If you choose to live on the westside of Denver or in the foothills outside of town, you have access to several of the best, lift-accessed ski resorts in North America and the world. Traffic along I-70, the main corridor into the mountains, can be difficult especially on the weekends, and when the weather is bad it can be downright impossible. But for people who are willing to put the work in, an unparalleled adventure awaits. Skiing and snowboarding the big ski resorts of Colorado is an incredible form of exercise and can be enjoyed with friends and family like few other pastimes. There are several world-class ski resorts within an hour and a half’s drive of Denver.
Breckenridge Ski Resort is an iconic ski area with multiple peaks and a full-fledged town at its base. This major resort in Summit County is a popular destination for visitors, families and people coming up from the Denver Metro Area. Breckenridge provides an incredible riding experience for beginners as well as the more advanced skiers and snowboarders who want to explore a wide variety of terrain. Breckenridge is about 75 miles west of Denver with over 2900 skiable acres, 32 total lifts and 155 runs spread over 5 formidable peaks. There is a lot to do at Breckenridge and the world-renowned skiing is just one option.
Keystone Ski Resort, also in Summit County is 70 miles west of Denver, making it a reasonable day trip. 3148 skiable acres with 135 runs and 20 lifts (including 2 gondolas). There is something for all skill levels and all ages at Keystone and a small village at the base that offers classic ski lodging, rental condos, rustic restaurants, and a large outdoor skating rink. The ski resorts of Summit County are accessible by shuttle from Denver International Airport and are attractive to visitors from all over the United States.
Winter Park Resort includes the more advanced areas of Mary Jane and Vazquez Ridge. Winter Park is a bit more isolated on the opposite side of Berthoud Pass but is only 60 miles from Denver. The area offers 3081 skiable acres, 25 lifts and 143 total runs. The Mary Jane “side” is particularly challenging with many mogul runs and some steep chutes that are only open to visitors under particular conditions. Advanced skiers will surely find Mary Jane to be one of the more extreme lift-accessed areas in the United States.
Arapahoe Basin, also known as “The Legend” is another favorite of locals, as it stays open until June, sometimes even July. A-Basin’s high altitude and cold temps keeps the snow around longer making it a prime destination for spring breakers and people on the westside of Denver. There is a large area at the base known as “The Beach” where you might find barbecues, beers and bikinis on the warmer days. A-Basin is more of a casual experience where drinking a toast with your friends is at least as important as your skiing ability.
Loveland Ski Area, only 50 miles west of Denver, is the closest for Denverites and one of the more affordable day tickets. The ski area actually straddles the famous Eisenhower Tunnel and is perched on the side of the Continental Divide. This is one of the last natural land bridges for the migration of animals of all kinds. At a top elevation over 13,000 feet it can be cold and windy at Loveland, so dress warm. Its proximity to Denver makes Loveland the best resort for an easy half-day of skiing with a late lunch back in town.
Eldora Mountain Resort is only 20 miles west of Boulder and is the most accessible option for residents of Boulder County. This is a smaller ski area with 680 skiable acres, 53 runs and only 7 total lifts. Eldora does have a nice variety of terrain with some double black diamond glades and chutes for skiers that crave more of a challenge.
For advanced skiers and snowboarders that want to “earn their turns”, there are several backcountry lines that can be accessed from Denver, in addition to these developed resorts. On days with fresh powder you will see intrepid backcountry explorers lapping the steep areas of Loveland Pass and Berthoud Pass, shuttling themselves to the top for another run. Living in Denver makes skiing of all kinds and skill-levels more convenient than any other major city in the United States.