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Colorado Ski Resorts

Best Colorado Ski Resorts

This is the most authoritative list of best Colorado ski resorts ever compiled. Others haven't been crafted with the same attention to what actually matters when measuring for the best skiing experience. If you've read a list that has Breckenridge at No. 1, for instance, it's not clear what it's prioritizing—but know that it's not skiing.

Our rankings focus on four things (more on this at the bottom of the page):

Acreage Vertical
Lifts PAF
1 Telluride
276 in 2000 acres 3845 ft 12570 ft 18 95.6 more

Colorado offers two zones: ski resorts that draw drivers from Denver and those that don't. Skiers looking at holidays and prime weekends of the winter should avoid that drivable zone. Getting to places like Telluride, Aspen and Crested Butte takes a little more work but it results in a much better vacation because, quite simply, there are fewer skiers in these places. Fewer to no lift lines, less battling for coffee, lunch and dinner spots, and MORE POWDER.

The Colorado leader in most things—town, terrain, crowds, scenery—is Telluride.

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.


  • 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


  • 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

Official Telluride website: https://tellurideskiresort.com

Telluride 10-Day Snow Forecast
Telluride 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
2 Vail
354 in 5289 acres 3450 ft 11570 ft 31 90.8 more

Vail excels at giving skiers choices. Not only between green, blue and black, but also between slopes that face north, south, east and west, and terrain with pure fall lines that pitch straight ahead. Vail goes on and on and on—that's its best quality. It's also true that many of those 5,000-plus acres that comprise Vail offer genuinely great skiing. If one were picking a spot to spend a powder day and competing skiers weren't an issue, Vail would be toward the top of the draft board in Colorado. Great lift system, good terrain, and lots of hiding spots.

But Vail does see a lot of skiers. The solution to this conundrum, for those who want to ski Vail: ski it Monday through Thursday when the crowds tend to be mild. A Wednesday in the middle of February can offer nirvana. In either case, it's best to get the slopes first thing and avoid lines that can bunch at the bottom of the mountain. Once you're up the mountain at Vail, there's a lot of room to roam—skiers should do just that.


  • A good snow profile: Vail is about as steady as it gets for precip in Colorado
  • A lot of terrain for intermediates and budding experts
  • Comprehensive lift system that constantly sees upgrades and uphill capacity expansion
  • It's big: more than 5,000 acres. Cagey skiers can get up early and dodge crowds


  • Can get slammed on the weekends, gondola lines grow Epic (sorry for the pun). Traffic over Vail Pass can extend ride past Summit County more than an hour
  • Town isn't really a town; it's the purpose-built ski area base, which is extensive and fashioned in the spirit of Epcot Center Switzerland
  • Parking can be a major pain. Just pay up and get your car into one of the garages early
  • Lack of true beginner terrain that isn't a cross-mountain cat track. Not a place for people who like green runs

Official Vail Website: https://www.vail.com

Vail 10-Day Snow Forecast
Vail 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
3 Snowmass
295 in 3132 acres 4030 ft 12510 ft 20 88.9 more

The editor of a prominent ski magazine once said to me, when I asked him if he preferred Vail or Beaver Creek, "Why stop there when you can drive another 90 minutes and be in the promised land?"

This person was referring to Aspen, of course. Having put in plenty of days at Aspen, I understand the editor's point. Our opinions are clearly among a minority, however, because if that weren't the case, Aspen wouldn't benefit from the lack of crowds that is one of its defining and best features. And that's the thing—when most people think about Aspen, they assume it's the town and the pomp of the place that set it apart. Town is fine. It backs up to Aspen Mountain—one of four separate ski hills here—and that's charming. But Aspen the town isn't, in our book, as nice as Telluride or Park City. It's Breckenridge with a higher spending limit. No, the best thing about Aspen isn't town—it's the skiing.

