Narrowing down the 10 best Colorado ski resorts is a subjective endeavor and really based on what you're looking for in a ski vacation. That said, our writers who have skied most, if not all, of the resorts in Colorado have come up with a list of ten ski areas which are definitely worth visiting!
Due to COVID-19, safety measures were put in place by the State of Colorado which impacted the 20/21 ski season. These included physical distancing, mask-wearing and limited group gatherings. In Summit County, home to several key ski resorts in Colorado including Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper Mountain, there was limited capacity for indoor and outdoor dining and vacation lodging was limited to 2 households per unit. In Pitkin County, home to Aspen, visitors were required to bring an affidavit which confirmed a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of travel. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
Breckenridge is undoubtedly an awesome mountain to ride. The atmosphere at the bottom of the mountain is fun and relaxed, plus there are a ton of shopping, dining, and drinking options to choose from. Accommodation options here are varied and plentiful, with hundreds of hotels and thousands of condo units to stay in. Whether it’s 5-star or self-catering you're after, you’ll find it in Breck, making it a great ski resort to suit all budgets. While Breck ticks the boxes for many, it can also get frustratingly crowded (if this is a deal breaker for you, try Winter Park or Steamboat).
Often touted as the crowning glory of Colorado ski resorts, Vail’s ski terrain is enormous and offers a huge variety. It’s a true mega resort, which might put some people off, but it’s one of those rare ski destinations that simply has it all! The charming ski city is spread out across three base areas, Golden Peak, Vail Village, and Lionshead, and the entire place has an enchanting European feel. Being largely purpose-built means much of it is pedestrianized, so just strolling to the many shops, restaurants, and bars dotted around this picture-perfect resort is a joy in itself. With everything on offer, Vail does draw in the crowds and with its strong brand name, expect to pay a premium to enjoy any of it.
A ski mecca for the rich and famous, Aspen has grown into four standalone ski resorts and has one of the greatest ski towns in the world. The original Aspen Mountain resort (locally known as Ajax) where the town is also located, is now joined by Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands, offering a distinctly different ski experience and located less than 8 mi of each other. While its renowned reputation and legendary ski town is enough to draw hordes of skiers in, most people often forget that Aspen is one of the few ski resorts in Colorado where you won’t be affected by altitude sickness. With so much going for it, Aspen is far from a cheap ski vacation but it could be one of the most memorable ski trips of your life!
Despite being the longest continually running ski resort in the state, this place retains a down-to-earth attitude. What's great about Winter Park is its train service (Winter Park Express) that takes you from Denver Downtown to the Mountain. It’s just a shame this service only runs on weekends between January and March. The ski terrain ranges from wide open bowls to steep alpine chutes, there’s plenty to challenge all levels of ability. Keep in mind, Winter Park isn’t a particularly glitzy destination like some other Colorado ski resorts, quite similar to Steamboat in this respect, so some amenities might be missing.
Smart, sophisticated and unabashedly expensive, this purpose-built ski resort is as much about the pampering as the powder, which are both equally as good! Just 10 mi west of Vail, Beaver Creek doesn’t suffer from the same crowds as its bigger sister, but then again it doesn’t offer anywhere near as much terrain. Immaculately groomed green and blue runs make up a large portion of the ski terrain here, and unlike many other ski resorts, most trails leisurely wind down their way down the mountain for a scenic and unique skiing experience. If luxury is what you’re after, you’ll find it all here at Beaver Creek.
Keystone offers an affordable and family-friendly ski experience while remaining competitive in other aspects. Night skiing is one of them, with the largest number of trails in the state lit up after dark. The resort’s A51 Terrain Park is also widely regarded as one of the finest in the country with over 100 different features, kickers, rails, and pipes for all abilities. Whether you’re looking for casual hotels, private lodges, or premium condos, there’s usually something to suit most budgets (prices are a notch lower than at Aspen and Vail). Keep in mind that crowds are the norm here, especially on weekends, so plan accordingly!
Steamboat is a cowboy ski town that is home to geothermal hot springs where you can soak those weary muscles after a hard day on the slopes! Where Steamboat really excels is in its glade skiing, which is undoubtedly some of the best in Colorado. On the flipside, even though the resort is famed for its excellent snow quality, the relatively low summit elevation means that on a warm day, the snow on the lower half of the mountain degrades quickly. The resort is a bit further out from Denver Airport but if you want to avoid the crowds, this would be your best bet!
A truly majestic place steeped in Wild West history, Telluride is often considered one of the top places to ski in Colorado. The distance from Denver keeps crowds away but it’s the stunning mountain vistas and exceptional ski terrain that has skiers and snowboarders hooked. Having the best laid out mountain in Colorado may not sound like much on paper but once you’re here you’ll appreciate how easy it is to get around compared to other resorts. And let’s not forget the free gondola which takes passengers between the Wild West town of Telluride and the family-friendly Mountain Village, where you’ll find accommodation at both.
Copper Mountain’s biggest attraction lies in its natural topography. The mountain splits itself into three sections, advanced, intermediate, and beginner terrain which is great for families and friends who have the same skiing or snowboarding ability. While Copper Mountain generally sees slightly less snowfall than its other Summit County counterparts, it has one of the most extensive snowmaking systems to make up for it. When it comes to accommodation, there’s a wide range to choose from here, from large luxury homes to smaller studios. For more affordable options try Frisco, just a 10-minute drive away, or Silverthorne, a 15-minute drive away.
Arapahoe Basin, A-Basin, The Legend, however you want to call this ski resort, its reputation precedes itself. Shrugging off the idea that ski resorts need to offer a multitude of facilities and amenities, it instead focuses solely on riding the mountain. There are few other resorts in Colorado that serve up as much expert terrain within ski area boundaries and its strengths lie in the extreme chutes and gnarly steeps that keep the blood pumping for advanced skiers. As the firm favorite among locals, who appreciate the affordable lift tickets and relaxed attitude, there’s just one big drawback for visitors. There’s no accommodation at the base of the lifts but nearby Keystone and Silverthorne have plenty.