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More than half of Vail’s runs are marked black diamond, with plenty of blue trail in between. Where to ski, stay, and play in the top spots voted on by our readers.
In a state that’s home to 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet, heavy snowfalls, and plenty of bluebirds (read: bright, sunny) days, it’s safe to call Colorado ‘Ski Country.’ From bunny hills with epic views to some of the top big-mountain runs in the country, the Centennial State has no shortage of places to ski. But these resorts are the cream of the crop, as voted on by our readers in the 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards.
Vail, Colorado, offers a little something for everyone. With excellent beginner lessons—and an epic mountain backdrop, even from the bunny hill—for both children and adults, this is a place to learn the skiing ropes. And yet more than half of Vail’s runs are marked black diamond, with plenty of blue trail in between. The varied terrain of this ski resort leaves little to be desired. Blue Sky Basin features some of the most beautiful backcountry areas in the state and the Back Bowls serve up Instagram-worthy views on every run. The town of Vail has a cute, quaint vibe, and few will tire of wandering through the streets of high-end shops and restaurants. And if you ever happen to swing by in the summertime, be sure to time your visit with the Vail International Dance Festival.
Who’s going? Vacationers looking for the perfect blend of nightlife, shopping, spa treatments, and slopes.
Stats: Lift tickets run between $103 and $149 for a one-day pass. With it, you’ll choose from a wide variety of runs, including five ski areas and nearly 200 runs at Vail Village, Back Bowls, Blue Sky Basin, China Bowl, and Golden Peak, accessible via 31 different lifts.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Tuck into a traditional European meal at the Sonnenalp’s Swiss Chalet. Or, if you have children, grab a bite at the Southwestern-inspired Bully Ranch, complete with a full kid’s menu. After dinner, move on to drinks at The Arrabelle at Vail Square’s Tavern on the Square.
Where to stay: Experience Vail’s finest at The Arrabelle at Vail Square, Sonnenalp, the Four Seasons Resort Vail, or the Sebastian-Vail.
Get back to the basics: There are no fur coats or designer boots here—Steamboat is for true down-to-earth mountain lovers. Once a Wild West town, this six-peak resort remains one of the few areas left in the state that hasn’t been dramatically developed. Only 14 percent of the trails are for beginners, so this is really better for intermediate and advanced athletes. Plus, with nearly 3,000 acres to explore and roughly zeroceleb sightings, when you come to Steamboat, you come to ski hard.
Who’s going? Intermediate skiers will love the slopes, 42 percent of which are blue, but as one of the largest ski areas in Colorado, there’s plenty to go around for skiers of all levels.
Stats: One-day lift tickets average between $90 and $140. Use yours to venture onto 18 lifts for 165 trails.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Grab a beer at the famous T Bar, a slope-side bar that was once a ski patrol trailer. Then, swing by Sumatera for the best Thai food in town.
Where to stay: Book a rental from Wyndham Vacation Resorts or grab a spot in a cabin at Strawberry Park Hot Springs for the opportunity to warm up in some natural hot springs after a day in the snow.
Right in White River National Forest, Aspen Mountain is the closest ski area of four mountains near town—and also the first to be established in 1946. Once a silver mining camp, Aspen has been transformed into a high-end ski resort. Luxury spa treatments will sooth your sore muscles after a hard day in the elements, and the town itself offers a smorgasbord of fine dining options. There’s even a ski-in, ski-out champagne bar right on the mountain. (More on that later.)
Who’s going? Skiers with class and an appreciation for elegant meals and lavish spa treatments.
Stats: A day pass usually costs around $145 for 673 acres of powder, eight lifts, and 76 trails. Need we say more?
Where to eat and drink nearby: Not only can you ski in and ski out, but you’ll never be short on booze atThe Little Nell, which houses a whopping four bars on its property, serving everything from high-end wines to craft beers. The Little Nell does not disappoint on the food front, either: think truffle fries, wagyu beef, and salmon carpaccio.
Where to stay: Experience the best of Aspen at the St. Regis Aspen Resort, The Little Nell, or the Hotel Jerome. Once a silver mining camp, Aspen has since been transformed into a high-end ski resort.
Buttermilk is the ideal place to perfect your big-mountain technique or learn to ski from scratch. As part of the Aspen/Snowmass area, you’ll still have access to tougher terrain, but Buttermilk primarily welcomes beginners. The resort offers lessons to both adults and children, and with 470 acres to explore, you won’t get bored on a bunny hill. Take a few lessons, perfect your technique, and gear up for the more challenging runs, accessible via the Tiehack chairlift. If the whole family is along for the ride, swing by the Hideout, a children’s ski learning center, fully equipped with a magic carpet and an indoor, interactive learning section to break up time on the slopes.
Who’s going? Skier newbies will have the most fun at Buttermilk, and it’s also a good spot to introduce kids to the sport.
Stats: Buy a $145 lift pass that’ll let you experience 44 trails over 470 acres via three chairlifts.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Head to Hefner Lounge at Aspen Meadows Resort for a snack and drink inside, or outside with a serious view. For breakfast, the resort’s Meadows Restaurant prides itself on locally and regionally sourced ingredients for both its buffet and à la carte options.
Where to stay: Your best bet is to grab a room at any of the Aspen resorts and hotels, including St. Regis Aspen Resort, The Little Nell, and Aspen Meadows Resort or the Hotel Jerome.
Looking for a high-end escape? You’ve found your town. Glide down hills and rub elbows with the who’s who of the ski world. Lindsey Vonn has been known to frequent the resort’s slopes, and Beaver Creek often hosts World Cup events. Owned by Vail Resorts, two other mountains, Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch, also make up the Beaver Creek ski resort. Holy Cross Wilderness area, located right next to the ski terrain, creates the perfect snowy backdrop for visitors.
Who’s going? Posh skiers on vacation, and some of the best skiers in the world when the World Cup events take place.
Stats: Hit 150 runs via 25 lifts. One-day tickets average between $80 and $159, depending on the time of the season.
Where to eat and drink nearby: You’re never far from something to eat in Beaver Creek. Did we mention the escalators that will guide you from the slopes into town, cookie in hand? It’s all fine dining from there on out. Enjoy fine wines and a seasonally rotating menu at the award-winning Grouse Mountain Grill, part ofThe Pines Lodge.
Where to stay: Treat yourself at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain, The Pines Lodge Beaver Creek Resort, the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa, or The Osprey at Beaver Creek.
This mining-turned-ski town takes its winter sports seriously—and for good reason. In Telluride, the mountains are big—think 13 and 14ers (or mountains that exceed 13,000 and 14,000 feet) everywhere you look. Much of the terrain is not for the weak of heart, but about half of the ski resort’s runs do cater to intermediate and beginner levels, as well. Plus, with mountains that receive 170 inches of snow and 240 days of sunshine every year, this town is host to an abundance of sunny, clear days. Hit the slopes hard and then kick back in this 1800s mining town that still holds onto some of its historical charm.
Who’s going? The locals are mostly ski bums and artists, but Telluride is also a major tourist destination for skiers from all over the country.
Stats: You’ll pay $86-$129 for 127 trails, accessible via 18 lifts.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Enjoy dinner with a view at the Mountain Lodge, known for its chef-prepared soulful foods (elk shepherd’s pie—spelled this way on the menu—or campfire s’mores, anyone?), and after, kick back with a cocktail in the Great Room at the Inn at Lost Creek.
Where to stay: Cozy up at the Fairmont Heritage Place, Franz Klammer Lodge, The Inn at Lost Creek, Lumière Telluride, or the Madeline Hotel and Residences.