The location of the annual X Games, Aspen is a small mountain town that feels much more urban. Tucked into the Elk Mountains at 7,890 feet, Aspen has four mountains: Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass, all of which offer different experiences. Aspen Mountain rises from the south end of town and offers a variety of expert and intermediate slopes. Aspen Highlands is where you want to go for bowl skiing in the famed Highlands Bowl, where employees spend a lot of time doing avalanche control by boot-packing the snow. Buttermilk is a smaller mountain at a lower elevation, the last to open and first to close, and a good choice for beginners. Snowmass has the largest vertical drop of the four, at 4,406 feet, and the most varied skiing, from steep bumps to wide-open cruisers to challenging bowls.
P.O. Box 1248
Aspen, CO 81612
While Aspen claims the tradition and true mountain experience, Vail, right off Interstate 70, is the second-largest ski area in North America and the largest in the U.S. It offers 5,289 acres of skiing, including the famed Vail Back Bowls. The Back Bowls offer mostly wide-open powder skiing on intermediate and low expert terrain, while the front side offers more traditional skiing on trails cut through trees. The village at the base of the ski area is modeled after a European mountain town. Because of the sheer volume of skiing, many people choose to explore only sections of the mountain.
P.O. Box 7
Vail, CO 81658
If jaw-dropping steeps and challenging bumps are your forte, make a trip to Crested Butte. Crested Butte is on the other side of the Elk Mountains southwest of Aspen, and about a 4-1/2-hour drive from Denver. The mountain has 1,167 acres of terrain, and those willing to do a little hiking (15 to 20 minutes) can access some of the best expert runs in Colorado. Crested Butte hosts the annual U.S. Telemark Extreme Championships. While it doesn't get as much snow as some other areas of Colorado (300 inches per year), when the snow does fall, Crested Butte offers a distinctive experience.
P.O. Box 5700
Mount Crested Butte, CO 81225
Arapahoe Basin offers a different experience than most other Colorado ski areas. There are no hotels or mountain villages at its base. A Basin, as it is often called, is more of a locals' mountain. It has the longest season of any Colorado ski resort, opening by mid-October and staying open till June and even sometimes into July, if enough snow falls. Spring days at the basin find people partying at The Beach, a stretch of the parking lot right below the main steep runs at the basin. Unlike most resorts, the basin doesn't charge for parking. With the opening of Montezuma Bowl, Arapahoe Basin nearly doubled its available terrain, but most of it is still steep chutes, bumps and glades. The front side of the upper mountain offers lots of intermediate terrain with mountain views.
28194 U.S. Highway 6
Keystone, CO 80435