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The Best Ski Resorts in Colorado

These are the 12 best ski resorts in the state of Colorado, from massive mega resorts to independent ski areas.

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If there’s one state that’s synonymous with skiing, it’s Colorado. Home to over 30 ski resorts big and small, the Centennial State has options for everyone, from the destination mega resorts with massive hotels at their bases to quaint, independent ski areas that still welcome school groups and dole out complementary passes to seniors.

Related: The Best Ski Resorts in the U.S.

That said, the options are broad, and choosing the right destination is no easy task. It all comes down to the experience you’re seeking and who you’re traveling with. Got groms in tow? Green slopes and ski school programs will be more important than steep couloirs and hike-to adventures. The good news is that Colorado has some of the best resorts in the West when it comes to terrain diversity, learning areas, off-slope amenities, challenging steeps, and more. These are the top 12 ski resorts in the state, and a good place to start when planning your next Colorado ski trip.

The Best Ski Resorts in Colorado

12. Keystone Resort

A destination resort that feels manageable for the whole family, Keystone’s hallmarks are long, cruisey blues and excellent tree skiing, complemented by an accessible village and one of the best terrain parks in the state.

Keystone, Colorado
Keystone’s terrain parks are a huge draw for the park crowd. Photo: Ben Lindbloom

What Readers Say

Keystone has a great local vibe. The people on the mountain and working the mountain are all great. The mountain has a lot of variations in the terrain recognizing that not all skiers are beginners nor double-black-diamond qualified. It is great for families. I have never had a bad time at Keystone and look forward to returning every year.

Summary

Keystone is one of the closest resorts to Denver’s Front Range, making it easy to get to for travelers, but also a magnet for day trippers coming from the city and its suburbs. Luckily, the ski resort is big enough to accommodate, with three separate peaks and a fast and efficient lift system to spread people out. Dercum Mountain’s long groomers are perfect for getting ski legs beneath you, while the black diamonds on The Outback attract skiers looking for a decent pitch. But skiers in the know flock to Keystone’s glades on North Peak and The Outback, where they can often go for entire runs without seeing another soul. Next season, the resort will debut a new lift in Bergmann Bowl, longtime cat-skiing terrain that will serve up open bowl skiing for intermediates and up.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Keystone Resort, Colo.

11. Crested Butte Resort

With just enough distance to keep the Denver day trippers away, Crested Butte has retained its crowd-free charm and authenticity, from the adventure-ready steeps on the backside to the local haunts and après spots in town.

"Resort Guide 2021 Crested Butte Colorado"
Powder and scenery are two key components of the Crested Butte vacation. Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts/Nathan Bilow

What Readers Say

We loved Crested Butte. Ski-in/ski-out access, fantastic terrain for experts. Intermediates loved it too. We lived on the backside skiing the steeps and trees. CB doesn’t get nearly the love it deserves. Great mountain.

Summary

Crested Butte’s distance from major metro areas keep crowds down, which is a major plus on weekends and holidays. The mountain itself skews more difficult, with the true double-black and extreme terrain being a big draw for experts and adventurers. That terrain does need a lot of snow to open, but in a typical winter, Crested Butte’s average 200-plus inches usually gets the job done. The town of Crested Butte, three miles away, is one of the true gems of the ski universe: Big enough to offer genuinely high-quality dining, shopping, and lodging, but still small enough to feel authentic.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colo.

10. Vail Mountain

Huge and bursting with terrain variety, Vail is a true bucket list destination for every skier, with some of the best bowl skiing in the country and a bustling village where the après and late-night party scenes thrive.

Skier in Vail Back Bowls
A skier plunders the pow in Vail’s Back Bowls. Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts

What Readers Say

“Vail is stunning! There is so much variety, I could never get bored there. I can ski from opening to closing and still not do the entire mountain. The town is cute and it’s easy access to the lifts. The restaurants and drinks are good. I always have the best ski days there!

