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Ready for some great turns? Some of the best skiing in the world is located in Colorado. If looking to start a new hobby or aged expert looking to jump cliffs there is something for you to ride down on in Colorado. If traveling with kids remember that many of the Ski Schools in Colorado have been voted the best in the country! Making this an ideal place for a family vacation. For the more expert skiers some of the expert terrain can only be topped by a few other places in the world.
Although in recent years some of the areas have become more expensive it still is possible to find good deals on tickets. Especially if you buy your tickets online or from grocery stores, such as Safe Way or King Soopers, before heading to the mountain in Denver or other Colorado cities. Several of the mountains offer combo tickets allowing you to ski at different areas with the same ticket allowing tourists to enjoy a range of mountains with different perks and pitfalls. So go catch some fresh powder in Colorado!
Along I-70, mainly in Summit County, there are several great ski areas. Vail, Beaver Creek, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge and Keystone all ski on a common pass. In some years though it is cheaper just to get a Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basine and Keystone pass then all five mountains. Mary Jane, Loveland and Cooper have pass sharing deals also.
The main towns people tend to stay in are in the town of Breckenridge, Frisco, Avon or Vail. If driving to and from Denver remember that the weekend traffic can be terrible on I-70 during the ski season, therefore be prepared for long waits.
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Winter Park first opened in the winter of 1939 and then Mary Jane was opened in 1975. Although bother ski hills have there own base area, they share a common ticket. With 57% of the hill being advance or expert makes this a ski area for the better skier. The mountain reaches as 12,060 feet making for a great views above the tree line. It is also possible to reach this mountain by train avoiding the annoying traffic on I-70 and a hair raising mountain pass.
Located on the eastern side of the Eisenhower Tunnel on Loveland pass, Loveland Ski Area is one of the first to open every fall. The first area was opened in 1936 and slowly expanded. Although a small area it is a fun day ski area. There is an nice mix of different experience levels to be found and also a good terrain park. It is also a good place to stop for a half day of skiing if driving up from Denver heading to one the areas further west.
Arapahoe Basin, or more commonly called A-Basin, is one of the last wild ski areas left. With no hotels and parking only walking distances from the lifts this place has a very nice intimate feel. There is great expert and intermediate skiing to be found here. Another great features is The Beach, the parking area near the lifts were people tale gate and have big parties, especially later in the season. If it has been a good snow year A-Basin can even stay open as late as July 4th.
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Keystone was founded in 1970 and consists of four mountains. One of this areas main claims to fame is having the largest night skiing operation in all of Colorado for those that want to brave the cold. There are also several terrain parks, 51 rails/funboxes and 1 super pipe. Keystone is a fully functional resort for any family or group of people with plenty of restaurants and other forms of entertainment other then skiing. Although for cheaper accommodation and restaurants it is better to stay in Frisco.
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Breckenridge Ski Resort, also known as Breck, is one of the most popular ski areas in America. During the 2006-2007 season this area hosted 1.65 million skiers! With several different basses and a good mixture of terrain this makes Breck an excellent family or large group ski area. The town of Breckenridge itself is very charming and is home to several nice restaurants and was the location of where the movie Dumber and Dumber was filmed. There is also a decent nightlife in the town of Breckenridge.
Copper Mountain is located about 75 (121 km) miles west of Denver at a base elevation of 9,712 ft (2,960 m). One of the best parts of the best parts of the mountain is the four expert only bowls located off of Copper and Union Peaks. These bowls are challenge for any expert skier. There is also plenty of great skiing for the less advance skier at the lower elevations. The area is more popular with locals making it shorter lines during the high season when compared to the other nearby ski areas. The village itself is ok but does not have a very good nightlife.
Ski Cooper is a small area with a lot of charm. Due to its small size and location it makes it an excellent place for a family vacation. One cool fact about Ski Cooper is that all the snow is all natural, there is no snow making equipment on the mountain. Also because it is located off of the main resort drag there are great lift ticket deals to be found here. For the more advance skier with some extra cash it is possible to hit up some great back country skiing via snowcat. Ski Cooper is the location were the 10th Mountain Division was trained during World War II.
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Vail Ski Resort is the second largest ski resort in the USA and features seven amazing bowls and great intermediate gladed terrain in the Blue Ski Basin. There are also two amazing terrain parks to explore. The main draw to Vail is its amazing expert skiing that can challenge anyone with cliff jumping and stunning mogul runs. For the more basic skier there is also a great ski school system. The town of Vail is considered one of the best ski villages in the country with amazing restaurants and a killer nightlife. If you want a place where you can ski for days straight and never do the same run over again, then be able to party all night, Vail is for you. If you can afford the price tag. Remember you can always save money by staying in East Vail.
