The 10 Best Colorado Ski Resorts UPDATED 2019/20

Narrowing down the 10 best Colorado ski resorts is a subjective endeavour and really based on what you're looking for in a ski vacation. That said, our writers who have skied most, if not all, of the resorts in Colorado have come up with a list of ten ski areas which are definitely worth visiting!

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10. Copper Mountain

View Copper Mountain Packages

Pros

  • One of the earliest resorts to open supported by extensive snowmaking
  • Ideal resort for intermediates
  • Free snowcat Friday-Sunday to provide access to above-treeline skiing, when there's snow

Cons

  • Slightly less snow than other Summit County ski resorts
  • Solid ski area, but with no real standout runs
       
Known for: Great all-rounder resort; terrain naturally divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced sections  
on mountain chief looking into copper bowl at copper mountain
On Mountain Chief looking into Copper Bowl

Even with an impressive 793 m of vertical drop and a respectable 998 ha of ski terrain, Copper Mountain’s biggest draw lies in its natural topography. The mountain, for the most part, splits itself into three sections, dividing advanced, intermediate, and beginner terrain into three sections across the resort.

triple zero on spaulding bowl copper mountain
Triple Zero on Spaulding Bowl

Terrain: On the east side and the backside of the mountain are the majority of black trails, the centre is chock full of blues, and to the west green runs reign. The lifts and base areas of the resort work in harmony with the mountain topography, which also helps to enhance the overall ski experience. The East Village is best for advanced skiers, Centre Village for intermediates, and West Village for beginners, with efficient lifts servicing each area, which keeps crowds nicely spread out.

union bowl at copper mountain
Union Bowl

Snow quality: While Copper Mountain generally sees slightly less snowfall than its other Summit County counterparts, it has one of the most extensive snowmaking systems to make up for it. The cold temperatures mean they start cranking the machines early in the season and also keeps it fresh. The fact that the US Ski Team descends upon Copper Mountain for early-season training is a testament to the consistency of its snow from early November.

center village at copper mountain
Center Village

Town: When it comes to accommodation, there’s a wide range to choose from here, from large luxury homes to smaller studios, but the most common places to stay are two- to four-bedroom condos. Timber Creek Condominiums in the Centre Village is a fantastic choice for ski-in/ski-out lodgings. Copper Mountain isn’t quite as expensive as Vail or Aspen, but you’ll still pay a premium to stay in the ski village. For even more affordable options try Frisco, just a 10-minute drive away, where a few reasonable hotels and private rentals can be found, or Silverthorne, a 15-minute drive away, with even more budget options to choose from.

Center Village is where you’ll find the most facilities, restaurants, and shops in Copper Mountain, so if being close to amenities is important, stay here. The Incline Bar and Grill is a top spot for a bite to eat any time of day, and once you’ve hung up your ski boots for the day, there’s a great happy hour which transforms the place into a happening après-ski spot! A word of warning: if partying into the early hours is your thing then you’re probably better off at Breckenridge; there are not many places open after midnight here.

Our Top Picks:

Copper has a wide selection of accommodation but if you want to get the best deal, consider these lodging options:

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Silverthorne - Summit Co

Make yourself at home at La Quinta Inn & Suites in Silverthorne

A 15-minute drive from Copper Mountain, La Quinta Inn & Suites is great value for money. This lodge offers comfortable rooms and a spectacular views overlooking the Rocky Mountain. Best of all, it's location in the heart of Silverthorne puts you in driving distance to four other ski resorts including Keystone, Breckenridge Arapahoe Basin and Loveland. 

Star Rating: 3/5
Price: $244 USD ($360 AUD)-$410 USD ($605 AUD)
Address: 560 Silverthorne Lane, Silverthorne, CO 80498

Quality Inn & Suites Summit County

Value for money at Quality Inn & Suites

Quality Inn & Suites is located in the heart of Summit County, with some resorts such as Copper Mountain accessible within minutes of driving. Take advantage of complimentary buffet breakfast and hotel amenities such as spa tub and pool.

Star Rating: 3/5
Price: $213 USD ($314 AUD)-$255 USD ($376 AUD)
Address: 530 Silverthorne Ln, Silverthorne, CO 80498

Copper Mountain Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
Copper Springs at East Village by Copper Mountain Lodging
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
49% off $1,094
Passage Point at Center Village by Copper Mountain Lodging
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
40% off $1,912
Colorado Rocky Mountain Resorts - Frisco
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
34% off $2,800

View all ski packages for Copper Mountain

9. Breckenridge

View Breckenridge Packages

Pros

  • Highest lift in North America
  • Bustling historic town with a laid-back vibe
  • Diverse range of lodgings from cosy and affordable to lavishly high end

Cons

  • Big crowds are a real pain
  • Epic wind chill
  • Snow can be blow-packed into a crusty shell
       
Known for: Highest summit elevation in the US and one of the most popular resorts in Colorado
breckenridge ski resort
Breck in a snapshot

More skiers and snowboarders visited Breckenridge last season than any other ski resort in the United States, which means two things. It’s undoubtedly an awesome mountain to ride, but it can also get frustratingly crowded. This isn’t surprising given all the things Breck has going for it – affordable lodging, an abundance of slopes spread across five peaks and North America’s highest lift, the Imperial Express Super Chair, reaching 3,914 m!

