- 22 Resorts
- Consistent Snow
- Diverse destinations
- Resorts open before those of many other states
- Home to Vail, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain
Summit County: Ski The Colorado Crown -
Colorado may be laden with ski hills, but rather than putting miles on the car, head to Summit County. The county straddles the Continental Divide along the I-70 corridor with four world-class ski resorts within a snowball's throw of each other.
The top of the Continental Divide offers one thing—high elevation. That translates into cold temperatures for Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, and Keystone. They all benefit from long ski seasons and reliable deep snows that pile up around 300 inches per year.
Visitors from lower elevations, however, may want to take a day or two to acclimatize before rushing out the door to ski at these elevations. Keystone reaches up to the lowest elevation of the four with The Outback sitting at 11,980 feet. Arapahoe stretches the furthest up, with its hike-to summit at 13,050—the highest ski resort in the state.
Want the biggest terrain? Head to Keystone. The resort sprawls over 3,000 acres across three mountains—Dercum, North Peak, and The Outback. Those aiming for the A51 Terrain Park, tubing, and long groomers such as the 3.5-mile Schoolmarm head to Dercum. Those who want to pound their knees on long mogul runs go for the top of North Peak. The Outback maintains a reputation among experts for its tree skiing. You can also explore new expert terrain in Independence Bowl via guided cat tours.
Want the most popular resort? Breckenridge has topped the list for annual numbers of skiers with over 1.6 million visits. But its four mountains spread skiers and riders out with 30 lifts and the most vertical in Summit County. Its Peak 8 Summit drops skiers into several expert bowls while intermediates head for the myriad of blue runs on Peak 9. The town, which sprung from mining roots, has preserved its Victorian appearance, but modernized its character with boutiques, après ski, galleries, and restaurants.
Want to go where the locals go? Then head to Copper Mountain. The resort, which spans three peaks, naturally breaks into beginner, intermediate, and expert zones—each with their own base, but interconnected via upper mountain lifts. Green runs depart from Union Peak while blue runs leading up from Center Village flank Copper Peak. East Village provides the fastest access to the resort's black diamond terrain. The Catalyst terrain park off American Flyer lift lures freeskiers for its giant tabletops, rails, and quarter-pipe.
Want to head to extreme terrain with the most snow? Arapahoe Basin—called A Basin by locals—may be the smallest of the four resorts, but its lifts still grant 2,270 of vertical to the highest Colorado ski resort. The East Wall and Zuma Cornice lure skiers for powder, but Palavicinni knocks A Basin into the record books as the run, which originated as a path carved by avalanches, is one of the state's longest and steepest. The resort recently added new Montezuma Bowl, which upped the number of beginner and intermediate runs and opened new chutes, glades, and cornices for advanced skiers. The resort's elevation often permits skiing to last into June.
Summit County also adds a boon for skiers. You can hop free local shuttles between the resorts and the towns clustered around I-70. Lodging—from inexpensive chain motels to upscale inns—is plentiful in Silverthorne, Dillon, and Frisco.
You can also expand your ski horizons from Summit County. Loveland sits just to the east on the I-70 corridor while Vail and Beaver Creek are to the west—each about 30 minutes away.
Summit County's reputation for snow is no fluke. That's why it's the crown of Colorado skiing.