A Guide to Colorado's 7 Best Ski Towns

By Nancy Raven Kirk on September 27, 2023

Anyone who loves the outdoors should visit Colorado. With its beautiful national parks, hiking trails, and well-rounded seasons, there are myriad reasons people flock to the state. Amazing skiing and snowboarding rank at the top of our list. With lively ski towns and the highest peak in North America, Colorado's 32 resorts are worth visiting. Here’s a quick guide to our top KÜHL picks.

1. Aspen Snowmass

The resort consists of four ski areas that surround the towns of Aspen and Snowmass Village. These famous, high-end ski towns boast pedestrian-only streets lined with shopping and dining options, plus glorious mountain views. For skiing, choose from Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Highlands, and Buttermilk. 

cable cars over snow covered mountain
You get access to all four mountains with one lift ticket. Aspen, Colorado by Chase Baker.

One Lift Ticket, Four Mountains

One lift ticket gives you access to all four mountains, which cover roughly the same area as Vail. Check out all four if you have time. If you're short on time, Snowmass is your best bet! 

  • Snowmass is the largest of the four at 3,000 acres, with a town below that features pedestrian-only streets lined with a plethora of shopping and dining options. 
  • Buttermilk is relatively small, however, it is known for regularly hosting the Winter X-games. 
  • Aspen Mountain offers no beginner runs, so expect to be surrounded by experts
  • Aspen Highlands has a wide range of runs for every level


  • One lift ticket provides access to four mountains 
  • Upscale and lively town
  • X-games often held at Buttermilk 

2. Breckenridge

From its easy-to-navigate lifts to high alpine bowls and groomed runs through trees, Breckenridge offers everything you want in a resort, including tons of small-town entertainment. Perfect for skiers who want to improve quickly, Breckenridge is open longer than its counterparts, all the way through May 31st. 

snowfield and brown wooden fence near mountain
Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge. Photo by Christophe Laurenceau.

The Mountain 

The base of Breckenridge sits at 9,600 feet. But even more impressive, the Imperial Chairlift will take you to the highest peak in all of North America at 12,998 feet. While this is a notable and exciting feature of the mountain, many travelers struggle to adjust to the change in altitude. Be aware and prepared, especially on your first day. During the spring, the high elevation can mean that the base will have less-than-stellar snow while the top of the mountain has epic winter conditions. 


  • Peak 8 is the highest lift in North America at 12,998 feet
  • Resort open through the end of May 
  • Quaint but happening main street for apres ski options 

3. Keystone

Similar to Aspen, Keystone covers three mountains, each of which go deeper into the mountains. The farther you go, the fewer crowds you will experience. The town is laid back with free parking and relaxed food options. This resort is great for families with a wide mix of runs for all levels. Enjoy other winter activities in the towns of River Run and Lakeside, including horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice skating on the lake, and more. If you’re looking for more extreme adventures, the resort also offers CAT skiing and night skiing!

A Guide to Colorados 7 Best Ski Towns 3 1
Snow covered mountains in Keystone Ski Resort by Eric Miller.

Choose From Three Mountains

  • Decorum Mountain has well-groomed runs with steady declines, perfect for beginners 
  • North Peak is just beyond, with moguls and steeper runs 
  • The Outback is the farthest back and has the highest peak at almost 12,000 feet. 


  • Three mountains, which become increasingly more difficult the farther you venture 
  • CAT skiing and night skiing 
  • Family-friendly activity options in town, such as sleigh rides and ice skating

4. Steamboat 

The resort is known for scenic skiing through trees and fluffy powder, known as “Champagne Powder.” A three-to-four hour drive away from the hustle-and-bustle of Denver, the historic mining town of Steamboat Springs offers authentic Western history and cowboy charm. 

snow covered pine trees under blue sky during daytime
Skiing at the Steamboat Springs. Photo by Sean Kelley.

The Mountain 

Mount Werner surrounds the resort, which receives about 350 inches of snow each year and ranges in elevation from 6,900 to 10,568 feet. The majority of the crowds hang at the main gondola, so make it a priority to explore the other parts of the mountain. The layout of this resort can be more complicated to learn than other resorts, but the intermediate-friendly bowl skiing at Morningside Park, fantastic tree skiing at every turn, and amazing snow make Steamboat worth the trip. 


