The A to Z Guide to Colorado Ski Resorts

2/02/2020 by by admin

Do you wish you could move to a Colorado ski resort, but haven’t worked up the nerve? Maybe you’d like to take a seasonal job, but don’t have enough information? We’re here to help!

We’ve compiled the A to Z Guide to Colorado Ski Resorts to help you get acquainted with all Colorado has to offer. Each resort has its own culture, terrain, and housing situation, and we dialed into each one. So do your homework, and get ready to have the season of a lifetime!

Use this guide to inform where you want to be, then check out our comprehensive overview of ski resort jobs to learn more about what you can do when you get there.

Jump to it!

Table of Contents

Need some help getting oriented? Save our Colorado Ski Resort Map to know where the ski resorts are located.

Arapahoe Basin

Arapahoe Basin (or A-Basin as it’s known locally) is famous for being a locals-only mountain. The resort (if you can even call it that) is located 68 miles west of Denver in Summit County, Colorado near the top of Loveland Pass (Hwy 6). There is no lodging at A-Basin. Rather, many of the employees commute from nearby Dillon, Frisco and Breckenridge (all roughly 30 minutes away). Vail is under an hour away, making A-Basin a popular outlet for in-the-know vacationers looking to escape Vail’s crowds.

The Mountain:

A-Basin’s terrain has expanded significantly in recent years, and while still relatively small at ~1,400 acres, it now stands close to the size of some more widely known resorts (for example, Crested Butte). With only ¼ of its acreage rated as “expert” level skiing, A-Basin’s extreme scene might be a bit weaker than its “locals’ mountain” reputation would suggest. But the parking lot atmosphere of barbeque pits and beer drinking more than makes up for it. A-Basin also has one of the longest seasons in Colorado, thanks to its unusually high base elevation and north-facing terrain, and usually opens in mid-late October, before closing in late May or even early June.

  • Vertical: 2,530 ft.
  • Base: 10,780 ft.
  • Acreage: 1,428 acres
  • Difficulty: 7% beginner, 20% intermediate, 49% advanced, 24% expert
  • Longest run: 1.5 miles
  • Annual snowfall: 350 inches
  • Snowmaking: 125 acres
  • Terrain park?: Yes

The Local’s Lowdown:

A-Basin itself is little more than a ski mountain, a handful of dining options, and a parking lot. And that’s what locals love about it. Working there has its share of pros and cons. One major positive is the long open season, which means employees can earn paychecks for several weeks longer than they might at competing resorts. Housing is a bit trickier, however, and a ~30-minute commute from Dillon or Frisco is likely to be in the cards. That said, rents in those areas can be substantially lower than at the more well-known resorts, and apartments are generally easier to come by.

A-Basin Ski Tips:

Kristen Lummis, world-traveling skier and blogger of, shared some sage advice about A-Basin:

What’s the Mountain Like?:

A Basin is a place that skiers return year after year. Everyone feels at home and like family here, so it’s not surprising to see avid skiers ripping up the mountain’s most challenging terrain. For beginners, the easiest slopes are right at the bottom of the Black Mountain Express where you’ll find two magic carpets and the Molly Hogan beginner chairlift.

Intermediate runs are available off of the Black Mountain Express and Lenawee lifts on the frontside, while Montezuma Basin offers intermediate options on the backside. For a classic A-Basin, head to the top of the mountain, take in the views and explore the open bowls on either side of the summit.

Where to Take a Break from Skiing:

When you’re taking a break from skiing, there is only one base area at A-Basin – that’s the Mountain Goat Plaza, just east of the main parking lot. You’ll find everything you need there.

Lift Ticket Deals:

A-Basin has great lift ticket deals available. In 2018-2019, college students can get 4 days of skiing for $179 ($45 per day) with a college ID. For afternoon skiing, the “Afternoon Delight” deal, a discounted lift ticket good for one afternoon (1 p.m. – 4 p.m.) of skiing or riding, ranges from $70-$95 per lift ticket. While it’s too early right now to know if this promotion will be available for 2019-2020, check the Arapahoe Basin this summer to find out what’s on offer!

The Verdict

If you’re looking for the true local’s experience (as opposed to staying at your rich uncle’s place in Vail), a job at A-Basin could be the perfect opportunity for you. The ski season is long, the terrain is excellent, and the vibe is spot on.

Aspen Snowmass | A to Z Guide on Colorado Ski Resorts

Aspen Snowmass

There’s just no place else quite like that little town where the beer flows like wine. With four mountains between Aspen and its next-door neighbor Snowmass (all on the same pass), there are really no rivals to the choice and scope of skiing opportunities in Aspen. But that’s just where things get started. Visitors also can choose between two very different, but closely connected towns. The town of Aspen is known for its exciting nightlife, high-end shopping, and glamorous visitors. Snowmass, on the other hand, caters to families and their children. Just like the skiing, there’s something for everyone.

