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Total Resorts in Region:

23

Average Snowfall in Region:

306"

Resort with Most Snow:

Steamboat Ski Resort - 368"

Largest Vertical:

Aspen Snowmass - 4,030'

Largest Resort by acreage:

Vail Ski Resort - 5,289 acres

Colorado has always been the flagship state for ski resorts, ski trips, and skiers. If you mention skiing to somebody in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or wherever, you will often kindle a conversation about ski trips to Colorado. It's a place, more than anywhere else, that has been conjoined to an activity that so many of us love and often travel long distances to enjoy.

Colorado is the state of skiing. Ski trips to Colorado are often the medium within which so many people get hooked on the sport.

No skier can be complete without ripping some turns in the Rocky Mountain State. If you haven't done it, you should.

There are a lot of rankings for 'The Best Colorado Ski Resorts' out there. Most of them are ridiculous. One site that garners a lot of traffic for such things clearly values the resorts that book the most lodging for it as the 'best.' You may have seen the ranking, which does not feature the same resorts at the top of this and is clearly a list of resorts that have the most hotel rooms and condos.

We list lodging options here because it's how we keep the servers turned on, which cost more than they used to because we get more traffic, but our rankings are about four main things, none of which are lodging:

Snow: Winter precipitation quality consists of many things, mainly: quantity, density (most snow that falls in Colorado is very light and excellent for skiing), the characteristics of the mountain in holding and preserving snow (slope aspects, elevation and latitude), and snow consistency (high standard deviations are bad, low standard deviations are good). Most of Colorado has moderate to low standard deviations and is far more dependable than, say, the Sierra in California/Nevada.

Towns: we prefer older, real towns that back up to the ski resort. The best town in all of skiing, Telluride, is obviously in Colorado. Aspen is second, and also one of the best in North America. Other great towns in Colorado: Crested Butte, Steamboat, Frisco (close-ish to Copper, A-Basin and Breck) and Breckenridge the town, in that order.

Crowds: This has always been an important consideration when picking a ski resort, but this aspect has become more important than others during the last few years as the number of people skiing multiple days and mashing into popular ski resorts has increased. Places such as Telluride and Aspen get bumps here compared with Breckenridge and Keystone because they see far fewer skiers and are harder for Denver drivers to reach.

Terrain: We like steep terrain and we grade highly for that. But we also have families and we feel that a diversity of terrain is important. Telluride, which is our No. 1 resort in Colorado, has some of the best steeps in the state (chairs 14, 15, 12 and 9), but it also has terrain off of Chair 10 and Chair 1 that is ideal for beginners: long, wide and gradually sloped. And intermediates at Telluride will revel in blues coming off of chairs 4, 5 and 10. As another example, Vail, which has great intermediate terrain and some good lower-level advanced terrain, doesn't have much that's at the steeper end of the spectrum. Nor does Vail have a lot of true beginner runs that aren't cross-mountain catwalks, a place where nobody wants to learn how to ski. Beaver Creek has gobs of this kind of terrain, however, and it's a place we often recommend to families with kids who are best suited to skiing green terrain for now.

Best Colorado Ski Resorts:

Resort
True
Snowfall*
Acreage Vertical
Drop
Summit
Elevation
Lifts PAF
Score
1 Telluride Ski Resort
CO
276 in 2000 acres 3845 ft 12570 ft 18 95.6 more
Visually, Telluride is the most striking ski town in North America. The richness of scenery created by 14,000-foot peaks and an old mining town that backs into a box canyon can't be overstated. The town is, by our judgement, the best in skiing, with venerable buildings that have been carefully restored making up the majority of the main drag (Colorado Ave.). It has more to offer than any other mountain town, with great intermediate terrain mixing with steeps that are among the best on the continent. Town is connected via a free gondola to Mountain Village, where much of the newer lodging is. The gondola runs from 7 a.m. to past midnight. The dining scene is among the best in skiing.