Aspen Mountain has a relentless pitch, no green runs (that's a minus and a plus), and rarely sees crowds. It's our favorite of the bunch. Just behind that is Highlands, also awash in good fall lines and very few people. The Highlands Bowl is one of the best in-bounds ski hikes in North America. Snowmass, the biggest of the lot, is less steep than the previous two, but, as a Russian dictator once said, quantity has its own quality. Snowmass can get more crowded than the other mountains and most closely resembles skiing at destination resorts in Eagle and Summit Counties, but it still sees fewer skiers compared with those mountains closer to Denver.

The fourth Aspen mountain, Buttermilk, is a mellow spot perfect for green and aspiring blue skiers.


  • Few crowds
  • Good terrain at Aspen Mountain and Highlands
  • Good town, great dining
  • Good air access—direct flights from many metros. But any kind of weather shuts the runways down quickly


  • Expensive lodging
  • The best beginner terrain is a bus or car ride away from the best expert terrain
  • It lives up to the Aspen stereotype. There's only so much Prada and Bogner one can take on the slopes

Official Aspen Snowmass website: https://www.aspensnowmass.com

Snowmass 10-Day Snow Forecast
Snowmass 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
4 Steamboat
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.

Steamboat is 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 gladed trees and pockets of less-skied snow.


  • 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


  • 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

Official Steamboat website: https://www.steamboat.com

Steamboat 10-Day Snow Forecast
Steamboat 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
5 Winter Park
347 in 3081 acres 3060 ft 12060 ft 25 85.4 more

Not so long ago, Denverites sought out Winter Park for its mellow atmosphere and lack of lift lines compared with ski resorts closer to I-70. The purchase of Winter Park by Alterra Mountain Co. and its full inclusion on the company's Ikon Pass has changed the dynamic. Winter Park remains sleepier than Vail-owned spots close to the Front Range, but make no mistake: Winter Park forms the front line for Alterra when it comes to selling passes to the Denver metro area.

Despite all that, Winter Park remains a skier's mountain—and one that isn't directly in the sights of I-70. Winter Park offers intermediates an exciting canvas on which to challenge themselve with more than 1,000 acres that will keep them investigating these parts of the Rockies. Experts won't find the steepest of pitches at Winter Park but they will find an abundance of long bump runs and tree skiing hideouts that can't all be discovered in a single season.

Snow is a strength for Winter Park, as the mountain draws more of it than most Colorado resorts. Its holds the second highest score for snow in Colorado, behind only Wolf Creek. Its high base elevation of 9,000 feet and 50% north facing terrain, with nearly zero that faces south, means that it is an elite preserver of snow.


  • One of the stronger snow profiles in Colorado
  • Well-balanced terrain with good intermediate groomers and lots of bumps for experts
  • Skiers driving here can escape I-70 much earlier than those headed to Summit or Eagle Counties
  • Lodging base still limited, which keeps destinations skier numbers down


  • Slopes get busy with Denver Ikon Pass skiers on the weekends
  • Town is limited. There are restaurants and places to find gear but it's not much of a destination itself

Official Winter Park website: https://www.winterparkresort.com

Winter Park 10-Day Snow Forecast
Winter Park 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
6 Beaver Creek
325 in 1815 acres 3340 ft 11440 ft 25 84.9 more

Many of the skiers we know best who ski on an Epic Pass rank Beaver Creek ahead of all other Central Colorado mountains. There are good reasons for this. Its terrain is varied, with some of the best beginner runs in Colorado, and also plenty of solid advanced terrain, including Birds of Prey, an infamous World Cup run, which, when it's groomed to resemble something close to racing conditions (read: ice) can be a heat check for skiers who are traipsing about the mountain with misplaced confidence. The crowds at Beaver Creek tend to be less acute than those at Epic mountains further east: Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail.

The mountain possesses a solid snow profile, as it enjoys its premium position west of Vail Pass, where snow falls in larger quantities compared with east of the pass in Summit County. And 55% of Beaver Creek's runs face north, keeping snow cold. There is no town here, however, not even a fake one pulled from the sets of Epcot Center. Beaver Creek Village is quiet and fancy, but nobody has ever fallen in love with it. The skiing, however, is a different matter.


