For those of you who don’t know, I am a born and raised Colorado native and have had the privilege to explore so many parts of this state! The amount of activities to do here are endless – I think I could spend the rest of my life just exploring Colorado and STILL not see everything! Because I have lived here my whole life (aside from 2 years at Baylor University for college), I have a unique insider’s perspective on where to ski in Colorado. I’ll give you the rundown on some of my favorite places to ski as a beginner/intermediate skier, what to expect at each resort, and some helpful tips for planning your Colorado ski trip!
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A Little Bit of Background
I have really only been seriously skiing for the past 3 years or so. Back when I was younger, I took ski lessons at Keystone but really learned to ski when I met my husband. We would ski at Monarch mountain a lot, and I was able to improve my skills there! I now enjoy more challenging terrain but wanted to share my insights on which ski areas I find most enjoyable as a beginner/intermediate. These resorts are generally not crowded and have a variety of terrain which makes for a much more enjoyable ski trip for all involved! If you have other questions on where to ski in Colorado, or need help with planning your ski trip, you can contact me and I would be happy to help!
Where to Ski in Colorado
Now for the fun part! Below are a few of my favorite ski areas along with some helpful tips and insights that will help you plan your next ski trip to Colorado.
Telluride Ski Resort
Telluride Ski Resort is located about an hour and a half from Montrose, CO and about 6 hours from Denver. This has turned out to be one of my favorite ski resorts! Since this ski area is so far away from Denver, it is much less crowded and there are some very easy beginner and intermediate runs. Additionally, there are some challenging intermediate runs with bumps if you are looking for something a bit more exhilarating! I would recommend flying into the Montrose or Grand Junction airport if you are coming from far away – you can even fly to these airports from Denver! The views here are unmatched by any ski resort I have been to, and Telluride is definitely worth a visit.
Where to Stay
- Airbnb ($) – A large selection of condos at various price points
- The Peaks Resort & Spa ($$$$) – This is a splurge option but highly recommended! There is a spa, coffee shop and restaurant with AMAZING views!
- You can stay either in the town of Telluride or the town of Mountain Village, which is where the resort is
Keystone Ski Resort is located about 20 minutes off of I-70 and is about an hour and a half away from Denver International Airport. This resort is great for beginners and is easily accessible from Denver! It is one of the more family friendly ski resorts with many options for all skill levels. Keystone has a great ski school for kiddos (this is where I learned to ski!). The base area is also full of fun restaurants and coffee shops for when your legs get tired and you need a pick-me-up!
Winter Park Resort
Winter Park is one of the oldest operating ski resorts in Colorado and is 93 miles from Denver International Airport. This is the perfect ski resort for a variety of skill levels. While there is a decent amount of beginner and intermediate terrain, the resort has plenty of advanced and expert terrain too! Winter Park has Seven Territories to ski, each with their own unique terrain. Feeling like cruising some groomers? Check out Winter Park Territory! Looking for moguls and tree skiing? Explore Mary Jane! This is an all around excellent resort.
One of the lesser known ski areas, Sunlight Mountain is located about 20 minutes outside of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This is a bit more of a drive from Denver (about 3 hours) so, if you are visiting from out of state, I would suggest flying into the Grand Junction Airport! A full day of skiing at Sunlight costs about half of the price of most major ski areas in Colorado and this resort has virtually no lift lines and wide open runs! I spent my third ski trip here with my husband, basically re-learning how to ski, and I had a very enjoyable experience due to the smaller crowds and plethora of beginner terrain.
Known as the “ski local” mountain, this resort is one of the few left in Colorado that is independently owned and operated. I skied here quite often when I was first starting out and this is also a great place for beginners to learn! The mountain also has a bit of advanced and expert terrain as well for those looking for more of a challenge. There are rarely lift lines and the runs are hardly ever crowded. This is a bit of a drive from Denver, so I would recommend flying into the Colorado Springs Airport if you are coming from out of state! BONUS – If you bring your Colorado Springs Airport Boarding Pass to the ticket window, you can get $54 lift tickets!
Steamboat Springs Resort
This has to be one of my all time favorite places to ski! I love Steamboat because the downtown still has that traditional ski town feel and the skiing is absolutely amazing. Steamboat has the driest, fluffiest snow in Colorado and we call it “Champagne Powder”. Their powder is world famous! Aside from the great snow conditions and variety of terrain, there is also a ton to do in the area. The resort is about a 3 hour drive from Denver but is worth it because you will have less crowds and amazing snow. I lived in Steamboat for a bit so if you have any questions on this area, reach out to me!
Where to Stay
Aspen (Snowmass and Aspen Mountain)
Aspen is one of the best known Colorado skiing areas, and for good reason! Aside from the celebrities (I still have yet to see one there!), Aspen is a great place to ski because it has four distinct mountains. Each mountain has it’s own specific terrain and the difficulty varies with each. I have skied at Snowmass and Aspen Mountain. Both were lots of fun and not one bit crowded! I would recommend Snowmass for families/beginners and Aspen Mountain for intermediate/advanced skiers. Or, you can just kick back, relax, and hang out at Aspen Mountain and people watch – this is where the celebrities ski! Aspen is definitely not the cheapest ski area, but it is one of my favorites and a must try in my opinion.
Where to Stay
- Aspen is a very expensive area, so I would recommend staying in Basalt, Carbondale or Glenwood Springs
- Basalt Mountain Inn ($$) – Fairly inexpensive and close to Aspen. It is recently updated and close to lots of restaurants
- Airbnb ($) – you can find a decent condo or vacation rental in the area for cheap
A Few More Tips
Deciding where to ski in Colorado is only the beginning of planning your trip! Here are a few more things to keep in mind that will help you with packing, lodging, and much more
- Ski Rentals – You will have the option to either rent your skis in Denver (or wherever you travel from/fly to) or you can rent them directly on the mountain/in the town where you plan to ski. Renting in Denver, Grand Junction, or Colorado Springs will be much cheaper than renting at your destination. You will, however, have more flexibility to change out your gear if it doesn’t work for you if you are renting on the mountain or in town!
- Save Money on Food and Pack a Lunch – My husband and I do this all the time and it saves us a ton of money! This allows us to opt for a nice dinner or happy hour.
- Bring Snacks – Make sure to bring plenty of snacks with you on the mountain. You’ll be active all day and will need to keep your energy up!
- Stay Hydrated – The Colorado mountains are very dry and you will be out in the sun for a majority of the day most likely! Because of this, make sure you are drinking plenty of water so that you don’t get sick from the activity and altitude.
- Decide if you want a ski in/ski out condo – Ski in/ski out condos are a nice option because they save you the time of having to park and walk to the ski lift. They are also convenient for quick meals and breaks if you get tired! Ski in/ski out is a much more expensive lodging option but can be worth it for these reasons.
- Buy your lift tickets in advance – If you think you will be skiing for more than two days, you should definitely buy your lift tickets in advance! Liftopia is an awesome place to find great deals on lift tickets.
Still have questions? Contact me!
I hope that you find this guide helpful as you start to plan your skiing trip! I would be happy to help you if you have any questions on where to ski in Colorado. Drop me a note in the comments or contact me if you are in need of any guidance. Hope to see you out there on the slopes!