breckenridge imperial express lift
Breck is all about the elevation

Town: The town is also a big draw in itself, an old mining settlement that’s far from a purpose-built mega resort (if that’s your thing head to Vail). The atmosphere at the bottom of the mountain is fun and relaxed, plus there are a ton of shopping, dining, and drinking options to choose from. Accommodation options here are varied and plentiful, with hundreds of hotels and thousands of condo units to stay in. If you want ski-in/ski-out you’ve got it, or if you’d prefer to save money on lodgings and don't mind being a bit further from the slopes, that’s also an option. Whether it’s 5-star or self-catering you're after, you’ll find it in Breck, making it a great ski resort to suit all budgets.

freshies at Breckenridge ski resort
Awesome freshies at Breck

Terrain: While Breck ticks the boxes for many, it’s not without its drawbacks. We’ve already mentioned the crowds (if this is a deal breaker for you, try Winter Park or Steamboat), but talking terrain, while its got a good variety of groomers, glades and moguls – it’s not the best Summit County can offer. But if you are after high alpine, no-fall zone chutes and wide open bowls at extreme altitudes, then you’re at the right place. Just make sure you’re prepared against possible altitude sickness!

Our Top Picks: 

Breckenridge has a wide selection of accommodation but if you want to get the best deal, consider these lodging options:

Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center

Beaver Run is the ultimate affordable ski-in/ski-out option 

Beaver Run Resort is an affordable ski-in/ski-out lodging that won't break the bank! You'll be steps away from the Beaver Run Super Chair, equipment rentals and get access to free shuttle services to and from town. The rooms are well-equipped with amenities including restaurant/bars, swimming pools and fitness room, however can be slightly outdated.

Star Rating: 3.5/5
Price Range: $396 USD ($585 AUD)-$550 USD ($812 AUD)
Address: 620 Village Rd, Breckenridge, CO 80424

Village at Breckenridge Resort

Village at Breckenridge is perfect for a family ski vacation

Village at Breckenridge offers ski-in/ ski-out, located at the base of the Quicksilver Super 6 chairlift. It is a spectacular hotel that offers spacious rooms, making it perfect for a family getaway. Families will love the onsite restaurant, childcare and range of fun activities.

Star Rating: 3/5
Price Range: $442 USD ($652 AUD)-$633 USD ($934 AUD)
Address: 535 S Park Avenue, Breckenridge, CO, 80424

Breckenridge Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
Rocky Mountain Resort Management Breckenridge
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
45% off $692
Village at Breckenridge Resort
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
31% off $1,709
Crystal Peak Lodge
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
25% off $3,289

View all ski packages for Breckenridge

8. Keystone Resort

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Pros

  • Huge ski area covering over 1,214 ha
  • Some of best long groomers in Colorado
  • One of the country’s top terrain parks, with its own lift

Cons

  • Crowds can be a problem, particularly on weekends
  • There’s not much truly extreme terrain here
       
Known for: Colorado longest ski day, night skiing, family friendly
north peak at Keystone
North Peak at Keystone

Keystone treads the middle ground between luxury ski resorts like Vail and bustling ski towns like Breckenridge, offering an affordable and family-friendly ski experience while remaining competitive in other aspects. Night skiing is one of them, with the largest number of trails in the state lit up after dark here, which solidifies Keystone’s claim of having Colorado’s longest ski day! It also has a fantastic cat ski operation that costs just $10 USD ($15 AUD) a ride, opening up huge swathes of powder-filled glades and bowls to tear through.

keystone cat ride
Keystone Cat ride!

Terrain: The resort’s A51 Terrain Park is widely regarded as one of the finest in the country, covering a huge 24 ha and regularly winning awards from top ski and snowboard magazines. The 6 separate parks combined have over 100 different features, kickers, rails, and pipes for all abilities, from beginner tricksters to pro freestylers. The main park even has its own dedicated chairlift that will keep tireless park rats lapping all day!

Keystone is a member of the 3x3 club, which means its mammoth 1,249 ha ski area enjoys a staggering 953 m of vertical drop! All this terrain will keep you skiing or boarding new trails for days on end, on the wonderfully wide and long groomers that make up a large portion of the runs here. Experienced intermediates will be in heaven, but advanced riders could find that the trails simply aren’t challenging enough. Luckily, just up the road is Arapahoe Basin, where there’s plenty of gnarly terrain for even the most committed adrenaline junkie.

Dercum Mountain at Keystone has a number of black runs
Number of blacks off Dercum Mountain

Accommodation: All sorts of different accommodation options are available here, whether you’re looking for casual hotels, private lodges, or premium condos. There’s usually something to suit most budgets, with prices a notch lower than at Aspen and Vail. Alpine Slopes Lodge is a decent place with straightforward rooms a short stroll from the lifts. 

ski keystone powder
Drawing lines in the Keystone pow

Snow quality: For all that’s great about Keystone, it does fall short of the competition in a few areas. Snowfall here is lacking for a Summit County resort, but thankfully is supported by a superb snowmaking and grooming operation which keeps the slopes smooth and white. Crowds, especially on weekends, can also be an issue so plan accordingly!

