Denver is known to be the gateway to some of the best skiing areas in the U.S. Some of the more well-known ski resorts are a tad far from Denver city center but there are several fabulous ski resorts within driving distance that the locals love to enjoy. Here are our top picks.
Top of the list is Vail. It takes about two hours and ten minutes to drive from the Denver airport to Vail, but it is well worth it. Vail is a skier’s paradise!
Vail covers a vast area and has a great variety of terrain. There are some lovely, easy green trails (or beginner trails) around Game Creek, lots of cruisy blues everywhere, some challenging black runs for the more advanced skier and then there are the bowls! Powder days in the back bowls of Vail provide the best skiing experience you could ever imagine.
Lifts go from Vail Village and its close neighbor, Lionshead, and the slopes are easily accessed from these bases. There is ample parking in both locations, but the parking can be pricey.
There are plenty of places to eat in the resort villages as well as on the mountain itself. The Two Elk Lodge, an enormous log cabin structure, is a destination favorite, but there are several other outlets too, especially around mid-Vail.
Breckenridge is slightly closer to Denver than Vail and is another wonderful resort.
Known affectionately as “Breck” by regular visitors, at 3,914 m Breckenridge claims to be the highest resort in North America.
Like Vail, Breck has something for everyone. The ski resort consists of 5 peaks (numbered from 6 to 10 inclusive) and each has its own character. Peak Six is often left ungroomed and there are well-spaced trees on some of the runs for an added challenge; Peak 10 has mostly Black Runs, some long, steep and groomed, others made up of thigh-burning bump fields. There are additional easier runs and beginner slopes towards the bottom of the resort.
At the base of the gondola, you will find paid parking, which provides easy access to the slopes. Alternatively, there is free parking a couple of miles away on Airport Road from which shuttles transport skiers to the gondola.
There are plenty of places to dine at while on the mountain. All are perfectly acceptable but one of the most popular choices among skiers is the Ten Mile Station at the base of Peak 10.
Breckenridge is a real town and not as manicured as Vail, but it is a charming place and well worth wandering around. Breck also hosts the annual Snow Sculpture Festival, a must-experience if you are in the area.
The drive to Keystone takes a little over two hours from the Denver airport. There is plenty of free parking in Keystone, but it is a fair walk through the village to reach the lifts. Fortunately, carts for pulling skis along are available and free of charge.
Keystone is another resort with its own unique character. The resort has three mountains, Dercum Mountain, North Peak and The Outback. They are all interconnected by lifts and Keystone is one of the easiest resorts to navigate. The Outback is the most challenging area and is particularly good for glade skiing.
The village has less to offer than either Breckenridge or Vail, but there are plenty of places to eat on the mountain, The Outpost on North Peak being particularly good.
All three of these resorts are included in the Epic Season Pass. A season pass that provides you with unrestricted multi-resort access to some of Colorado’s most famous mountain resorts.
Other great resorts worth mentioning that are within driving distance of Denver:
- Winter Park
- Copper Mountain
- Arapahoe Basin
- Beaver Creek