  • Solid snow profile, good quantities and lower standard deviations, 55% north-facing terrain
  • Chocolate chip cookies served every day at the base, 3:00 p.m., and they're free
  • Perhaps the best ski school in central Colorado. Your kid would have to start a fire for you to get a call in the middle of the day
  • There are escalators that take people from one level to the next in the Village. Small thing, but an awesome one
  • Perhaps the best place for beginners and small children in Colorado; superb upper terrain for beginners, who are often stuck skiing at the bottom at most other mountains


  • Parking is expensive; simply have to put up with it and get on with your day
  • Lodging around main base can be pricey
  • Can be crowded, especially during the weekend onslaught of Denverites

Official Beaver Creek Website: https://www.beavercreek.com/

Beaver Creek 10-Day Snow Forecast
Beaver Creek 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
7 Aspen Highlands
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.

Officia Aspen Highlands website: https://www.aspensnowmass.com/four-mountains/aspen-highlands

Aspen Highlands 10-Day Snow Forecast
Aspen Highlands 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
8 Aspen Mountain
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.

Official Aspen Mountain website: https://www.aspensnowmass.com/four-mountains/aspen-mountain

Aspen Mountain 10-Day Snow Forecast
Aspen Mountain 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
9 Breckenridge
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.


  • 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


  • 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

Official Breckenridge website: https://www.breckenridge.com

Breckenridge 10-Day Snow Forecast
Breckenridge 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
10 Crested Butte
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).


  • 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


  • 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

Official Crested Butte website: https://www.skicb.com

Crested Butte 10-Day Snow Forecast
Crested Butte 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
11 A-Basin
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.


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


  • 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

Official A-Basin Website: https://www.arapahoebasin.com/

A-Basin 10-Day Snow Forecast
A-Basin 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
12 Copper
278 in 2465 acres 2601 ft 12313 ft 22 78.1 more

Sitting in Summit county not too far from the town of Frisco, Copper has been a destination resort for decades. Not being owned by Vail or Alterra puts it in an awkward position as a mainline resort close to the Front Range. Copper doesn't have the cult following that A-Basin, also in Summit County, enjoys. To draw Front Range skiers, Copper needs to be on a multi-resort pass full-time—and it is. Nearly everybody skiing at Copper does so on the Ikon Pass. As a full-time Ikon destination sitting right on I-70 Copper will see crowds on the weekends, but they're generally sparser than those at Breckenridge, a Vail Resorts destination in Summit County. The terrain is varied, offering something for everybody. Experts will find good stashes high up—over 12,000 feet in Copper's case. One of Copper's strongest characteristics is its ability to preserve snow. With a base elevation of 9,700 feet and more than half of its terrain (55%) facing north, Copper slopes stay chalky and cold well into March, making it a strong choice for spring trips.


  • Large lodging pool at base; significantly cheaper than that at Breck or Vail
  • Big mountain, good balance of terrain
  • The best preserver of snow in Central Colorado along with A-Basin. An excellent pick in the spring


  • This is a pure resort, there is no town at the base. Frisco isn't far, just down I-70
  • As with any major mountain near the Front Range, weekends are crowded and skiers have to fight I-70 traffic

Official Copper Mountain website: https://www.coppercolorado.com

Copper 10-Day Snow Forecast
Copper 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
13 Loveland
344 in 1800 acres 1900 ft 12700 ft 10 77.8 more

Loveland is an excellent wedge of ski terrain parked above the Eisenhower Tunnel and I-70. It's cheap, it has legit expert terrain and it also possesses one of the stronger snow profiles in Colorado. This place is all about the skiing; there's no town, or fancy resort amenities.

Snow: Loveland often receives a significant amount of snowfall, averaging 344 inches per season. The snow is well preserved, as Loveland's base is way up at 10,800 feet and its skiable terrain reaches above 12,500 feet. Forty percent of the mountain's terrain faces north, further insulating its snow.