Our Top Picks:

Keystone Resort has a wide selection of accommodation but if you want to get the best deal, consider these lodging options:

Evergreen Condominiums

Evergreen Condominium is a family friendly lodge

Just a short complimentary shuttle drive away, Evergreen Condominiums are fantastic option for couples and families. Condos come fully equipped and offer breathtaking views of the mountain.

Star Rating: 3/5
Price Range: $456 USD ($673 AUD)-$490 USD ($723 AUD)
Address: 21996 US Highway 6, Keystone, CO 80435

Keystone Lodge and Spa

Keystone Lodge and Spa is a 4 star hotel

Keystone Lodge and Spa is a popular choice for skiers with ski storage and complimentary ski shuttle that takes you to the slopes within 5 minutes. While you're there, why not pamper yourself with a spa/ massage visit. The rooms are only steps from the on-site restaurant and lounge, and only a bit over a mile from Keystone itself.

Star Rating: 4/5
Price Range: $421 USD ($621 AUD)-$512 USD ($756 AUD)
Address: 22101 US Highway 6, Keystone, CO 80435

Keystone Resort Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
Rocky Mountain Resort Management Keystone
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
35% off $924
Rocky Mountain Resort Management Silverthorne
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
27% off $1,705
River Run Village by Gondola Resorts
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
20% off $3,639

View all ski packages for Keystone Resort

7. Steamboat

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Pros

  • The glade skiing is 'impossible' to beat
  • Unwind in one of the many geothermal hot springs!
  • Trademarked ‘Champagne’ powder
  • No crowds!
  • An authentic Western town with unique winter events!

Cons

  • Possibility of poor snow on lower half of the mountain due to lower base elevation
  • A bit further out of the way
  • Smaller town with somewhat pricey lodging and dining options given the limited options
       
Known for: Champagne powder, world-class glade skiing, local atmosphere 
steamboat springs ski resort
Welcome to Steamboat!

A cowboy ski town that holds the record for being home to more Winter Olympic athletes than anywhere else in the United States, Steamboat Springs is a hotbed of snowsports culture! The oldest ski hill in Colorado opened here in 1915, and since then, the newer and much larger Steamboat Ski Resort has opened with 1,200 ha of diverse ski terrain across an entire mountain range. The town is also home to geothermal hot springs where you can soak those weary muscles after a hard day on the slopes!

hot springs at steamboat
Some R&R in the hot springs after a hard day of skiing

Terrain & Snow quality: Where Steamboat really excels is in its glade skiing, which is undoubtedly some of the best in Colorado. Head up to Sunshine Peak and ski over the backside to Morningside Park – here you’ll find some of the best tree runs in Colorado, with options for a variety of tree-skiing abilities! Snow quality is top notch – there’s a reason they call it ‘champagne’ powder. Without getting too deep into the science, there’s a desert off to the west where most snowstorms come from which dries out all the moisture. This turns the snow into tiny flakes that are incredibly easy to blow through, even if you’re knee deep in it.

glades at steamboat springs
Gearing up for the glades

On the flipside, even though the resort is famed for its excellent snow quality, it doesn’t always get much of it, especially if the storms flow from the south. The relatively low summit elevation of 3,221 m also means that on a warm day, the snow on the lower half of the mountain degrades quickly. Lastly, the small town feel does mean that shopping and activities outside of skiing are limited – if you want that, then Vail and Aspen have you covered.

All in all, if you imagine the name ‘Ski Town USA’ with its great western charm and friendly local attitude, you’re probably visualising Steamboat.

Our Top Picks:

Steamboat has a wide selection of accommodation but if you want to get the best deal, consider these lodging options:

Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas

Stay at Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas for amazing mountain views

This luxury 4-star hotel offers panoramic views and convenient ski-in/ski-out access. The wide range of hotel amenities and activities such as the outdoor swimming pool, spa and gym make this a favourite at Steamboat.

Star Rating: 4.5/5
Price Range: $492 USD ($726 AUD)-$603 USD ($890 AUD)
Address: 2200 Village Inn Court, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477

The Steamboat Grand

A luxury getaway at The Steamboat Grand

The Steamboat Grand provides a luxury experience with spacious condos and amazing mountain views by the pool. Location is fantastic, just a 2-minute walk to the gondola and chairlifts at Steamboat.