Pros:

  • No crowds. Waiting for a chair here is a rarity; of the major ski resorts in Colorado, it's the farthest from Denver.
  • Terrain: Some of the best steeps in the state, including a 2,000-foot couloir that is in-bounds, and bootpacks that cover up to 1,300 vertical feet reaching beyond 13,000 feet. The steep runs leading to town are the stuff of dreams. Great intermediate and beginner terrain off of chairs 4, 5, 10.
  • Scenery: The San Juans here reach to the sky with the steepness and urgency of the Alps; this is the prettiest ski resort in North America
  • Town: Not only the prettiest, this is the best ski town in North America. It abuts the slopes, the box canyon above town is stunning, and the 100+ year-old buildings give this place a feel that is unique. Town is awash in great food and interesting lodging options.
  • No chains. Skiers won't find a chain restaurant, hotel or anything related in Telluride

Cons:

  • Lodging can be expensive
  • Harder to get to, but Montrose-Telluride airport does have a lot of direct flights: Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix. Driving from Denver airport is not a good option as it's seven hours
2 Vail Ski Resort
CO
354 in 5289 acres 3450 ft 11570 ft 31 90.8 more
No name has become more synonymous with ski trips than that of Vail. It is the quintessential ski resort in the quintessential mountain state. As the crown jewel of the largest company in the industry, Vail Resorts, Vail does not disappoint. In central Colorado there is no better combination of terrain, snow, and on-mountain lodging and facilities. Vail is one of the few ski resorts that can be everything to everybody. It plays the role well of a high-end destination—there is a Ritz-Carlton here—and it is also a comfortable place for terrain-obsessed powder hounds who sleep in a van. Vail Village puts everything at skiers' fingertips.
3 Aspen Snowmass
CO
295 in 3132 acres 4030 ft 12510 ft 20 88.9 more
Snowmass gives familes and skiers looking for a tight one-stop destination resort one of the best options in the industry. It's vast, it receives the most snow of the four Aspen resorts, and its lodging options can fit just about any kind of ski trip or group. The on-mountain dining options are among the best in skiing and the terrain can please all skiers, especially those interested in rolling groomers that go on for miles.
4 Steamboat Ski Resort
CO
368 in 2965 acres 3668 ft 10568 ft 18 88.3 more

Steamboat occupies a piece of Northern Colorado well away from the fray of Eagle and Summit Counties. People still flock to the place but so does snow. The northerly Colorado latitude puts the mountain in the sights of the jetstream more often than other Colorado resorts, giving it an excellent track record for getting terrain open early. The mountain is relatively low for colorado, with a base of 6,900 feet, which makes it cold in the darkest months of the winter and warm in the later months. That warmth, plus the general lack of north-facing terrain, make it a better January destination than a March one, for skiers seeking to optimize on potential snow conditions. It's a mellow mountain that lacks the straight-up steeps of Telluride or Crested Butte, but it does have good tree terrain and some shorter steep shots at the top of the mountain to keep experts occupied. Our favorite lift at Steamboat is Bar-U-E, an old fixed grip that never has any lines but leads to some nicely gladeed trees and pockets of less-skied snow.

Pros:

  • Excellent early-season opening rate, most dependable
  • Large lodging base near mountain, which is a mile or so from town
  • VRBO rentals can be cheaper here than many other Colorado mountains
  • Great terrain for intermediates and families

Cons:

  • Can see crowds due to large lodging base
  • Lack of north-facing terrain and low CO elevation make spring thaw cycle especially pronounced
  • Nothing super steep
5 Winter Park Ski Resort
CO
347 in 3081 acres 3060 ft 12060 ft 25 85.4 more
Winter Park ski trips offers skiers several notable advantages: a shorter commute from the Denver airport, compared with other I-70 resorts; cheaper lodging and lift ticket prices; and one of the best mountains for snow in the state of Colorado. The mountain has two distinct sides that offer all kinds of stashes and hideouts for skiers, as well as terrain aplenty for intermediates seeking some challenging blues. A great choice for Christmas and New Year's trips—good snow coverage, cheaper—and also for spring break.
6 Beaver Creek Resort
CO
325 in 1815 acres 3340 ft 11440 ft 25 84.9 more
A ski trip to Beaver Creek comes replete with all the niceties that make Beaver Creek, along with Deer Valley, an alpha dog on the luxury ski trip circuit. But the Beav also brings an A-game to the skiing part of the ski trip; this is a mountain with good fall lines etched all over it. For those who happened to catch Beaver Creek with a good spell of powder on their ski trip, an epic day is in the offing. Beaver Creek skis off more slowly, especially during the week, compared with other large destination resorts. Some of the long pitches coming off Birds of Prey Express are the best stretches of fall line in central Colorado. Whatever you do, ensure you finish up in time to get a cookie.
7 Aspen Highlands
CO
252 in 1028 acres 3635 ft 11675 ft 5 83.8 more
Aspen Highlands gives ski trips to the Aspen area an added dimension. This is a skier's mountain, where fall lines are pure and runs tend to be void of people. The bootpack up Highlands Bowl is one of the premier in-bounds hiking tracks in all of skiing. And for those who make its summit (it's not that bad; you can make it), the rewards are real: long, steep lines with powder stashes throughout the trees. Highlands offers a little nip of Alta-style rough edges in the what is the most exclusive alpine valley in North America.
8 Aspen Mountain - Ajax
CO
250 in 675 acres 3267 ft 11212 ft 8 83.0 more
The name Aspen has been synonynous with ski trips for decades—with good reason. Aspen defined the paradigm for ski towns everywhere else in North America. And it still remains one of the continent's best destinations, with one of the most tightly integrated relationships between ski resort and town. Skiers here can go as upmarket as they want in lodging and fare, but there are bargains to be had by those who book early. The skiing here will please anybody: tons of legitimate expert runs, great intermediate cruisers and very few crowds.
9 Breckenridge Ski Resort
CO
282 in 2358 acres 3240 ft 12840 ft 31 81.7 more