Crowds: Compared to some of its neighboring resorts, Loveland generally has fewer crowds, especially on weekdays. However, weekends and holidays can see increased visitor numbers.

Terrain: Loveland offers a diverse range of terrain suitable for all skill levels. The resort is divided into two main areas: Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley, with the Basin catering to a broader range of skiers and the Valley often preferred by beginners.

Town: Unlike some ski resorts, Loveland does not have an adjoining town. For lodging, dining, and nightlife, many visitors stay in nearby Georgetown or further away in Denver. This absence of a resort town contributes to the less crowded feel on the slopes.


  • Snow Quality: With an average of 344 inches of snowfall annually, Loveland boasts consistent, dry powder conditions, and snow keeps cold thanks to 40% north facing terrain.
  • Less Crowded: Compared to more popular neighboring resorts, Loveland generally sees fewer crowds, providing more space and less wait time at lifts.
  • High Elevation: Its elevation provides for a longer ski season, often starting earlier and ending later than other resorts in the region.
  • Proximity to Denver: Being relatively close to Denver, it's accessible for day trips or short visits.


  • No Resort Town: Loveland lacks an adjoining ski town, which means fewer immediate options for lodging, dining, and entertainment.
  • Weekend Crowds: While generally less crowded, weekends and holidays can still see significant numbers, especially given its proximity to Denver.

Official Loveland website: https://skiloveland.com

Loveland 10-Day Snow Forecast
Loveland 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
14 Keystone
235 in 3148 acres 2718 ft 11998 ft 20 76.0 more

Keystone covers three mountain peaks and provides over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. This terrain caters to various skill levels, from beginners to advanced skiers, with a combination of groomed slopes, tree-lined trails, open bowls, and moguls.

Keystone features three distinct mountain peaks, each offering a unique skiing and riding experience. Here's a brief overview of the three peaks:

Dercum Mountain:

  • Elevation: 11,640 feet.
  • Characteristics: This is the primary mountain at Keystone and the first one visitors encounter. It's home to a mix of beginner, intermediate, and some advanced terrain.
  • Features: Dercum Mountain boasts long green and blue runs, making it a favorite for families and those new to skiing or snowboarding. The front side provides mainly groomed runs, while the back side, known as "North Peak," offers more challenging terrains.
  • Amenities: The summit has the Summit House, where visitors can take a break and enjoy the views.

North Peak:

  • Elevation: 11,660 feet.
  • Characteristics: North Peak provides more advanced terrain and is ideal for those seeking a more challenging experience. Features: It's renowned for its steep mogul runs and tree skiing. The Outback provides access to a variety of blue and black diamond runs.
  • Amenities: The Outpost Lodge on North Peak offers dining options.

The Outback:

  • Elevation: 11,980 feet.
  • Characteristics: The Outback is the tallest and furthest of the three peaks. Features: This peak is known for its advanced to expert terrains, including gladed tree skiing areas and powder-filled bowls. Many skiers and snowboarders also venture into hike-to terrain areas to access untouched powder stashes. *Amenities: While there aren't major facilities atop The Outback, it serves as a gateway to some of Keystone's most pristine skiing areas.


  • Diverse Terrain: With three distinct peaks, Keystone offers a range of terrains suitable for beginners, intermediates, and experts.
  • Night Skiing: Keystone is one of the few resorts in Colorado that offers night skiing, extending the hours skiers and riders can enjoy the slopes.
  • Family-Friendly: The resort offers a range of family-friendly activities, including the Kidtopia program, making it ideal for families with children.
  • Comprehensive Amenities: The resort provides a variety of amenities, from dining and shopping options in the village to spa services and accommodations.
  • Proximity: Located close to Denver, Keystone is easily accessible for both local residents and visitors flying into Denver International Airport.