Star Rating: 4/5
Price Range: $213 USD ($314 AUD)-$767 USD ($1,132 AUD)
Address: 2300 Mount Werner Circle, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487

Steamboat Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
Torian Plum by Resort Lodging
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
35% off $2,636
The Lodge at Steamboat by Resort Lodging Company
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
30% off $4,062
Antlers at Christie Base
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
24% off $7,591

View all ski packages for Steamboat

6. Winter Park Resort

View Winter Park Resort Packages

Pros

  • Excellent range of terrain for different abilities
  • Some of the best steep mogul runs in the country
  • Reliable snowfall
  • Turn off of the I-70 early enough to avoid the infamous traffic around Eisenhower Tunnel and beyond

Cons

  • Lift layout can be a little confusing
  • Limited range of facilities and activities at the base area
  • Access via Berthoud Pass is challenging in bad weather
       
Known for: Monster moguls, diverse trails 
Vasquez Cirque Territory at Winter Park ski resort
Vasquez Cirque

With over 75 years of ski history, Winter Park began life as a playground for Denverites, owned and operated by the city, before slowly growing into a world-renowned ski destination made famous by Mary Jane’s moguls! Despite being the longest continually running ski resort in the state and serving up genuinely awesome ski terrain, this place retains a down-to-earth attitude. Winter Park doesn’t show off because it doesn't have to, and adventurous skiers will find this out when they visit.

Mary Jane at Winter Park ski resort
Taking on Mary Jane

Even getting to the resort can be a daring endeavour in itself, with the Berthoud Pass becoming a treacherous route during a snowstorm. Maybe this puts a few skiers and boarders off, but there’s an easier way to reach Winter Park that harks back to its early days. Being the only ski resort in the United States that has an Amtrak train service, you can reach the mountain by rail aboard the Winter Park Express from Denver! It’s just a shame this service only runs on weekends between January and March.

Terrain: The ski terrain here is split between 7 territories, each offering something unique. From wide open bowls and family-friendly groomers to steep alpine chutes and progressive terrain parks, there’s plenty to challenge all levels of ability. Coupled with reliable snowfall, skiing at Winter Park rarely disappoints.

village way at winter park ski resort
Easing back to town on Village Way

One gripe we have about the resort is its lift layout. As can often be a problem for older resorts, some of the lift connections here are a little complicated, particularly in the Winter Park Territory, and getting around the mountain is not as easy as it could be. If you're a snowboarder and you don't know where you're going, watch out, as there are a couple of nasty traverses that'll have you popping that board off to stalk along in frustration - better read up on our Winter Park ski guide

Town: Off the mountain, Winter Park isn’t a particularly glitzy destination like some other Colorado ski resorts and is quite similar to Steamboat in this respect, so some amenities might be missing (no oxygen bars here!). That said, all this can be overlooked if you just want to ski and ski hard!

Our Top Picks:

Winter Park has a wide selection of accommodation but if you want to get the best deal, consider these lodging options:

Zephyr Mountain Lodge

Zephyr Mountain Lodge is a good choice for ski-in/ ski-out option

Stay at Zephyr Mountain Lodge if you want ultimate convenience after a long day on the slopes. Located at the foot of the mountain means you'll have ski-in/ski-out access and be close restaurants and shops in the village.

Star Rating: 3.5/5
Price Range: $238 USD ($351 AUD)-$346 USD ($511 AUD)
Address: 201 Zephyr Way, Winter Park, CO 80482

Winter Park Mountain Lodge

Winter Park Mountain Lodge is a popular, affordable choice 

Winter Park Mountain Lodge is all about the value. It's a taste of old school coupled with incredible mountain views. A short free ski shuttle and you'll be on the slopes in no time. This classic 3-star hotel offers basic amenities and comes at an affordable price, making it a popular choice.

Star Rating: 3/5
Price Range: $134 USD ($198 AUD)-$234 USD ($345 AUD)
Address: 81699 US Highway 40, Winter Park, CO 80482

Winter Park Resort Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
Winter Park Mountain Lodge
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
67% off $366
Zephyr Mountain Lodge
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
41% off $1,065
Fraser Crossing / Founders Pointe
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
31% off $1,670

View all ski packages for Winter Park Resort

5. Beaver Creek

View Beaver Creek Packages

Pros

  • Top-notch grooming
  • Fast and efficient lift network with short lines
  • The Birds of Prey World Cup Downhill is held here early in the season so you better believe they'll do whatever it takes to ensure great skiing conditions! 
  • Free chocolate chip cookies at 3:00 pm every afternoon at the base of Centennial Express

Cons

  • No terrain above the tree line 
  • Expect to pay top dollar for everything here
  • The bowl skiing is limited compared to nearby Vail
       
Known for: Immaculate grooming, luxurious pampering
views of gore range surround Beaver Creek
Views of Gore Range surround Beaver Creek

Welcome the newest Colorado ski resort, the one and only Beaver Creek, where luxury comes as standard. Smart, sophisticated and unabashedly expensive, this purpose-built ski resort is as much about the pampering as the powder, which are both equally as good! Just 16 km west of Vail, Beaver Creek doesn’t suffer from the same crowds as its bigger sister, but then again it doesn’t offer anywhere near as much terrain. Still, the 150 remarkably well laid out trails here are nothing to scoff at, particularly the Birds of Prey downhill course, an annual fixture on the men’s Alpine Ski World Cup tour.

birds of prey downhill at beaver creek ski resort
Preparing for Birds of Prey

Town: The Beaver Creek ski village is pretty small, at roughly 5 blocks by 8 blocks, which makes it easy to navigate and explore (great for families). There are even escalators to get you up from the bus stop at the plaza area to the slopes, although these can be tricky to navigate if you're already in your ski boots! Perhaps the highlight of entertainment in the town is the Vilar Performing Arts Centre, hosting everything from hit Broadway shows to the latest ski movie epic from Warren Miller, but the weekly American Jukebox Skate Night at the ice rink is a close contender! Further down the mountain are the base areas of Avon and Arrowhead with lifts connecting to the slopes of Beaver Creek.

village at beaver creek
Back to the village for après ski

Terrain: Immaculately groomed green and blue runs make up a large portion of the ski terrain here, and unlike many other ski resorts, most trails at Beaver Creek don’t flow straight down the fall line. Instead, they leisurely wind down their way down the mountain for a scenic and unique skiing experience. There’s a nice chunk of advanced and expert terrain here too, but you can find bumpier bumps at Winter Park or steeper chutes at Arapahoe Basin.

