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While Denver may not be in the Rockies, it’s just 20 minutes from the foothills and offers easy access to a wealth of outstanding ski resorts in Colorado. If you leave early in the morning, you can enjoy a fun day trip. Or, stick around and take advantage of the epic slopes for a weekend getaway or longer. No matter what you do, you’ll cut your drive time by heading to one of these ski resorts that can all be reached within two hours from the Mile High City.
The closest major ski resort to Denver, Loveland Ski Area is right off I-70, just an hour from the Mile High City. There is no lodging at the base, but you will find multiple options in Dillon, Silverthorne, or Georgetown, all of which can be reached with about a 20-minute drive. It sits high atop the Continental Divide and offers a thousand acres of terrain with a laid-back vibe and is often one of the best options in Colorado for uncrowded slopes, as most visitors simply pass it by heading to the more well-known resorts. Although there are lots of runs for the highly experienced, beginners and intermediates will find plenty to enjoy here too.
About a 75-minute drive from Denver, the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is one of the smaller resorts, but it offers lots for veteran skiers and boarders. It also boasts the longest ski season in the state and the third-highest ski area peak elevation on the continent, with a summit elevation of over 13,000 feet. If you’re looking for challenging terrain, you’ll find it here with nearly 150 trails, much of which are best for the highly experienced. You’ll need to purchase your passes and lift tickets well in advance as they’re limited to avoid overcrowding, but that just ensures a better time for all.
Keystone is a family-friendly ski resort located 90 minutes west of Denver, known for offering some of the best night skiing in Colorado. Spread over six peaks and more than 3,100 skiable acres, it gets nearly 20 feet of snow annually and has an impressive network of 20 lifts which includes a gondola. The experienced will appreciate the fantastic chutes, bowls, and tree runs at Outback and North Peak mountains, while Dercum Mountain is ideal for beginners, intermediates, or anyone who wants a relaxed day of skiing. There are many other activities here too, including the country’s largest ice skating rink, tubing, snow biking, and horse-drawn sleigh rides.
One of the oldest continually operating ski resorts in the state, Winter Park often ranks among the top ski areas for beginners, and in 2019, readers of USA Today named it the best in North America. Located about a 75-minute drive from Denver, it opened in 1940 and it’s expanded significantly since. You’ll find more than three thousand skiable acres and over 160 designated trails, providing plenty for skiers of all levels. There are extensive beginner slopes, long groomers, and tree runs. If you want to enjoy a fun alternative, tubing, ski biking, snowcat tours, and sunset snowshoeing excursions are all possible.
Easily reached directly 75 minutes west of Denver right off I-70, Copper Mountain Resort hosts a little under 2,500 skiable acres and over 150 trails with the terrain including everything from long, winding groomers to steep double-black drops. The backside terrain is a favorite among expert skiers with notable bumps in the Union and Resolution bowls. The north-facing peaks provide outstanding variety for beginners, intermediates, and experts. If you want to mix things up, the Copper Mountain Tubing Area offers a ton of fun for the entire family – the little ones can enjoy a tubing carousel, snow den, and more at Critterland. Plus, the town of Copper Mountain sits at its base, providing an authentic mountain village with hotels, shops, and restaurants.
One of the most popular ski resorts in the western hemisphere is just 80 miles from Denver, about an hour and 40-minute drive. Breckenridge boasts the highest chairlift in North America, carrying riders up to nearly 13,000 feet while showcasing jaw-dropping views of the surrounding peaks. There are 2,900 skiable acres, nearly half of which is high alpine terrain, and you’ll have 187 ski trails to choose from. Lower elevation areas provide a paradise for beginners and intermediates, especially ideal for families and anyone learning to ski. Plus, you’ll find a wide range of dining, shopping, and accommodation options.
Internationally famous for its over 5,300 acres of ski terrain, Vail Mountain Resort is one of Colorado’s largest ski resorts. Skiers of all experience levels can enjoy a great day out on the slopes, and it’s just over a two-hour drive from Denver. Of course, with so much to offer, it can get busy here, so you’ll want to arrive early. There are lots of other things to do here too, including snowshoe wilderness tours and opportunities to improve your cross-country skills via the Nordic School. You’ll find many shops, restaurants, and hotels, with Vail Village is known for its European feel, providing one of the best après-ski scenes around. Bart and Yeti’s, one of Vail’s oldest bars is a classic, complete with live music, while Garfinkels is a buzzing slopeside sports bar.
Enjoy one of the most affordable and uncrowded experiences at Ski Cooper, located about 15 minutes from Leadville, America’s highest incorporated city, and just over two hours from Denver. It hosts 400 skiable acres and over 40 trails, with a less pretentious atmosphere than many of the other resorts along with lots of beginner and intermediate terrain. While it’s especially ideal for those who want to learn to ski or enhance their current skills, those seeking more of a challenge can take the chair lift to the Tennessee Creek Basin, which includes three types of steep expert terrain. There’s no lodging at the base, but you will find vacation rentals nearby and a wider range of accommodation options in Leadville.
Directly west on I-70 from Denver just south of Avon, Beaver Creek Resort is just under a two-hour drive from the city. One of the best ski resorts in the country, it offers 1,800 acres of skiable terrain and breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks. There’s something for everyone here, from easy meandering greens to intense double-black diamonds. Once you’ve arrived, there’s no need to get behind the wheel until it’s time to depart, as there are dozens of shops, galleries, spas, and restaurants. Plus, you can hop on the Riverfront Express Gondola to reach the edge of the town of Avon, where you’ll find even more.
Located near the mountain town of Nederland, less than 50 miles from Denver (about a 75-minute drive) and only 20 miles from Boulder, Eldora Mountain is far from the congestion on I-70, yet it’s often forgotten. Join the locals and take advantage of one of the best places to go for affordable skiing without the long lines. It offers 680 acres of skiable terrain with most runs for intermediate and advanced skiers, although beginners will find enough green runs to enjoy a day of gentle skiing. There’s a Nordic center for cross-country skiing too. While there is no lodging on-site, there are vacation rentals nearby as well as a hotel and multiple dining and entertainment options in Nederland.
Bonus: Echo Mountain is technically the closest ski area to Denver. It’s not a major resort, as a small ski hill with just two conveyor-style lifts, a triple-chair, and 13 runs, but you can be here in only about 45 minutes. There are a few greens for beginners and some tree skiing for the thrill seekers though most runs are intermediate. Night skiing is available, and there’s a tubing hill too. You’ll find shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and vacation rentals in nearby Idaho Springs, about 11 miles north.