A Guide to the Best Ski Resorts in Colorado

It's no secret that Colorado is home to some of the world's best skiing and snowboarding, so narrowing down a list of the top resorts is some challenge. Heavy snowfall and beautiful mountains make Colorado the perfect place for all levels, with skiers coming from all corners of the world to this winter marvel. Here, we rank the top 6 best ski resorts in Colorado, based on a combination of accessibility,  affordability and entertainment.

1. Telluride

Why it ranks #1: Telluride is a small, welcoming village with a population of less than 2,500 people but is accessible to all skill levels, with almost 60% of its park available to beginners and intermediates. The local scene is particularly known for its annual festivals, ranging from balloons to bluegrass to art and architecture. Telluride also boasts a mountain summit of 13,150 ft and 2,000 acres of ski area. For an all-day adult lift price of $99 dollars, this resort should be your first pick.

Recommended Activity: Telluride Jazz Festival - In late summer, Telluride hosts one of the country’s most famous jazz festivals, started in 1971, with past performers such as Dizzy Gillespie and Etta James.

2. Vail 

If you’re looking for a ski resort that has the whole package, Vail’s wide array of entertainment and culinary digs makes it the most fun packed ski locale in the country. Located between the Gore and Saskatchewan mountains,  it is one of the largest single mountain ski resorts in the US and the biggest ski resort in Colorado, with 5,289 acres to ride.

Recommended Activity: Vail Nordic School - Take a trip through the snowy hills of Colorado, with cross country ski and snowshoeing lessons offered by the resort staff. Also make sure to check out one of the high class restaurants the town of Vail offers. Try Terra Bistro, which offers dishes like Brussel Sprouts and Apple Ravioli, or Au Poivre Bistro Filet.

3. Aspen/Snowmass

The town of Aspen is known for its scenic environment and magical charm. Independence Pass, which crosses the continental divide over Aspen and Leadville, is gorgeous when driven through during the summer, with nothing to see but blue skies and rolling hills. At Maroon Bells, the two peaks are around 14,000 feet, along with a pristine river surrounded by wildflowers. Aspen resort caters to each skier’s ability, with Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands more challenging, and Snowmass and Buttermilk adapted to all skill levels.

Recommended Activity: Snowmass, which has its own resort within Aspen, hosts “Ullr” nights every Friday evening during the winter season, dedicated to the Norse god of snow. Take a gondola up to Elk Mountain and celebrate with a bonfire, live music and the alpine rollercoaster.

4. Steamboat Springs

Situated in a classic cowboy town. Steamboat Springs truly has the atmosphere of the Wild West. Most people are attracted to the ski resort not just for the trails, but for the multitude of other outdoor activities that Steamboat Springs offers, like a tennis court and ice rink for skating, as well as the town’s popular Pro Rodeo, at the Brent Romick Arena. During September, the town hosts a “Wild West Airfest”, where festival-goers can compete in a homemade chili contest or watch professional bull riding. The best of the resort are the two long tree shots, named Closet and Shadow, where the light and fluffy “champagne” snow makes for a exciting, scenic route. Steamboat Springs has 57 intermediate slopes and 64 diamond slopes, making it a good stop for both recreational and hardcore powder lovers.

Recommended Activity: The Bud Light Cowboy Downhill features skiing cowboys. Watch more than 100 professional cowboys compete, racing down the mountain, combined with a 4H petting zoo and rope course. What more could you ask for?

5. Breckenridge

Breckenridge is the ultimate family friendly ski resort. Vacationers have access to four different terrain parks for riders of differing experience, and the highest chairlift in North America, the Imperial Express, at 12,840 feet.  The resort offers Breckenridge Colorado Childcare, as well as private lessons, children’s day camps and an adult ski and snowboard club. It also used to be a mining town, so be sure to visit some historical sites, like the Highline Railway Park or the Washington Gold and Silver Line.

Recommended Activity: With Breckenridge Sleigh, ride in a horse drawn sleigh through the town, surrounded by the rocky mountains, complete with optional dinner, hot cocoa, or a musical performance.

6. Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek is known to be the most luxury ski resort in the USA. Escalators, not lifts, take you up the slopes, and skiers can have their boots warmed as they eat free cookies handed out by staff. Unlike other upscale resorts, there isn’t as much of a crowd so this is the perfect getaway for those looking for private, intimate vacations. Don’t be misled though - Beaver Creek still has terrains for everyone. Haymeadow Park, at the base of Beaver Creek, is designed for beginners, with a magic carpet lift up the mountain and restaurants actually on the slope, such as an ice cream shop. The Upper and Lower Stone Creek Chutes have up to 600 ft vertical drops, for those looking for more extreme adventures.

Recommended Activity: The Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend is the ultimate Beaver Creek extravagance. Mingle with James Beard Award winning chefs and Food Network Celebrities as you complete snowshoe excursions and experience gourmet breakfast and lunch menus.