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The 10 Best Colorado Ski Resorts

10 Best Colorado Ski Resorts 21/22
Jack Lee
Written by Jack Lee / Photos by Greg Burke
Last updated October 1, 2021
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Not sure where to go skiing in Colorado? Narrowing down the best Colorado ski resorts can be a subjective endeavor and really depends on what you're looking for in a ski vacation. That's why we've curated the 10 best ski resorts in Colorado which are definitely worth visiting!

Updates to Colorado 21/22 ski season:
To protect the health and safety of staff and guests, the State of Colorado has imposed a statewide mask order which requires unvaccinated patients, residents, and visitors to wear masks in all public indoor spaces. Lifts and gondolas will be loaded at normal capacity. Stricter guidelines may apply to specific ski resorts in Colorado.

1. Breckenridge

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Known for

Most popular resort in Colorado, voted one of the best ski towns in the US

Highlights

  • Vibrant ski town with great nightlife
  • Diverse range of lodgings from affordable to lavishly high end
  • Tons of activities
  • Big crowds are a pain

Opening and Closing (21/22 Ski Season):

  • Opening Date: Nov 12 2021
  • Closing Date: May 03 2022(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Denver Intl. Airport - 104 mi (2.5 hour drive)
breckenridge ski resort
Breck in a snapshot

Why Breckenridge

With 187 trails spread across 5 peaks, Breckenridge has some of the best slopes in Colorado. It is also home to North America’s highest chairlift, the Imperial Express Super Chair at 12,840 ft! The ski resort has an unusually high base elevation at 9,600 ft which makes for good quality snow, just beware altitude sickness is a thing here.

The centerpiece is unquestionably Peak 8, offering everything from groomers, award-winning terrain parks and powder-filled bowls. The town’s Main Street is lined with bistros, bars, saloons and a brewery, while activities like dog-sledding and snowmobiling are just nearby. Breckenridge is known for having affordable accommodation compared to other big-name resorts such as Aspen and Vail.

Where to stay

There are two key areas, at the base of the peaks or in the Historic District, essentially the town of Breckenridge.

Base:
Most people stay around the base of Peaks 7, 8 and 9 or around the 4 O’clock and Skyway skiway. These areas are best for those looking to be close to the slopes or chairlifts but you’ll be further from town. Staying at the base of Peak 9 is ideal for beginners thanks to the green slopes there and you can walk or shuttle to town. Peak 7 and 8 offer more luxury ski-in/ski-out accommodations and connect to town via the free BreckConnect Gondola, which takes about 10 minutes.

Town:
Staying in the historic town of Breckenridge is perfect for those looking to be close to restaurants, nightlife, and shopping. You can easily access the mountain via the BreckConnect Gondola on the north edge of the town or you can walk or shuttle to one of the other chairlifts. Aside from the legendary après ski scene, you’ll be near other activities including art galleries and ghost tours.

Getting around

Within the resort:
It’s easy to get around Breckenridge if you don’t have a car. There are two free bus services which ferry skiers and riders to and from the mountain. Breck Free Ride serves stops all over the town and its nearby surroundings, including all the resort’s base areas. Additionally, many lodging properties offer their own shuttles around town so always check.

Within Summit County:
The Summit Stage bus system serves destinations throughout Summit County, including Frisco, Copper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, and Keystone. The bus service stops every 30 minutes or so.

2. Vail

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Known for

Iconic ski resort in Colorado

Highlights

  • Largest ski area in Colorado
  • Charming pedestrianized ski town with endless dining and shopping
  • Luxurious ski vacation experience
  • Crowds and expensive

Opening and Closing (21/22 Ski Season):

  • Opening Date: Nov 12 2021
  • Closing Date: Apr 19 2022(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Eagle County Regional Airport - 34 mi (50 minute drive)
Denver Intl. Airport - 120 mi (2.5 hour drive)
Vail ski resort and town
Vail is as much about the mountain as it is the town

Why Vail

Often touted as the crowning glory of Colorado ski resorts, Vail is one of the rare ski destinations that has it all; enormous terrain and a world-class ski village. The frontside of the mountain is jam-packed full of green and blue groomers, while the seven back bowls are perfect for the advanced. The resort has charming European-style villages, with plenty of restaurants, shops and après options. Keep in mind that with luxury amenities like heated sidewalks, Vail doesn’t come without crowds or a price tag.

