What To Expect

Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are a national treasure. Rugged and scenic beyond imagination, they make up the highest mountain range in the lower 48, with peaks reaching far above 14,000 feet. However, most lift-accessed skiing maxes out 10,000 to 11,000 feet, except for Breckenridge’s Express Superchair, which ascends to 12,840 feet. 

That said, it’s important to practice good acclimation habits when skiing in the Rockies. Read our post Tips for Acclimating on Your Ski Trip.

In terms of snowfall, Colorado ski resorts receive anywhere from 300-400” annually on average. The quality of the snow is dry and fluffy, since the Rockies are continental and situated in a high-alpine desert. This dry snow makes for some of the best powder in the world, especially for first-time powder skiers and snowboarders.

When booking a Colorado ski trip or any ski trip, it’s important to remember that traveling during the winter can prove difficult at times. Flight delays, cancellations or route changes and road closures are commonplace. It’s all part of the ski-trip experience. When something does go wrong, Ski.com’s Mountain Travel Experts do their absolute best to help get clients to their destination and into the fresh snow as quickly and as safely as possible.

If this is your first ski trip ever, read our First Timer’s guide.

When To Go

If you’re looking for fewer crowds, great snow and cheaper accommodations, mid January is typically the best time to go. The one caveat is that it tends to be the coldest time of year. If you’re looking to experience warm sun and soft now, late March and early April are also a great time to head to the mountains. For the most part, Spring Break is over by then lift lines have lessened and lodging deals are more readily available.

Read our post The Best Week Of The Year For A Ski Vacation.

Where To Go

With 26 options on tap within the stunning Rocky Mountains and a repute that makes the Centennial state a bucket-list ticker’s paradise, sussing out the best places for skiing in Colorado is no easy task. We decided to go to the source: our 1 million-plus ski clients. Over the years, they’ve left hundreds of reviews on Ski.com about each Colorado destination in our collection. So take it from them.

Aspen

aspen snowmass acquires intrawest, squaw acquires intrawest, squaw and aspen acquire intrawest
Photo: Aspen Snowmass

Client Rating 4.9 (out of 5)
In Aspen, you can experience four unique ski resorts in one vacation. Resort hop day after day to enjoy everything Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass have to offer, or opt to keep your focus on downtown Aspen, where you can indulge in fantastic dining, shopping and nightlife, all steps from Aspen Mountain’s famously steep slopes.

Vail

vail mountain tour
Photo: Vail Ski Resort

Client Rating: 4.8 (out of 5)
Renowned for having 5,289 acres of diverse skiing and top-notch après activities on and off the mountain, Vail is one of the world’s favorite ski resorts for many reasons. Every level of skier or rider will feel right at home enjoying the fine dining, shopping, galleries, nightlife and terrain. Between three base areas— Lionshead, Vail Village and Golden Peak—and the seven world-famous Back Bowls, the fun never ends. The mountain offers all levels of trails accessible from all three bases via high-speed chairlifts and gondolas.

Crested Butte

aerial photo Crested Butte, drone photo Crested Butte
Photo: Jackson Lebsack

Client Rating: 4.8 (out of 5)
There’s nothing quite like walking around Crested Butte at night when town is bedecked in a blanket of soft, fluffy snow. You can feel the excitement in the air while you wet your whistle in one of the many eclectic bars on Elk Avenue packed with friendly, interesting locals. While it’s known for its technical, steep “extreme” skiing, the vast majority of Crested Butte’s terrain is intermediate to advanced intermediate. The top half of the mountain is a challenge-seeker’s delight, while the bottom half levels out to wide-open, ideal beginner and intermediate skiing. Just off the Red Lady Express, the frontside of the mountain offers gentle beginner trails, while runs off Prospect and Gold Link lifts let intermediates enjoy quick laps.

Beaver Creek

beaver creek
Photo: Jackson Lebsack

Client Rating: 4.7 (out of 5)
Once you’ve left behind the bustle of Colorado’s main thoroughfare—I-70—and passed through Beaver Creek’s natural gateway, you’ll be greeted by an overall top-shelf atmosphere, complete with picture-perfect ski runs and a charming Bavarian-style village. The hotels are lavish, foodies love the restaurants and the terrain offers something for every stripe of skier or rider. Steep, wide-open, blue-square runs are favorites of intermediate skiers, and beginners flock to the looker’s left portion of the mountain with long runs to Village Plaza. Challenging advanced skiers, the Stone Creek Chutes area features a handful of rocks to jump off and tight glades. Regardless of ability, everyone can enjoy ending the day with fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, served daily at 3 p.m.

Snowmass

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Views from the top of the Elk Camp lift. | Photo: Aspen Snowmass

Client Rating: 4.7 (out of 5)
Snowmass’ assortment of wide-open trails, off piste steeps and glades, and the longest lift-served vertical rise in the United States will please advanced groomer-skiers and challenge-seeking experts alike. Renowned for its family offerings, Snowmass is home to The Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center, a 25,000-square-foot facility for toddlers through teens. First timers have picture-perfect, beginner-friendly terrain, including the slopes situated at the top of Elk Camp Gondola. Snowmass offers numerous lodging options, 95 percent of which are ski-in/ski-out and range from budget hotels to luxury townhomes. NEW! Snowmass’ new Lost Forest, located at Elk Camp, features 4,000-foot-long, 400-foot-descent Breathtaker Mountain Coaster, zip lines and a ropes challenges course.

