiking spots in the country.

Finding the right resort often comes down to personal taste, ski preferences, skill level, budget, location availability, and even how long you want to ski in Colorado. Unlike some ski resorts in Utah, all ski resorts in Colorado are open to skiers and snowboarders.

Many of Colorado’s major ski resorts are located near Denver, including Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Copper, Vail, and Beaver River. Aspen and Steamboat are a little further away but still within range of Denver. Both airports have direct flights to US destinations. Farther southwest of Colorado is Purgatory, Telluride, and Silverton, along with a few smaller resorts.

The opening and closing dates of ski resorts often depend on conditions. Some resorts will remain open for as long as the season permits when conditions are good enough; others set planned deadlines regardless of circumstances. Several major ski resorts have invested heavily in snowmaking equipment to extend the snow season and are now opening much earlier than usual. Most of the dates you see below are estimated dates for ski resorts.

Ski Resorts in Colorado

Get inspired and plan your winter trip with our list of the best ski resorts in Colorado.

1. Keystone Resort

Mountains: Keystone is spread over three mountains, each of which takes you back to the wilderness far from the resort. As a result, the deeper you go, the less crowded the ski will be. This is a large resort with 20 lifts and grounds for all abilities, perfect for families.

The runs on First Mount Colombe are mostly well-maintained cruisers and beginner runs. Further ahead is North Peak, which is slightly higher and contains a businessman and a steep runway. Behind it is The Outback, the resort’s highest peak at less than 12,000 feet. This area is also designed for intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders.

For those looking for more adventure, the resort offers CAT skis with many bowls. Keystone Resort also claims to be “the longest ski day in Colorado” because of its nightly ski schedule.

Towns: Keystone has two villages: River Run and Lakeside. River Run Village is the main village at the foot of the mountain. For skiers, this is the heart of the action. It offers a variety of comforting dining options, perfect for a day out in the mountains. Parking here is convenient and free, making the whole process of spending a day skiing at this resort a breeze, and is much more expensive than some resorts in the surrounding area, such as Vail, where parking is proportionately high.

Lakeside Village, as the name suggests, is built around a small lake. In winter it freezes and becomes a giant ice rink. The lake is full of shops, restaurants and apartments.

Keystone Resort does a great job of entertaining guests who choose to stay in the area. Activities other than skiing, snowboarding or skating include sleigh rides, snowmobiling, yoga, art studios and more.

Official website: www.keystoneresort.com

2. Purgatory Resort

Mountains: Formerly known as Durango Mountain Resort, Purgatory Mountain Resort is a family-oriented ski resort primarily in the San Juan Mountains outside of Durango. While the facilities are constantly being improved, this is a local mountain with a friendly atmosphere and old-fashioned attitude. It is also known for offering affordability, affordable lift tickets and amenities.

Purgatory terrain has traditionally leaned heavily towards beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders. However, people with a high technical level can always find a place to challenge themselves here.

Ongoing expansion and improvements since 2015 are changing this dynamic. In recent years the resort has opened up new areas for intermediate and advanced terrain and woodland skiing. Skiers probably won’t notice much change at the resort in the 2021/22 season, but that’s a good thing. Much of the off-season work has focused on overhauling and updating the machines that power elevators 1, 3 and 6 to ensure continued reliability. A great program for parents to save: all children under 12 are free, with no discount days. Eligible children receive a free season pass.

Town: Purgatory has a number of accommodation options in the area surrounding the resort, but there are no towns at the foot of the mountain. Many live and commute in Durango, which is about 20 minutes’ drive away.

Once a mining town, Durango is a vibrant tourist town with restored historic buildings in the city centre. It also has great old hotels, trendy restaurants and lots of ski shops. Purgatory is about 2.5 hours drive from Telluride. If you want to base your trip here, you can take a day trip to Telluride to see the new lands.

Official website: www.purgatoryresort.com

3. Steamboat Ski Resort

Mountains: The Steamboat Ski Resort is located on Warner Mountain, just outside of Steamboat Springs. The mountain receives an average of 334 inches of snow each year. The resort has trademarked the term “champagne powder”, which refers to familiar dry, fluffy powder steamboats.

Elevation ranges from 6,900 feet at the base to 10,568 feet at the apex. This isn’t particularly high by Colorado standards and can be a good option for anyone concerned about the effects of high altitude. Spanning 2,965 acres, Steamboat is a large land-rich resort especially known for its great tree skiing.

