Must-Visit Ski Resorts Around Colorado
Aspen pictured above; all photos courtesy of Colorado Ski Country USA
It’s winter in the Rocky Mountains. For many, that means only one thing: It’s time to hit the slopes! Whether you’re a native Coloradan or just passing through for the chilly months, we’ve compiled some favorite ski resorts around the state for all your snowy adventures.
Steamboat snow is so famous, it’s been trademarked Champagne Powder®. The term was coined by local rancher Joe McElroy in the 1950s who, while skiing, claimed the snow tickled his nose like champagne.
Surrounded by hundreds of working ranches in the Yampa Valley, the beauty of Steamboat Resort is matched by its excellent family programs (they pioneered Kids Ski Free) and its Olympic tradition (88 Olympians have trained in Steamboat or have called it home—more than any other town in North America). With six peaks that cater to all ability levels, it’s a place for beginners, families, and expert skiers alike.
And on top of quality slopes, the area is dotted with natural hot springs—two of which you can soak in year-round. Old Town Hot Springs is perfect for families, and Strawberry Park Hot Springs just outside of town is a must-see for adults (clothing option after dark).
For more information, visit steamboat.com.
The town of Aspen was a town first and a ski resort second, lending to its incredibly tight-knit community, distinct identity, and strong sense of culture and community. Just five minutes from the airport and with a consistent 300 inches of snow each year, Aspen Snowmass is an excellent choice for ski vacations.
As host to big events like the X Games, World Cup Ski Racing, Food & Wine, and the Aspen Ideas Festival, and with après-ski attractions such as the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Woody Creek Distillery, and Aspen Brewing Company, there is much to celebrate when skiing in this gorgeous locale.
A lift ticket at Aspen Snowmass gives you access to four mountains at once—Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk—and ski experience levels range from beginner to X Games caliber. On top of that, you’ll receive free Lavazza hot chocolate every morning at the base of each mountain, snacks and cider at guest service stations, and snowcat rides partway up the Highland Bowl Hike.
The resort also hosts winter activities such as Ullr Nights, Powder Tours, and Snowcat Dinners at Lynn Britt Cabin, just to name few.
For more information, visit aspensnowmass.com.
CRESTED BUTTE MOUNTAIN RESORT
While Crested Butte Mountain Resort is counted among the most revered resorts in the country for its extreme terrain and breathtaking on-snow experience—a list that also includes Alta, Big Sky, and Jackson—the mountain also lends itself to positive learning and snow-sports encounters for children, families, first-timers, and intermediate skiers and riders. Plus, there are very few lift lines to boot!
On top of skiing, visitors can enjoy other winter activities, such as zipline tours, the Snowcat Driving Experience, Adventure Park, tubing hill, snowshoe tours, uphill skiing, cross country skiing, fat biking, snow biking, snowmobile tours, horseback riding, and sleigh ride dinners.
With Mt. Crested Butte’s jagged peak serving as its backdrop, Crested Butte’s small-town charm is hard to rival. And if you’re in the area January 11-15, 2017, make sure to visit the Mountain High Music Festival presented by American country music artist and songwriter Dean Dillon.
For more information, visit skicb.com.
WINTER PARK RESORT
Positioned along the Continental Divide just 67 miles from Denver, Winter Park is the closest resort to the city and sees over 320 inches of snow annually.
Known for its family-friendly atmosphere—especially its award-winning Ski + Ride School—as well as its three convenient ski-in/ski-out lodging properties directly on the property, Winter Park offers a fun, laid-back vibe where everyone is a local.
It’s also the only ski area in the United States where a train drops you off literally steps from the ski lift: Beginning in January 2017, the Winter Park Express, operated by Amtrak, will begin weekend service from Denver’s Union station to Winter Park Resort.
And if you’re looking for other fun snow-inspired activities off the slopes, the area offers snowmobile tours to the Continental Divide, dog mushing, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, sleigh rides, and more.
For more information, visit winterparkresort.com.
WOLF CREEK SKI AREA
Situated in the beautiful Southern San Juan Mountains with an annual average snowfall of 430 inches, Wolf Creek Ski Area prides itself for its affordability, as well as being family-owned and -operated.
The resort offers a variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all experience levels. For beginners, Wolf Creek offers First Day Beginner Packages, with access to three beginner lifts and four hours of lessons for only $67 to skiers and $70 to snowboarders.
And since treks on the slopes tend to work up an appetite, the Ski Area offers a handful of on-mountain eateries, including Raven’s Nest, where you can enjoy gorgeous views as well as a gourmet pizza with homemade crust. Or you can soak in the healing waters of Pagosa Springs.
For more information, visit wolfcreekski.com.
Located just 75 miles west of Denver, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Copper Mountain Resort is an ideal destination for all ages and abilities. It’s also one of the Summit County’s largest ski areas, with 2,490 skiable acres—naturally divided terrain that begins with gentle, sloping runs on the West and get progressively steeper (and advanced) as you head east. Copper also has one of the best terrain parks and halfpipes in Colorado.
On top of its all-encompassing landscape, Copper Mountain also boasts a variety of lodging options—from hotel-style rooms to five-bedroom townhomes—as well as restaurants, shopping, and tons of unique events within the Village. In particular, guests love to jump on the snowcat for a free backcountry experience, riding to legendary Tucker Mountain.
And, new to this 2016-2017 season, Copper Mountain has implemented a new activity called Après Alley. Located in Center Village, Après Alley is set up every Saturday to offer fun activities like shuffleboard, ping-pong, ladder golf, and free live music.
For more information, visit coppercolorado.com.
TELLURIDE SKI RESORT
Tucked away in southwest Colorado and located among the highest concentration of 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks in North America, Telluride Ski Resort is consistently high-ranked among skiers and snowboards. With its rarely crowded lift lines and diverse topography—from gentle groomers to extreme hike-to terrain, such as the in-bounds 13,000-foot Palmyra Peak—there is something for skiers of all abilities to enjoy.
Every lift offers access to at least one groomed intermediate run, making it easy for groups of varying experience levels to ski together. And when you’re looking to refuel, partake in gourmet grilled cheese and gorgonzola tomato soup at Alpini Vino, the highest elevation restaurant in North America, at under 12,000 feet. Or bask in the Colorado’s famed bluebird sunshine and dine on French country fare at the outdoor-only Bon Vivant.
And you won’t need a car when visiting Telluride, which consists of two towns—historic Telluride and the more modern Mountain Village—which are connected by a free pedestrian gondola.
In addition to slopes surrounded by snowcapped summits, there is a large section of open space leading into town. Dubbed the Valley Floor, the space is available for Nordic skiing and fat biking. Bootdoctors, a local outfitter, organizes fat biking tours along the Valley Floor to the award-winning Telluride Brewing Company for beer tastings.
For more information, visit tellurideskiresort.com.