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Ski Areas in Colorado

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Colorado Ski Areas in Colorado

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Introduction

Brek trees

Brek trees

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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!

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Summit County/I-70

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.

Winter Park and Mary Jane

Winterpark trip

Winterpark trip

© All Rights Reserved COnativeJM

  • Official Website: http://www.skiwinterpark.com/index.htm
  • Average Amount of Snow: 349 in/year (8.86 m)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 2,762 acres (11.2 km²) with 25 lifts
  • Cost: Adult 3 day pass $168 to $249
  • Highlights: Some of the best moguls and tree skiing in the country.
  • Downsides: The drive over the pass to get there is tough
  • How to get there: Take I-70 west from Denver to Highway 40 and go North. The nearest airport is in Denver. It is also possible to take the Ski Train from Denver, which starts at Union Station in Denver and stops a mere 100 ft from the base of the mountain

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.

Loveland Ski Area

  • Official Website: http://www.skiloveland.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 400 in/year (10.2 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 160 acres (0.65 km²) with 11 lifts
  • Cost: Adult 1 day $44 to $56
  • Highlights: Close to Denver and one of the highest ski areas in the country
  • Downsides: 2 different areas connected by a bus
  • How to get there: Take I-70 west from Denver until Georgetown. The ski area is located right off of I-70.

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 (A-Basin)

  • Official Website: http://arapahoebasin.com/ABasin/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 350 in/year (9.32 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 900 acres (1.98 km²) with 7 lifts
  • Cost: Adult 1 day $49
  • Highlights: A good party on "The Beach," the latest season of any Colorado ski area, old rustic sky area feel and winter camping
  • Downsides: A little small and no hotels nearby
  • How to get there: Exit I-70 and drive over Loveland Pass instead of taking the Eisenhower Tunnel.

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.

Keystone

keystone

keystone

© All Rights Reserved ClintW

  • Official Website: http://keystone.snow.com
  • Average Amount of Snow: 230 in/year (5.84 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 3148 acres (12.7 km²) with 19 lifts
  • Cost: For cheapest tickets buy online, $75 to $100
  • Highlights: Night Skiing, family oriented
  • Downsides: Can have very bad crowds
  • How to get there: From Denver or Utah exit at Frisco off of I-70 and follow the signs. If coming from the south take Highway 24 and follow the signs after Alma.

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.

Breckenridge Ski Resort

breckenridge, colorado

breckenridge, colorado

© All Rights Reserved thirdchanc

  • Official Website: http://breckenridge.snow.com/home/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 300 in/year (7.62 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 2,358 acres (8.94 km²) with 30 lifts
  • Cost: Adult 3 day pass ranges from $225 to $276
  • Highlights: 25 acres of Terrain Parks, good open area stuff if recent snow fall
  • Downsides: Long weekend lines from Denver area skiers
  • How to get there: From Denver or Utah exit at Frisco off of I-70 and follow the signs. If coming from the south take Highway 24 and follow the signs after Alma.

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

  • Official Website: http://www.coppercolorado.com
  • Average Amount of Snow: 280 in/year (7.10 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 2,433 acres (9.85 km²) with 22 lifts
  • Cost: Adult 3 day ticket ranges from $159 to $249
  • Highlights: Has a good mix of different ability level runs and some nice cornices
  • Downsides: The base is at a pretty high elevation
  • How to get there: Is right off of I-70 just west of Frisco

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

  • Official Website: http://www.skicooper.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 250 in/year
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 600 acres (2.4 km²) with 5 lifts
  • Cost: Adult 1 day $42, Adult 3 day $111
  • Highlights: Short lift lines and access to great backcountry skiing provided by Chicago Ridge Snowcat tours
  • Downsides: Not many runs
  • How to get there: Take I-70 and exit at Leadville

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.

Vail Ski Resorts

Vail

Vail

© All Rights Reserved ClintW

  • Official Website: http://vail.snow.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 346 in/year (8.8 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 5289 acres (21.40 km²) with 34 lifts
  • Cost: Adult 4 day ranges from $268 to $376
  • Highlights: The Back Bowls, amazing amounts of skiable terrain and the best nightlife of any ski town in CO.
  • Downsides: Extremely long lines during the high season and very expensive
  • How to get there: Vail is located right off of I-70 about 3 hours from Denver

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

  • Official Website: http://beavercreek.snow.com
  • Average Amount of Snow: 310 in/year (7.87 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 1,625 acres (6.58 km²) with 17 lifts
  • Cost: Adult 4 day ranges from $268 to $376
  • Highlights: Great beginner and intermediate skiing with good snow, short lift lines
  • Downsides: Parking located far away
  • How to get there: Take I-70 To Avon and follow the signs to the parking lots

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.

Crested Butte Ski Resort

Mt Crested Butte, CO

Mt Crested Butte, CO

© All Rights Reserved rosiemary

  • Official Website: http://www.skicb.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 240 in/year (6.1 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 1125 acres (4.55 km²) with 15 lifts
  • Cost: $59 to $82
  • Highlights: Short lines and pretty scenery
  • Downsides: Is hard to get to
  • How to get there: From Denver take I-70 west to highway 470 west then highway 285 south to Fairplay then to Poncha Springs. Then take highway 50 west to Gunnison and last turn onto highway 135 north into Crested Butte.