It’s hard to believe the plant will grow, but this is what 2021/22 will look like. An incredible 355 acres of new land has been added to the Pioneer Ridge area, opening up some steep and deep gunpowder storage rooms that have remained a local secret until now. If you’re in the mood for a bite and some history, head to one of Steamboat’s most famous restaurants, the recently renovated Hazie’s.

Small Town: Steamboat Springs is independent, off I-70, and a long way from other major Colorado ski resorts. The town has a strong Western heritage and cowboy culture, giving the area a relaxed and wild west feel. Festivals and events often revolve around this theme.

Steamboat Springs is 3 hours drive from Denver but has an airport with direct flights to many major airports in the United States.

Official website: www.steamboat.com

4. Copper Mountain

The Mountain: Copper Mountain is a popular family vacation destination just over an hour’s drive from Denver. As you drive along Interstate 70 towards Vail, you can see the runway running down the mountainside. With 23 lifts spread across 2,465 acres, there is plenty of terrain and good carrying capacity for skiers and boarders to explore. It has running combinations for all levels, including advanced skiers.

Ski conditions are generally comparable to other ski resorts in the area. Copper is high, at 9,712 feet at the base and 12,313 feet at the apex. Sometimes you can see fresh dust under your feet after a storm, but the mountain has enough maintenance power to ensure everyone gets the morning wick they deserve.

Town: The hill leads to a cute little village with shops and restaurants. Places like City Pop, which serve delicious popcorn and candy, are great for family fun, but you’ll also find plenty of adult restaurants and entertainment venues.

The village is divided into East Village, Orta Village and West Village. Each village has a cable car, but these areas are very close. In the central village, all activities are concentrated around the main square below the elevator and hide behind West Lake.

Official website: www.coppercolorado.com

5. Telluride Ski Resort

Located in the back region of the San Juan Mountains, Telluride is one of the most scenic ski towns in the United States. Add in a top-tier ski resort with incredible terrain and consistently good snowfall, and it’s no wonder Telluride is such a popular vacation destination.

Mountains: If you want a lot of vertical skiing, this is one of the best places to ski in Colorado. The resort has more than 2,000 acres of land with a base elevation of 8,725 feet and a maximum elevation of 13,150 feet (4,425 feet of vertical drop). The mountain offers a good mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced, and experts will find plenty of hiking trails for more extreme skiing. Annual snowfall is about 300 inches.

Free lifts transport people between the town of Telluride and the mountain village, meaning that village skiers can come to town at any time and town skiers have easy access to the slopes. You don’t need to jump on the cable car with your skis, everyone can go up and see it.

Skiers living in Telluride, rather than a mountain village, can ski all the way to town after skiing or lower them using a gondola. The run from the top of the cable car to the city is not a green run and is steeper than some skiers would like to try, especially at the end of a ski day.

Town: Telluride is a real ski town, not a corporate resort. The scenic main street is lined with interesting shops, restaurants and cafes. You don’t need to be a skier to enjoy your stay here, and the town is as pleasant as winter, from spring to fall. The town hosts a variety of events throughout the year, which always makes it a great place to vacation.

Nearby towns and lodging options: Telluride is one of the top ski towns in Colorado, and your best bet is to stay in Telluride. You can find accommodation in town or in the mountains. Prices can be high due to peak season demand. Also, if you’re traveling with furry friends, finding a pet-friendly hotel can be overwhelming.

For better rates, pet-friendly accommodation, and vibrant ski culture, consider staying and commuting in Durango, about two hours’ drive away. Even Durango locals can choose to ski at Durango’s Purgatory Resort or take a day trip to Telluride Ski. Another option is to stay in Montrose, which, although it doesn’t have the same ski town vibe, is about a 90-minute drive away.

Official website: www.tellurideskiresort.com

6. Beaver Creek Resort

Mountains: Owned by Vail Resort, Beaver Creek Resort is located just off the highway in Vail and only two hours from Denver. This resort is known for its high level of customer service, clean tracks and friendly atmosphere.

With more than 1,800 acres of skiable terrain, the mountain offers a full range of runs for all abilities but is one of Colorado’s best beginner-friendly ski resorts. The resort has undergone extensive grooming to create the perfect conditions for new skiers.

2022 brings exciting changes to Beaver Creek. The facility is installing two new quad chairs to serve the McCoy area in the mountains. This will provide quicker access to higher altitudes that intermediate and beginner skiers will appreciate.

