When the flakes start flying in early winter in Colorado, the Centennial State’s ski areas fire up the chairlifts to welcome millions of skiers and snowboarders. More skiers hit the slopes in Colorado than in any other state—and for good reason. Majestic peaks tower above historic, walkable towns that are packed with shops, restaurants, and parks.
But Colorado ski country is big, and that’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know to plan a visit, from which town you should choose—and which cozy vacation rental or hotel you should stay in—to the best activities on and off the snow and even a primer on the local architecture.
We explore which mountains excel in learn-to-ski programs and which are better for experts seeking steep chutes and untracked, wide-open bowls. For those looking for seclusion, we chose our favorite backcountry huts: Though you have to travel by foot to reach each of them, these remote stays range from rustic to downright luxurious.
Non-skiers have plenty of options in ski country, too, thanks to top-notch museums, hot springs, and ice rinks. Walk down the picturesque streets of Breckenridge, Telluride, or Aspen and you’ll find Instagram-worthy Victorians, bustling saloons in old mining huts, and world-renowned art galleries.
Concern yourself with a powdery run, a breathtaking view, or a crackling fire—because for everything else, we’ve got you covered. —Megan Barber
Writers: Megan Barber, Daliah Singer
Editors: Megan Barber, Kayleen Schaefer, Mercedes Kraus
Project management: Nina Pearlman
Art direction: Alyssa Nassner
Photo editing: Audrey Levine
Copy editing: Emma Alpern
Engagement: Jessica Gatdula, Stephanie Griffin, Sharell Jeffrey