One of the best-known names in skiing, Breck features one of the most varied collections of terrain in Colorado, with something for everybody. The upper steeps are legit—when they're open. And the bottom apron of the mountain features miles of wide intermediate runs. As the Epic Pass resort closest to Denver, crowds are no stranger to this place and the slopes here are probably the most crowded in the state of Colorado. Our advice to skiers who want to hit Breckenridge: go during the week and leave the weekends to the ruffians who don't know any better. Skiers' best move at Breck, similar to Vail, is to arrive early and to quickly get to areas up and away from the base. Mine those. If there's new snow and it's later than Feb. 1, powder seekers should get out as early as possible—first chair—because the dominant eastern aspect of the mountain means that the snow can get warm and heavy by 1:30 pm. Breck has a classic downtown mainstreet that has the old buildings and charm to make it the favorite of many, despite its oversubscription of T-shirt shops. Main Street will see crowds, too, so plan your meals ahead and try not to drive into the heart of the beast looking for parkting.

Pros:

  • Close to Denver
  • Vibrant town, not far from slopes (but town doesn't abut the slopes, like Aspen, Telluride and Park City)
  • Good range of terrain
  • High elevation of ridge draws good amount of snow
  • Large lodging base, cheaper than Vail and Beaver Creek

Cons:

  • Close to Denver (yes, it's a pro and con)
  • Crowds: it's a popular destination resort and a favorite of Denver folk with Epic Pass
  • East-facing mountain can warm up quickly in the spring
10 Crested Butte Ski Resort
CO
253 in 1547 acres 2500 ft 11875 ft 16 79.5 more

Without a doubt, this mountain and town share one of the cooler names in skiing. Anything crested has to be good. It's also a good place that should be of particular interest to Epic Pass skiers, as it's one of the least-crowded options available to those holding the Epic Pass. Unlike Telluride, Vail owns Crested Butte, which means Epic Pass holders can get as many days as they want here. The mountain's distance to Denver keeps away the kind of crowds that descend on Breck, Winter Park, Vail and others, but determined Denver drivers can still make a weekend out of it. Crested Butte possesses some of the most technical terrain in Colorado, which makes it a great pick for those seeking out steeps in February and March. Lodging saw an expanded building boom in the late 2000s that created a lot of inventory and moderate prices for skiers. This is one of the better towns in Colorado; only Telluride is demonstrably ahead of it in our book (Aspen's streets run right to the slopes of Aspen Mountain, unlike Crested Butte, which is a short distance away from the hill, but the ambiance of Crested Butte is better overall).

Pros:

  • Charming town less than a mile from mountain
  • Excellent expert terrain. It can take a while to open, but this is among the most technical terrain in the state
  • The least-crowded Vail-owned mountain; Epic Pass skiers should seek it out to dodge crowds in Eagle and Summit Counties
  • Lodging tends to be cheaper than than average for a major Colorado mountain

Cons:

  • Early season can be thin; this place requires a lot of snow to get open but it doesn't get as much precipitation as other major resorts
  • Harder to get to: Gunnison has more flights than it used to, but still a limited number; Drive from Denver Airport is close to five hours
11 Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
CO
314 in 900 acres 1692 ft 12472 ft 7 78.7 more

The resort has developed something of a cult-following in Denver and Summit Counties, not dissimilar from the adoration that Alta gathers on a larger scale from the North American ski community. A-Basin is a more spartan mountain than other resorts nearby, also similar to Alta, which focuses the experience on skiing. Unlike Alta, A-Basin doesn't get the prolific snow amounts and snowboards are permitted on its pistes. But make no mistake: this is a skier's mountain, with many wide-open bowls that bump up after snows and some of the better in-bounds boot-packing trails in the state. Skiers (and riders) can pick from a wide selection of expert terrain hairy high-elevation nooks put A-Basin in the class of Crested Butte and Telluride when it comes to steep skiing. The best thing about A-Basin is its spring season, where its high elevations and north-facing terrain make it the premier place to ski in Colorado in late March and April. The rocky terrain requires large amounts of snow for good coverage, which can be an issue in the early season, but one that's usually solved by March.