The Mountains:

The Aspen Snowmass complex consists of four adjacent mountains, all in the near vicinity of Aspen and Snowmass Village. Between the four mountains, there are over 5,500 acres, 184 miles of trails, and 8 terrain parks. No really, 8 terrain parks! Each mountain has its own vibe and clientele. We break out each in detail below.

Aspen Mountain:

Aspen Mountain is one of the most iconic ski mountains in the world, with its Silverqueen Gondola rising up from Gondola Plaza right in the center of downtown Aspen. Known locally as Ajax, Aspen Mountain has the most glamorous vibe of the four, due to its long history, proximity to town, and abundance of movie stars and other high profile vacationers who frequent its slopes. It is also relatively difficult, with no beginner runs, and expert terrain interlaced throughout the mountain.

  • Vertical: 3,267 ft.
  • Acreage: 675 acres
  • Difficulty: 0% beginner, 48% intermediate, 26% advanced, 26% expert
  • Longest run: 3 miles
  • Annual snowfall: 300
  • Snowmaking: 210
  • Terrain park: No

Aspen Highlands:

Aspen Mountain might be the most famous, but Aspen Highlands is where locals head on their day off. A short bus ride from town, Highlands offers some of the best skiing in Colorado. While the traditional terrain is up to par with any resort, the real showstopper is the Highland Bowl, quite possibly the best inbounds skiing in the lower 48. While some lower zones can be accessed directly without hiking, the best runs require a ~30-minute hike to the top of the bowl. Believe us, it’s well worth the effort.

  • Vertical: 3,635 ft.
  • Acreage: 1,040 acres
  • Difficulty: 0% beginner, 23% intermediate, 12% advanced, 65% expert
  • Longest run: 3.5 miles
  • Annual snowfall: 300
  • Snowmaking: 121
  • Terrain park: No


What has long been considered one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners, could now be the most famous destination for park skiers in the world. That’s thanks to Buttermilk’s relationship with ESPN’s Winter X-Games, which it has hosted since 2002. Thus, Buttermilk really has two personalities, blending its traditional focus on families and skier development, with a new school dedication to progressing the sport towards new freestyle frontiers.

  • Vertical: 2,030 ft.
  • Acreage: 470 acres
  • Difficulty: 35% beginner, 39% intermediate, 21% advanced, 5% expert
  • Longest run: 3 miles
  • Annual snowfall: 300
  • Snowmaking: 108
  • Terrain park: Yes


Snowmass may be known as the best family ski resort in Colorado, but those families are made up of serious skiers. The mountain itself is massive, at over 3,300 skiable acres and 4,400 ft of vertical. And the skiing is balanced, with ~50% intermediate, but 30% dedicated to extreme skiing in areas like Snowmass’ famous Hanging Valley and the Cirque. Put simply, there’s something for everyone in Snowmass, including a world-renowned ski school to get those noobs up to speed.

  • Vertical: 4,406 ft.
  • Acreage: 3,339 acres
  • Difficulty: 5% beginner, 48% intermediate, 17% advanced, 30% expert
  • Longest run: 5.3 miles
  • Annual snowfall: 300
  • Snowmaking: 256
  • Terrain park: Yes

The Local’s Lowdown:

The Aspen Snowmass area is a skier’s paradise, and yet most locals will tell you they live there because of the summers. It’s just that beautiful. That popularity comes with a downside though: Aspen is crazy-expensive. Good luck finding a 2 bedroom apartment downtown for less than $8,000/month.

That said, there are two ways to make it work. First, Skico (as Aspen Skiing Company is known) has limited employee housing, which can come at a much lower rate. Second, many employees live down valley and commute in by bus. Nearby communities like Basalt, Carbondale, and El Jebel are much more affordable.

On Your Day Off

Marty Ryan, concierge at The Gant for 21 years, shared some great tips on things to do when you’re off the slopes.

Great Activities:

The Pine Creek Cookhouse is nestled at the base of Elk Mountain, 15 miles outside of town. Starting at  Ashcroft Adventure Lodge, you can book a horse-drawn sleigh, cross-country ski or snowshoe to the restaurant. Sleighs leave at certain times near lunch and dinner.

A Hidden Gem:

Try ice karting at Aspen Ice Karting. You’ll drive karts on a frozen lake and experience speeds up to 45-50 mph. Be prepared to drift, fly, and maneuver around the ice track during your session on a frozen lake near Aspen.

The Verdict

Come for the winter, stay for the summers. That’s the unofficial slogan for seasonal workers in Aspen. For those who figure out how to navigate the high cost of living, there’s no place that combines the quality of skiing with the off-mountain excitement of this once sleepy silver mining town. Aspen is a year-round playground for people from all walks of life, resulting in a culture that’s truly one of a kind. Just be warned before you go: you might never leave.

Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek offers a somewhat quieter, more family-first alternative to its nearby neighbor to the east, Vail. As part of Vail Resorts’ extensive network of premier skiing locations, Beaver Creek offers a more low-key but still undoubtedly luxury-focused experience to its visitors. The resort is relatively young, having opened in 1980. At the time, then-Governor Richard Lamm called it the “Tiffany’s” of ski resorts.

The Mountain:

Beaver Creek’s quieter vibe is in some ways due to its easier terrain. Almost 70% of the terrain is intermediate or beginner, making it a great choice for families getting accustomed to the sport. As a result, Beaver Creek is much less crowded than Vail, so it is a solid alternative for anyone who hates lift lines. But don’t let its beginner ski resort status fool you. For the most advanced, there’s still plenty of challenge to be had on double black crowd-pleasers like Grouse Mountain and Black Bear Glade.

  • Vertical: 3,340 ft.
  • Skiable acreage: 1,832 acres
  • Difficulty: 38% beginner, 30% intermediate, 24% advanced, 8% expert
  • Longest run: 2.75 miles
  • Avg. annual snowfall: 323 inches
  • Snowmaking: 650 acres
  • Terrain park: Yes

The Local’s Lowdown:

Despite being Vail’s quieter neighbor, Beaver Creek’s focus on luxury makes it arguably more expensive. If you work there, you probably won’t be spending much of your free time there, and you definitely won’t be living there.

Fortunately, there are plenty of more affordable options within the 30-minute drive westward, including Avon, Edwards, and Eagle in that order. Nightlife is a similar story; you won’t find much in Beaver Creek itself, but there are plenty of options nearby. And Vail is just a stone’s throw away as well.

On Your Day Off:

Here are some tips on what to do in Beaver Creek when you’re away from the slopes. Chris Davis of InvitedHome, suggested the following.

Great Activities:

Dinner and a movie, taken to a new level. Cinebistro in Vail Village made Entertainment Weekly’s list of the top theaters that are “redefining the movie-going experience,” and for good reason. Enjoy gourmet food from ultra-luxurious leather chairs, full-service dining, a full bar, and a sleek lounge area.

Go skiing at Ski Cooper and have dinner at the Cookhouse at Tennessee Pass. Ski Cooper (not to be confused with the more well known Copper Mountain), has a base elevation of 10,500 feet, and the resort is rooted in tradition: it doesn’t make any snow, because it never has to. You’ll get groomed, natural terrain and virtually zero crowds. On your way home, stop off at the Cookhouse for gorgeous views and a delicious meal.

A Hidden Gem:

Town of Minturn and the Minturn Mile. Just south of Vail and Beaver Creek lies Minturn, a town that holds a true old-west charm and a thriving local community. For advanced skiers who want to go home with a great story, head down the backside of Vail via the Minturn Mile (backcountry terrain). You’ll pop out in Minturn, where you can have dinner in the historic Minturn Saloon.

The Verdict

As a seasonal worker, you probably won’t find yourself moving to Beaver Creek, so much as moving to the “Vail area” and grabbing a job there. Nothing wrong with that though. The mountain has plenty to offer in its own right, and your ski pass is good at Vail (or Keystone and Breckenridge for that matter) on your days off.

You’ll probably have to factor in a commute from Edwards or even Eagle to make the math work, but if you can swing it, you’ll be spending your days at one of the most luxurious resorts in the Rockies. Not bad.


Breckenridge is an old Colorado gold mining town that still has its real-town charm, despite having become a global destination for vacationers and seasonal workers alike. Many consider it to be the Colorado ski resort with the best town, in terms of authenticity. Although it too is owned by Vail Resorts, Breck maintains more of a true “mountain town” feel.

In fact, some locals actually do live in Breckenridge, while those who don’t typically live nearby in Frisco or Dillon. Breck’s historic downtown mixes historic charm with vibrant activity (including nightlife) in a way that few other resorts can.

The Mountain:

The mountain itself is made up of 5 distinct peaks, while the terrain showcases endless variety across the spectrum of beginner to expert. Breck’s more challenging options are often underrated, despite 64% of terrain being rated advanced or expert, and an abundance of bowl skiing options above the tree line. The T-Bar, Chair 6, and the Imperial express are all local favorites for big hits on a deep powder day.

  • Vertical: 3,398 ft.
  • Skiable acreage: 2,908 acres
  • Difficulty: 13% beginner, 23% intermediate, 36% advanced, 28% expert
  • Longest run: 3.5 miles
  • Avg. annual snowfall: 366 inches
  • Snowmaking: 657 acres
  • Terrain park: Yes

The Local’s Lowdown:

Breckenridge is all about action, so you’ll have no difficulty keeping busy. The Dew Tour, Beer Fest, Spring Fever, Breck Bike Week, Breck Film Festival, and the International Snow Sculpture Championship are all exciting events and great places to meet locals and blend in.