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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Southern Colorado

Telluride

Telluride Mountain

Telluride Mountain

© All Rights Reserved Rick Bakas

  • Official Website: http://tellurideskiresort.com
  • Average Amount of Snow: 309 in/year (7.89 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 1,700 acres (6.88 km²)
  • Cost: Adult 1 Day ranges from $69 to $78 (Although cheaper tickets can be bought online or at grocery stores)
  • Highlights: The Plunge, short lift lines and amazing views
  • Downsides: In the middle of nowhere
  • How to get there: With limited flights into the Telluride Airport (TEX) it is best to fly into Montrose Airport (MTJ) then Drive 1.5 hours to the mountain. Telluride is located on CO 145 about 7 hours from Denver and 2.5 hours from Durango (Colorado).

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 (Purgatory)

  • Official Website: http://www.durangomountainresort.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 260 in/year (6.60 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 1,200 acres with 10 lifts
  • Cost: Adult 1 day ranges from $62 to $67
  • Highlights: Lots of intermediate skiing
  • Downsides: Hard to get to
  • How to get there: Durango has the decent size Durango Airport with connections to several America cities. The town is located at the intersection of Highway 550 and Highway 160. To get to the ski area go toward Silverton on Highway 550 until Mile Marker 49 and the ski area will be on the west side of the road.

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

  • Official Website: http://www.wolfcreekski.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 465 in/year (11.81 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 1600 acres (6.47 km²)
  • Cost: Adult 1 day $52, although there are many deals worth checking out on the website
  • Highlights: The most snow of any ski area in Colorado
  • Downsides: Is a tough drive up the pass to ski area
  • How to get there: It is best to fly into the Durango Airport then drive east to Pagosa Springs. Many of the hotels offer free shuttles to the sky area during the winter, making that you can avoid driving up that pass every day.

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

  • Official Website: http://www.skimonarch.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 350 in/year (8.89 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 800 acres (3.24 km²) with 5 lifts
  • Cost:
  • Highlights: Great weekday deals
  • Downsides: Hard to get to
  • How to get there: From Denver take US Highway 285 South till US Highway 50 and travel west straight to the ski area. From Colorado Springs take I-25 to CO 115 to US Highway 50 and travel west to the ski area. From Salida take the Ski Bus to Monarch Mountain for only $5 round trip, it leaves the Hot Spring Pool at 8:30 am sharp and returns at 3:30 pm from the ski area.

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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Northern Colorado

Steamboat Ski Resort

Pow Wow Steamboat

Pow Wow Steamboat

© All Rights Reserved Lavafalls

  • Official Website: http://www.steamboat.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 334 in/year (8.48 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 2965 acres (12 km²) with 23 lifts
  • Cost: Adult 3 day pass $73 to $91
  • Highlights: Great chutes, 4 terrain parks and nearby hot springs
  • Downsides: Is located a bit far from any major city
  • How to get there: There are non-stop flights to Steamboat Springs Airport from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis, Newark Liberty International Airport, New York and Salt Lake City. There is also shuttle buses from Denver International Airport. If driving take I-70 till exit 205 then take CO 9 North to Kremmling, then take US 40 West to Steamboat Springs.

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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Aspen/Snowmass

Colorado cruising

Colorado cruising

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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

  • Official Website: http://www.aspensnowmass.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 300 in/year (7.62 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 673 Acres (2.72 km²) with 8 lifts
  • Cost: 4 day Ticket $320 to $352
  • Highlights: Was the first ski area in the Aspen area
  • Downsides: No Beginner Runs
  • How to get there: Take I-70 to Highway 82 then go south. Nearest airports are in Aspen Airport, Grand Junction Airport and Eagle County Airport.

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.

Aspen Highlands

Me skiing in Aspen, Colorado

Me skiing in Aspen, Colorado

© All Rights Reserved GregW

  • Official Website: http://www.aspensnowmass.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 300 in/year (7.62 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 1010 acres (4.09 km²) with 5 lifts
  • Cost: 4 day Ticket $320 to $352
  • Highlights: Highland Bowl is one of the best bowls in the world for skiing
  • Downsides: no terrain parks
  • How to get there: Take I-70 to Highway 82 then go south. Nearest airports are in Aspen Airport, Grand Junction Airport and Eagle County Airport.

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

  • Official Website: http://www.aspensnowmass.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 200 in/year (5.08 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 435 acres (1.76 km²) with 9 lifts
  • Cost: 4 day Ticket $320 to $352
  • Highlights: Home to one of the best ski schools in the country, hosted ESPN X-games multiple times
  • Downsides: no expert skiing at all
  • How to get there: Take I-70 to Highway 82 then go south. Nearest airports are in Aspen Airport, Grand Junction Airport and Eagle County Airport.

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

  • Official Website: http://www.aspensnowmass.com/
  • Average Amount of Snow: 300 in/year (7.62 m/year)
  • Amount Skiable of Terrain: 3,128 acres (12.66 km²)
  • Cost: 4 day Ticket $320 to $352
  • Highlights: Most vertical feet of any ski area in the USA, plenty of ski-in/ski-out lodging
  • Downsides: Lack of night life or evening activities.
  • How to get there: Take I-70 to Highway 82 then go south. Nearest airports are Aspen Airport, Grand Junction Airport and Eagle County Airport.

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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This is version 25. Last edited at 10:02 on Feb 2, 10 by Hien. 4 articles link to this page.

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