  • Crowds: As one of the more popular resorts in Colorado, Keystone can get crowded, especially during peak seasons.
  • Lift Lines: The popularity of the resort can sometimes lead to longer wait times at lifts, particularly during weekends and holidays.
  • Variable Conditions: While Keystone boasts a substantial snowmaking system, natural snowfall can be inconsistent, affecting slope conditions.
  • Advanced Terrain Limitation: While Keystone does offer expert terrains, especially in The Outback, extreme skiers and snowboarders might find more challenging terrains at other nearby resorts.

Official Keystone Website: https://www.keystoneresort.com/

Keystone 10-Day Snow Forecast
Keystone 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
15 Wolf Creek
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.


* 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

* 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

Official Wolf Creek website: https://wolfcreekski.com

Wolf Creek 10-Day Snow Forecast
Wolf Creek 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
16 Purgatory
264 in 1360 acres 2029 ft 10822 ft 10 69.1 more

Purgatory Ski Resort is spread out over more than 1,600 acres. The mountain's topography is varied, and the resort has carved out a series of runs to take advantage of this diverse landscape.

Beginner Terrain: Purgatory's front side, near the base, houses several beginner slopes. The "Pandemonium" and "Graduation" runs, for example, are broad and provide a gentle incline, which is ideal for those just starting out. They allow novices to get a feel for skiing without too much challenge. There's also a dedicated learning area specifically set up for ski and snowboard lessons.

Intermediate Terrain: Many of Purgatory's blue runs wind their way through forests, offering tree-lined skiing experiences. Demon and Upper Hades are popular intermediate trails, providing varied pitches and some rolling terrains that allow skiers to experience a mix of speeds and turns.

Advanced Terrain: Purgatory's backside, particularly in areas like "Styx" and "Lower Hades," showcases steeper terrain. There are tighter tree runs and moguls that challenge seasoned skiers. "Pitchfork" and the runs branching off from it offer a mix of steep pitches and gladed areas.


  • Varied Terrain: Purgatory offers a balanced mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced slopes, making it suitable for skiers and riders of all skill levels.
  • Family-Focused: Purgatory is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and offers various activities and programs tailored for families and children.
  • Less Crowded: Compared to some of the larger Colorado resorts, Purgatory often has fewer crowds, leading to a more relaxed skiing experience.
  • Natural Beauty: The resort is set amidst the picturesque San Juan Mountains, offering stunning views and a serene environment.
  • Value for Money: Purgatory tends to be more affordable in terms of lift tickets, accommodations, and amenities compared to some of the bigger-name resorts in Colorado.


  • Accessibility: Located further from major cities and airports compared to other Colorado resorts, reaching Purgatory might be a bit more time-consuming.
  • Limited Nightlife: While the resort offers basic amenities, those seeking a vibrant nightlife or extensive dining options might find it lacking.
  • Less Advanced Terrain: While Purgatory does offer some challenging runs, hardcore skiers and riders might desire more extensive advanced terrains.
  • Limited On-Mountain Amenities: Purgatory offers essential amenities, but it might not have the range or sophistication of services found at larger resorts.

Official Purgatory website: https://www.purgatory.ski/

Purgatory 10-Day Snow Forecast
Purgatory 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
17 Buttermilk
200 in 470 acres 2030 ft 9900 ft 8 69.0 more

Buttermilk is generally known for its beginner-friendly slopes, which makes it a popular choice for families and those learning to ski or snowboard. The terrain at Buttermilk is largely composed of easier trails, with a significant portion dedicated to beginner and intermediate levels.

The mountain is the smallest of the Aspen resorts when it comes to acreage but provides a good mix of trails that cater to different skill levels. Lift tickets for Buttermilk are typically interchangeable with those for the nearby Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass, allowing skiers and snowboarders to explore different terrains under one pass.

Buttermilk has also gained recognition for its terrain parks and has been a regular host for the Winter X Games, drawing enthusiasts of freestyle skiing and snowboarding. These features, along with a reputable ski school that offers a range of lessons for various skill levels, contribute to Buttermilk's appeal to a diverse group of winter sports participants.