Summary

Vail is massive, which can be both a gift and a little intimidating, especially for first-timers to the resort. This is the kind of place where you can come for a couple weeks and still not ski the same terrain twice, finding new and delightful spots daily, from the way-out reaches of Mongolia Bowl to the surprising trees and steeps on the lower frontside’s Pump House and the Narrows. If you’re at least an intermediate skier, make the trek out to Blue Sky Basin, where the open, backcountry-like feel and amazing Gore Range views are well worth the adventure.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Vail Mountain, Colo.

9. Loveland Ski Area

Loveland is the closest major ski area to Denver, yet its down-home vibe and minimal services keep it off the radar of all but the most hardcore skiers, which is just the way they like it.

Loveland Ski Area
You can’t beat Loveland in the days after a storm. Photo: Courtesy of Loveland Ski Area

What Readers Say

We enjoyed Loveland for the location and cost.  Their lift tickets are possibly the lowest around and the mountain is HUGE! The location is right off I-70, so it makes it super convenient for people to travel from out of town.  I will say it is more of a local mountain that is not as welcoming as some of the other resorts.  The runs are more challenging than other mountains, so it can throw you off a bit, if blacks are easier at Breckenridge than the blues at Loveland.  Just something we noticed.  Overall, a great mountain and I would definitely go back!

Summary

Loveland is like the ski version of a Tale of Two Cities. There’s Loveland Valley, the small beginner area with a couple lifts and magic carpets; and Loveland Basin, a half-mile away, the sprawling, exposed 1,500-skiable-acres horseshoe-shaped mountain with fun and adventurous terrain that’s beloved by locals and metro-area diehards. It’s fairly old-school here, but the ski area did get a $5 million facelift a few years ago, including the addition of Chet’s Dream at the base, Loveland’s first high-speed quad. For powder seekers, The Ridge can’t be beat after a storm, and the fact that Loveland is not on either the Ikon or the Epic Pass means more powder for you, all season long.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Loveland Ski Area, Colo.

8. Arapahoe Basin

One of the most soulful and hardcore ski areas in the state, Arapahoe Basin has the terrain and the vibe to satisfy core skiers looking for true challenge and adventure.

Arapaho Basin, Colorado
Arapahoe Basin gives beginners something to aspire to. Photo: Keri Bascetta

What Readers Say

It’s called The Legend for a reason. I’ve skied all over the U.S. and Europe, and A-Basin is one of the most varied, interesting, and challenging places I’ve ever been.”

Summary

From the classic A-frame lodge to parking lot après to the knee-knocking new terrain of the Steep Gullies, Arapahoe Basin is everything we love about skiing. While beginner terrain is limited, intermediates will find more than enough to keep them engaged and challenged, especially since the opening of The Beavers, with 340 new acres of blues and moderate glades. But this is the premier spot for experts in Colorado thanks to the classic steep pitches off the Paliviccini double chair and the addition of the Steep Gullies, expert and extreme terrain that requires a hike back to the resort. 

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Arapahoe Basin, Colo.

7. Breckenridge Resort

Colorado’s something-for-everyone resort with a rocking town at its base, Breckenridge is one of those places where surprises lurk around every turn, if you know where to look.

Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado
Sprawling five peaks wide, Breckenridge is tops for terrain variety. Photo: Brent Clark/Breckenridge

What Readers Say

My favorite place to ski in Colorado. I love the variety of slopes, from some of the very nice groomed blacks to the rolling cruisers. I find it a lot more navigable than Vail and a much more manageable size, plus no attitude. I think it would appeal to just about any skier.

