The USA is known for many things, its world-class ski resorts among them. Although Brits might naturally plump for the closer proximity of European slopes, the States has carved out a reputation for snowsports thanks to a number of famed mountain destinations to rival the Alps.
Colorado is one such state, with ski resorts lauded for their champagne powder, extensive and varied terrain, tree-lined trails and gentle bowls to play in. Blessed with the incredible Rocky Mountains and a variety of snow-sure destinations, it has quickly risen to become the capital of skiing in the US.
Legendary resorts like Vail, Aspen and Breckenridge, with their vast skiable areas, have long attracted visitors hoping to sample world-famous runs.
From the family-friendly haven of Steamboat to lesser-known destinations for those in the know, such as Telluride, Colorado caters to skiers of all abilities, with over 32 areas to choose from. Here’s a selection of the best.
Perhaps the USA’s most famous ski resort, Vail is home to a vast skiable area of over 5,000 acres that caters to every level of skier and snowboarder. Recent investment means that lifts are quick, and with a season that runs from mid-November, there’s plenty of time to experience this vast resort.
Although the resort’s glittering reputation and high-end restaurants and activities make it an expensive place to ski, Vail has an almost unrivalled variety of accommodation, places to eat and drink and – most importantly – impressive slopes. Beginners can enjoy areas such as Gopher Hill, while Born Free, Bwana and Simba are all ideal for intermediate skiers, and there are plenty of options for experts.
Heidi offers stays at the Tivoli Lodge in traditional accommodation with pared-back, spacious rooms and plenty of mountain character, just four minutes from the slopes and the resort hub.
From £3,267pp including seven nights accommodation, return flights from London Heathrow, one piece of checked luggage per passenger and airport transfers. Departing 5 February 2024.
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Colorado’s other resort renowned for its glitz (and prices to match) welcomes a similarly glamorous crowd. Although the town is equally vibrant and the slopes welcoming for all levels, it’s generally far less busy than its well-heeled rival. The four mountains cater to every ability, from gentle beginner slopes around Buttermilk to the the off-piste area around Highland Bowl.
With a population of around 7,000, Aspen is an energetic town even outside of the ski season. It has long attracted the wealthy and famous, although not everything is pricey – Aspen is an après capital too, with plenty of happy hour deals and bars ranging from live music at Limelight Lounge to old saloons and casual fine dining at Ajax Tavern.
Beat the post-Christmas blues with the Ski Solutions package to The Gant, Aspen. A series of large, functional apartments set at the base of Aspen Mountain (and within walking distance of the town), it benefits from year-round indoor and outdoor pools and an on-site restaurant, Pepperjack’s Cafe, that serves breakfast and lunch daily.
From £3,745pp including seven nights accommodation, return flights from a London airport and airport transfers. Departing 13 January 2024.
Breckenridge is one of the highest ski resorts in the world and offers some impressive skiing. Home to around 3,000 acres of skiable terrain and 187 trails, it’s another resort with plenty of variety in its slopes, including long, well-groomed blues on Peak 7 and Peak 8 just off the Beaver Run SuperChair.
Breck’s history as a mining town is still evident, with low-rise Victorian buildings and colourful facades aplenty, while several bars and restaurants create a lively après scene. Centred around the charming Main Street, you’ll find everything from taco joints to high-altitude distilleries, with over 200 shops and restaurants to try.
Crystal Ski offers a trip to the Beaver Run Resort, just 10 minutes away from the centre of the town. This ski-in/ski-out hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool, a spa and wellness centre and its own restaurant, while its rooms are spacious and rustic, with a distinct traditional mountain feel.
From £2,136pp including seven nights’ accommodation, return flights from London Heathrow, one piece of checked luggage per passenger and airport transfers. Departing 3 February 2024.
Beaver Creek has quickly garnered a reputation as one of Colorado’s premier resorts. A more muted resort than Vail, there’s plenty of choice for accommodation and a fairly lively après scene.
With just over 1,800 acres of terrain, it is smaller than some of its neighbours, but provides great variety, especially for beginners and intermediates.