Breckenridge

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Photo: Jackson Lebsack

Client Rating: 4.6 (out of 5)
Breck” (as Summit County locals call it) has the perfect blend of everything: world-class skiing for all levels, a lively nightlife scene, great restaurants and a historic downtown. With more than 2,900 acres of varied terrain, world-renowned terrain parks and halfpipes and a state-of-the-art ski and snowboard school, it’s clear why Breckenridge ski resort is one of the most popular in the Rockies. Beginners can comfortably learn at the base of Peak 8 and 9, while intermediates can find pristine runs just about everywhere. Experts can ski challenging lines off Peak 8’s summit, explore Peak 6’s 143 acres of hike-to terrain, or get air on one of Breckenridge’s seven world-class terrain parks,

Telluride

Photo: Tommy Joyce

Client Rating – 4.6 (out of 5)
Annually ranked among SKI magazine’s top five destinations, Telluride is one of Colorado’s most breathtaking mountain towns. Telluride is rich in character and stocked with world-class dining and nightlife. The people who call Telluride home and return year after year love the ski area for its challenging runs, scenic views and non-existent crowds. Telluride ski resort offers something for all ability levels, with 23 percent beginner terrain, 36 percent intermediate terrain and 41 percent expert terrain. You’ll find everything from long, cruising beginner and intermediate runs to thousands of feet of moguls and challenging terrain characteristic of the Alps.

Steamboat Springs

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Photo: Steamboat Resort / Nick Esares

Client Rating: 4.6 (out of 5)
A Steamboat ski vacation offers the full package, from its celebrated Champagne Powder®, its deep Western heritage, varied dining and nightlife options and Winter Olympics history to its reputation as one of the most memorable ski towns in North America. As one of Colorado’s snowfall leaders, Steamboat receives 350 inches of pristine powder annually on its world-class terrain. Beginners will delight in the abundance of green trails off the Bashor lift. Intermediates have many exceptionally long and well-groomed trails to choose from. Advanced intermediates will enjoy testing their mettle on the dark blue runs off the Pony Express lift. Experts will find they can’t stay out of Christmas Tree Bowl’s steep glades. As of the 2017-18 season, Steamboat is home to the longest mountain coaster in North America–the Outlaw Mountain Coaster. Open year-round and during night-skiing hours, the 6,280-foot coaster zooms 400 feet down the mountain as it turns, dips and waves.

Copper Mountain

Copper bowl skiing
Photo: Copper Mountain

Client Rating: 4.6 (out of 5)
From its unique, naturally-divided terrain and top-notch terrain parks to its many affordable restaurants and bars, lodging options and family-friendly attractions, Copper Mountain will delight just about any skier, from first timer to expert, young to old, budgeters to those looking to splurge a little. Copper’s terrain is conveniently—and naturally—segmented by difficulty. Almost the entire West Village area is for beginner skiers, the middle area terrain above Center Village is for intermediates, and the runs above East Village are nearly all black. All the above-treeline and bowl skiing is expert to extreme terrain, with the exception of Otto Bahn, the lone blue run in Copper Bowl.

Keystone

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Photo: Jackson Lebsack

Client Rating: 4.4 (out of 5)
Close to Denver, Keystone has everything needed for an unforgettable, hassle-free ski vacation: three mountains of terrain, unique outdoor activities and lodging for any budget. Offering 3,148 skiable acres, Keystone boasts epic bowls, world-class terrain parks and family-friendly trails to suit every type of skier. When the sun goes down, Keystone lights up for night skiing, which includes access to the resort’s famed A51 Terrain Park. A top family resort, Keystone’s on-mountain Kidventure Zones provide children with themed trails and daily events. Beginners can head up River Run Gondola to gentle, well-groomed green runs, and intermediates can explore all three mountains thanks to the resort’s abundance of blue terrain. Experts will enjoy moguls, glades, steeps and snowcat-accessed terrain found in the Outback bowl.

Winter Park

Photo: Winter Park

Client Rating: 4.4 (out of 5)
Just northwest of Denver and featuring more than 3,000 skiable acres, seven terrain parks, a slopeside village and Coca-Cola® tubing hill, Winter Park offers easy accessibility, affordability and a laid-back atmosphere. Family-friendly with an abundance of varied terrain, dining and lodging options, the resort offers fun on- and off-mountain experiences during the day and into the evening. A beginner’s delight, Winter Park offers a multitude of gentle slopes spanning 2,200-plus vertical feet. Intermediates feel at home with glades, sustained cruisers and exclusive blue and dark blue runs off Parsenn Bowl. For experts, Mary Jane Mountain offers rigorous mogul runs, and Vasquez Cirque dares challenge-seekers with inbound big-mountain skiing.