Skiing Colorado’s Finest: Telluride, Steamboat, and Aspen

When you think of Col­orado ski­ing, known for its nat­ur­al splen­dor and world-class slopes, Vail and Breck­en­ridge are often the names that come to mind. While these resorts boast an impres­sive amount of ter­rain and notable ski-cul­ture, some­times it’s the more tucked-away ski hills that can offer the most cul­ture, chal­lenge, and bang for your buck.

The crown jew­els of Col­orado skiing—Telluride, Aspen, and Steamboat—not only offer ver­sa­tile ter­rain and killer cul­ture, but they also offer a small-town feel, where the locals will ski cir­cles around you, but still invite you to après after­ward.

tellurideTel­luride Ski Resort
One of the most pic­turesque towns in the world, Tel­luride is rich in min­ing and ski­ing his­to­ry. It’s no won­der that pro-skiers train here and celebri­ties make their homes among the daz­zling vis­tas that encir­cle the town. The pop­u­la­tion is small, a mere 2,426 folks, but the town’s per­son­al­i­ty is big. Stay at the Vic­to­ri­an Inn for an afford­able but quaint expe­ri­ence, and walk to the free Gon­do­la that takes you direct­ly to the moun­tain.

For begin­ners and inter­me­di­ate skiers, Prospect Bowl and See-For­ev­er trail are musts. For expert skiers, Telluride’s steep and deep Rev­o­lu­tion Bowl will make you scream as you rip down black dia­monds that hov­er above ver­ti­go-induc­ing Bear Creek Canyon. For hike-to-ter­rain fanat­ics, Black Iron Bowl, Gold Hill Chutes, and Palmyra Peaks are leg­endary and not for the faint of heart.

Want good eats, live music, and epic views between runs? From high-class din­ing to laid-back, Tel­luride has it all. Bon Vivant is locat­ed at the top of the Polar Queen Express, and delights the sens­es with spec­tac­u­lar views of the sur­round­ing peaks along with exquis­ite French cui­sine. If you’re look­ing for some­thing less fan­cy with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the taste or expe­ri­ence, Giuseppe’s offers New Orleans soul food, out­door seat­ing, and prices fit for fam­i­lies all at the top of the Plunge Lift.

For an extra treat, ride the Gon­do­la over to Moun­tain Vil­lage, open until mid­night through­out the week and until 2 a.m. on the week­end.

steamboatSteam­boat Resort
Quirky, rus­tic, and ready to par­ty, Steam­boat Resort is known for its world-class tree ski­ing, the annu­al Cow­boy Down­hill, and a whole lot­ta char­ac­ter.

For begin­ner and inter­me­di­ate skiers, the Christie Peak Express and Pre­view lifts offer long rolling greens and blues. For expert and advanced, any­thing off of Pony Express or Sun­shine Express will get you your kicks. Dip over to Morn­ing­side Bowl for ver­sa­tile tree ski­ing.

For an after­noon bite, stop in at TBar, known for its live­ly atmos­phere, out­door seat­ing, and Amer­i­cana-inspired food. Locat­ed at the bot­tom of the Pony Express, you can hop right back on the lift and ski until your legs are jel­ly.

After a day on the moun­tain, take your four-wheel dri­ve to the hid­den oasis of Straw­ber­ry Park Hot Springs to soak in one of Colorado’s most scenic and inti­mate nat­ur­al hot springs. Straw­ber­ry Park offers unique on-site lodg­ing; how­ev­er, if you want some­thing clos­er to town with a pet-friend­ly pol­i­cy, check out The Rab­bit Ears Motel.

aspenAspen High­lands, Snow­mass, But­ter­milk, and Beyond
If you’ve nev­er been to Aspen, you may not know that instead of one ski ter­ri­to­ry, there are sev­er­al with dif­fer­ent vibes and per­son­al­i­ties.

For the begin­ners and more laid-back skiers, But­ter­milk is a dream with rolling greens and blues, amaz­ing scenery, and an out­stand­ing local crowd. For the all-around ski­er who wants epic groomers, steeps, and trees, Snow­mass is where it’s at. And for the expert ski­er intent on dou­ble blacks for days, hike-to-ter­rain, and moguls that will turn your legs to mush, Aspen High­lands is on the menu.

If you’re inter­est­ed in ski­ing the moun­tains but not pay­ing the crazy prices to stay in Aspen-prop­er, con­sid­er stay­ing down the road in Car­bon­dale. This tight-knit com­mu­ni­ty offers excel­lent food, shop­ping, and enter­tain­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties with­out the hefty Aspen price-tag. Get­ting to Snow­mass is also cheap and easy when you hop on the Park and Ride.

Even more, this area of Col­orado is a win­ter-won­der­land where skiers can turn to snow­shoe­ing and fat tire bik­ing for a change of pace. Be sure to check out the trails out­side of the resorts for a bet­ter look at Aspen’s nat­ur­al beau­ty.