There is less advanced terrain in Beaver Creek, although the Stone Creek Chutes, Grouse Mountain and Birds of Prey trails offer steep black runs. For beginners, there are plenty of gentle green trails, with a good beginner zone at the top of the mountain. Arrowhead and the Larkspur Bowl contain long blues, with the Centennial Express lift and Bachelor Gulch also popular among confident intermediates.
For a comfortable, well-located stay in Beaver Creek, try The Pines Lodge, a RockResort. The Heidi package puts you in a stylish King Room with excellent views of the surrounding mountains, and you’ll be less than 10 minutes away from both the town centre and the slopes.
From £3,048pp including seven nights accommodation, return flights from London Heathrow, one piece of checked luggage per passenger and airport transfers. Departing 13 January 2024.
Telluride is another former mining town brimming with amazing mountain scenery. Sitting in a valley on the banks of the San Miguel river, this ski area is slightly off the beaten track, but is worth the effort to explore a haven of intermediate and advanced pistes. The town of Telluride itself is a more upbeat alternative to the family-friendly atmosphere and accommodation in the Mountain Village, with more bars and restaurants and a lively atmosphere on weekends and during holidays.
Beginners can check out the greens near the Chondola lift and the Sunshine Express. For experienced skiers, there are groomed black runs in the Revelation Bowl, as well as some excellent off-piste.
Hotel Telluride offers a stay in a beautiful chalet-style stone building near the centre of Telluride and just seven minutes from the lifts. A Snowpak package offers a Superior Room and includes lift passes and equipment rental, all of which can be collected within a 10-minute walk.
From £3,174pp including seven nights accommodation, lift passes, all equipment rental and airport transfers. Arriving 1 February 2024. British Airways operates regular flights from London Heathrow to Denver, with prices starting at £560pp for return flights departing 1 February and returning 8 February 2024.
Steamboat has become popular with all levels of skier, known for its conditions and the quality of its powder snow. The unusually high number of Winter Olympians that are from the town attests to the world-class snowsports opportunities spread across the 3,000 acres of skiable terrain.
The lower parts of the mountain feature some of the best beginners’ areas in the country, with gentle blues allowing easy progression and some areas even opening during the evening for night skiing.
The resort, as well as the town of Steamboat Springs, is known to be family-friendly (kids under 12 ski for free) and features plenty of non-skiing winter activities. There’s a distinct mountainous feel to the town, with wide boulevards and plenty of low-rise buildings set among the mountains of the Yampa Valley.
American Ski Classics provides packages to Steamboat. For a stay that is just five minutes away from the ski area (and with free shuttles into town), choose the Steamboat Grand. It provides a series of rustic, cosy rooms alongside a year-round outdoor pool and on-site restaurant, with the weekend happy hour at the Cabin Bar a particularly popular feature.
From £2,736pp including seven nights accommodation, return flights from London Heathrow, one piece of checked luggage per passenger and airport transfers. Departing 20 January 2024.
Known as “the last great Colorado ski town”, Crested Butte sits three miles from the 1,500-acre ski area of the same name. It’s a charming, unpretentious Victorian town that combines alpine-esque surroundings with classic 19th-century American buildings, and though it is further to get to – around four-and-a-half hours drive from Denver – it’s worth it to experience a true Coloradan ski town from times gone by.
Although there are some good beginner zones around the base of the mountain, Crested Butte is really an advanced-to-expert paradise. A high perentage of the runs are categorised as advanced or expert level, with plenty of double-black diamond runs.
Stay at the Nordic Inn, courtesy of Expedia, if you want an ideal base for maximising time spent skiing while also being able to enjoy tranquil, comfortable accommodation when you’re not on the slopes. It sits 10 minutes away from the resort centre and a few hundred metres from the nearest lift, with free shuttles to take you into town whenever you need something a little livelier.
From £1,598pp including seven nights accommodation and return flights from London Heathrow. Departing 27 January 2024.
Read our reviews of the best USA hotels