Every day at 3 am, the scent of freshly baked desserts floats in the air as staff in chef hats hand out chocolate chip cookies to skiers descending the mountain or staying near the base. Escalators take guests several flights of stairs from the city to the cable car, and attendants are always nearby to assist tired and struggling skiers to get their skis down the escalator and to the bus stop at the end of the day. The sidewalks in town are heated so it never freezes.

The mountain has the lowest elevation of the major resorts in the area, with a base elevation of 8,100 feet and a summit elevation of 11,400 feet. This is a good option for people who fly from low altitudes and are worried about altitude sickness. If you’re planning a multi-day trip and visiting several ski areas, starting at Beaver Creek will help alleviate altitude effects.

Town: At the foot of the ski resort is the quaint village of Beaver Creek. After a day of skiing or snowboarding, this is a great place to relax at the outdoor table and watch the last remaining skiers descend from the slopes. Behind the restaurants and businesses on the hill is a pedestrian zone with a nice outdoor area. Here you’ll find seating, a fire pit, and a large outdoor ice rink in the centre. The open space is surrounded by shops and restaurants.

Nearby towns and accommodation options: The town of Avon is about 10 minutes downhill from the village of Beaver Creek, which also makes a great base. You can often find more affordable accommodation options along with a variety of restaurants and retail stores, such as sporting goods stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies. A free shuttle bus runs regularly to bring guests from their hotel in Avon to Beaver Creek.

For upscale dining with a semi-casual atmosphere and delicious food, head to Vin 48 or Blue Plate in Avon. A local favorite for breakfast is the Northside Kitchen, where you can sit down and enjoy a delicious meal or pick up takeout pastries from reception.

Official website: www.beavercreek.com

7. Breckenridge Ski Resort

The Mountain: Breckenridge is the complete package, from manicured trails through the trees to the extraordinary mountain bowl reachable by lift. Even with a small walk from the Royal Gondola, you can find excellent terrain. Exposed bowling balls can be intimidating from afar, but they offer unparalleled skiing opportunities for advanced skiers. For anyone who wants to raise their skill level above the intermediate level, this is the place to be.

Breckenridge has terrain for everyone, with green, blue, and black diamonds lower in the mountains, areas here for magnates and beginners. The mountain is fairly easy to navigate, mainly because it is spread over the face of a series of peaks. Also worth noting, Blake’s Mountain Dining is always pretty good.

The ski areas here are high, with base heights starting at 9,600 feet. The Imperial Chairlift on Peak 8 is the tallest chairlift in North America, with a peak elevation of 12,998 feet. In the spring, when the bottom is soft, the peak tends to be a place with lots of snow in the winter.

For late-season skiing, Breckenridge may be a good choice. If you’re flying into Colorado from a much lower altitude, be aware that the altitude can sometimes be challenging, especially on the first day.

Breckenridge has recently undergone several upgrades, including new guest service facilities, a new children’s ski and snowboard school, childcare facilities, and a new equipment rental facility. The Peak 7 region is getting brand new chairs for the 2021/22 ski season. The new lift is called the Freedom SuperChair and its installation should ease the lines typically encountered in the Independence SuperChair.

Small Town: Breckenridge is a fun town with a lovely main street that offers great post-ski opportunities. You can grab a bite to eat on a spring day, sit on the town’s outdoor patio and watch the afternoon sunshine on the mountain you’ve just been skiing on. The ride to the mountain gondola starts from the town where you can park your car. This makes the entire mountain climbing process extremely easy and comfortable. Parking is relatively inexpensive compared to other resorts in the area.

Nearby towns and accommodation options: Breckenridge is a delightful place to stay and should be your first choice if you’re skiing in Breck. If you can’t find accommodation here, nearby Silverthorne tends to have affordable hotels. Frisco is another good option nearby. It is a quaint town with lots of restaurants, cafes and hotels.

Official website: www.breckenridge.com

8. Arapahoe Basin

Mountains: The Arapahoe, often referred to as the “A-Basin”, has high clarity. Located on Loveland Pass, the summit reaches 13,050 feet and the base is 10,780 feet. This allows the resort to remain open until June and sometimes later, well beyond the April closing date of the surrounding mountains. Arapahoe is one of the best places for spring skiing in Colorado.

At Arapahoe, you can find beautiful open courses, some steep and some designed for beginners. The flood flows along the sides of the ridge, which means you can usually find good conditions whatever the day. This can be a windy mountain, but it will usually be sheltered on one side or the other on any given day.

