This blog post was updated on July 7, 2021.
Easily one of the most enticing and popular ski destinations in the country, Colorado tends to conjure up those classic images of snow sprinkled mountains and unending slopes that you can explore with skis and snowboards. While ski resorts in Colorado, as well as ski areas, are a haven for skiers and snowboarders, these slopes can quickly crowd up during the peak of the season. Instead of visiting the usual suspects of Aspen, Vail, or Breckenridge, these ski areas provide a more off-the-beaten slope experience.
Wolf Creek Ski Area
Set in southwestern Colorado, about 24 miles from the town of Pagosa Springs, Wolf Creek Ski Area proudly claims to have the most snow in Colorado with 430 inches of snow annually. This lesser known ski area has become a secret favorite thanks to its great powder quality and for generally being one of the first ski areas in the state to open for the season. You’ll find 9 lifts at the Wolf Creek Ski Area, whisking you up to a mix of runs ranging from beginner to expert level. Wolf Creek hosts 1,600 skiable acres with a base elevation of 10,300 feet and a summit of 11,900 feet.
One of the main reasons to catch flights to Denver is the city’s proximity to the mountains. Even skiers don’t have to travel far outside of downtown to find a slope. Echo Mountain sits just 36 miles from downtown Denver and around 20 minutes west of the town of Evergreen. It’s the closest ski area to Denver and also one of the most affordable where lift tickets won’t break the bank. Originally opened in 1960 as the Squaw Pass Ski Area, Echo Mountain is now a largely intermediate ski area but there’s also a beginner area. In addition to just regular skiing, you can also try out Echo Mountain’s tubing hill or even take part in a bit of night skiing throughout the season.
Just over 20 miles from Boulder and under 50 miles from Denver, you can take your skis, snowboards, and snowshoes to Eldora ski resort. Outside of the town of Nederland, this inconspicuous ski destination in Colorado boasts roots in 1962. Intended to act as the ski area for Boulder, Eldora has a base elevation of 9,200 feet and a top elevation of 10,600 feet. Skiers and snowboarders can appreciate 680 skiable acres at Eldora, along with a Nordic Center with over 24 miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. Eldora also records about 300 inches of snowfall annually, lending skiers and snowboarders plenty of the good stuff to frolic in without having to jump into an I-70 traffic jam.
For expert and advanced skiers and snowboarders, Silverton might already be on your bucket list of ski destinations in Colorado. If you’ve never skied in your life, this isn’t the mountain resort for you. Silverton boasts a base elevation of 10,400 feet and a peak elevation of 13,487 feet. To ski here, you’ll be required to carry avalanche gear. There are no beginner bunny slopes either, just terrain for the experts. Roughly 6 miles from the small town of Silverton in southwestern Colorado, Silverton offers snow lovers an average of 400 inches of snow annually. The mountain specializes in extreme skiing and snowboarding, providing heli-skiing and heli-boarding along with guided and unguided skiing. Skiers and snowboarders won’t be disappointed with over 26,000 acres of skiable terrain.
Sunlight Mountain Resort
Set 12 miles south of Glenwood Springs, Sunlight Mountain Resort offers those on a budget the chance to ski all day for roughly half the cost of some of the other big Colorado ski areas. With 67 trails and 680 acres of skiable terrain, Sunlight Mountain Resort provides skiers of all levels slopes to smile about, from greens to black diamonds, all with views of the Elk Mountain Range. Named after a coaling mining town that vanished in the early 1900s, today’s resort has decidedly more life to it. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, you can also go on a snowmobile tour, cross-country ski, or snowshoe.
A few miles from the town of Leadville, Ski Cooper settles right into the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Boasting views of Colorado’s famed peaks like Mount Massive and Mount Elbert, Ski Cooper presents 60 trails, 5 lifts, 470 skiable acres, and an average snowfall annually of 260 inches. While you’ll find all levels of runs here from beginner to advanced, more seasoned skiers will appreciate Cooper’s snowcat skiing tours of Chicago Ridge, which offers 2,800 acres of powdery terrain.
Have you skied in Colorado? Share your favorite slopes with us in the comments below!