  • Beginner-Friendly: Buttermilk's slopes are predominantly designed for beginners and intermediate skiers, making it an ideal place for those just starting out or looking to improve their skills.
  • Quality Ski School: The resort is known for its excellent ski and snowboard school, which provides a range of lessons taught by experienced instructors. Terrain Parks: It features some of the best terrain parks in North America and is a favorite venue for the Winter X Games, attracting freestyle skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.
  • Less Crowded: Buttermilk typically has fewer visitors compared to the more challenging Aspen Mountains, allowing for a more relaxed skiing experience and less time waiting in lift lines.
  • Multipass Access: Lift tickets for Buttermilk are valid at the other Aspen Skiing Company mountains (Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass), offering a wide variety of skiing experiences.
  • Family-Oriented: The mountain has a friendly atmosphere and provides various amenities that cater to families, including childcare and dining options.


  • Limited Advanced Terrain: Advanced skiers might find the selection of challenging runs at Buttermilk limited, which may not provide the level of difficulty sought by more experienced skiers.
  • Nightlife and Après-Ski: The après-ski scene and nightlife at Buttermilk are not as developed as those at some of the other Aspen mountains, potentially disappointing those looking for vibrant evening entertainment.
  • Size: Being the smallest of the Aspen mountains, Buttermilk offers fewer trails and less acreage to explore, which may be a drawback for those seeking extensive terrain.
  • Less Varied Terrain: The mountain's focus on beginner and intermediate runs means there's less variety for skiers who enjoy a mix of all levels of difficulty.
  • Snow Conditions: The lower elevation and sunnier aspect of Buttermilk can lead to less favorable snow conditions, especially later in the season.
  • Cost: The cost of lift tickets, food, and accommodation at Buttermilk can be high, as it is part of the upscale Aspen resort complex, which might be a deterrent for those on a tighter budget.

Official Buttermilk site: https://www.aspensnowmass.com/four-mountains/buttermilk

Buttermilk 10-Day Snow Forecast
Buttermilk 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
18 Monarch
284 in 800 acres 1162 ft 11952 ft 7 63.7 more

With its base elevation at 10,790 feet, Monarch known for receiving abundant natural snowfall, often averaging around 350 inches per year. Monarch operates on 100% natural snow, which is a significant draw for purists who prefer to ski on unenhanced powder. The terrain at Monarch ranges from beginner slopes to advanced tree skiing, providing a good mix for all skill levels. It features about 800 skiable acres with 54 trails serviced by seven lifts. Monarch is relatively isolated compared to other Colorado resorts, which means it often has fewer crowds, contributing to a more laid-back skiing experience. Despite its smaller size, it offers a surprising variety of terrain, including steep bowls and tree runs that can challenge experienced skiers and snowboarders.


  • Monarch boasts a significant amount of natural snowfall, providing excellent powder conditions.
  • The variety of terrain caters to all skill levels, from beginner to advanced.
  • It is less crowded than many other Colorado ski resorts, allowing for more relaxed skiing with minimal lift lines.
  • Monarch's isolated location contributes to its charm and can offer a more authentic mountain experience.
  • Lift tickets and overall costs are generally more affordable compared to the larger resorts in Colorado.
  • The resort offers cat skiing on nearby terrain, providing access to untouched powder for a backcountry experience.


  • The remote location can make Monarch less accessible, requiring more travel time from major cities and airports.
  • Limited on-mountain lodging options mean visitors may need to stay in nearby towns and commute to the mountain.
  • Fewer amenities and nightlife options are available compared to larger resort towns, which might not appeal to those seeking a vibrant après-ski scene.
  • The smaller size of the resort means there are fewer runs and lifts, which could be a drawback for those looking for extensive terrain to explore.
  • Advanced skiers might quickly exhaust the challenging terrain offered by Monarch.
  • The high base elevation can be a concern for those prone to altitude sickness or coming from sea level.

