A photo from early 2014 from the top of Montezuma Bowl at A Basin. Keystone and Breckenridge are visible in the background. (Photo credit: Scott Olson)
Colorado is home to some of the fanciest world class and famous ski resorts. The Rocky Mountains offer the perfect backdrop for these resorts and with the abundance of snowfall, there is plenty of fresh powder to go skiing. All resorts offer different trails and slopes for skiers of all skill levels, including bunny hills, terrain trails and helicopter skiing.
With the Rocky Mountains rising more than 14,000 feet above sea level, you will quickly discover why this is every skier’s dream destination. A majority of the ski resorts in Colorado have peaks ranging from 8,000-13,000 feet above sea level and are located in the western half of the state.
Each ski resort has its own unique features and benefits for its guests. Finding the perfect ski resort depends greatly upon your ski skill levels, budget, personal preferences and desired amenities. Let’s take a look at the different ski resorts in Colorado.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Open now through early June, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area offers 960 acres of terrain with the longest run spanning 1.5 miles long. This resort also offers a Kids Ski Free program for younger skiers under the age of 14. Ski hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with the Black Mountain Express and Pallavicini lifts opening at 8:30 a.m. on weekends and holidays. Visit ArapahoeBasin.com.
Open from mid-December through mid-April, Aspen Highlands offers more than 1,000 acres of skiing excitement, plus it is home to a 3.5-mile run and more than 120 trails. The ski lifts are open daily from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Aspen Highlands is located approximately 200 miles away from the Denver area. For more information about this ski resort, visit AspenSnowmass.com/Aspen-Highlands.
CBS4 viewer Shannon Lukens took this photo on Nov. 23, 2014, of Aspen Highlands.
The skiing season at Aspen Mountain runs from late November through mid-April, where skiers can enjoy 675 acres of skiing excitement. With the longest run reaching three miles, Aspen Mountain is home to 76 trails for skiers of all skill levels. Ski times are from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. For more information, visit AspenSnowmass.com/Aspen-Mountain.
Beaver Creek is one of the more luxurious ski resorts in Colorado, offering skiers top-notch, off-the-hill amenities. The ski seasons begins at Beaver Creek in late November and runs through mid-April. With less than 20 percent of the 150 trails designed for beginners, Beaver Creek is the perfect resort for those looking to improve their powder skills. For more information, visit BeaverCreek.com.
Breckenridge Ski Resort
This is definitely one of the most popular ski resorts in America, attracting skiers of all skill levels from around the world. Opening in early November, Breckenridge Ski Resort offers skiers more than 2,900 acres of perfect powder. With an even mix of trails designed for different skill levels, this ski resort is perfect for families and those traveling with skiers of all skill levels. The slopes open at 8:30 a.m. daily (8 a.m. during the regular season) and stay open until 4 p.m. For more information, visit Breckenridge.com.
Buttermilk Mountain is the perfect ski resort for beginners and snowboarders. Opening later in the season in mid-December, Buttermilk Mountain offers skiers 44 different trails nestled among 470 acres of mountain. Buttermilk Mountain is open daily from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit AspenSnowmass.com/Buttermilk.
With one of the longest ski seasons in Colorado, Copper Mountain’s season starts in November and runs through the end of April. This resort offers more than 140 trails of all different ski terrains that are set within 2,465 acres of mountain. Copper Mountain is only 75 miles from Denver and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and holidays. For more information, visit CopperColorado.com.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Crested Butte Mountain Resort is the perfect ski resort for those who enjoy skiing in the backcountry areas of Colorado, including untouched powder. The ski season begins in late November and runs through early April at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. This ski resort is designed mostly for the intermediate skier, with more than 55 percent of the 121 trails meant for an intermediate skill level. This ski resort is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily with the High Lift and East River Lift closing at 3:30 p.m. and the North Face Lift closes at 3 p.m. For more information, visit SkiCB.com.
Eldora Mountain Resort
The ski season begins at the Eldora Mountain Resort just in time for Thanksgiving and continues through mid-April. There are 53 trails set among the 680 acres of mountain with the longest run extending three miles long. When the locals look for a ski resort, they tend to visit this one. Eldora Mountain Resort is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located only 45 miles from Denver. For more information, visit Eldora.com.