  • Known for its fluffy snow, which is officially trademarked as “Champagne Powder” 
  • Fantastic tree skiing 
  • Old-mining town with a Wild West vibe

5. Telluride 

Deep in the San Juan Mountains on the border of Eastern Colorado, Telluride is more secluded than other resorts on our list. The nearest airport, the Montrose Regional Airport, is 65 miles away, but the experience is worth the journey! The friendly town has tons of locally owned shops and restaurants. Take the free gondola from the town of Telluride up to Mountain Village, and choose to ski down instead of riding the gondola back down. Riders beware, these steep runs are not beginner-friendly! 

snowy grounds and purple sky with distant lights during nighttime
A breathtaking view of Downtown Telluride by Ryan Cadby.

The Mountain 

Telluride offers consistent powder and a variety of world-class terrain. With a vertical drop of 4,425 feet, the mountain offers an intense amount of vertical run ideal for speed-hungry experts, including a generous amount of hike-to runs for a backcountry feel. 


  • Suitable for all ski levels, with tons of expert and vertical terrain 
  • Friendly, local town 
  • Ride the gondola up to Mountain Village and Telluride Ski Resort 

6. Vail 

Vail is one of the most famous ski resorts in the country, with the parent company Vail Resorts operating 37 ski resorts across the United States, Canada, and even Australia. The area of Vail is relatively large for a ski town. The Town Center and Lionhead Village offer plenty of options for high-end accommodation and luxury dining and shopping, but if you’re looking for a more affordable, accessible stay, you might consider West Vail, which offers a shuttle to the mountain. If you're willing to drive, look into Silverton and Frisco for more affordable options.

snow covered town with snowy mountains in the back during daytime
A view from the Eagle Bahn Gondola, Vail. Photo by Doug Letterman.

The Mountain 

This resort is the largest in the state with 31 lifts covering a whopping 5,317 skiable acres, including seven bowls on the back of the mountain and hundreds of long groomed runs for all ski levels.


  • Biggest resort in the state with more than 5,000 acres 
  • Endless variety of groomed runs overlooking the town of Vail 
  • Large town with upscale accommodation

7. Wolf Creek 

This may be one of the best ski areas in the state, but Wolf Creek is often overlooked due to its lack of accommodation and nightlife. The nearest place to stay is about 30 minutes away in Pagosa Springs and South Fork.  However, Wolf Creek Ski Area gets the bragging rights of having the most snow in Colorado at about 430 inches per year. 

people on the snowy ground facing blue sky
The top of Colorado's Wolf Creek Ski Area - watching clouds roll in over the Pagosa Valley. Photo by Zach Dischner.

The Mountain 

The ski area is set on a mountain pass at a base elevation of 10,300 feet and a summit elevation of almost 12,000 feet. More than half of the runs are advanced or expert and are a must-see for anyone looking to experience top-of-the-line powder skiing. 


  • Wolf Creek experiences the most snow in the state 
  • Solid amount of advanced runs 
  • A lack of dining and accommodation options 

Other Resorts to Consider 

Arapahoe Basin

Arapahoe Basin, also known as A-basin, has a summit reaching 13,050 feet, allowing the resort to stay open through June, making it a solid option for spring skiing. 

Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek has great conditions for newer skiers, a quaint, family-friendly town, and lower elevation for those worried about altitude sickness 

Copper Mountain

An hour outside of Denver, Copper Mountain is a great option for families, with a relatively high elevation topping off at 12,313 feet.

Silverton Mountain

Silverton Mountain is truly a unique resort that only offers advanced and expert terrain full of fresh powder, but no groomed runs. With one single, old school chairlift, skiers and snowboarders are brought to hike-to terrain. It’s essentially backcountry skiing without the hike. If you’ve got the funds, you can also take a heli-tour. 

Explore Colorado with KÜHL

Colorado is jam-packed with ski resorts, and there are 32 in the state. With fresh snow, high elevation, and tons of ski towns, you can’t go wrong spending winter here. These resorts are some of our favorites, but every Colorado resort has something to offer. Check them out for yourself, and tell us what we missed! 

Featured Image - Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Keystone by Kevin May.

Nancy Raven Kirk
Nancy Raven Kirk

Nancy is a writer, traveler, and outdoor enthusiast originally from Los Angeles. She's had work published in the L.A. Times, OC Weekly, and various other publications. Check out her website at www.copybykirk.com.


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