There’s no shortage of amazing Colorado ski resorts. So, it was somewhat difficult to cull the list down to just five. Below, we compare the best ski resorts in the state in our book. We selected these Top 5 Colorado ski resorts based on size, total skier days, skier reviews, features and amenities, snow totals and sheer awesomeness.
Let’s start with the big boy. Vail Resort is the largest ski resort in North America. That grants it a spot in the top 5 Colorado ski resorts. There are close to 200 named trails, seven breathtaking bowls, three thrilling terrain parks and more than 30 total ski lifts. Vail Mountain is comprised of three separate base areas: Lionshead, Vail Village and Golden Peak. The massive resort boasts more than 20,000 hotel beds, which is three times as many as the next resort on the list.
The popular Vail Village is home to a dance theater, opera, symphony and lots of gourmet restaurants and retail shops. The area offers a plethora of outdoor adventure as well, including cross-county skiing, dog sledding, ice skating, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snowcat tours, and tubing.
The ski resort is conveniently located on Interstate 70 about two hours’ drive west of the Denver airport. Eagle County Airport is a smaller airport near the resort that offers daily nonstop flights from Denver and other connecting cities.
Vail is popular with first-time skiers as well as intermediates and experts. (With that much terrain, there’s plenty for everyone.) The resort offers the popular Epic Pass that also grants access to other nearby resorts like Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.
Another one of the top 5 Colorado ski resorts, Steamboat Springs offers almost 3,000 acres of snowy playground to explore with about 330 inches of snowfall per year on average. Spread across five peaks – Mount Werner, Sunshine Peak, Thunderhead Peak, Storm Peak, Pioneer Range and Christie Peak.
Steamboat has terrain for every skier and riders with almost 3,000 acres of terrain with plenty of bumps, cruisers and steeps – not to mention epic tree skiing through endless glades of evergreen and aspen trees. The ski resort presents more than 165 named trails, a terrain park and a renowned Ski and Snowboard School with more than 400 instructors. A popular spot for beginners, the resort also offers 44 percent of its terrain for advanced skiers.
Getting to Steamboat is nestled in northwest Colorado, so guests can fly to Cheyenne, Denver or Hayden, Colorado on several daily non-stop commercial flights. It’s also an amazing drive with something new to see around every bend at Rocky Mountain National Park and the Arapahoe National Wildlife Refuge.
Off the slopes, Steamboat has a small-town feel and has earned the nickname “Ski Town, USA” with more than 70 restaurants, bars and pubs.
Aspen is unique on our list of top 5 Colorado ski resorts for several reasons. First, there’s four unparalleled ski areas within 10 minutes of downtown Aspen: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. The namesake mountain, also known as “Ajax,” sits in the heart of downtown and is a haven for black-diamond skiing. Highlands is known as the local’s favorite and home to the impressive and challenging Highlands Bowl. Buttermilk plays host to the Winter X Games each January and is also a popular resort for snowboarders. Snowmass is the area’s largest resort and has the largest vertical drop of any ski peak in the country. This alone puts Snowmass itself on other lists of top Colorado ski resorts!
The Aspen airport is located next to Buttermilk Mountain and is less than 10 minutes from downtown Aspen and Snowmass Village. The airport has several daily non-stop flights during ski season from major carriers like American, Delta and United Airlines.
There’s no shortage of après-ski and nightlife opportunities, with more than 200 bars, restaurants and pubs in the area. Downtown Aspen is home to art galleries, local and luxury brand shopping, and the Aspen Art Museum. The town often plays host to cultural events, concerts, festivals, lectures, presentations and conferences – so there’s always something going on.
With five peaks, there’s a lot of skiing at Breckenridge. It’s earned a spot on the top 5 Colorado ski resorts because it has over 2,900 acres of skiable terrain with 1,400 acres of groomed trails and almost 190 named trails accessed by 34 lifts. The longest trail – called 4 O’Clock – is 3.5 miles long. If that’s not enough, test your mettle at one of four terrain parks or on the intimidating 18-foot halfpipe.
Breckenridge is one of the most popular ski resorts in Colorado for families. It is about 80 miles west of downtown Denver, just south of Interstate 70 via Colorado Highway 9. It’s an easy drive from downtown and there are several bus services and shuttles available.
The town was built around skiing, so there’s no shortage of fun experiences off the slopes. And, if you don’t get your fill at Breckenridge, there’s plenty to do not far away. Summit County, Colorado is home to three other world-class ski resorts – Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain and Keystone – as well as unique shopping and off-mountain activities in the nearby towns of Silverthorne, Dillon and Frisco. The town of Silverthorne is a great excursion for those who love outlet shopping.
Many other resorts could have taken this last spot in our top 5 Colorado ski resorts list. But we awarded it to Telluride! For years, Telluride was Colorado skiing’s best kept secret – a town more known for its annual music and film festivals than its epic skiing. Well, not anymore. The secret’s out and Telluride has become one of the most sought-after ski destinations on the planet. Boasting huge snowfalls, bluebird skies and more than 2,000 acres of delicious terrain, it’s no wonder why the resort in southwest Colorado is consistently ranked as one of North America’s best.
The ski resort has an almost perfect split of terrain. Almost 60 percent of skiable terrain is dedicated to beginners and intermediates while about 40 percent is for advanced skiers. The resort has noted terrain parks, 17 total lifts and a massive vertical drop. It’s longest and most well-known trail – called the “Galloping Goose,” is a whopping 4.6 miles long.
It’s easy to escape to Telluride for a ski vacation. Telluride Regional Airport offers daily non-stop flights from major cities during the ski season. The nearby airport is only about 20 minutes from the resort.
The town has classic 19th Century Western charm with plenty of Victorian homes lining the streets of the historic mining town. It’s like taking a step back in history, but with all of today’s modern conveniences – and awesome skiing.