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8 Best Ski Resorts in Colorado from Bunny Slopes to Black Bowls

By , September 17th, 2018

Thirty-seven of the fifty states in the United States have at least one ski resort, which means no matter where you are in the country; a ski mountain is not far away. In the Northeast, Vermont is a popular getaway, while in California, Tahoe or Mammoth are the go-to’s. Even the Midwest has a few spots to brave the cold and practice your turns (albeit some are converted landfills).

But in terms of bragging rights, it’s hard for any state to compete with Colorado’s peak porn. Home to more than 300 days of sunshine a year and more than 300 inches of powder a season, the Rocky Mountain State is a winter wonderland for snow sports enthusiasts. It’s estimated that over 20 percent of US-skiers make the annual trek to Colorado to hit the slopes, which equates to around 13 million visitors a year in an almost $5 billion dollar winter sports industry. Before you start worrying about the lift line, keep in mind there are over 25 resorts to appease all levels of powder hound.

Whether you’re an expert at the back bowls and black diamonds or still working on perfecting your pizza and French Fries on the bunny slope, Colorado has a ski resort with a run, drink, or hot tub calling your name.

8 Best Ski Resorts in Colorado

Aspen

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Travelers flock to Aspen to dine on delectable cuisine and to hobnob with the high society scene. Known for its celebrity chefs, swanky clientele, and over the top-notch accommodations, Aspen is a star-studded getaway whether you want to hit the powder or simply plant yourself in a hot tub sipping bubbly.

When Aspen Mountain first opened in the ‘40s, it was home to the longest chairlift in the world. This immediately translated into a “go big or go home” mentality that’s lent itself into being the longstanding host of the X Games.

If you do want to hit the slopes, you actually get four lift tickets for the price of one (a rare bargain in the ski industry). A mountain collective that includes Snowmass, Aspen, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands, the diversity and breadth of terrain is unmatched almost anywhere in the state.

Where to Stay in Aspen

The Little Nell

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Pack your furs because The Little Nell is home to the world’s first mobile, on-mountain champagne and caviar bar.

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Telluride

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One of the furthest ski resorts from Denver, but a gorgeous drive nonetheless, Telluride’s distance is actually its biggest draw. Sequestered by the San Juan Mountains, which you may recognize from the Coors can, (or Rocky Mountain water as we like to call it), minimal tourists will interrupt your perfect bluebird day. Almost 60 percent of the ski resort is beginner and intermediate runs, so there are plenty of fresh groomers to go around.

The entire town is a designated National Historic Landmark with a mix of kitschy boutiques and old west charm. The city and Mountain Village are linked by one of the most picturesque gondola rides in the world, the first and only free public transportation system of its kind in North America. When you’re ready to après, Alpino Vino is the nation’s highest wine bar where you can sip and swirl at a dizzying 11,966 feet.

Where to Stay in Telluride

The Hotel Telluride

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One of the poshest boutique hotels in town, Hotel Telluride has a gym, hot tub and sun terrace to relax those sore muscles. A free shuttle to/from town and ski gondola are all included.

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Breckenridge

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Ascending from 11,901 feet to 12,840 feet, the Imperial Ski Lift on Peak 8 boasts the highest altitude of any ski lift on the continent, and that’s just one of Breck’s five peaks. With an average of 366 inches of snow and 187 trails, you could spend days trying to cover all that terrain and barely make a dent. It’s just one of the reasons they’re one of the founding resorts on the Epic Pass – the skiing truly is epic.

To fuel you up for the day, the breakfast burritos at Kava Café are one of the best-kept secrets in Colorado. When you’re ready to après, stroll artsy Main Street — it’s one of the longest historic districts in the state. Tip one back at Breckenridge Brewery, or for a stronger hair of the dog, do a spirits tasting at Breckenridge Distillery. The world’s highest altitude distillery, beverages are actually handcrafted from local snowmelt.

Where to Stay in Breckenridge

Water House on Main Street by Wyndham Vacation Rentals

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Accommodations in Breckenridge are mostly condos and home rentals. The Water House is managed by Wyndham so you get all the benefits of a major hotel chain without losing the personalized touches of an intimate slopeside retreat. Each condo comes with a fireplace and a jetted tub to snuggle up on those cold, snowy nights.

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Vail

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At a monstrous 5,289 acres, Vail has the most skiable acreage in the state. Experts flock to the 2,600 acres of back bowls, hidden powder stashes, challenging tree terrain, and moguls. Vail also owns the title of the state’s longest ski run, the 4.5-mile Riva Ridge.