Official Monarch site: https://skimonarch.com

Monarch 10-Day Snow Forecast
Monarch 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
19 Powderhorn
225 in 1600 acres 1650 ft 9850 ft 5 61.1 more

Powderhorn Mountain Resort is situated on the northern edge of Colorado's Grand Mesa, the world's largest flat-top mountain. The resort is known for its laid-back atmosphere and provides a unique skiing experience with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

Powderhorn's elevation offers a vertical drop of about 1,650 feet and encompasses roughly 1,600 skiable acres. It receives an annual snowfall of 225 inches. The resort has a good balance of terrain difficulty levels, with a nearly equal split between beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs across its four lifts.


  • Powderhorn typically enjoys a dry snow, favored by many skiers and snowboarders for its quality powder conditions.
  • The resort's lift ticket prices and on-mountain services are generally more affordable compared to larger Colorado ski destinations.
  • With less crowded slopes, visitors often enjoy shorter lift lines and a more relaxed skiing experience.
  • The range of difficulty across trails provides a well-rounded experience for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.
  • Its location on the Grand Mesa allows for unique scenic views and a tranquil mountain atmosphere.


  • Powderhorn's more remote location can make access more challenging compared to other Colorado resorts with closer proximity to major airports and cities.
  • The resort has limited on-site dining and entertainment options, which might not satisfy visitors seeking a full resort experience with abundant après-ski activities.
  • Its smaller scale means there are fewer trails and lifts, which may be a disadvantage for those looking to cover a lot of ground during their visit.
  • Advanced skiers and riders may find the number of challenging runs limited after a few days, as the terrain is more suited to beginner and intermediate levels.
  • Accommodation options are not as plentiful as in larger resort areas, potentially requiring stays in nearby towns and some daily commuting.
  • The lower snowfall compared to some other Colorado resorts might affect snow conditions, particularly in lean snow years.

Official Powderhorn site: https://www.powderhorn.com

Powderhorn 10-Day Snow Forecast
Powderhorn 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
20 Eldora
225 in 680 acres 1600 ft 10800 ft 11 60.0 more

Eldora is located 21 miles west of Boulder and 46 miles from Denver. The resort has a range of terrain, from beginner to advanced. It features more than 680 acres of skiable terrain. For those interested in cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, there are 40km of trails available.

Eldora is the No. 1 option for Denver area folk who don't want to deal with I-70. The resort has grown far busier since it joined the Ikon Pass several years ago.


  • Diverse Terrain: Offers terrain for every type of skier and rider, including world-class Woodward terrain parks.
  • Family-Friendly: Relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere, ideal for families. Includes a Children's Center for learning.
  • Variety of Activities: Features steeps, bumps, glades, terrain park, groomed trails for cruising, and 40km of x-country and snowshoe trails.
  • Accessibility: Located just 21 miles west of Boulder and 46 miles from Denver, making it easily accessible.
  • Local Favorite: Known as a locals’ mountain with reasonable prices and upfront parking.


  • Slow Chair Lifts: The resort is known for having slower chairlifts.
  • Smaller Size: Considered a smaller resort, which may limit some options compared to larger ski areas.
  • Crowd Size: Parking fills up quickly, and the resort can be very crowded on weekends.

Official Eldora site: https://www.eldora.com

Eldora 10-Day Snow Forecast
Eldora 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
21 Sunlight Mountain
232 in 470 acres 2010 ft 9895 ft 3 58.4 more

Sunlight, near Glenwood Springs, is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and affordability. The resort boasts over 700 acres of skiable terrain, with a balance of trails for all skill levels, serviced by three lifts. With a base elevation of 7,885 feet and a summit at 9,895 feet, Sunlight offers over 2,000 feet of vertical drop. The annual snowfall here averages 232 inches, and the resort is celebrated for its short lift lines and uncrowded slopes, which provide a relaxed skiing experience.


