A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.
Boulder, Colorado, may be known for its collision of funky with the suburbs. But this town on the front of the Rocky Mountains also provides a fast hop onto the slopes for a snow fix. Eleven resorts sit within distance for day trips - upping the possibility for the number of different resorts you can ski on during a vacation.
A quick 35-minute drive from Boulder drops you at the front door of Eldora Mountain Resort. The ski hill may be small in comparison to other Colorado mega-resorts, but it slopes can almost guarantee snow: Over 300 inches fall annually, plus the resort has snowmaking on all its groomed runs. You can test your stamina on the resort's three-mile-long run and your technique on Corona Bowl's black diamonds.
Those looking for jibbing terrain can find it at Idaho Springs in less than an hour. Echo Mountain treats its skiable acres as one big park, spreading features around its slopes.
Spend a little more on gas, and you can reach seven resorts from Boulder in two hours or under - a short enough drive for a day trip to and from the resorts. Of course, you can also extend into a weekend getaway for all of them have lodging at the resorts or in nearby towns.
Ski on mounds of snow that pile up in one of the state's highest ski resorts with the longest seasons. The lifts at Loveland stretch up to 12,700 feet, but you can hike up another 400 feet to gain more vertical. Ski the north side or the south side, and hop between the two on a free bus.
Drive over Berthoud Pass, and you'll be at the foot of Winter Park, one of the state's larger resorts and recipient of large snowfalls. Its 21 lifts access over 3,000 skiable acres. Winter Park and Vasquez Ridge provide skiing in lower elevations with more beginner and intermediate runs while Mary Jane, Parsenn Bowl and Vasquez Ridge stretch up to elevations around 12,000 feet with predominantly expert terrain. Find the mountain's longest run (4.9 miles) leading off Parsenn Bowl.
SolVista Basin, located north of Winter Park, is comparable to Eldora in size. Two mountains depart from the same base area. The East Mountain caters to blue and green skiers while the West Mountain attracts those seeking blue to black thrills. The resort's smaller size appeals to families with young kids.
Summit County's four resorts also make easy destinations from Boulder. Arapahoe Basin's skiing extends into June, turning its parking lot into a makeshift party beach. Keystone offers the biggest night skiing terrain in Colorado for those who like to watch the stars or ski under the full moon. Breckenridge boasts the highest lift and slope in the state at nearly 13,000 feet. Copper Mountain maintains a reputation for having the fewest lift lines.
Extend the drive under another hour, and you can reach three more resorts. The luxury resorts of Beaver Creek and Vail sit west on I-70 adjacent to each other in Eagle County. Vail's Front Side, Blue Sky Basin and Back Bowls add up to enough terrain to make it one of the largest ski resorts in the U.S., and Beaver Creek gains its reputation from its famed Birds of Prey World Cup Downhill.
Ski Cooper sits south of Copper Mountain on Tennessee Pass near Leadville. The family resort is small, but it's one of Colorado's oldest and served as a training site for the 10th Mountain Division troops. Today, it is the launch point for snowcat tours into 2,600 acres of backcountry.
Leap from the Boulder burbs into the Colorado high country. You can find a snow fix in no time.