Where to stay

The main areas to stay are in one of the villages at the base of the mountain or in nearby areas.

Base:
Stay in one of the four base villages to be close to the lifts. Vail Village is in the middle and is the heart of the resort, with most of the shops, dining, and bustling après and nightlife spots. Adjacent to Vail Village is Golden Peak, which is a good choice for families. It's more quiet and close to the children’s ski schools and a large learning area. About a 5 minute drive from Vail Village, you’ll find Lionshead. It’s smaller but resembles Vail Village’s European-style area with restaurants and shops. Cascade Village is another 5 minute drive to the west of Lionshead. It’s away from the hustle and bustle, and is served by its own lift.

Nearby Areas:
East Vail and West Vail are both up to 25 minutes away from the center of the resort by bus, but offer more affordable lodging. West Vail has more shops and dining options.

Getting around

Within Vail Village, you’ll find that most places are within walking distance. To travel between the base villages, the free Town of Vail buses operate throughout the resort, and to East and West Vail. The resort has a dedicated app to track bus locations and parking availability.

3. Aspen Snowmass

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Known for

Four distinctive ski areas on one lift ticket clustered around a famous ski town

Highlights

  • Upscale and lively town with tons of food and shopping
  • Fantastic intermediate and advanced ski terrain
  • Access to four ski areas on one lift ticket
  • Expensive ski vacation

Opening and Closing (21/22 Ski Season):

  • Opening Date: Nov 24 2021(Estimated open date based on historical data)
  • Closing Date: Apr 17 2022(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Aspen/ Pitkin County Airport - 8 mi (15 minute drive)
aspen highlands mountain views
Aspen needs no introduction

Why Aspen

The expansive terrain at Aspen Snowmass is made up of four distinct ski areas: Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain. Snowmass has a mix of terrain and is located further from the other three areas that are closer together. Buttermilk is smaller, with mainly greens and blues, while the advanced to expert will get the most out of Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain. There are endless dining, nightlife and shopping options in the upscale town, which holds a reputation for attracting the rich and famous. It’s no doubt an expensive option, but the fantastic après-ski scene attracts hordes of skiers each year.

Where to stay

Snowmass Village and the Town of Aspen are the main base areas to stay in. There are limited lodging options at the base of Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands.

Snowmass Village:
Stay here to have close access to Snowmass, the largest of the four ski areas. It can be a better option for families, as it has less nightlife than downtown Aspen. You’ll still enjoy a charming atmosphere with restaurants, shops and activities like tubing and an indoor climbing wall. The beginner ski school is also located here. The other three mountains, including the Town of Aspen, are about a 15 to 20 minute drive away.

Town of Aspen:
In downtown Aspen, you’ll be at the base of Aspen Mountain and amongst one of the greatest après ski scenes. The former mining town has plenty of restaurants, bars, shops and galleries. There aren’t any beginner trails at Aspen Mountain, but Buttermilk is just a 10 minute drive away.

Getting around

The local RFTA bus system regularly operates free routes between the four ski areas. Many hotels also offer their own shuttles to and from the slopes. The resort has a dedicated app to check parking availability before arriving.

4. Winter Park

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Known for

Closest large ski resort to Denver, ideal for families

Highlights

  • Easily accessible from Denver including weekend train
  • Excellent range of terrain for different abilities and offers mogul runs
  • Family-friendly with great ski school and tubing
  • Smaller base area compared to larger Colorado resorts

Opening and Closing (21/22 Ski Season):

  • Opening Date: Nov 20 2021(Estimated open date based on historical data)
  • Closing Date: May 06 2022(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Denver Intl. Airport - 90 mi (2 hour drive)
Vasquez Cirque Territory at Winter Park ski resort
Vasquez Cirque

Why Winter Park

Winter Park is a family-friendly mountain and one of the more affordable ski destinations in Colorado. There are 7 territories across 2 interconnected mountains, each with their own base area. This makes it the fourth largest resort in the state! Winter Park Territory has plenty of groomers, while Mary Jane is known for its moguls and tree skiing. The base village is more relaxed compared to other large resorts in Colorado, but you’ll still find a range of dining and shopping options. There’s also plenty of kid-friendly activities including the tube park, ice bumper cars and snowmobiling. The resort is easily accessible from Denver, with Amtrak’s Winter Park Express train planning to resume its service in the 2021/2022 season.