Resorts are not traditionally known to have a lot of land, especially when compared to the surrounding resorts of Vail, but this is all changing. The resort is undergoing multi-year expansions, including the Beavers and Steep Gullies expansions for “pedestrian” skiing. This new area has proven very popular with advanced skiers.

Arapahoe’s relaxed, fun and the old-fashioned vibe is also one of the mountain’s main attractions. On a warm spring day, people barbecue at picnic tables at the edge of the parking lot at the foot of the mountain and watch skiers slide down the slopes. Kids, dogs and the whole family are out to enjoy the day, whether they’re skiing or not.

The Arapahoe Basin is easily accessible from Denver, is a great value, and is included with numerous resorts and multi-day passes. They also have many of their own which can be a great deal if they fit your ski plans. Even if you’re not planning a full vacation at A-Basin, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re skiing at some of the surrounding resorts.

Open and Close: Arapahoe opens and closes according to snow conditions. They usually open in October and close in June.

Nearby towns and accommodation options: There are no towns at the base of Arapahoe Basin, so you will have to look for accommodation in the surrounding area. It is a 10-minute drive from Arapahoe to Keystone and a 30-minute drive from Breckenridge.

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced hotel, it’s best to check out Silver Thorne, about 20 minutes’ drive up the hill. A little further away is the town of Frisco, with a livelier atmosphere and a good selection of hotels.

Official website: www.arapahoebasin.com

9. Silverton Mountain

No article about skiing or snowboarding in Colorado would be complete without mentioning Silverton Ski Resort. The mountain isn’t for everyone, but it offers a completely unique experience that many can only dream of. The resort was featured in the recent Warren Miller ski movie Timeless.

The Mountain: A lone old twin lift takes skiers and boarders up the mountain for hiking in the terrain. It’s essentially alpine skiing with a lift. This resort is only for advanced and professional skiers and snowboarders, people come here specifically to ski. Snowfall in the area is unusually high, with an annual total of about 400 inches and no well-maintained trails.

Before climbing the mountain, everyone is equipped with avalanche gear. Old-school buses pick guests up from where they land, about a kilometer from the hotel, and drop them back at base.

The basic “hut” is nothing more than a homemade tent-covered yurt. This is not a resort that screams luxury. What it does have is great skiing, a strong following of skiers who live for this terrain and experience, and an atmosphere that no other ski mountain in Colorado has. Everyone here is excited for a good day of skiing, and the rustic weather is welcome.

If this all seems a little overwhelming, don’t be discouraged. Silverton has a program that pairs you with locals (for a fee) who will ski with you throughout the day and show you the best snow on the mountain. Silverton Mountain also offers heli-skiing and heliboarding. This includes six runs in the area reserved for helicopter tours.

Town: Silverton Hill is just outside the town of Silverton. This former mining town is now a mainly summer-oriented tourist town, with many businesses closed during the winter months. It is more than 9,300 feet above sea level and has deep snow in winter. In the winter, most accommodations here are motels, but a few historic inns offer a bit of boutique luxury.

Nearby towns and accommodation: Durango is a little over an hour from Silverton in good driving conditions. In snowy conditions, plan for a longer period. If you’re looking for more than Silverton, Durango is the place to be. There are also more accommodations here.

Official website: http://silvertonmountain.com

10. Wolf Creek Ski Area

Located just outside Pagosa Springs in Colorado’s southwest corner, Wolf Creek Ski Resort is nestled in the San Juan Mountains, known for its massive snowpack. It gets an incredible 430 inches (over 35 feet) of snow each year and proudly claims it’s “the most snow in Colorado.” Most of these came from major storm events. When a snowstorm passes in the area, you can drop a few feet of snow into Wolf Creek.

The base elevation of the ski area is 10,300 feet and the summit elevation is over 11,900 feet. The mountain offers a mix of beginner and intermediate runs, but advanced and specialist terrain makes up almost half of the runs. The mountain offers 1,600 acres of skiable terrain and 1,604 feet of vertical elevation.

City: Wolf Creek Ski Resort is located in the Alpine Pass. Day inns at the foot of the mountain offer great food, but you’ll have to look elsewhere for accommodation. On the west side of the gorge, the closest place to stay in Pagosa Springs, about a 35-minute drive away. On the east side of Wolf Creek is South Fork, about 25 minutes away, where you can also find several hotels.

Official website: https://wolfcreekski.com

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