10 Best Ski Resorts near Denver, CO
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Denver is picturesquely set along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and allows easy access to a whole host of great ski resorts. In fact, you can actually fly in from many major cities across the US and Canada and be on the slopes the same day. Denver is a central hub for several airlines, and connections are excellent from just about anywhere.
The ski resorts near Denver are clustered in three main geographical groupings based on distance from Denver. The first group is found in the front range, and are the closest ski resorts to Denver. These are Winter Park, Echo, and Eldora. The next set includes Keystone, Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin, Copper, and Loveland. The third, beyond the Vail Pass, are the ski resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek, home to some of the best skiing near Denver.
Options for accessing the resorts include self drive, ride sharing (but make sure you have the return trip booked), trains, shuttles, and buses.
If you drive, one of the things to consider when choosing a place to ski is what kind of conditions you are comfortable driving in and the ability of your vehicle. The Vail Pass is an area that frequently gets severe mountain weather, and you need to be prepared to handle the inherent challenges of tough winter driving.
Just because a resort is closer to Denver doesn't make it less appealing, in fact, quite the opposite is true. The resorts closest to Denver can be quite large (Winter Park), get the most snow (Loveland), or be small and funky (Echo Mountain). The world-class places like Vail and Breckenridge do require an investment in driving time but are worth the effort for the variety and resort experience.
Plan your ski trip with our list of the best ski resorts near Denver.
Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.
1. Vail Mountain Resort
Tell any group of skiers that you are heading to Vail for a week of skiing, and you'll instantly notice their scowls of envy. These scowls are a natural reaction because they know you'll be heading to one of the best ski resorts in the world.
Vail resort is big, and as a result, there's something for everyone. Long blue cruisers, wide-open easy greens, incredible bowls, tree skiing, and thigh-busting mogul runs are spread out over several mountains.
This resort has more than 31 lifts, including two gondolas, and has recently invested in upgrading several quad chairs to six-seaters. February and March are some of the best snow months, but don't be too concerned about coming at these times, Vail averages 29 feet of snow a year.
In 2019, Vail started the installation of an advanced snowmaking system high up on the mountain. This project is now complete and has had the intended result of moving the early season base area 2,000 feet higher to the mid-mountain area. At Mid-Vail, the air is colder, and the snow starts to naturally accumulate early, and with the new snowmaking, it now increases even faster.
Skiers will be pleased to know that this has moved up the opening day of the resort to mid-November, Vail's earliest ever start date. You will still need to download on the gondola at the end of the day, skiing to the base is not possible until later in the season.
Off the slopes, Vail has one of the best developed base areas in the entire USA. A long winding road through the village takes you past countless restaurants with the requisite patios. Looking for some new ski gear? Countless retail shops will be happy to accept your hard-earned cash for the latest styles.
Vail is less than 100 miles from downtown Denver, and it usually takes about an hour and 40 minutes to drive here without traffic. From Denver International Airport, it is about 120 miles, and generally a two-hour drive.
Official site: www.vail.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Vail
2. Beaver Creek Resort
If you love cruising down immaculately manicured ribbons of corduroy snow, you'll be smitten with Beaver Creek. Located 20 minutes past Vail, Beaver Creek is a different kind of ski resort. It's more about enjoying skiing than racking up incredible vertical.
Perhaps the first sign of this are the escalators that take you effortlessly to the base area, or the offers from friendly resort staff to carry your skis as you step off the ski bus.
All that said, do not underestimate the terrain at Beaver Creek. Lots of challenge awaits should you wish to seek it out. Evidence of this is the fact that Beaver Creek hosts men's and women's Alpine World Cup downhill races on a regular basis.
Beaver Creek receives an average of 27 feet of snow each year and with 23 modern lifts, you'll be whisked right back to the top to enjoy an endless loop until you tap out. New in 2021/22 are two brand new high-speed quad chairs in the beginner/intermediate McCoy area.
Beaver Creek has a cute alpine village at the base of the lifts chock-full of restaurants, shops, and galleries. Should you wish for some fun family evening activity, rent some skates and take a few twirls on the ice rink in the center of town.
Official site: www.beavercreek.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Beaver Creek
3. Breckenridge Ski Resort
Breckenridge, or Breck as it's known locally, is a resort that you'll want to keep coming back to. The resort is spread out over five mountains and boasts the highest chairlift in North America, topping out at an amazing 12,840 feet.
The lower areas of Breckenridge have gentle inclines and are blue- and green-run heaven. Perfect for families and those learning to ski, these areas are wide-open and easy. Farther up the mountain, the runs get a bit more challenging as you ascend, and some of the tree and bowl skiing is for those who crave adrenaline-pumping adventure.
Snow is plentiful here; just over 30 feet of the white stuff falls on average each season. Breck manages to hold onto its snow quite late in the season, and spring skiing here is legendary. At this time of year, it will be fluffy at the top and sugar snow at the bottom, a true test of your skiing abilities.
Uphill capacity is also impressive; 34 lifts can move almost 47,000 people up the slopes each hour, meaning lift lines are rarely an issue. For 2021/22 Breckenridge has installed a brand new lift on Peak 7 that will alleviate the crush at the Independence SuperChair. Named the Freedom SuperChair, it will scoot people up to all the great terrain Breck is known for.
The town of Breckenridge is a true town, unlike other base areas. It has a mining history and is full of great shops and restaurants. On one of the 300-plus sunny days, be sure to walk through the restaurants to the back patios. Here, you'll be able to soak up the sun and watch the skiers descend the slopes as you chat about your skiing.