Where to stay

There are two main areas to stay in; the Village at Winter Park at the base of the mountain or in the surrounding areas.

Village at Winter Park:
Staying here is the most convenient option for getting on the slopes and being amongst the resort’s restaurants and shops. Keep in mind that the number of lodging options are limited, and the convenience can add up in price. For more dining and shopping options, the Main Street in downtown Winter Park is just a 10 minute drive away.

Nearby Areas:
If you’re willing to drive to the slopes each morning, you might save some money by staying in one of the nearby areas. The Old Town Winter Park area is located between the resort and downtown Winter Park. It has lodging options just a few miles from the slopes. Downtown Winter Park is a 10 minute drive from the resort, but you’ll have access to all of the dining, shopping and nightlife options on Main Street.

Getting around

The Lift is a free shuttle service that loops between the resort and the towns of Winter Park and Fraser throughout the day and into the night. The shuttle’s downloadable app allows you to track the bus in real time.

5. Beaver Creek

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Known for

Vail's little sister resort offering luxurious pampering

Highlights

  • Ultimate pampering experience
  • Fewer crowds than Vail
  • Top-notch grooming
  • Expect to pay top dollar for everything here

Opening and Closing (21/22 Ski Season):

  • Opening Date: Nov 24 2021
  • Closing Date: Apr 13 2022(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Eagle County Regional Airport - 28 mi (30 minute drive)
Denver Intl. Airport - 130 mi (3 hour drive)
views of gore range surround Beaver Creek
Views of Gore Range surround Beaver Creek

Why Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek’s luxurious amenities sets it apart, pampering guests with everything from escalators between the village and the chairlift and free freshly-baked cookies. Beginner and intermediate skiers and riders will get the most out of the scenic, well-groomed terrain here. The ski area is smaller than neighboring Vail, but it attracts less crowds. Despite all the top-notch amenities, it’s not the place to come if you’re looking for nightlife in the base villages or a budget-friendly vacation.

Where to Stay

You can stay in one of the villages at the base of the mountain, or nearby in the Town of Avon.

Base:
Out of the three base villages, Beaver Creek Village is the heart of the resort. Stay here to have close access to a large portion of the resort’s terrain. You’ll also find most of the resort’s dining and shopping options in this pedestrian-friendly village, as well as an ice-skating rink and fire pit. Bachelor Gulch Village and Arrowhead Village don’t have as many lodging or dining options.

Town:
The Town of Avon is located about a 7 to 10 minute drive away from Beaver Creek Village but is connected to the mountain via a 3 minute gondola ride. Lodging is more affordable in Avon, and you’ll find a range of dining and shopping options, including grocery stores.

Getting around

There are free shuttle and bus services operating between Avon and Beaver Creek Village. A free, on-demand shuttle service is also offered throughout the resort. The ECO Transit bus system operates a paid service between Vail and Beaver Creek during the ski season.

6. Keystone

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Known for

One of the best family-friendly resorts in Colorado, with night skiing

Highlights

  • Kidtopia play area and endless family-friendly programs
  • Beginner runs and learning area at the top of the mountain
  • One of the country’s top terrain parks, with its own lift
  • Crowds can be a problem, especially on weekends

Opening and Closing (21/22 Ski Season):

  • Opening Date: Oct 25 2021(Estimated open date based on historical data)
  • Closing Date: Apr 11 2022(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Denver Intl. Airport - 90 mi (2 hour drive)
north peak at Keystone
North Peak at Keystone

Why Keystone

Offering the largest night skiing in Colorado, Keystone’s terrain is spread across three peaks; Dercum Mountain, North Peak and Outback. Dercum sits at the front, offering plenty of green and blue trails, a famous terrain park and the resort’s two base areas. Keystone is a family favorite, with lots of activities including tubing, sleigh rides and the Kidtopia kids program. The resort is less expensive than higher-end resorts like Vail or Beaver Creek, but it can get crowded due to its popularity. The base villages have a relaxed atmosphere so if your version of après ski is night skiing, then Keystone might be for you.

