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Family & Pets

A Guide To The Best Ski Resorts In Colorado

November 30, 2012 6:00 AM

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Matt Krane of Breckenridge took this photo on Jan. 23 "from upper Peak 8 at Breckenridge Ski Area, looking north at 'closed' terrain on Peak 7 where a large avalanche was triggered by Ski Patrol avalanche control work."

Matt Krane of Breckenridge took this photo on Jan. 23 “from upper Peak 8 at Breckenridge Ski Area, looking north at ‘closed’ terrain on Peak 7 where a large avalanche was triggered by Ski Patrol avalanche control work.”

Colorado is home to several ski resorts found throughout the state. From beginner to expert slopes, modest to world-class downtown areas and grab-and-go to fine dining options, Colorado ski resorts have it all. Whether you are exploring new resorts or favoring old haunts, we bring you information on seven of our top picks.

Vail
600 W. Lionshead Circle
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 754-8245
www.vail.com

With more than 5,000 acres of skiable terrain, Vail offers a world-renowned ski resort. From the wide range of slopes to an upscale downtown full of restaurants, boutique shops and luxury hotels, Vail has a lot to offer. The newest ski-in ski-out dining experience is The 10th restaurant offering a table-service lunch during the day as well as après-ski and dinner service Tuesday through Saturday. While tailgating is not a popular pastime at Vail, free parking options all but make up for it along the free transit system. Paid parking is available through the winter at both Vail Village and Lionshead. Pets are allowed throughout the town of Vail and on the mountain, but must be leashed.

Winter Park
Winter Park, CO 80482
(303) 316-1564
www.winterparkresort.com

Only 67 miles from downtown Denver over scenic Berthoud Pass, this ski resort is a welcome retreat for families and ski enthusiasts alike. Offering over 3,000 acres of mountain, Winter Park also has six terrain parks and a super pipe. For those not inclined to hitting the slopes, free ice skating lessons are another way to enjoy the winter weather. The Lodge at Sunspot offers a unique lodging option atop the mountain as well as an exceptional dining locale at The Provisioner and The Locale.

Related: Top Ski Areas For Beginners

Steamboat
2305 Mt. Werner Circle
Steamboat, CO 80487
(970) 879-6111
www.steamboat.com

Known for its trademarked “champagne powder” and Strawberry Hot Springs, Steamboat is a notable Colorado ski destination. At just under 3,000 acres, the resort is known to raise Olympians, with a small museum display of their accomplishments in the Thunderhead building. Intermediate skiers and snowboarders can enjoy the pristine powder with the First Tracks program. For $29, the special early access allows you to enjoy the first run on the mountain at 8 a.m. daily. The unguided pass also includes a $5 breakfast voucher.

Keystone
100 Dercum Square
Keystone, CO 80435
(970) 496-4000
www.keystoneresort.com

This three-mountain resort offers everything from long, easy green slopes to extreme bowls and even CAT skiing options. The Keystone Adventure Tours offer a full-day guided experience which includes a tour of Independence Bowl, a hot catered lunch and guides to give tips and tricks through the untracked terrain. Keystone’s North Peak is home to AAA four-diamond restaurant Alpenglow Stube. A short moonlit gondola ride will have guests enchanted with the Bavarian-influenced fare. For a more party-like atmosphere, tailgating in the lots at Mountain House is another great option.

Aspen
601 E. Dean St.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-1220
www.aspensnowmass.com

An “A-List” destination resort, Aspen hosts 675 acres of difficult to expert terrain and extraordinary black-diamond slopes. With luxury lodging and dining throughout the city, the high price tags are well worth the experiences. A stay at The Little Nell affords guests walking distance to the lifts with ski concierge service, or stop by after a hard day of skiing for après ski at Ajax Tavern. Free ski yoga is available on the Sundeck on Aspen Mountain Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to loosen up for the day or to stretch out a mogul-filled yesterday. Look for the Veuve Clicquot Champagne pop-up bar on the mountain, brought to you by The Little Nell, and enjoy a $15 glass of bubbly from the snow-cat towed, solar-panel operated novelty.

Arapahoe Basin
28194 U.S. 6
Keystone, CO 80435
(970) 468-0718
www.arapahoebasin.com

Let the tailgating begin! If looking for a mountain base party scene, this is it. “The Beach” backs to the resort and at $100-plus a day, the 10 spots fill up fast. Receiving more than 350 inches of snowfall annually, this open-first, close-last resort is home to breathtaking terrain and a relaxed atmosphere. The free parking affords perfect after-skiing tailgating as many skiers and riders chill out mid-day or after their last run, taking in the majestic views of the surrounding mountains. The backside of the mountain offers expert slopes and wide-open spaces, panoramic views of unspoiled high country and mountains as far as the eye can see.

Related: Top Ski Shops Around Denver

Breckenridge

Matt Krane of Breckenridge took this photo on Jan. 23 “from upper Peak 8 at Breckenridge Ski Area, looking north at ‘closed’ terrain on Peak 7 where a large avalanche was triggered by Ski Patrol avalanche control work.”

Breckenridge
1599 Saw Mill Run Road
Breckenridge, CO 80424
(970) 453-5000
www.breckenridge.com

One of the most family friendly ski resorts, Breckenridge has gentle slopes perfect for kids learning to ski or casual skiers or snowboarders just enjoying the outdoors. With arguably the best Main Street of resort towns hosting concerts, snow carving contests and a prolific variety of dining options, the walkable resort is kid and pet friendly. For those looking for a more extreme side of Breckenridge, take a ride on North America’s highest chairlift, the Imperial Express, to the more difficult terrain. The popular yellow Crepes a la Carte is an absolute must while visiting Breckenridge. The long line and usual wait is worth the extensive savory or sweet crepe menu.

Insider’s Tips:

The Epic Season Pass by Vail Resorts is one of the best deals in the ski industry. Offering unlimited and unrestricted skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood and Arapahoe Basin, the pass is $679. Paying for itself in six days, for avid skiers and riders, the pass is a great investment.

Before hitting the slopes, get your gear tuned up. From sharpening edges to waxing boards and skis, freshly tuned gear will lead to a better overall experience. Every resort has a ski and board shop, with quick fixes to in-depth overhauls available for a variety of gear.

Related: Top Ski Boot Fitters

Chad Chisholm is an avid globetrotter and brings the best of travel secrets and expert insights to his readership. A Denver-based travel writer and photographer, Chad’s travels have taken him to five of the seven continents in a passionate love affair with the world of travel and the outdoors. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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