Summary

You think you know Breckenridge, with its five sprawling peaks and wide-open runs, right? The steeps of Peak 10, the cruisers of Peak 6, and the web of high-speed chairlifts that connect it all are known to serve up a level of terrain variety that is unrivaled at most other Colorado resorts. All that is indeed true, but Breck hides its secrets well, namely its incredible high-alpine terrain. Commit to quick hikes off of the Kensho and Imperial Express chairs and enjoy some of the most scenic steeps and bowl skiing in the West. The town of Breckenridge is hardly a secret, but it is home to enough dining, shopping, lodging, and, of course bars, to keep skiers satisfied off the slopes, as well.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Breckenridge Resort, Colo.

6. Beaver Creek Resort

From warm cookies every afternoon to manicured corduroy that’s pretty much never crowded, the Beaver Creek experience is a step above, and worth every pretty penny.

Beaver Creek Resort, Colorado
Well-groomed slopes are a key part of the Beaver Creek experience. Photo: Vail Resorts

What Readers Say

I ski here most weeks, and Beaver Creek is a great place with awesome terrain. The World Cup begins here for a reason. Access is just awesome—I walk to the lift and I’m carving in minutes. When the snow is falling I can ski trees that a just plain fun. Rarely crowded. The nightlife consists of finding a good meal in just a few minutes’ walk.

Summary

Being the farthest Vail Resort from Denver’s Front Range ensures that the Beaver Creek experience remains a relatively uncrowded one. And an experience it is, one that starts with a quaint, Bavarian-inspired village and elevators that ferry skiers right up to the slopes and ends with warm chocolate-chip cookies at 3pm daily. (Yes, they’re back after taking a season off due to Covid.) The experience continues on the slopes, always well groomed and served by efficient high-speed lifts. That said, there is a different Beaver Creek experience out there for those who seek it out, including the wild ride in the Stone Creek Chutes and serious pitches that can be found off the Grouse Mountain and Bird of Prey express lifts. At the other end of the spectrum, new-this-season McCoy Park debuts gentle bowl skiing for beginners with incredible views to convert newbies into lifetime skiers.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Beaver Creek Resort, Colo.

5. Winter Park Resort

Denver’s local hill is a world-class destination resort with varied terrain, plenty of amenities, and a real-life town just down the road.

Winter Park, Colorado
You’ll find trees, bumps, powder, and bowls at Winter Park. Photo: Courtesy of Winter Park Resort

What Readers Say

“I think Winter Park has some of the best runs for every level of skier. And the size of the mountain keeps people pretty well separated. If you don’t want to lap Parsenn Bowl on a powder day, there are tons of other options to go find powder around the mountain.”

Summary

Winter Park is at once a local haunt and a true destination resort that lures skiers from all over the country, which is a very unusual combination. But WP pulls it off thanks to having enough unique and diverse terrain to spread people out across its seven territories, including wide-open Parsenn Bowl, glades on Vasquez Ridge, and of course, Mary Jane’s legendary bumps. The Village at Winter Park has a smattering of restaurants, but those in the know hit the nearby town of Winter Park and chow like the locals do at hangouts such as The Ditch and the Tabernash Tavern.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Winter Park Resort, Colo.

4. Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain is favorite for its naturally segregated terrain and massive terrain variety, all complemented by a friendly local vibe.

Copper Mountain, Colorado
Naturally segregated terrain means beginners can learn in peace at Copper. Photo: Copper Mountain

What Readers Say

Copper is top-flight for pure skiing; huge area, excellent variety, nice steeps and bumps, easy to navigate the mountain. Not much of a base-area, but enough. But the skiing experience itself is why it’s my #1.

Summary

Copper loyalists will tell you exactly what they love about this 2,500-plus acres mountain, and it’s likely to include a few important components: Terrain that’s naturally differentiated and gets more challenging as you go from west to east; awesome ski school programming for kids that utilizes Woodward’s facilities and techniques; and the stellar adventure terrain, especially off the Three Bears Lift, which serves up 273 acres of expert terrain on Tucker Mountain, complete with stunning Rocky Mountain vistas. The village seems to be constantly evolving, and while you’ll find some dining and drinking options, the better bet for those staying a while is to seek out the action in Frisco, a few miles away.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Copper Mountain, Colo.