That said, neither of those resorts will indulge you off the slopes quite like Beaver Creek. With a modern lift network comprised largely of high-speed lifts, you can get around the mountain fast without too much queuing. The highest point is the summit of Beaver Creek Mountain at 3,487 m, served by both the Cinch Express Lift and the Drink Of Water Lift. Even from up here, the entire ski area is below the treeline, so don’t expect any true high alpine terrain.

Accommodation & Dining: When it comes to somewhere to stay, The Osprey Lodge and Beaver Creek Landing both offer exquisite ski-in/ski- out accommodation slap bang in the centre of Beaver Creek Village. For one of the finest dining experiences in the resort you need look no further than Allies Cabin, famous for its wonderful valley views and Thursday winery dinners. For something slightly less pricey, try the Dusty Boot, a steakhouse and saloon that oozes rustic old west charm! All in all, Beaver Creek is a top resort with a good balance of snow, terrain and village.

Our Top Picks:

Beaver Creek has a wide selection of accommodation but if you want to get the best deal, consider these lodging options:

The Charter at Beaver Creek

Amazing mountain views at The Charter at Beaver Creek

A luxury escape offering ski-in/ ski-out access to the slopes and chairlift, The Charter at Beaver Creek is hard to beat. Featuring hotel rooms and 1-5 bedroom condos, The Charter also has al fresco dining, gorgeous views, swimming pool, indoor and outdoor hot tub and a complimentary ski shuttle.

Star Rating: 3.5/5
Price Range: $354 USD ($523 AUD)+
Address: 120 Offerson Rd, Avon, CO 81620

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa

Park Hyatt Beaver Run Resort and Spa is a 5-star ski-in/ ski-out resort

Another upscale ski-in/ ski-out lodging, The Park Hyatt offers ski valet, modern decor, multiple heated pools and hot tubs for you to relax in after a long day on the slopes.

Star Rating: 5/5
Price Range: $826 USD ($1,219 AUD)-$1,252 USD ($1,848 AUD)
Address: 136 E Thomas Pl, Avon, CO, 81620

Beaver Creek Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
The Charter at Beaver Creek
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
29% off $1,076
The Osprey at Beaver Creek, A RockResort
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
15% off $2,513
The Pines Lodge, A RockResort
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
11% off $3,584

View all ski packages for Beaver Creek

4. Aspen Highlands

View Aspen Highlands Packages

Pros

  • Four different ski areas to explore, all under one lift ticket scheme
  • Fantastic grooming and efficient lifts
  • Amazing ski town with as much to do off the slopes as on them

Cons

  • A bit more out of the way to reach
  • Snowfall isn’t always great here
  • You have to hike to terrain above the tree line
  • An expensive choice for a ski vacation
       
Known for: Four distinctives ski areas all near one another and available on one lift ticket, grouped around a famous ski town
aspen highlands mountain views
Aspen Highlands needs no introduction

A ski mecca for the rich and famous, Aspen has grown into four standalone ski resorts since the first slopes opened for business way back in 1946, and with such fine heritage, it’s one of the greatest ski towns in the world! The original Aspen Mountain resort (locally known as Ajax) is now joined by Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands, each offering a distinctly different ski experience. Between them all, there are over 2,246 ha of spectacular ski terrain to explore, with quite literally something for every skier and snowboarder.

view of aspen highlands summit highland peak
View of the Aspen Highlands summit, Highland Peak

If you asked us to pick one, it’d be Aspen Highlands. Crowds don’t seem to affect this resort in the same way that Aspen Mountain and Snowmass suffer from, which means more freshies and less queuing! It’s also home to what many skiers regard as the most extreme terrain the whole of Aspen has to offer. You’ll find the Highland Bowl here, where you can take a high alpine hike to drop in from 3,777 m, and there are secret lines scattered through the in-bounds ski area that can make even experts pucker.

hiking up to higland bowl for fresh powder
Earning the freshies - hiking up to Highland Bowl

One issue that affects the ski experience here is snowfall because without enough of it, the steeps are often peppered with rocks. It really needs lots of powder to fill in all the famously exhilarating terrain, so you could be disappointed if you visit early in the season. What Highlands doesn’t deliver is much intermediate terrain, but Snowmass and Buttermilk have you covered if you’re looking for more easy-going slopes.

