by Monica Parpal Stockbridge
It’s winter in Colorado, which means we’re hitting the slopes and praying for snow. Longtime locals have already carved out their favorite resorts, but with 26 ski areas to choose from, out-of-town visitors will have some tough decisions to make.
That’s why we’ve assembled this quick guide to Colorado’s ski areas (in no particular order) as you plan your winter adventures. Whether you’re looking to escape to the slopes during your business trip or planning an epic ski vacation with the whole family, we hope this gives you a starting point.
Distance from DIA: 126 miles
Why we love it: The sheer size. With 5,289 acres of skiable terrain from beginner groomers to backcountry bowls, Vail Ski Resort is one of the largest ski areas in the world and by far the biggest in Colorado.
When you want to up the luxe factor, go to: Beaver Creek Resort
Distance from DIA: 103 miles
Why we love it: Three peaks, night skiing, and a family-friendly vibe (aka “Kidtopia”).
If five peaks and a 22-foot superpipe are more your style, drive six more miles to: Breckenridge Ski Resort
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Distance from DIA: 88 miles
Why we love it: Two words: The Beach. It’s almost as fun to crack an IPA and chill in this parking lot-turned-social scene as it is to ski the East Wall.
If you like a shorter drive and free snowcat skiing, visit: Loveland Ski Area
Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Distance from DIA: 258 miles
Why we love it: The beauty of the butte, a striking standalone resort with plenty of expert terrain and a locals-only vibe.
If you want even more bragging rights, go to: Monarch Mountain
Copper Mountain Resort
Distance from DIA: 106 miles
Why we love it: 23 lifts and an even mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain — plus an alpine coaster!
When you want an old-school ski area that still sounds kind of like Copper: Ski Cooper
Winter Park Resort
Distance from DIA: 90 miles
Why we love it: Minimal I-70 traffic, seven territories of terrain, and a brand-new 10-person gondola.
If you’re looking for more beginner-friendly terrain nearby, hit up: Granby Ranch
Steamboat Ski Resort
Distance from DIA: 183 miles
Why we love it: For its world-famous champagne powder … and also Strawberry Hot Springs, a nearby Colorado gem.
If your ears perked up at “hot springs,” check out: Sunlight Resort
Distance from DIA: 224 miles
Why we love it: It’s got the most skiable terrain of the Aspen/Snowmass family, with plenty of expert trails and blue-groomers alike.
If you have more time, explore: Buttermilk, Aspen Mountain, and Aspen Highlands.
Telluride Ski Resort
Distance from DIA: 360 miles
Why we love it: It’s been named one of the top five ski resorts in the West and dubbed “Gnarnia” for its otherworldly setting.
If you’re ready to “shred the gnar” (seriously, experts only), hit up: Silverton Mountain
Wolf Creek Ski Area
Distance from DIA: 276 miles
Why we love it: The first 100-percent solar-powered ski area in the country with legendary powder and affordable prices.
If you want more family-friendly terrain this side of the divide, visit: Powderhorn Mountain Resort
Loveland Ski Area
Distance from DIA: 80.6 miles
Why we love it: Free snowcat skiing along the Continental Divide with spectacular 360-degree views.
If you dig the idea of avoiding I-70 completely, head to: Eldora Mountain Resort
Distance from DIA: 369 miles
Why we love it: Tree skiing, tons of snow, and great value if you plan to be in Durango.
If you’re in the area, check out: Hesperus Ski Area