Vail Village is everything you’d expect of a quintessential mountain town. European vibes and quaint cobblestone streets ensure you’re enveloped in alpine wonder in what looks like a year-round Christmas postcard come to life. Mountain Standard is one of the staple dining spots, while the George Restaurant & Pub is the place for divey, after-hours fun.

Where to Stay in Vail

The Arrabelle at Vail Square

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Located right at the base of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, the Arrabelle at Vail Square offers the ultimate in ski-in/ski-out amenities. Along with a slopeside ski and boot valet, equipment rental and storage, they also have complimentary GoPros to document your time on the mountain.

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Steamboat Springs

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Snowboarders, this one is for you. If you’re looking for a place to throw some sick tricks, Howelsen Hill is one of the oldest continually operating ski areas in the country. Home to the most complete natural ski-jump complex in North America, the city has produced more winter Olympians than any other town in the U.S.

Trademarking the term Ski Town, U.S.A.® for their “champagne powder,” Steamboat’s unique snow conditions average just 6 percent water content (most resorts have 15-plus). They actually offer guests complimentary hot chocolate and Champagne Powder® donut holes to subtly remind everyone why they’re the best.

Don’t miss Sake2U’s riverfront happy hour, and for the ultimate night outing, head to Strawberry Park Hot Springs, which is clothing optional after dark.

Where to Stay in Steamboat Springs

Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas

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The only full-service ski-in/ski-out resort in Steamboat, the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas feature both privately-owned condos and villas for a cozy getaway.

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Crested Butte

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Locals know that if you want to avoid I-70 road rage and tourist traffic, go to Crested Butte. Trademarking the term “Colorado’s Best Corduroy,“ their unique grooming process creates snow that’s softer and makes it easier to hit sharp turns. As one of the last remaining non-touristy resorts, their 15 lifts are capable of handling 20,310 people an hour. Since most days see less than 2,000 visitors, your average wait in the lift line takes approximately one minute. That means more runs, more vertical, and bigger smiles.

Downtown Elk Avenue is extremely walkable. Coffee shop culture is a big thing in Crested Butte. Get caffeinated, breathe in the clean mountain air, and enjoy the tunes as there’s year-round live music in this recovering hippie town.

Where to Stay in Crested Butte

The Lodge At Mountaineer Square

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The Lodge At Mountaineer Square is a convenient base just steps from the lift in hopping Mountaineer Square. If your sore muscles need some pampering, the heated indoor/outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, and sauna are a welcome reprieve. The hotel shuttle and town bus both offer easy transportation for evening explorations.

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Snowmass

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Despite having the largest vertical descent of any resort in North America, Snowmass is extremely family friendly thanks to their V.I.K. (very important kid) program and tree house basecamp. The ski school is renowned for getting anyone on the slopes for the first time. They also have a number of other on-mountain activities to keep the kids entertained from the year-round alpine coaster and snow bikes to tubing and snowshoeing.

The resort is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, which means there are retro-themed parties and special events all season-long. For a special treat, don’t miss the intimate Snowcat dinners, which take you up to a remote mountaintop cabin. There’s also ice climbing, dog sledding, and hot air balloons in the area for a truly special getaway.

Where to Stay in Snowmass

Viceroy Snowmass

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If the Viceroy Snowmass’ farm-to-table dining, lawn games, and impeccable décor don’t impress you, their holistic spa surely will. Boasting Ute Indian-inspired therapies, it’s a wonderful opportunity to treat yourself and relieve your sore muscles.

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Beaver Creek

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With 1,800 acres of terrain spread over three distinct bases, Beaver Creek is part of the Vail Resorts family. A mountain with plenty of groomers, tree runs, and moguls, they appeal to both those looking for an easy, flat route down the mountain or those into steep, fast cuts. One of their best-kept secrets is the Candy Cabin at 9,840 feet, which should tide you over until three in the afternoon. when fresh baked cookies are served at the base. Use the sugar spike to try ice skating in the village, peruse the snow sculptures at Red Buffalo Park, or take a sleigh ride up to Allie’s Cabin™ for a special three-course family dinner.

Where to Stay in Beaver Creek

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort

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Conveniently located next to ski school, the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort has on-site ski rental, boot drying, and demo gear. Kids will love the family game room and roasting s’mores over the outdoor fire pit, while mom and dad will find refuge in the award-winning spa and outdoor hot tubs.

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