A top destination for skiers and snowboarders, Colorado is home to some of the best ski resorts in the world. Boasting fresh snow, great runs, and manicured slopes, you can’t go wrong planning a ski trip to the Centennial State. Home to over two dozen resorts, you could spend an entire winter season in CO and not ski all of its downhill trails.
While Cheyenne might have the feel of a plains town far from the famous ski areas of Wyoming, the city boasts surprising access to a number of resorts, especially in its southern neighbor Colorado. There are eleven incredible ski resorts, all within about 3 hours of Cheyenne, and several more if you’re willing to drive …
Colorado Ski Areas by City
If you’re looking to base yourself in a big city on the front range, Denver is your best bet. It’s far closer to the ski resorts than Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, or Pueblo. There are around a dozen ski areas within a two-hour drive of the capital city. Other terrific spots are any of its amazing ski towns spread all over the state.
Guide to Colorado’s Ski Resorts
Pristine mountains, heavily powdered terrain, and wide-open, untouched backcountry are just a few of the perks of shredding the powder at resorts in Colorado. Aside from its natural hot springs, unique national parks, and stunning mountain scenery, Colorado is hands down the most popular skiing and snowboarding destination in North America.
When you consider the snow-covered landscape and myriad of ski resorts in the state, it’s not hard to see why.
History of Skiing in CO
One of the first major ski resorts in Colorado, Winter Park, opened in 1940. However, skiing was first introduced to the state during the mining days of the mid-1800s.
What is now a well-known and beloved snowsport began as an essential mode of transportation in the mining towns of Colorado. Mail carriers started using skis to get around and deliver mail during the brutal winter months. The late-1800s is when skiing began its transition to the well-loved winter recreational activity we see now.
Educate yourself more about Colorado’s ski history.
Colorado Ski Season
The Colorado ski season typically lasts from about mid-October/November through mid-April/early May, with the best ski conditions in February when the snow is at its deepest. Anytime you get a fresh snowfall, people flock to the resorts for a pow day.
The mountains get anywhere between 150-400 inches of snow on average per year. The snow paired with cold temperatures and high elevation provides exceptional ski conditions. Most of the ski areas are positioned on sub-ranges of the Southern Rocky Mountains that run through the state.
Discover the ski resorts’ opening and closing dates in Colorado.
Most Popular Ski Resorts in CO
There are over 30 ski resorts in Colorado, but for the sake of time, we’ll just go over some of the most popular, most of which give you the opportunity to ski, lodge, and dine without ever leaving the resort.
Vail Mountain Resort, first known as No Name Mountain, was founded in 1962 in Vail, Colorado. With 5,317 acres of skiable terrain, it’s easily the largest ski resort in the state. It’s also the 3rd largest single-mountain ski resort in the US, and has the 4th largest area of skiable terrain, making it one of the most famous ski resorts in the country.
This resort attracts 650,000 people on average in the winter months. This makes sense when you factor in the 11,570-foot peak elevation, 3,450-foot vertical drop, and all the amenities offered here.
Aspen Mountain Ski Resort became the first in the state to boast the “resort” title, as it was the first to offer on-site lodging. Aspen Mountain is 1 of 4 ski areas included in the multi-mountain resort Aspen Snowmass.
This mountain is mainly for advanced skiers but does offer some intermediate terrain. Beginners will fit in more at Snowmass or Buttermilk, which are both owned by Aspen. One lift ticket from one ski area gives you access to all 4 mountains.
Snowmass Ski Resort is about 6 miles from the aforementioned 3, in the town of Snowmass Village. This resort features over 3,132 skiable acres and, as if that wasn’t enough, a 4,406-foot vertical drop, making it the highest in the country.
Steamboat Ski Resort is a major ski area nestled in the Great Rocky Mountains in the town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Here, you have your choice of 7 peaks to explore. Of these, the most famous are Sunshine Park, Storm Peak, and Pioneer Ridge.
When visiting this resort, expect to be greeted by 169 trails, 2,965 acres of skiable terrain, along with a 3,668-foot vertical drop. And you can even enjoy night skiing! Recognized as one of Colorado’s most family-friendly ski resorts, this snowy winter retreat is the ideal place to bring the entire family, regardless of age and ski ability.
Breckenridge Ski Resort, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, is located in Summit County, just 81 miles from Denver. As one of the highest elevated ski resorts in North America, with a summit of 12,998 feet, it’s no surprise it’s a magnet for adrenaline seekers and adventurers alike. Breckinridge, AKA “Breck,” also boasts some of the best learning terrains in the state!
The 2,908 acres of skiable terrain and 3,398-foot vertical drop aren’t as noteworthy as the rest, but still something worth experiencing. Similar to the others, you can ski, dine, and sleep without leaving the resort.
Telluride Ski Resort is a year-round resort located in Mountain Village, right next to the historic town of Telluride. With only 2,000 skiable acres, it offers the least compared to the other 5 on the list, but you shouldn’t let this deter you. There is plenty to do here for beginners and seasoned skiers, and the 3,790-foot vertical drop is the 2nd highest in the state.
If you decide to ski Telluride, be sure to check out the heli-skiing tour in the area. HeliTrax gives adventurers looking for untouched powder the chance to explore the majestic landscape in the backcountry of the San Juan Mountains.
Beaver Creek Ski Resort, just a short drive from Vail, is known for its excellent customer service and is one of the best beginner ski resorts in Colorado. Even experts will find suitable terrain here, especially on its World Cup downhill ski course, Birds of Prey.
Keystone Ski Resort, 73 miles west of Denver, boasts “Colorado’s longest ski day” thanks to its extensive night skiing schedule. It also has an impressive vertical of 3,128 feet, and 3,148 acres, making it the largest ski resort in Summit County.
Arapahoe Basin is found in Colorado’s Arapaho National Forest. It usually stays open well into June, about 2 months longer than any other resort in the state, made possible because of its 13,050-foot summit, along with other key factors. Perfect for avid skiers wanting to get in some spring skiing.
Discover the best ski resorts in Colorado for a powder day.
Small, City-Run Ski Areas
These smaller, lesser-known ski areas are ideal for those who want to skip the crowds and long lines and get straight to the skiing. Most of these city-run ski areas rely solely on natural snowfall to operate, so always call or check with the website to be sure they’re up and running.
Learn more about these historic and important small-town ski resorts in Colorado.
Other Ski Resorts in CO
There are plenty of other ski areas in Colorado to choose from:
- Silverton Mountain Ski Area
- Wolf Creek
- Copper Mountain
- Ski Cooper
- Sunlight Mountain Resort
- Monarch Mountain Ski Area
- Powderhorn Mountain Resort
- Hesperus Ski Area
- Eldora Mountain
- Loveland Ski Area
- Granby Ranch
- Echo Mountain
- Crested Butte
- Buttermilk Ski Resort
- Aspen Highlands
Uncover Colorado is your source for a comprehensive list of ski resorts in Colorado from large mountains to tiny hills.
No matter what you’re looking for in your winter ski retreat, you can’t go wrong in Colorado. The Centennial State boasts over 2 dozen ski areas, each offering something unique, be it affordable prices or world-class bowl skiing.