Accommodation: Accommodation is spread over the old town of Aspen and the newer Snowmass Village, with a huge range of hotels, condos, and family homes available. Nothing comes cheap in Aspen though, so be prepared to splurge on accommodation if you want to stay close to the slopes. For ski-in/ski-out luxury lodgings, look no further than the Ritz-Carlton at Aspen Highlands, where you’ll appreciate warming up in the hot tub after being out in the snow all day!

lots to see and do around the town of aspen
Lots to see and do around town

Town: There’s also tons to see and do in the town itself, with our top venue for live music being Belly Up (tickets for acts sell out quickly, so be sure to buy in advance). Wintersköl, an annual festival dating back to 1951, is another event not to be missed – it’s a toast to winter with fireworks, snow sculptures, torchlight parades and much more! Then we have the Winter X Games, held every year in Aspen, with pro skiers and snowboarders throwing down their biggest tricks. All the above just scratches the surface of what Aspen offers off the slopes!

Winter X Games in Aspen
Stopped by the Winter X Games

With so much going for it and such a renowned reputation, Aspen certainly cashes in on the hordes of skiers and snowboarders who want to experience this legendary ski town. It makes a budget ski vacation in Aspen very challenging. Still, if you’re happy to burn a hole in your wallet then Aspen could be one of the most memorable ski trips of your life!

Our Top Picks:

Aspen has a wide selection of accommodation but if you want to get the best deal, consider these lodging options:

The Gant - Aspen

Peaceful atmosphere at The Gant Aspen

Stylish condos, luxury pools, hot tubs on-site cafes and walkable distance to Aspen Mountain, what more could you ask for? We think The Gant is perfect if you're after a peaceful location yet just blocks away from all shops, restaurants and bars that Aspen has to offer.

Star Rating: 4/5
Price Range: $531 USD ($784 AUD)-$968 USD ($1,429 AUD)
Address: 610 S. West End, Aspen, CO 81611

Limelight Hotel Aspen

Make yourself feel at home at Limelight Hotel

Limelight Hotel is a 1 minute drive to Aspen Mountain, prime location for hitting up the slopes and exploring Aspen's best restaurants and bars. The rooms are modern and spacious and the hotel also provides complimentary ski and airport shuttle.

Star Rating: 4/5
Price Range: $750 USD ($1,107 AUD)-$952 USD ($1,405 AUD)
Address: 617 East Cooper Avenue, Aspen, CO 81611

Aspen Highlands Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
Lichenhearth, A Destination Residence
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
42% off $1,638
The Stonebridge Inn, A Destination Hotel
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
37% off $2,456
Tamarack Townhouses, A Destination Residence
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
30% off $4,988

View all ski packages for Aspen Highlands

3. Arapahoe Basin

View Arapahoe Basin Packages

Pros

  • Expect lots of deep fluffy powder here
  • Some of the best extreme steeps in Colorado
  • Laid-back local vibe
  • Inexpensive
  • One of the longest ski seasons

Cons

  • Old lifts, only one is high speed so there can be queues
  • Ski terrain area is small compared to nearby resorts
  • Very limited amenities
     
Known for: Extreme chutes and gnarly steeps, small “locals’ mountain” vibe
view looking from arapahoe basin summit
Looking down from A-Basin Summit

Arapahoe Basin, A-Basin, The Legend, however you want to call this ski resort, its reputation precedes itself. Shrugging off the idea that ski resorts need to offer a multitude of facilities and amenities, it instead focuses solely on riding the mountain. This draws a younger crowd that like to drink beers and rip through the steeps - giving the A-basin a very authentic local flavour. Thanks to its north facing slopes and high elevation, Arapahoe Basin enjoys one of the longest ski seasons in Colorado, opening in October and sometimes staying open until July!

Pallavicini area at Arapahoe Basin
Taste of what the Pallavicini area has to offer

As the firm favourite amongst locals, who appreciate the affordable lift tickets and relaxed attitude, there’s one big drawback for visitors. There’s no accommodation at the base of the lifts here. If you don't mind driving to the resort then you’ll be just fine, with a variety of accommodation options at nearby Keystone. For some great value lodgings, it’s also worth checking out the town of Silverthorne, a 20-minute drive away.

east wall at Arapahoe Basin
Brace yourself for the East Wall

Terrain: A-Basin doesn’t wow you with an expansive ski area or huge vertical rise, instead its strengths lie in the extreme chutes and gnarly steeps that keep the blood pumping for advanced skiers and snowboarders. There are few other resorts in Colorado that serve up as much expert terrain within ski area boundaries with the intimidating East Wall as its crowning glory. One downside to the emphasis on big mountain riding is the limited intermediate and beginner terrain here, so for more relaxed slopes try Keystone just around the corner, which is altogether a more family-friendly resort.

Investment in the lift system is another thing that’s lacking, and while you’re unlikely to find yourself waiting in long queues you will have to be patient while the old chairlifts creak up the mountain. The Black Mountain Express is the only high-speed chairlift in the entire resort and that only takes you up half the way! On the plus side, you’ll have plenty of time to choose your off-piste routes while watching other skiers and boarders brave new lines through the freshies.

arapahoe basin base
A-Basin base camp

Town: At the base of the mountain you’ll find just a few older buildings with the essentials, all centred around the A-Frame Lodge, where the usual cafeteria and coffee shop can be found. There’s also the 6th Alley Bar and Grill, which doubles as an après-ski spot, but the front of the nearby car park, dubbed the ‘Beach’, is the heart of A-Basin’s party scene. Barbecues, snow-cooled beers, music and good times, there’s always a reason to celebrate here, and everyone is welcome!