Beaver Creek is one of the newer resorts in the neighborhood only being opened in the fall of 1980. The area is now actually three different areas connected together. Most of the runs are meant for beginners or intermediate skiers but there is still plenty of expert level skiing too. Including some insanely long bump runs and some very nice glade skiing, especially off of Gross Mountain. There are also 4 different terrain parks and 1 half pipe for the jump crazy skier or boarder. The resort and mountain is geared towards upscale families, making there almost no night life or anything cheap in the village. If looking for cheaper lodging there is plenty to be found in the city of Avon and East Vail near the access road to the ski area. Lastly there is actually a good Cross Country skiing area that is part of the mountain also.
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Crested Butte Ski Resort is a large ski area located among beautiful mountains and streams. The highest point of the area reaches a stunning 12,162 ft (3,707 m) and drops to 9,375 ft (2,858 m). With 121 runs and with 57% of the area being intermediate makes it a great family area. The longest run is 2.6 miles which makes for a nice cruise. For the more active skier there are 2 terrain parks to explore. Lastly the town of Crested Butte is a fun place in itself with a good nightlife and during the summer the streams around the area have great fly fishing.
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When Telluride Ski Resort was founded by Joe Zoline his goal was to great a world class ski resort from nothing. He also on purpose put it in the middle of nowhere in order to limit weekend skiers and keep the lines shorter. The skiing is spectacular on this mountain and there is plenty of amazing skiing for any ability level. There are even 3 terrain parks that are lots of fun. Recently some new areas have been opened up giving even more choices for a skier to choose from. The town of Telluride itself is lots of fun and has a great nightlife. Only about a 2 hour drive away is the world famous Mesa Verde National Park home to great ruins and is worth a day trip.
Durango Mountain Resort, also known as Purgatory, is a small ski area out side of Durango (Colorado). Opened in 1965 the area was the originally the site of miners searching for their wealth during the 19th century. With three terrain parks to jump off of and several runs to explore this is a great place to ski. With Durango (Colorado) nearby there is plenty of nightlife to have fun at and restaurants to taste. Only about an hour drive away is the world famous Mesa Verde National Park home to great ruins and is worth a day trip.
Wolf Creek Ski Area, also known as Wolf Creek, is located on Wolf Creek Pass between Pagosa Springs and South Fork. The areas main claim to fame is having the most snow of any ski area in Colorado. Interestingly the are area mainly appeals to locals and has no resorts at its base. The nearest accommodation is in Pagosa Springs making the drive a little annoying, although this town is home to some great hot springs and wonderful spa.
Monarch Ski and Snowboard Area, also called Monarch, is a small ski area located on US Highway 50 about 20 miles west of Salida on Monarch Pass. The mountain has some great runs, two terrain parks and the new Extreme Terrain area called Mirkwood. Many people consider Monarch a great secret because of short lift lines and good deals. The lodge is located 3 miles from the area in the pretty town of Garfield, CO.
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The Steamboat Ski Resort, located outside the town of Steamboat Springs, is one of the best ski areas in Colorado. With 42% of the area being intermediate and another 44% designated as advance skiing, gives it a good mix that any family or group of people can enjoy. In the evenings hitting up a local hot spring or spa can be a great way to relax the muscles. There is also an excellent nightlife in Steamboat Springs that is fun for anyone looking for a drink and a place to dance.
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This series of Ski areas located south of I-70 deserves its own directory. These four areas offer massive amounts of great skiing for different ability levels with great views. The town of Aspen is also a nice place to chill out and relax after a great day of skiing. Although a little pricey Aspen does offer some great skiing and stunning views. During the summertime there are great hikes in the mountains around Aspen.
Aspen Mountain, often called by its original name of Ajax, is the oldest ski area in the Aspen family. Located at 11,212 ft (3418m) on the north flank of Aspen Mountain, it is a little smaller when compared to the neighboring areas. The longest run is 3 miles long making for a nice run and the town ski area has nice funky local feel to it that dates back to the 1940s.
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Aspen Highlands is mainly an intermediate to expert ski area that was opened in 1958. The highest point is at 11,678 ft (3,559 m) with the longest run stretching over 3.5 miles (5.6 km). The main draw to the area is the intense Highland Bowl, which offers great expert skiing. Most of the area follows a narrow ridge extending from Highland Peak.
Buttermilk Ski Area is the easiest mountain in the Aspen family and is mainly geared to beginner skiers and families. This is a very nice area for someone that is just beginning to learn how to ski and it has an award winning ski school offering excellent instructors. The area is also home to two terrain parks and 1 superpipe. Butter Milk has also been the host to multiple ESPN X-game competitions.
Snowmass is the largest area in the Aspen family. This area has a plethora of options ranging from intense terrain parks, long groomed cruisers or some very intense expert runs. 50% of the park is intermediate making it a family ski area dream come true. Major improvements are underway to make the lifts faster and the addition of the new gondola makes it easy to get up the mountain faster. For the luxury skier there are some great ski and ski out options that can make it super easy to hit the slops.
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Ask Snowy Brooke a question about Ski Areas in Colorado
I have been skiing in Colorado for nearly 28 years. I've ventured to several ski areas in the continental USA. I love talking about snow and where to ski, where to go!
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