  • Sunlight is an affordable skiing option in Colorado, with lower lift ticket and overall costs than the larger resorts.
  • The ski area offers a family-friendly environment, great for beginners and intermediates, with a variety of easy to manage slopes.
  • Due to its smaller size and lesser-known status, the slopes are typically uncrowded, translating to more runs per day and minimal waiting times for lifts.
  • The resort's day lodge has a warm, community feel that is often missing from larger, more commercial resorts.
  • Sunlight's location provides easy access to nearby hot springs, perfect for a post-ski soak.


  • Skiers and snowboarders looking for extensive terrain might find Sunlight's offerings limited, as it has fewer lifts and runs compared to larger resorts.
  • The resort has a modest base area with limited dining and nightlife options, which might not appeal to those looking for a full après-ski scene.
  • Advanced skiers may exhaust the challenging terrain quickly, as the majority of runs cater to beginner and intermediate levels.
  • The infrastructure and amenities at Sunlight are less modern than what might be found at larger resorts.
  • While Glenwood Springs is relatively close, on-site lodging is limited, meaning some visitors will need to commute to the slopes.
  • Snow conditions can vary, and with less annual snowfall than some bigger resorts, late-season skiing can be less favorable.

Official Sunlight site: https://sunlightmtn.com

Sunlight Mountain 10-Day Snow Forecast
Sunlight Mountain 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
22 Cuchara
200 in 225 acres 932 ft 10180 ft 5 50.3 more

Cuchara Ski Hill, located in southern Colorado, has a notable history since its inception in 1981. Known for attracting Texas investors with grand visions, the ski area faced challenges due to variable snow conditions and strong winds. Despite efforts to enhance the area with new lifts, condos, and attracting celebrities, it ceased lift operations in 2000​

There is currently a non-profit focused on getting Lift 4 back up and running. Skiers who wish to skin up or snowshoe up are allowed to do so once they've registered, which is free.

Official Cuchara site: https://www.cucharamountainpark.org

Cuchara 10-Day Snow Forecast
Cuchara 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals
23 Ski Granby
200 in 406 acres 1000 ft 9202 ft 6 48.6 more

Granby Ranch is a family-friendly ski resort known for its picturesque setting and diverse skiing and snowboarding terrain. It's perhaps better known for its cross-country skiing. The resort, situated about thirty minutes north of Winter Park, is divided into two mountains catering to different skill levels: the East side is ideal for beginners and intermediates, while the West side offers more challenging runs for advanced skiers. With nearly 1,000 feet of vertical and over 400 acres of skiable terrain across 42 trails


  • Family-Oriented: Emphasizes a welcoming and friendly environment suitable for families.
  • Varied Difficulty Levels: Offers a range of terrains across two mountains, catering to beginners, intermediates, and advanced skiers.
  • Scenic Views: Provides stunning views of the Rockies, enhancing the skiing experience.
  • Ski & Ride School: Features a designated area for ski and snowboard instruction, ideal for beginners.


  • Limited Advanced Terrain: While there are challenging runs on the West side, advanced skiers might find the options limited compared to larger resorts.
  • Smaller Resort: Being a smaller resort, it may lack some of the amenities and variety offered by larger ski areas.
  • Snowfall is modest by Colorado standards, at 200 inches; mountain doesn't preserve snow well as most of the terrain faces west.

Official Granby Ranch site: https://granbyranch.com

Ski Granby 10-Day Snow Forecast
Ski Granby 3, 5, 10, 30-Day Snow Totals

How We Rank Colorado Ski Resorts

Our rankings focus on four things:

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.

Ski trips to Colorado are often the medium within which so many people get hooked on the sport. 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. But while ski resorts in Colorado all share a state, they differ greatly, place to place. This is the unequivocal ranking of resorts in the state known best for skiing.

We've also put the same amount of time and scrutiny into ranking ski resorts for these states:

Best Ski Resorts In Vermont