A-Basin is a true locals mountain, with a funky vibe that will delight some but put off others. The more experienced and low-maintenance you are, the more fun you’ll have here, so skiing newbies or those looking for a more catered experience should probably look elsewhere.

Where to stay: There are no lodging options in A-Basin but the next best option would be to look at accommodation in Keystone such as Evergreen Condominiums and Keystone Lodge and Spa. Otherwise, you could consider lodging in Summit Cove, Dillon/ Silverthorne or Frisco.

Arapahoe Basin Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
Rocky Mountain Resort Management Keystone
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
31% off $924
River Run Village by Gondola Resorts
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
19% off $2,858
3 Peaks Lodge
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
16% off $3,430

View all ski packages for Arapahoe Basin

2. Vail

View Vail Packages

Pros

  • Biggest ski area in Colorado
  • Known for its long wide runs groomed to perfection
  • Charming pedestrianised ski town
  • Plenty to see and do off the slopes
  • Your non-skier friends will light up in recognition when you mention Vail

Cons

  • Can be hard to escape the crowds
  • It’s an expensive place to ski
  • Lacks an abundance of steep terrain
  • Quite corporate so lacks the local charm of say, Steamboat and A-Basin
  • I-70 can be closed during snowstorms, with Vail Pass being one of the main closures, meaning you can't get in or out of town
       
Known for: Being the biggest ski area in Colorado, long wide runs groomed to perfection
Vail ski resort and town
Vail is as much about the mountain as it is the town

Often touted as the crowning glory of Colorado ski resorts, Vail’s enormous ski terrain covers 2,140 ha, more than anywhere else in the state. It goes without saying that there is an incredible amount of variety, from easy groomers to gnarly bowls. It’s a true mega resort, which might put some skiers and snowboarders off, but it’s one of those rare ski destinations that simply has it all!

Bridge st in Vail Village
Strolling through Bridge St in Vail Village

Town: The charming ski city is spread out across three base areas, Golden Peak, Vail Village, and Lionshead, and the entire place has an enchanting European feel to it. Being largely purpose-built means much of it is pedestrianised, so just strolling to the many shops, restaurants, and bars dotted around this picture-perfect resort is a joy in itself. There’s even a regional airport serving the town which is just 56 km away; otherwise, it’s still pretty close to Denver International Airport, a 2-hour drive away. Just note that due to Vail Pass' treacherous nature during snowstorms, I-70 suffers semi-frequent closures that might make it impossible to get in or out of town for whole days at a time!

ski long wide groomers at Vail
Nothing says Vail like long wide groomers

Terrain: You’ll have two sides of the mountain to ride here – the frontside is famed for its exquisite groomers, jam-packed full of green and blue runs which makes it perfect for family skiing. Over the other side, the back bowls are absolute powder havens, and from the highest point in the resort, 3,527 m, you can drop into the Blue Sky Basin. Finding freshies is never too hard on a powder day, and there’s an amazing variety of terrain to ride, through glades, bumps, and steeps!

vail back bowl powder on a blue bird day
Back bowl pow on a blue bird day!

Crowds & Lift tickets: So where does Vail go wrong? With everything the resort has on offer, it does draw in the crowds and with its strong brand name, expect to pay a premium to enjoy any of it. The window rate for a one-day lift pass is a pricey $175 USD ($258 AUD), making it the most expensive regular window ticket across the whole of America! In fact, most things in Vail are expensive (there’s not even any free car parking) unless you get a deal, making it costly choice, particularly for a family trip.

Accommodation: Also, there’s no true ski-in/ski-out accommodation at Vail, besides a few private properties with exclusive access. The closest you’ll get to the slopes at Vail Village is by checking in to the Lodge at Vail, while a room at Manor Vail puts you just a walk across the road from the lifts at Golden Peak. As for Lionshead, stay at The Arrabelle or Lionsquare Lodge, both next to the Eagle Bahn Gondola.

taste of vail food and wine festival
Taste of Vail Food and Wine Festival

Vail is an all round great resort with a strong brand and reputation which it has deservedly earned over the years – in this sense, it’s comparable to Park City and Canyons, in Utah so definitely worth a visit. What it lacks is extreme terrain – for that, make your way to Arapahoe Basin or Telluride. For a less expensive option with the same hustle and bustle of a big lively town and a mountain to match, Breck or nearby Beaver Creek might be the ticket.

Our Top Picks:

Vail has a wide selection of accommodation but if you want to get the best deal, consider these lodging options:

Tivoli Lodge

Enjoy the beautiful ski view from Tivoli Lodge

Consider staying at Tivoli Lodge for luxurious rooms and stunning mountain views. It only takes 3-minutes to walk to the ski slopes, alternatively, the in-resort driver service can shuttle you to the slopes or into the vibrant Vail Village for the fantastic dining and shopping Vail is known for.