Breckenridge Resort does provide some limited employee housing, but if you aren’t able to grab an employee apartment there’s still hope. You may be able to find a decent deal in town, and if not, Frisco and Dillon are both under 30 minutes away.

On Your Day Off

Here are some great tips by Chris Davis on what to do near Breckenridge when you’re away from the slopes.

Great Activities:

Hallelujah Hut Hike: A groomed Nordic track to a nearby hut. You can rent Nordic skis, use snowshoes, or even hike in snow boots to reach the hut, which is especially popular for full-moon viewing. Bring some snacks, get a fire going in the fireplace (wood provided), and enjoy an evening away from the hustle and bustle of Breck.

Getting on the Snow with Good Times Dog Sledding: Non-skiers in your group will rejoice at this suggestion, given it’s a truly unique way to see the landscape. The outfitting group tailors your experience exactly how you want it, whether that’s a wild jaunt in which you learn to push yourself, or sit back, relax, and enjoy a peaceful ride through the snow.

A Hidden Gem:

An Evening at the Speakeasy: This small, local theater is a few blocks off Main Street and only has a single screen, but is rarely full nevertheless. With a bar and a cozy atmosphere, this is a perfect hidden spot for both groups of friends and families.

The Verdict

Breckenridge stands out as a Colorado mountain town that still feels like a mountain town. Main Street still has the feel of its mining roots from the 1800s, and we’d argue that even the vacationers take themselves a little less seriously than those in say Aspen or Vail. Meanwhile, the terrain, particularly for experts, seems to be widely underrated compared to those more glamorous destinations. That makes Breck a great option for seasonal workers looking to experience a laid back vibe while still hitting up some of the best ski terrain Colorado has to offer.

Crested Butte | A to Z Guide on Colorado Ski Resorts

Crested Butte

Teton Gravity Research called Crested Butte the last great Colorado ski town, and while we wouldn’t necessarily agree that some others aren’t still “great,” we see why TGR thinks Crested Butte stands out. Nestled in the middle of a mountain range about 40 minutes north of Gunnison, Crested Butte is somewhat unique relative to the I-70 resorts for being off the grid and more difficult to get to. Locals see that as an advantage, however, as the town tends to attract repeat visitors who’ve learned that the town is well worth the trek.

The Mountain:

You might wonder if the Crested Butte ski patrol is trying to keep their expert terrain a secret, given the way they report their trail difficulty breakdown. While only 3% is classified as expert terrain, that only counts “developed” acreage. In other words, the 582 of its 1,587 skiable acres known as “The Extremes” is left out of the published number. Accessible by The North Face and High Lifts, this area is untouched side-country, and some of the best inbounds terrain in the lower 48. Crested Butte has been a hub for the freeride movement since the early 90’s (including hosting the US Freeskiing Extreme Championships) and this terrain is a big reason why.

  • Vertical: 3,062 ft.
  • Skiable acreage: 1,547 acres
  • Difficulty: 26% beginner, 57% intermediate, 14% advanced, 3% expert* (excludes the Extremes)
  • Longest run: 2.6 miles
  • Avg. annual snowfall: 234 inches
  • Snowmaking: 297 acres
  • Terrain park: Yes

The Local’s Lowdown:

Off the grid with world-renowned extreme skiing? How do you think the locals feel about Crested Butte? If there’s a better place to spend a winter in the Rockies, we’re all ears. Like any major ski town in the Rockies, apartments aren’t cheap. However, you may find some more reasonable options than you would in a place like Aspen, and rents in Riverbend and Crested Butte South can save you some money. Both are only a short drive away. Flying in and out of Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport isn’t cheap either, so plan on making the drive to Denver International about 5 hours away. Or, just don’t leave. Why would you want to anyway?

On Your Day Off

Here are some tips on what to do near Crested Butte when you’re away from the slopes. Tips provided by Chris Haver, Owner of Purple Mountain B&B.

Great Activities:

Just west of town is world-class snowmobiling out Kebler Pass. Crested Butte’s Action Adventure Snowmobiling offers guided trips which are perfect because the riding is endless out there and a private guide only costs a few more bucks.

The bus service is there to give you the free 5-minute ride up to the base of the slopes, but at the end of the day, town is where it’s at for apres ski with its wide selection of bars, restaurants, and music. Very few ski towns can rival our selection of great restaurants. The Public House and the Eldo Brewery both offer their own beers, food, and music. Montanya Rum Distillery and the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin offer unique specialty cocktails that you will not find anywhere else and a variety of delicious appetizers. For a special night out, check out the Sunflower Communal Kitchen.