Where to stay

River Run Village and Mountain House are the two villages that sit right at the base of the first peak, Dercum Mountain.

River Run Village:
Located at the heart of Keystone’s base area, the pedestrian-friendly village has a range of shops and eateries and is also home to the Kidtopia Headquarters. You’ll have close access to the River Run Gondola, which will take you directly up to the peak.

Mountain House area:
About a 5 to 10 minute drive from River Run Village is the quieter Mountain House area. It’s the best place to access the base learning area and Keystone’s famous terrain park, Area 51. There isn’t a gondola here so you’ll need to take two chairlifts to get to the peak.

Getting around

There are shuttle stops throughout Keystone and the free shuttle system makes stops every 20 minutes or so. The Summit Stage bus system is a free service that operates throughout Summit County destinations including Frisco, Silverthorne and Breckenridge.

7. Steamboat

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Known for

Laid-back Western ski town and natural hot springs

Highlights

  • Unwind in one of the many geothermal hot springs!
  • Small authentic Western town
  • Crowds are rare
  • A bit further out from Denver

Opening and Closing (21/22 Ski Season):

  • Opening Date: Nov 24 2021(Estimated open date based on historical data)
  • Closing Date: Apr 13 2022(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Yampa Valley Regional Airport - 28 mi (40 minute drive)
Denver Intl. Airport - 180 mi (3.5 hour drive)
steamboat springs ski resort
Welcome to Steamboat!

Why Steamboat

Steamboat offers a unique ski experience, located close to an authentic cowboy town and relaxing geothermal hot springs. Skiers of all abilities can enjoy the resort’s “Champagne Powder” snow and famous glade skiing. It’s a popular resort among families, with a Kids’ Vacation Center and the Outlaw Mountain Coaster, which is over a mile long! The resort has a relatively low summit elevation so it can be a good option to avoid altitude sickness. Steamboat is located further out from major airports and is not easily accessible, but that means less crowds.

Where to stay

There are two main areas to stay, on-mountain or in downtown Steamboat Springs.

On-mountain:
Lodging in the base area is conveniently close to the lifts, as well as the resort’s dining and shopping. Another option is the Mountain Village area which is adjacent to the base. There are plenty of lodges and condominiums that are a short walk or drive to the slopes. There isn’t much nightlife in either area, but the drive to downtown Steamboat Springs is about 10 minutes.

Downtown:
Stay in downtown Steamboat Springs to experience the Wild West town. There aren’t as many lodging options to choose from but you’ll be close to restaurants, bars, shops and some of the hot springs. The ski slopes are just a 10 minute drive away.

Getting around

The Steamboat Springs Transit (SST) is a free bus system that operates between the ski resort and downtown. Many hotels also offer their own shuttle service to take guests to and from the slopes.

8. Telluride

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Known for

Western town with extraordinary views and epic terrain, top tier resort for skiing

Highlights

  • Exceptional advanced terrain
  • The best laid out mountain in Colorado makes it easy to get around
  • Historic western town with jaw-dropping scenery
  • Difficult ski resort to reach

Opening and Closing (21/22 Ski Season):

  • Opening Date: Nov 29 2021(Estimated open date based on historical data)
  • Closing Date: Apr 05 2022(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Telluride Regional Airport - 8 mi (20 minute drive)
Montrose Regional Airport - 70 mi (1.5 hour drive)
telluride gondola
Going up Telluride Gondola – ready to take on the mountain

Why Telluride

Telluride stands out for its stunning scenery and Wild West town. Although the terrain is varied, its intense chutes and bowls are worth noting for the advanced. Exploring the shops and eateries in the former mining town are also a key part of the experience. The resort is difficult to reach from Denver, but this means there are fewer crowds.

Where to stay

The main areas to stay are on-mountain in Mountain Village or at the base of the mountain in the town of Telluride.