Weather permitting, Keystone Resort begins its ski season in late October and it continues through mid-April. Plus it is one of the few resorts in Colorado that offers night-time skiing on select evenings. With more than 135 trails with 5 different terrain parks, this resort offers skiers more than 3,100 acres of excitement and a run extending 3.5 miles. Hours of operation are from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The slopes stay open until 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on night-skiing evenings. For more information, visit KeystoneResort.com.
Skiing at Loveland in 2013 (credit: Loveland Ski Area)
Loveland Ski Area
Located less than 55 miles from Denver, the Loveland Ski area offers skiers challenging slopes that are designed for more expert and advanced skiers. This ski area is best known for averaging nearly 400 inches of fresh snow each year. This resort opens for the season in mid-November and it continues through early May. Hours of operation for the slopes are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends and holidays. For more information, visit SkiLoveland.com.
One of the smaller, more intimate ski resorts is Monarch Mountain and it is one of the few ski resorts that has hike-to terrain covering 130 acres for expert skiers. Plus, you do not want to miss the beautiful, panoramic views from atop of the Continental Divide. Monarch Mountain is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. For more information, visit SkiMonarch.com.
Powderhorn Mountain Resort
Powderhorn Mountain Resort offers skiers 1,600 acres, with a majority of the 63 trails designed for intermediate skiers. The slopes at Powderhorn are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and this resort is 250 miles away from Denver. For more information, visit Powderhorn.com.
Generally open from late December through mid-April, Silverton Mountain offers skiers more than 1,800 acres of mountainside with 100 percent of the slopes designed for expert skiers and offers the highest and steepest ski mountains in all of Colorado. Hours of operation vary depending upon the time of the season and weather conditions. For more information, visit SilvertonMountain.com.
Ski Granby Ranch
If you are looking for an intimate skiing experience that offers six different terrain parks for skiers of all ski levels, you need to consider experiencing Ski Granby Ranch. This resort offers a little over 400 acres of skiing excitement and is one of ski resorts in Colorado that offers night-time skiing on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit GranbyRanch.com.
Ski Cooper offers 39 skiing trails for skiers of all ski levels. Located a little more than 100 miles from Denver, Ski Cooper is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about Ski Cooper, visit SkiCooper.com.
Snowmass is home to more than 3,300 acres of mountainside with 94 trails covering three different terrain parks. A majority of the trails are designed for the intermediate skier, but there are still some trails that are perfect for the beginning skier to learn the basics of skiing. For more information, visit AspenSnowmass.com/Snowmass.
Home to the lightest, finest and smoothest powder in the area, Steamboat offers skiers more than 2,950 acres of mountainside, including challenging terrains and more than 160 trails. Hours of operation are from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily with night skiing beginning late December. For more information, visit Steamboat.com.
Sunlight Mountain Resort
Sunlight Mountain Resort offers plenty of opportunities for the beginning skiers to test their skill levels and improve their moves on the slopes. The ski season at this resort runs from early December through early April. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. For more information, visit SunlightMTN.com.
Telluride Ski Resort
Telluride Ski Resort is set atop more than 2,000 acres of mountainside and is home to 127 trails with two different terrain parks. This resort offers modern amenities and challenging moguls and freestyle parks. Though there are trails for all skill levels, Telluride offers skiers a bit more of a challenge, including extreme skiing activities, including heli-skiing. For more information, visit TellurideSkiResort.com.
Skiing at Vail (photo credit: Bob Jack)
One of the largest ski resorts in Colorado, Vail has more than 5,200 skiable acres with endless off-slope activities for skiers to enjoy. This is definitely the one resort where large groups with skiers of all skill levels can enjoy a vacation together with plenty of slopes designed for their abilities. For more information, visit Vail.com.
Winter Park offers the most diverse terrains in Colorado with deep snow and top-notch lodging. Winter Park covers more than 3,000 acres, including 143 trails with six different terrains. This ski resort offers plenty of opportunity for expert skiers to find a challenge. For more information, visit WinterParkResort.com.
Wolf Creek generally opens in early November, but depending upon the weather conditions, it could open earlier. One of the best things about Wolf Creek is the 77 trails that are perfect for the beginning skier to get started and improve their skills and hopefully move up to the next level of skiing abilities. For more information, visit WolfCreekSki.com.
Home to many ski areas and resorts, Colorado is one of the best destinations for skiers of all skill levels to vacation. Since the area is known for having the longest ski season, it makes planning a ski vacation to Colorado a bit more flexible than other areas with shorter seasons and not as many ski resorts.
Check the status of trails & lifts at Colorado ski resorts in the CBSDenver.com Ski Report section.
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Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.