A Hidden Gem:

For a hidden gem, I would have to recommend my place, the Purple Mountain Bed, for our daily beer tasting! You can sample local and regional craft beers from the area. It’s a great opportunity to come in after a day of playing on the slopes.

The Verdict

If there’s a list of most underrated ski resorts, Crested Butte should be high up on it. If you’re an expert skier looking to take things to the next level, Crested Butte is the place for you. Add the laid back, authentic ski town feel, and this place is paradise. Travel to and from can be expensive and/or inconvenient, but we don’t expect you’ll want to leave much once you arrive.


Keystone is a family-first ski resort that’s all about skiing. If you’re looking for glitz and glam, keep driving another 40 miles down I-70 to Vail. The lodging and nightlife in Keystone may be more limited than in some other resort areas, but its focus on a true skiing experience is what sets it apart.

If you want to be surrounded with enthusiastic skiers of all abilities, then go ahead and pull over. Oh, and if you want access to one of the best terrain parks and some of the most extensive night skiing in Colorado, Keystone is ready to blow you away.

The Mountain:

Keystone caters to beginner and intermediate skiers, as well as park skiers of all abilities. The terrain is notable for greens and blues on the front side, and then a number of black runs (including snowcat accessed terrain) as you move further back. However, Keystone is most well known for two things: 1) night skiing and 2) terrain parks.

Keystone has one of the best night skiing offerings in Colorado, with 12 runs open and often two lifts on the schedule (River Run Gondola and Per Express). If you’ve never been night skiing, you need to go, and this is the place to try it.

The mountain is also well known for its commitment to park and pipe skiing, and features 60 acres of progressive features across 6 areas: Easy Street, Park Lane, The Alley, I-70 and Upper and Lower Main Street. Area 51, as it is known, caters to skiers and riders of all abilities. If you’re determined to push your freestyle skills to the limit, then you need to be in Keystone.

  • Vertical: 3,128 ft.
  • Skiable acreage: 2,908 acres
  • Difficulty: 12% beginner, 39% intermediate, 49% advanced
  • Longest run: 3.5 miles
  • Avg. annual snowfall: 235 inches
  • Snowmaking: 662 acres
  • Terrain park: Yes

The Local’s Lowdown:

Keystone may not be as lively as some of its neighbors, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. On mountain accommodations are limited, but Dillon and Frisco are only a few miles away. There, you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of local employees from the handful of other resorts within driving distance (A-Basin, Loveland, Breck, and Copper), making these lively towns for locals to enjoy together. These towns have less competition from vacationers driving up prices than, say, downtown Breck would, so rent is relatively affordable and there are plenty of roommates to go around if you’re looking for one to split the bill.

On Your Day Off

Here are some tips on what to do near Keystone when you’re away from the slopes. Tips are provided by Bruce Knoepfel, Owner of Frisco Inn on Galena, and Alyssa Hubbard, Marketing & Design Coordinator of SummitCove Lodging.

Great Activities:

Bruce: For a wonderful friends outing, head to Keystone’s Der Fondue Chessel. It’s located 11,000 feet atop Keystone’s North Peak. It boasts a festive atmosphere, lively entertainment, and delicious fondue.

Alyssa: A concert at Warren Station! Warren Station is in the heart of River Run Village, so book a River Run Condo with SummitCove and then hit the village for a little apres-ski happy hour with food and drinks at Zuma Roadhouse or Kickapoo Tavern, followed by a walk around the village and then to Warren Station for a night of dancing and fun!

Bruce: Try dog sledding! We recommend Good Times Adventures. They take you on a 6-mile, hour-long tour with friendly and experienced guides. It’s a great time and a unique way to experience the Rocky Mountains!

Alyssa: Try cross Country Skiing at the Keystone Nordic Center. The center offers some awesome groomed trails and easy equipment rentals for your trip. It’s a great outdoor activity if you’re looking to change things up from shredding Keystone!

A Hidden Gem:

Bruce: Winter zip lining? Yes, that’s a thing, and we recommend that you try it! Zip over and through snow-covered mountain and forest, in Colorado’s High Country. Dress warm and give it a try!

Alyssa: A Sleigh Ride with Two Below Zero – dress warm, grab a blanket and hop on the sleigh behind a team of horses who will whisk you away to dinner, where you’ll enjoy warm drinks, a chuckwagon dinner, and live entertainment!

The Verdict

For dedicated park & pipe skiers & riders, there aren’t many places better to be on a day off than Keystone. 60 acres, 100 features, and a dedicated chairlift puts A51 second to no place if you’re looking to progress your freestyle skills.

The mountain also offers a variety of terrific on-mountain employment opportunities, from its spectacular ski school to its on-mountain dining. One thing you can count on is that everyone at Keystone is stoked to be at Keystone. You will be, too.

Steamboat Springs

Situated on its own in the northern part of Colorado, Steamboat Springs lies in one of the most picturesque locations in the entire state. An “all-season” resort, Steamboat Springs slows down only briefly during the “muddy seasons” of pre and post-winter. Coming in #3 on U.S News & World Report’s Best Small Towns in the USA was no surprise, but a #3 ranking for Best Summer Vacations in the USA may be to some.

The slopes hold their own in winter too, with 18 lifts and 165 trails spread out over just under 3,000 acres. In short, Steamboat Springs has everything you could want in a mountain town, any time of year, making it a shortlist candidate for Colorado ski resort with the best town.

The Mountain:

Steamboat is actually a complete mountain range in itself, consisting of Mount Werner, Sunshine Peak, Storm Peak, Thunderhead Peak, Pioneer Ridge, and Christie Peak. The mountain rivals the largest resorts on this list in terms of acreage and has plenty to offer skiers and riders of every ability. For the experts, Steamboat is best known its glade skiing, and for trademarking the term “champagne powder.”

  • Vertical: 3,668 ft.
  • Skiable acreage: 2,965 acres
  • Difficulty: 14% beginner, 42% intermediate, 44% advanced
  • Longest run: 3 miles
  • Avg. annual snowfall: 336 inches
  • Snowmaking: 375 acres
  • Terrain park: Yes

The Local’s Lowdown:

The town of Steamboat Springs is at the top of the list for best mountain towns. The town boasts 12,000 year-round locals, a high number for a ski town that ensures there’s always plenty to do. Steamboat has a perfect mix of nightlife and family fun, making it a great fit for just about anyone with a love for the outdoors and an enthusiastic open mind. It’s also a welcoming environment, so much so that the Steamboat Springs Chamber of Commerce has made it a point to help businesses attract employees (you can download their relocation guide here).

The location is a bit remote, but given the relatively large size for a mountain town, that probably won’t be a problem. In addition, there’s a local airport if you’re in a hurry, or you can make the 3.5-hour drive to Denver International.

The Verdict

Steamboat Springs is an especially strong option for those wanting to live in Colorado year-round. The abundance of activities means you’ll never have trouble staying employed in the offseason, and you’ll always have interesting opportunities available for work. The town’s size also makes it a great place for families. If you aren’t just looking for champagne powder, but also picturesque summers in one of the most beautiful areas of Colorado, put Steamboat Springs on your list.

Telluride | A to Z Guide on Colorado Ski Resorts


Telluride won #1 Ski Resort in North America according to Conde Nast Traveller among dozens of other accolades, and with good reason. The town is as unique as it is beautiful, located high up in the western San Juan Mountains. As is common for Colorado ski resorts, Telluride is a former mining town, and it has kept true to its small-town mining roots. Located in a box canyon, the total area is only a little over 2 square miles and sits at 8,750 ft with a population of only about 2,300.

People come to Telluride for the beautiful scenery, big mountain skiing, short lift lines, and minimal ostentation. The rich and famous go to Aspen to see and be seen. They go to Telluride to be ignored.

The Mountain:

Telluride’s 2,000 plus acres offers plenty of variation for all skill levels. Beginners can cut their teeth in a specially designated Terrain Based Learning Area in The Meadows, while expert skiers & riders have plenty to choose from including Hike-to Terrain that will challenge even the boldest adventurers.

  • Vertical: 4,425 ft.
  • Skiable acreage: 2,000+ acres
  • Difficulty: 23% beginner, 36% intermediate, 41% advanced/expert
  • Longest run: 4.6 miles
  • Avg. annual snowfall: 280 inches
  • Snowmaking: 220 acres
  • Terrain park: Yes

The Local’s Lowdown:

Telluride is in some ways two towns in one. The town of Telluride located at the base on the valley floor, is a down-to-earth, vibrant community. The streets are lined with quirky bars and restaurants. Then there’s the Town of Mountain Village, located higher up at 9,500 feet, a more modern resort area featuring larger hotels and luxury condo complexes. The two are connected to Telluride by a free pedestrian gondola and a shuttle service.

Telluride’s unusual geography unfortunately makes the rental housing market expensive and highly competitive. That said, there are employee housing options available through Telluride Ski Resort, the area’s largest employer. Some employers purchase rental housing, so check ahead when you apply.

The Verdict

Telluride offers the ultimate in secluded ski resort town experiences, and should be considered by anyone looking for a seasonal or year-round job at a ski resort. The area combines the quaint authenticity of a former mining town in Town, with the upscale luxury that attracts skiers from around the world in Mountain Village.

The mountain itself truly has something for everyone, with a wide dispersion terrain. From groomers for the noobs to an abundance of different intermediates (including glades), to in-bounds double blacks and hike-to extreme skiing, everyone will be happy. And if that’s not enough, Telluride Heli-Trax can take you even further.

The tricky part is securing housing, so if you’re looking to work in Telluride, get your application in early. You don’t want to find yourself on the outside looking in when the snow starts dumping.


Vail is one of North America’s most iconic ski resorts, famous for its vast terrain offering, European village vibe, and extensive lifestyle and cultural attractions. This is no quaint Colorado mining town. Vail offers high-end hotels, fine dining, and expensive shopping, all along its heated cobblestone streets. There’s a reason that Vail is the namesake of Vail Resorts’ extensive global offering of ski resorts. It has everything.

The Mountain:

Vail has endless attractions, but there’s one reason above all others why skiers from around the world flock to Vail: 5,289 acres of skiable terrain. That makes Vail the largest ski mountain on our list, but it also means you’ll have plenty of company out there. That said, there’s no better place to be on a powder day than Vail’s back bowls, 3,017 acres of wide-open terrain where you’ll find lap after lap of solid hits when things get deep.

For some reason though, we always find ourselves heading even further to Blue Sky Basin (a full 5 miles from Vail village) to enjoy 645 acres of underappreciated skiing back behind the back bowls. Here you’ll find smaller crowds and a good mix of open and gladed terrain, and a secluded beauty rarely matched at other resorts. It’s a shorter trek from the Village than you think, and well worth the effort.

  • Vertical: 3,450 ft.
  • Skiable acreage: 5,289 acres
  • Difficulty: 18% beginner, 29% intermediate, 53% advanced/expert
  • Longest run: 4 miles
  • Avg. annual snowfall: 354 inches
  • Terrain park: Yes

The Local’s Lowdown:

Vail has some major advantages, particularly if you work for the mountain. Vail Resorts is a massive 15,000 employee organization, with another 18 ski resorts under its umbrella globally. This includes Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone nearby. This is in addition to Whistler Blackcomb, Park City, Heavenly, and Crested Butte among many others. Get your foot in the door here, do a great job, and you’ll have a leg up for future gigs in some pretty awesome places.

Vail is expensive, however. A single-day pass at Vail Mountain is currently $209, 20% more than even Aspen’s $174/day. Compare those to say A-Basin at $105 and you start to get the drift. This is one place where you definitely need an employer who will sponsor your lift pass. The town is expensive as well, so plan on either obtaining employee housing or bunking up nearby in Avon, Edwards, or even Eagle to save money.

On Your Day Off

Here are some tips on what to do near Vail when you’re away from the slopes. Tips are from Mark Dubovy, Owner & President of Mountain Resort Concierge and Chris Davis of InvitedHome, a vacation rental management company with properties in Colorado mountain resort destinations.

Great Activities:

Chris: Vail Snowmobiling in Camp Hale. Just 30 minutes south of Vail lies Camp Hale, where the famous 10th Mountain Division trained for mountain warfare prior to WWII. Now, it’s a wide-open space with breathtaking scenery, and several snowmobile operators lead guided trips through the beautiful terrain.

Mark: Take a break from the slopes and get out and explore the Colorado wilderness in an exhilarating snowmobile adventure. Choose from staying local and exploring the trails overlooking Vail Mountain with Vail Backcountry Tours, riding miles of private trails and wilderness with Sage Outdoor Adventures, or checking out the historic training grounds of Camp Hale with Nova Guides where the famed 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II. All offer amazing adventures and have a variety of tours ranging from 2-hour, half day and full day options. A must do activity on your next trip to the Vail Valley!  

Chris: Vail Bowling at Bol in Vail Village. Experience the upscale hospitality Vail is known for alongside a classic American pastime: bowling. With gourmet food and full-service dining, chic lounges, and a full 60-foot bar alongside 10 bowling lanes, it’s a perfect outing for your day off.

Mark: Grab some local brews at the Vail Brewing Company, a new tasting room in the heart of Vail Village. There’s plenty of space to hang out and catch up with friends. They also host music events and live entertainment so check their calendar for upcoming events.

A Hidden Gem:

Chris: About 30 minutes north of Vail you’ll find 4 Eagle Ranch, where on any given day or night you’ll experience country western dancing, fairs, poetry reading, and more. Book an excursion, such as a winter sleigh ride or ATV trip, and bring all your family and friends to enjoy an authentic Colorado experience.

Mark: Zach’s cabin offers a memorable, on-mountain dining experience, where you can enjoy a 15-minute star-lit sleigh ride that arrives at the restaurant. Zach’s is perched on the mountainside high above Bachelor Gulch with uninterrupted views of the magnificent Gore Range. Each menu item is made in-house, so dining at Zach’s is more than a dinner, it is an experience to savor. Be sure to make your sleigh ride reservation ahead of time.

The Verdict

So, yes Vail is expensive, and yes it can be a little crowded, but that’s the least of your concern when you’re shredding through China Bowl taking face shots on every turn. Vail is the place to be for an epic winter season; it’s centrally located and steeped in fun and adventure.

Find a place to live down I-70, where you’ll have plenty of company from other Vail and Beaver Creek employees. You won’t be saving much money for vacations, but you won’t need a vacation. In fact, you’ll be surrounded by new friends from all over the globe. And you’ll never get bored skiing or riding Vail.

Winter Park

If you don’t live in Colorado, you may be less familiar with Winter Park. For instance, did you know that Winter Park is Colorado’s longest continually operated ski resort, with a history spanning over 75 years? And you might have missed that “Colorado’s Own” ski resort just recently won USA Today’s #1 Ski Resort ranking for 2018. Quite an achievement for a “weekend” resort.

That “weekend” reputation comes from Winter Park’s location, which is just 67 miles from Denver. It’s one convenient connection by train (Amtrak’s Winter Park Express, only $29). And it overlooks the significant improvements made under Intrawest’s ownership in the early 2000’s. Today, Winter Park boasts an abundance of terrain, activities, and lodging. No wonder the ski world is starting to take notice.

Winter Park is only an hour and a half drive from the University of Colorado, making it a candidate for best Colorado ski resort for college students as well.

The Mountain:

Winter Park is divided into seven different territories, each with its own theme. From groomers to black diamonds in the Winter Park Territory, glades in the Eagle Wind Territory, powder stashes in the Vasquez Ridge Territory, off-piste in the Cirque Territory, to the moguls in Mary Jane Territory, there is something for everyone.

  • Vertical: 3,060 ft.
  • Skiable acreage: 3,081 acres
  • Difficulty: 8% beginner, 18% intermediate, 19% advanced, 52% most difficult, 3% expert
  • Longest run: 4.9 miles
  • Avg. annual snowfall: 318 inches
  • Snowmaking: 313 acres
  • Terrain park: Yes

The Local’s Lowdown:

Winter Park presents a unique opportunity to have an authentic Colorado experience, without a bunch of Prada one-pieces and Veuve Clicquot apres skiing. Winter Park may not be known for its nightlife, but it’s not a dead zone either. Think local beers in a casual atmosphere. Even with its more down-to-earth vibe, finding affordable apartments is still a challenge, although Granby has decent accommodations for those willing to make a bit of a commute.

The Verdict

Winter Park is an under-the-radar gem that’s becoming less under-the-radar every day. It offers abundant diversified terrain, a laid-back authentic Colorado vibe, and ultra-convenient location. Before you dive head first into Aspen or Vail, be sure to at least give Winter Park a look. You might find it’s the best fit for you. But do us a favor, don’t tell anyone else, ok?

Conclusion | A to Z Guide on Colorado Ski Resorts

There’s a Perfect Colorado Ski Resort Out There For Everyone

Hopefully, now you’ve figured out that Colorado ski resorts have something for everyone, skier or snowboard alike. Are you new to skiing, or a hard-charging extreme boarder? Do you love the glitz and glam, or are you more into craft beers and independent coffee houses? Do you stay out late, or do you like to just chill? No matter what, the perfect place is waiting for you.

What’s your favorite Colorado ski resort? Did we forget any? Let us know in the comments below.

About our contributors:

Mark Dubovy

Mark founded Mountain Resort Concierge in December 2015. In 2012 he pursued his dream of moving to Vail, and worked part-time as a certified PSIA Level 1 Ski Instructor in addition to being an event marketing consultant.

Chris Davis

Chris is the Owned Media Manager of InvitedHome, a family-run company specializing in luxury vacation rental management in mountain resort destinations, including Telluride, Vail, Breckenridge, Park City, and Lake Tahoe.

Chris Haver

Chris is the owner of Purple Mountain B&B located in Crested Butte. The B&B was built in 1927 as part of the mining operations here, it became a Bed & Breakfast in 1976.

Alyssa Hubbard

Alyssa is the Marketing & Design Coordinator at SummitCove Lodging. SummitCove manages over 300 vacation rental homes and condos at Keystone Ski Resort.

Bruce Knoepfel

Bruce has over 30 years of experience running award-winning Lodges, Inns, Boutique Hotels, and Bed and Breakfasts. Most recently, he has launched Frisco Inn on Galena, Bruce and Boutique Hotel in Frisco, CO.

Kristen Lummis

Kristen is a Colorado-based writer who covers skiing and outdoor adventure on her award-winning blog,, Lummis has also written for the International Ski Federation,, and Aspen Sojourner.

Marty Ryan

Marty has been The Gant Concierge for 21 Years. Originally from Ellington, CT she came to Aspen to visit her brother for a season and claims she forgot to leave!