Vail Resorts, Colorado
Vail Resorts owns Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge. Since it has a managing interest in Arapahoe Basin, Vail season pass holders have access to the area. Vail and Beaver Creek are upscale, amenity-rich resorts located in Eagle County, and Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin are in the less expensive Summit County.
Vail is at a base elevation of 8,174 feet, and Beaver Creek is at 8,100 feet. This is lower than other Colorado resorts, whose average base elevation is about 9,100 feet. Keystone was once known for its limited challenging terrain, but the addition of a terrain park and specialized backcountry tours have increased its popularity among experts. This also applies to Breckenridge, whose Imperial Express to the backcountry is the highest lift in North America. Beaver Creek, Vail and Keystone are all located in a self-contained village, while Breckenridge is situated in a historic mining town. The ambiance at Arapahoe Basin contrasts sharply with that of the other Vail resorts, which are known for their consistent and often overzealous snow grooming and abundance of shops and restaurants. Arapahoe Basin is an "old school resort," with free, close-in parking and natural terrain. It opens as early as October and closes as late as June.
Intrawest Resorts, Colorado
Intrawest owns the Canadian resorts Whistler and Mont Tremblant. In Colorado, it owns Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Steamboat. Intrawest and Vail Resorts are competitors. If one company offers a superb, multiresort deal, wait a few days before you jump on it because the other will invariably up the ante.
Winter Park is the closest ski area to Denver and therefore attracts many Denver residents. However, in an attempt to become a destination resort, it has begun to develop a mountain village and has added more lodging venues, shops and restaurants. Advanced skiers and riders favor Winter Park for Mary Jane, which is an entire area dedicated to bump runs.
Copper Mountain is located in Summit County and has a fully developed mountain village. Copper has a distinct separation of terrain for beginners, intermediates and experts. The addition of Camp Woodward--an indoor, freestyle training center--has increased Copper's popularity among park and pipe enthusiasts.
Steamboat, located in northwestern Colorado, boasts a gondola, which is much appreciated in cold weather. Steamboat's trails wind around the mountain, giving you more time on the trail and less time on the lift line. Its terrain is suitable for all levels. On-mountain and in-town lodging is plentiful.
The Aspen Ski Company
Aspen is actually composed of four resorts: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. One ticket gives you access to all four resorts, which are connected by a bus system. Of the four, Snowmass is the most family oriented. Aspen has the most challenging terrain, and Buttermilk has the easiest. Aspen Highlands is noted for its moguls. Most lodging is expensive, but cheap, hostel-style accommodations are available at the St. Moritz Lodge in Aspen.