Pros:

  • Great terrain, best expert slopes in central Colorado
  • Excellent spring skiing: high elevations, lots of north-facing terrain
  • Close to Denver

Cons:

  • Crowds: Proximity to Denver and Ikon Pass access can draw a lot of people; spring weekends can get nutty
  • Early season can be spotty compared with close-by resorts that require less snow to open more terrain
12 Copper Mountain
CO
278 in 2465 acres 2601 ft 12313 ft 22 78.1 more
Copper Mountain is one of the first ski resorts that travelers hit driving west on I-70 from Colorado, and it's worthy of a stop. For being relatively close to Denver, the resort is rarely over-crowded. The mountain possesses elite snow preservation characteristics, which make it ideal for spring break, and the on-mountain lodging pool in the village is deep and well-developed.
13 Loveland Ski Area
CO
344 in 1800 acres 1900 ft 12700 ft 10 77.8 more
This place is gem hidden in plain view. It sits on south side of I-70, stradding the east entrance to the Eisenhower tunnel. Even by Colorado standards, Loveland is high, with a base of around 11,000 feet. That means lots of snow and great snow preservation. Add in the fact that 40% of Loveland's terrain faces north and you have a veritable deep freezer keeping things cold and soft. Loveland makes for a great day trip for any ski trips staging out of Vail or Summit County ski areas.
14 Keystone Resort
CO
235 in 3148 acres 2718 ft 11998 ft 20 76.0 more
Keystone is a unique ski trip destination that has a special knack for making things easy on families. The parking is free, and gear wagons, used to shuttle kids and stuff from the car to the slopes, are free and abundant. The ski runs here are long, with good extended fall lines coming off of several peaks. There's nothing super steep at Keystone, but experts can stay sated by hiking or riding the cats ($10 a ride) to some back bowls and snow that don't see many skiers.
15 Wolf Creek Ski Resort
CO
387 in 1600 acres 1604 ft 11904 ft 7 75.8 more

Wolf Creek embodies what many of us wish skiing had more of: family-oriented resorts with solid facilities and a noticeable lack of commercialization. Wolf Creek is effectively a fairly raw mountain ridge in Southern Colorado that happens to have ski lifts installed on it. No hotels, no spas, no billionaire seven-story holes in the ground awaiting a steel superstructure), What there is, however, is snow—a lot of it. More than anywhere else in Colorado, in fact. Little weather disturbances that cross Colorado become big ones thanks to the geography of Wolf Creek's mountain faces. The mountain's easy-going terrain plus the outsized snow totals mean that Wolf Creek skiers can expect the slopes to be 100% open before anywhere else in Colorado.

Pros:

* Most snow in Colorado, better chance of powder skiing here than anywhere
* Dependable early-season skiing
* Lack of crowds
* Great local food at base—try the green chile chili

Cons:
* A little harder to get to: best bet is to fly to Durango, which lacks direct flights, drive 90 min east
* Lodging is sparse, look to VRBOs in Pagosa Springs
* Lack of steep terrain

16 Purgatory Ski Resort
CO
264 in 1360 acres 2029 ft 10822 ft 10 69.1 more
17 Aspen Buttermilk
CO
200 in 470 acres 2030 ft 9900 ft 8 69.0 more
18 Monarch Mountain
CO
284 in 800 acres 1162 ft 11952 ft 7 63.7 more
19 Powderhorn Resort
CO
225 in 1600 acres 1650 ft 9850 ft 5 61.1 more
20 Eldora Mountain Resort
CO
225 in 680 acres 1600 ft 10800 ft 11 60.0 more
21 Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort
CO
232 in 470 acres 2010 ft 9895 ft 3 58.4 more
22 Cuchara Mountain Resort
CO
200 in 225 acres 932 ft 10180 ft 5 50.3 more
23 Ski Granby Ranch Resort
CO
200 in 406 acres 1000 ft 9202 ft 6 48.6 more
Special Rates At Top Colorado Ski Resorts: