Winter may still be a few weeks away, but that hasn’t stopped snow from blanketing Colorado with several feet of powder already in 2019. This should come as no surprise; the Farmer’s Almanac predicts this year’s winter season to be particularly snowy. Although an excess of snow might be a turnoff to those more predisposed towards temperate climates, it’s great news for the many skiers and snowboarders who call Colorado home—or venture here from far and wide to experience it’s mountain resorts.
With 26 resorts in Colorado alone, the state is known far and wide for its Rocky Mountain ski slopes. And, this year’s ski season is shaping up to be one of the best in recent history, with some resorts opening earlier than ever before. This comes as no surprise, as last year’s country-wide skier visits tallied nearly 60 million, making it the 4th best ski season ever. Many resorts in Colorado are also expanding their acreage with new terrain, enticing riders even more.
With all of the hype surrounding the 2020 ski season in Colorado, it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to go to maximize your experience. The expansive Rockies allow for all types of terrain for all skill levels of riders, so you can be rest assured that there’s something for everybody anywhere you go. But for those who just need to be in-the-know, here’s a rundown of the best ski resorts to visit in Colorado in 2020.
Winter Park resort is located about 90 minutes from Denver in Grand County, right off of Highway 40. With over 3,000 skiable acres and 166 trails, this is no miniature resort. It’s also the only Colorado resort that is accessible by train via the Winter Park Express (although it only operates through March and tickets can be a little bit expensive). The resort features seven territories and three peaks—Winter Park, Vasquez Ridge, and Mary Jane—the last of which has its own base area and parking lot, where pass holders can simply park and hop right on the trails.
With all of these perks, it’s no wonder that Winter Park was voted the number one ski resort in America by USA Today readers in 2018.
Keystone broke records this year when it opened on Saturday, October 12—making it the first ski resort in the country to open in 2019 (if you don’t count Arapahoe Basin’s 2-hour stint the day before to claim the title). Just like Winter Park, Keystone is a huge resort with over 3,000 acres of terrain and 3 mountain peaks. It’s also one of only a few Colorado ski resorts that offers night skiing, and their terrain park is particularly impressive as well.
In town, tourists will be pleased to find several four and five star rated restaurants, as well as festive activities such as a skating lake and sleigh rides. Transportation to either one of the two ski base areas is only a short walk from pretty much anywhere.
Breckenridge is one of the most popular ski resorts in the country, and for good reason. It features the highest lift in North America at a staggering 12,840 feet, offering some of the best high-alpine skiing in the world. With 5 peaks each offering its own challenges and 187 trails in total, there’s something for every level of rider at Breck. 34 lifts make navigating these peaks easy and efficient. In addition, the town of Breckenridge is nothing less than breathtaking and full of historical charm.
For those willing to travel a little further outside of Denver for their powder day, Beaver Creek is an excellent option. Though not as large as some of the other Colorado resorts (it only has 1,832 skiable acres), it still offers 150 trails across 5 mountains and 2 bowls.
Beaver Creek is considered a luxury resort, so you can expect to see perfectly-groomed trails and plenty of ski-in lodging—in fact, nearly all of the lodging in the area is ski-in, ski-out. In addition, two luxury hotels—the Park Hyatt and Ritz-Carlton—feature their own dedicated lifts.
You’d be hard pressed to find a seasoned rider anywhere in the world who hasn’t heard of Vail. Boasting a whopping 5,289 acres of skiable area with 193 trails, it’s the largest ski resort in Colorado and the third largest in the country. No less than 3 terrain parks and 10 bowls make Vail a premier destination for extreme skiers and snowboarders. The town of Vail takes charm to the next level, with old-fashioned European architecture and plenty of shops and restaurants.
Because Vail is generally considered the crown jewel of Colorado ski resorts, crowds can often pose a problem, and single-day lift tickets are known to be pricey. However, to get the full experience of what Colorado skiing has to offer, there’s no better destination than Vail.