Mountain Village can be a convenient choice for families. You’ll be close to beginner and intermediate terrain, the ski school, kids camp and ice skating. There are restaurants and shops but the options are limited compared to the town of Telluride. Stay in town to enjoy the bustling Western atmosphere and its restaurants, bars, shops and nightlife. You’ll also be close to intermediate and advanced slopes.

Getting around

The free gondola operates between Mountain Village and the town of Telluride, from 6:30 am to midnight. The ride takes 13 minutes one way. The town is easy to walk around, but there is also a free shuttle service called the Galloping Goose which operates a loop.

9. Copper Mountain

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Known for

Large ski resort with a laid-back local’s vibe

Highlights

  • A family favorite with plenty of kids activities
  • Budget-friendly compared to other big names in Colorado
  • Diverse terrain to suit all levels
  • Not much of a town compared to Breckenridge and Keystone

Opening and Closing (21/22 Ski Season):

  • Opening Date: Nov 16 2021(Estimated open date based on historical data)
  • Closing Date: Apr 20 2022(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Denver Intl. Airport - 100 mi (2 hour drive)
on mountain chief looking into copper bowl at copper mountain
On Mountain Chief looking into Copper Bowl

Why Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain is ideal for those looking to ski a big name resort in Colorado on a more affordable budget. The terrain is well-distributed, with the mountain naturally split into three sections, advanced, intermediate and beginner terrain. Outside of skiing, there are a plethora of family activities available - a four laned tubing hill, the Rocky Mountain Coaster and an indoor training facility with trampolines and foam pits to keep the kids busy.

Where to stay

There are three villages that sit at the base of the mountain: Center Village, East Village and West Village.

Center Village:
Home to the resort’s dining and shopping options, most people like to stay here to be close to the action. You’ll have the best access to the intermediate slopes, the Rocky Mountain Coaster and ice skating on West Lake.

East Village:
You’ll find Copper’s tubing hill and JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern in the East Village. But unless you’re more of an advanced skier, you won’t find much else on this end of the resort.

West Village:
West Village is quieter, with limited amenities, but you’ll have the best access to a wealth of green terrain. The ski school is also based here, making it ideal for beginners and families.

Getting Around

To travel between the villages, the Village Shuttle operates a number of routes in a continuous loop. Alternatively, the Copper Coach is a free, on-demand ride service for overnight guests. You can catch the free Summit Stage bus to get to and from nearby towns and resorts including Frisco, Silverthorne, Breckenridge and Keystone.

10. Arapahoe Basin

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Known for

Small “local's mountain” vibe offering extreme chutes and gnarly steeps

Highlights

  • Great advanced terrain
  • Budget friendly compared to other Colorado ski resorts
  • One of the longest ski seasons (October - June)
  • Very limited amenities and no lodging at the base

Opening and Closing (21/22 Ski Season):

  • Opening Date: Oct 24 2021(Estimated open date based on historical data)
  • Closing Date: Jun 08 2022(Estimated close date based on historical data)

Closest airports

Denver Intl. Airport - 88 mi (2 hour drive)
view looking from arapahoe basin summit
Looking down from A-Basin Summit

Why Arapahoe Basin

A-Basin is all about extreme skiing rather than the amenities. It’s perfect for advanced skiers who don’t mind a no-frills experience. Known for having some of the highest skiable terrain in North America, it typically stays open from October to June. There's limited dining and no lodging at the base, but it’s just a short drive from nearby towns and resorts. A-Basin’s laid-back atmosphere comes to life with its parking lot après scene.

Where to stay

There isn’t any lodging at the base, but most visitors stay at nearby resorts or towns. The closest locations to A-Basin are Keystone Resort, just a 10 minute drive away and the town of Silverthorne, a 20 minute drive away.

Getting around

Walking around A-Basin itself is easy, thanks to the compact base area. To get to the resort, you can catch the free Summit Stage bus from nearby destinations including Keystone, Breckenridge, Silverthorne or Frisco.

10 Best Colorado Ski Resorts 21/22
Breckenridge
Vail
Aspen Snowmass
Winter Park
Beaver Creek
Keystone
Steamboat
Telluride
Copper Mountain
Arapahoe Basin
Breckenridge