If you are planning on skiing more than two days in or outside Colorado, your cheapest option for lift tickets is to purchase them in advance! You may find that buying a “pass” is going to be your best option. Liftopia is an awesome site to find great deals on lift tickets and rental equipment.
Epic Pass – Vail Resorts owns basically all the resorts on I-70. So, if you plan on skiing 2x a year or more than four days, you should definitely consider buying a pass. Important to note that you can’t get discounted passes on Liftopia for Epic Resorts aka Vail-owned resorts.
Rocky Mountain Super Pass – With this super pass, you get Winter Park/Mary Jane + Copper + Days at Crested Butte, and Steamboat. It is a total steal if you want to ski in a few areas.
Mountain Collective – A great ski pass for Colorado, California, Utah, New Mexico, or Wyoming. It includes two days at Aspen/Snowmass, Telluride, Jackson Hole, Taos, Squaw Valley, Sun Valley, and a few other amazing resorts.
Epic Pass – I-70 Resorts
Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, and Beaver Creek are the closest resorts to Denver with accommodations. Arapahoe Basin and Loveland are the closest slopes, but unfortunately, are only a ski hill with nowhere to stay overnight.
Keystone – I have only skied here a few times but really enjoyed it. Keystone has super long runs, so you don’t always feel like your skiing to the next lift. There’s a big terrain park and a ski school with its own designated area. The “town” is just the resort at the base, so very walkable with great transportation.
Breckenridge – Breck is the largest in terms of “town” for the I-70 resorts. It is situated at the base of the slopes, so you can walk from the lift into town. The historic downtown creates a real mountain town-like feel with attractive shopping, restaurants, and bars.
Personally, between you and me, I think Breck has the greatest nightlife. For the non-skiers, you can stroll downtown to shop, eat, and enjoy the almost weekly festivals such as the world’s largest shot ski and an ice sculpture competition. Read my guide to Breckenridge here.
Vail – Vail is by far the greatest skiing in the world. From the back bowls to Blue Sky Basin, hitting a powder day here is seriously what ski dreams are made of! Ideally, you can snag a spot in Vail Village but it’s a pretty penny. Lionhead is the next village over and a great spot to stay where you can ski between the two.
I have a FULL guide to Vail here + my favorite places to ski.
The adorable European-inspired village is packed with shops and restaurants. It is great for the non-skiers and après ski. If you don’t stay in either village, there are plenty of places to stay throughout the valley. However, keep in mind, you have to bus or drive to the slopes. Parking in Vail is not free unless you can snag a spot on the road.
Beaver Creek – Because it is the furthest I-70 resort, Beaver Creek is often less crowded. Situated just above the town of Avon, this super family-oriented resort is great for kids. The village is perfectly designed with shops, restaurants, and an ice skating rink. Ski the entire day, and as you descend from the slopes, be greeted with warm chocolate chip cookies!
The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is the ideal place to stay with ski-in/ski-out condos and houses, outdoor pools, hot tubs, and a great fire pit for après ski (here is what to wear!). If you’re looking for less expensive accommodations, stay in Avon. Shuttles get you to the slopes from here with no problem.
The Eagle County Regional Airport is about 45 minutes from Vail with daily direct flights from New York, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, DC, and LA.
If you are unsure of what I-70 resort you want to ski at, you can split the difference and stay in Frisco or Silverthorn. This puts you 15 minutes away from Keystone, 30 minutes from Breck as well as Vail, and 45 minutes from Beaver Creek.
Winter Park + Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain – Located on I-70, after Breck but before Vail, this small resort is on the Rocky Mountain Super Pass. Copper offers great skiing with much smaller crowds. Check out lift ticket deals here.
Winter Park + Maryjane – Just before the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70, hang a right on 40, and head over Berthoud Pass, soon you will find yourself in beautiful Winter Park. Locals love Winter Park/Mary Jane for the beautiful terrain that lacks traffic and crowds. You can either stay at the resort next to the mountain or down the road in town. With free parking and buses, it’s easy to stay local rather than the resort. Winter Park is definitely a quieter town but has a fun live music venue, which is always bumping. Explore deals for lift ticket here.
A few years ago, I randomly won a trip to Glenwood Springs and passes to Sunlight Mountain. Sunlight is super small and about a three-hour drive from Denver. We actually loved skiing here and exploring the Roaring Fork Valley. A great spot if you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful day of skiing plus hot springs. Read more about our trip here.
3+ Hours but Worth the Drive…
Steamboat Springs – Located three hours from Denver, this resort is the furthest north Colorado ski resort. Steamboat boasts great tree skiing and “Champagne Powder” without terribly steep terrain. You can either stay in the ski village or town about three miles from the resort.
Steamboat is a big town with loads of shopping, restaurants, and bars. After a long day on the slopes, you can hit the historic Strawberry Hot Springs outside town. Read more about Steamboat here.
Crested Butte (CB) – I have yet to ski here but CB is by far my favorite mountain town. It is a solid 4 hours from Denver, but once you arrive, you’ll never want to leave. Check out my full guide on CB here!
Aspen – Aspen is about a three and a half hour drive from Denver. Head west on I-70, all the way to Glenwood Springs, then hang a left. Tucked away in the Elk Mountain Range are Aspen and Snowmass.
Aspen Mountain, known as Ajax, is in the middle of downtown. Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass are a drive or bus ride away. The town of Aspen is actually quite large, so you will most likely need a car to get around. It is filled with world-class shopping, restaurants, and nightclubs. If you can catch a show at the famous Belly Up – do! This tiny venue is amazing.
You can fly directly into Aspen/Snowmass from Denver, LA, San Fran, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, and Minneapolis-St.Paul.
Telluride – I haven’t skied Telluride since I was little, but it truly is one of the most beautiful places in the world! This tiny box village, nestled in the San Juan Mountains, is what you imagine a ski town to look like. It is a six-hour drive from Denver, so your best bet is to fly into Montrose or Durango, then drive from there.
Now that you know where to ski, next, you’re thinking “what to pack!?!” Not to worry! You can check out my full packing guide