Top Ski Destinations in Colorado

Colorado with its towering mountain ranges is known as the best place in the United States to go skiing and it’s got some of the best resorts to complement the ski experience. Learn more about the top ski destinations in Colorado and then find the one that suits your ski style best. 

Aspen, Colorado

Probably the one city that comes to everyone’s mind when they think of skiing in Colorado is Aspen and with good reason. Aspen Colorado is only 220 miles west of Denver and has its own airport. The town is full of quaint Victorian architecture, top notch restaurants, world class resorts and of course the skiing. Known the world over as an incredible place to go skiing, Aspen also has the distinction of being the place where the glamorous people go to ski. With four mountains in the Aspen region you actually get a variety of ability levels to choose from, there is the Aspen Mountain (Ajax), Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. Aspen Mountain and Snowmass are combined into the same resort areas and are known for its steeps and big bumps, it’s also the home of the Silver Queen Gondola which runs down the streets of Aspen. The Aspen Highlands is known for its tree skiing, a few double-back freefalls and Highland Bowl. Highland Bowl is a real big mountain experience and only for the experienced skier. Buttermilk is the smallest mountain in Aspen and great for less experienced skiers and for learning a new trick. The resorts in Aspen are also world class and typically have price tags that prove it but you’ll love the experience if you like the pampered life.

Vail, Colorado

In the same league as Aspen is Vail Colorado, a favorite among skiers the world over. Vail Mountain features seven miles of mountain front, seven Back Bowls, three terrain parks and typically 300 days of sunshine, making it one of the most perfect places to go for skiing. Vail has been rated the number one ski resort in North America repeatedly and with good reason. Vail is the largest single ski resort on the continent with more than 5,000 acres of snowy winter fun for visitors and locals. The base elevation is just over 8,000 feet, peak is more than 11,500 feet and vertical rise is 3,450 feet. The average snowfall in Vail is 350 inches. Although there are trails in Vail suited for every skill level the majority of them, about 53% are for expert or advanced skiers and only about 18% of them are for beginners so if you’re just starting then Vail may not be the most enjoyable first time vacation. But if you’re an experienced skier and looking for a challenge then Vail is just the thing.

Telluride, Colorado

Telluride Colorado is a quaint little town nestled in a box canyon with the San Juan Mountains surrounding it on all sides. The city is only six blocks wide and twelve blocks long and is full of that small town charm and friendliness. The ski resort in Telluride is a non-pretentious escape in a town that doesn’t even know what pretentious is. The mountain is really one that is suited to all levels of skiers. Novices will enjoy that fact that some of the highest peaks have runs that even they can experience. Telluride features more than 2,000 acres of skiable terrain and 115 trails. The longest run is known as the Galloping Goose and stretches a long 4.6 miles. About 23% of the trails in Telluride, Colorado are considered beginner trails, and less than half, 41% are advanced or expert. The free gondola ride from mountain top to the city below is a must for everyone and extremely convenient for guests looking to have a good night out at some of the local restaurants.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge Colorado is another famous skiing haven in North America’s west. Breckenridge features four large peaks that span more than 2,000 acres and five different terrain parks. One of the biggest highlights is the Imperial Express, the highest chairlift in the country. The base elevation in Breckenridge is 9,600 feet with a summit elevation of just under 13,000 feet and a vertical rise of around 3,400. 600 acres are groomed daily, that’s basically all of the intermediate and beginner trails and some others. The longest run stretches for 3.5 miles and is called Four O’Clock. In addition to the 155 ski trails Breckenridge has a lot to offer visitors and locals alike. The town has a lengthy history and have developed a unique culture throughout the years. The shops offer the traditional souvenirs and western United States trinkets but are also full of unique items that you will be happy you stumbled upon. There are a large number of restaurants and bars for a small town, a beautiful historic district, a thriving art community and if the weather isn’t cooperating there’s always the golf course.

Copper Mountain, Colorado

Copper Mountain is often overlooked when creating lists of the top ski destinations in Colorado but it shouldn’t be. Copper Mountain is just 75 miles from Denver and features just under 2,500 acres of skiable terrain. The city is more like a small town than anything else and you feel oddly at home every time you visit. The base elevation at Copper Mountain is around 9,700 feet and the summit elevation is slightly more than 12,300. The vertical drop at Copper Mountain is 2,600 feet and the average natural snowfall a year is 282 inches. The longest run at Copper Mountain is a respectable 2.8 miles and the 12 miles of cross country trails that wind through White River National Forest make this an incredible destination for skiers of all sorts. In fact not just skiers enjoy Copper Mountain as the mountain is also amenable for ice skating, snowshoeing, tubing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, and dog sledding.

Each of the Colorado ski destinations above have their own specials throughout the season and the off season too, and sometimes you’ll find resorts battling it out and giving visitors incredible deals but some of the best deals seem to be reserved for the locals. Don’t get caught up in the hotel package deals but take the time to check out season passes as they often are the best deals around.
Creative Commons License Photo credit: CCRcreations