Official site: www.breckenridge.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Breckenridge
4. Keystone Resort
Long cruisers spread out over three mountains are what you'll find at Keystone. This resort gets nearly 20 feet of snow each year and has an impressive uphill capacity through a network of 20 lifts, including a gondola.
The resort is laid out almost in an easy, hard, hardest manner. The farther back you go, the harder the terrain gets. Outback Mountain is the domain of strong skiers with a mix of steep cruisers, tree skiing, and knee-crushing moguls. North Peak Mountain is a bit more forgiving, with a similar assortment of runs, just not as hardcore. Dercum Mountain is for beginner or early intermediate skiers, or for those who just want to cruise easy runs all day long.
If after exploring all three mountains throughout the day you still want more, night skiing is available. Hardcore skiers can also go CAT skiing.
Don't just jump in your car and head back to your hotel or hometown after your day on the slopes - you'll miss out on the fun après ski. Keystone Village is a lively spot, with lots of restaurants featuring patios ideally situated to catch the sun. Grab a chair and regale your ski partners with tales of your skiing expertise, or showcase your bruises from a tremendous crash.
Extensive accommodation options are available at the base area, or along the road to Silverthorne and in Frisco.
Official site: www.keystoneresort.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Keystone
5. Winter Park Resort
Only 67 miles from Denver, Winter Park offers some of the closest skiing to Denver and is easy to get to. The resort averages over 27 feet of snow each year. All this glorious white stuff is spread out over 3,000 skiable acres. Long groomers, tree runs, extensive beginner slopes, and six terrain parks greet skiers and riders.
A fun and lively base area is just perfect for après ski. This area has winding streets with wood-framed buildings full of interesting shops and restaurants.
The 30 million dollars of new infrastructure investments in 2020 have paid off handsomely at Winter Park. The upgraded chairlifts whisk skiers to the top even faster, and the completely renovated Sunspot Mountaintop Lodge is now a place that makes skiers want to linger and enjoy the view.
If you don't feel like driving or don't have a car, take the train. An Amtrak double decker train service runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from Union Station in downtown Denver.
Official site: www.winterparkresort.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Winter Park
6. Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain is easy to spot on your left as you ascend to the Vail Pass. This resort has an extensive variety of over 140 runs that range from family-friendly green runs right through to steep and deep trails that will have your heart pounding.
A large base area contains three villages: Center, East, and West. Center has the majority of the restaurants, shops, and other retail establishments, providing anything else you may need before or after your ski day. Copper has extensive parking areas, making it ideal for day trippers from Denver.
Copper receives, on average, 25 feet of snow a year, and to supplement the natural stuff, 364 acres of snowmaking is installed at key points on the hill. The resort has 24 lifts, including an eight-passenger gondola.
Official site: www.coppercolorado.com
7. Arapahoe Basin
Known for having the longest ski season of all Colorado resorts, Arapahoe Basin, or A-Basin as it's more commonly referred to, starts early and finishes late. It's located up high along the Continental Divide, and what this resort lacks in modern base village amenities, it makes up for with wide-open skiing with spectacular scenery.
You'll be skiing at an elevation of between 10,500 and 13,050 feet, so be prepared for a bit of light headedness if you are coming from the flatlands. The snow up here is some of the best in Colorado. While the snow at other resorts is turning to slush in the spring, at A-Basin, it's still light and fluffy. In fact, Arapahoe gets nearly 30 feet of snow each year, so those secret stashes just get deeper and deeper.
From Silverthorne, Arapahoe Basin is on the same road as Keystone. You could easily ski both resorts in the same day.
Official site: www.arapahoebasin.com
8. Loveland Ski Area
Sitting atop the Continental Divide like a huge baseball glove, Loveland captures any snow that might think about falling in this area. The resort gets an incredible 35 feet of snow a year, more than any of the resorts in this area.
This is a smaller, more casual resort that has a strong and loyal following of die-hard skiers. Loveland is unique in that beginners have their very own area, called Loveland Valley. This is an ideal place to learn how to ski without the fear of someone racing by you.
Although the resort is small, with 94 runs serviced by 11 lifts, the terrain is suitable for every skill set. The Ridge area is especially suited for those who like to ski in deep, fresh snow in a wide-open bowl.
One bonus at Loveland is the ability to go CAT skiing for free with Loveland's Ridge CAT.
Loveland is also affordable; lift tickets here cost less than nearby resorts, and parking is free. The resort is only 53 miles from Denver on I-70 and is the first resort you see.
Official site: https://skiloveland.com
9. Eldora Mountain
A mere 47 miles from Denver, Eldora gets you out of bed and on the slopes fast. Spread out over 680 acres, the resort has a mix of beginner, intermediate, and lots of advanced terrain. About 20 percent of the mountain is classified as double black diamond.
Eldora is also a great place for snowboarding. The mountain is home to a Woodward facility and has eight parks spread across the slopes, each featuring jumps, rails, and other crazy stuff. The mountain has 10 lifts, including one six-person high-speed chair.
Eldora receives 25 feet of snow each year and has snowmaking on the entire mountain.
Official site: www.eldora.com
10. Echo Mountain
If you are looking for a small ski hill that's relaxed and chilled out but still a good time, Echo Mountain fits the bill. Just one triple-chair and two conveyor-style lifts service 13 runs, but that's part of the appeal. The runs are primarily intermediate, with a few greens for beginners and a bit of tree skiing for the more adventurous. The resort gets on average about 23 feet of snow a year.
Echo Mountain is a fun place to ski, and the entire mountain is outfitted with sound, so you'll get extra inspiration while carving your turns. The resort also offers tubing (reservations required) and night skiing.
Official site: https://echomntn.com