Star Rating: 4/5
Price Range: $570 USD ($841 AUD)-$1,013 USD ($1,495 AUD)
Address: 386 Hanson Ranch Rd, Vail, CO 81657

Lion Square Lodge

Lion Square Lodge is all about the value. 

Conveniently located right next to the Eagle Bahn Gondola and Borne Free Express lift, the Lion Square Lodge is a top pick. Considering the convenience, the Lodge offers reasonable rates (for Vail standards). It's perfect for a family vacation, couple retreat or group event!

Star Rating: 3.5/5
Price Range: $428 USD ($632 AUD)+
Address: 660 W Lionshead Pl, Vail, CO 81657

Vail Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
Manor Vail Lodge
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
47% off $1,299
Sonnenalp
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
38% off $2,842
Vail Residences at Hotel Talisa
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
33% off $4,783

View all ski packages for Vail

1. Telluride

View Telluride Packages

Pros

  • Amazing variety of quality terrain, from gentle groomers to extreme off-piste
  • Historic western town with jaw-dropping scenery
  • High quality champagne powder, when it comes

Cons

  • A difficult ski resort to reach
  • It’s a pricey ski resort, particularly for lodging
  • Small town with limited options 
       
Known for: Extraordinary views and epic terrain 
telluride gondola
Going up Telluride Gondola – ready to take on the mountain

Not only is Telluride our pick for the best Colorado ski resort, it’s also one of our top ski destinations across the entire United States! It’s a truly majestic place, steeped in Wild West history, surrounded by towering fourteeners that make for spectacular views. With over 809 ha of outstanding ski terrain, 148 trails, and more than 762 cm of velvety powder blanketing the mountain each year, Telluride serves up everything from kid’s nursery slopes to intense off-piste (which one of our experienced insiders admits is just ‘plain scary’).

Gold Hill 1 at Telluride ski resort
Challenging Gold Hill 1

Terrain: Telluride doesn’t save the best for only advanced skiers and snowboarders – with the Prospect Express lift reaching over 3,597 m, beginners can experience high alpine territory and mountain vistas usually reserved only for experienced riders. From here there’s a non-stop run all the way down to the base area, the Galloping Goose trail, a 7 km green for all to enjoy! Adventurous experts aren’t left out – they can hike all the way up to an elevation of 4,060 m, where Palmyra Peak offers a variety of extreme chutes to fly down! 

Revelation Bowl at Telluride
Revelation Bowl

Where Revelation Bowl is another awesome section of the mountain for powder junkies looking for freshies, starting from the highest spot on the mountain served by a lift at 3,815 m. The snow stays deep up here thanks to its shelter from the wind, and some sections of the bowl are even groomed so intermediates can give it a try if they feel up to the challenge!

Town: Accommodation here is split between the main town of Telluride and the Mountain Village built on a natural bench above. Free gondolas connect the base areas and nearby parking lot. There’s more happening down at the main town, so stay there if you want to get into the nightlife scene! If you’re on a family holiday with young children Mountain Village is definitely the place to stay; you’ll be right next to great beginner runs, with superb facilities for kids, and it’s generally cheaper.

town of Mountain Village Colorado
Mountain Village

While many Colorado ski resorts straddle Interstate 70 leading out of Denver, Telluride is on the other side of the state, in the south-west corner. Besides the limited flights that connect to Telluride Regional Airport, the nearest airport is at Montrose, which is a difficult 97 km drive away. That said, if you’re really craving the pow and don’t mind a road trip, it’s a 6 hour trip from downtown Denver. Perhaps the difficulty in accessing Telluride is one of its biggest disadvantages, but it helps to keep the crowds away. As a package, Telluride feels like a tucked away piece of ski paradise – and is our top pick of Colorado ski resorts!

Our Top Picks:

Telluride has a wide selection of accommodation but if you want to get the best deal, consider these lodging options:

Mountain Lodge at Telluride

Enjor ski-in/ ski-out access at Mountain Lodge at Telluride 

If you want a cosy and relaxed atmosphere, this is a great option. A wide range of facilities are provided, including a heated pool and hot tub, restaurant, and in-room spa services.

Star Rating: 4/5
Price Range: $673 USD ($993 AUD)-$965 USD ($1,425 AUD)
Address: 457 Mountain Village Boulevard, Telluride, CO, 81435

The Peaks Resort and Spa

The Peaks Resort and Spa is perfect for families and couples

With a stay here, you'll have ski-in access from The Peaks run and be just a short walk to the lifts. The resort also features two restaurants, an arcade/game room, outdoor pools, full-service spa and a gym.

Star Rating: 4/5
Price Range: $704 USD ($1,039 AUD)-$1,088 USD ($1,606 AUD)
Address: 136 Country Club Drive, Telluride, CO, 81435

Telluride Ski Packages

Lodging + Lift Tickets Discount Price
The Victorian Inn
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
40% off $726
The Hotel Telluride
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
29% off $1,658
Camel's Garden Hotel
2 x Adult 2-day Lift Ticket
23% off $2,579

View all ski packages for Telluride

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