3. Steamboat Resort

When you’re seeking an authentic Western-tinged experience with some of the best tree skiing in the Rockies, Steamboat will not disappoint.

Steamboat Ski Resort, Colorado
Embrace the Old West at Steamboat. Photo: Dave Marlow

What Readers Say

Steamboat is the best mix of great snow, a lively village and après scene and charming mountain town.  While it’s not the most challenging mountain, I think it’s one of the best “all around” experiences.”

Summary

Steamboat is one of the special places that just sticks with you. It doesn’t have the steepest steeps or really any extreme terrain to speak of, but what it does have, including stellar glades and some of the best cruisers anywhere, it has in spades. The resort’s ski school is top-level, and the entire area is just far enough away from the Denver day skiers to keep crowds low and class sizes reasonable. The resort is in the midst of a massive upgrade that will transform the formerly lackluster base area. Add to that the charming Western town of Steamboat a few miles away, and this is the whole Colorado ski package, hands down.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Steamboat Resort, Colo.

2. Telluride Ski Resort

Telluride is inarguably one of the prettiest places on the planet, with the type of varied and adventurous terrain that attracts the most passionate skiers.

Telluride Challenge
Setting out for an adventure at Telluride. Photo: Keri Bascetta

What Readers Say

Telluride is amazing because of the quality of snow and terrain, and it’s never as busy as so many other resorts we’ve skied. We keep going back to it over and over again because we just can’t find anything as good anywhere else we’ve been!

Summary

Telluride is one of those unique places where you don’t really get the mystique until you experience it for yourself. Which you absolutely should do. From the ski resort’s incredible terrain—long groomers to hike-to bowls and everything in between—to the luxury lodging in the Mountain Village to downtown Telluride’s historic vibe and amazing dining scene, Telluride is a world-class destination. Lap groomers off the Village Express, bump it up off the Apex Lift or take a walk off the Prospect Lift to Black Iron Bowl for moderate bowl skiing—the variety on tap here lives up to its expectations every single time. Downtown Telluride is a huge boon, with its shop-lined main drag and dining scene that rivals a metropolitan city. Take the historic walking tour of downtown for a trip back in time to the wild Butch Cassidy days.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Telluride Ski Resort, Colo.

1. Aspen Snowmass

Four ski areas, each unique in its own way, make Aspen Snowmass a destination with enough variety and character to satisfy skiers of all stripes.

Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
Four separate mountains equals a truly diverse ski vacation at Aspen Snowmass. Photo: Tamara Susa

What Readers Say

Aspen is really incredible. We moved nearby this year, but still visited 11 other resorts throughout the season. Other than Big Sky or Jackson Hole, Aspen’s big mountain/expert terrain is unmatched.  It was also great and accessible for both our friends who visited with kids and our friends from NYC (our former home) who wanted to come and do fancy après.  Truly something for everyone..”

Summary

What can you say about a place that comprises four distinct mountains, with some of the most inspired expert terrain in the West and family terrain to ensure that the littlest sliders get hooked on the sport for life? Lots, actually. Looming right above downtown Aspen, hit up Ajax for incredible fall line skiing. Snowmass is a great spot for families, but don’t overlook amazing stashes such as Powerline Trees of the Big Burn lift and the above-treeline wonderland off the High Alpine lift. Buttermilk is a beginner’s paradise as well as home to the best terrain parks in the region (the X Games take place here every January). And Aspen Highlands, where black diamonds spiderweb across the trail map, is a bucket list experience for all advanced skiers, especially hiking Highland Bowl. There are many options for lodging between Aspen and Snowmass, but don’t miss spending some time in the legendary town of Aspen, where the dining, après, and nightlife and unrivaled in the West.

🔹 Read SKI’s resort review and get trip-planning tips: Aspen Snowmass, Colo.