Great For: Families, especially those with small children just getting their ski legs; novice skiers and those seeking a relaxing time with fun side activities.
Ski Here: Steamboat Ski Resort is one of the largest mountains in the country, and it offers plenty of room to roam and learn. Bonus: The resort’s trademarked Champagne Powder® and 350-inch average annual snowfall makes for fluffy landings.
With an entire section of the mountain reserved for kids and select runs that stay open until 8pm, Keystone Resort is a known family favorite. Hang out in the massive snowfort and try disco-night tubing and glow-in-the-dark ice-skating.
Purgatory (formerly Durango Mountain Resort) in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains receives some of the most consistent snow in the state and features a slew of children’s programs, such as igloo building and scavenger hunts. Adults love the resort’s mountaintop dining and full-moon guided snowshoe tours.
Great For: Girls or guys getaways, college-reunion crews and intermediate skiers looking for a mix of challenging runs and laid-back groomers with an exciting après-ski scene.
Ski Here: Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s intermediate terrain is perfect for thrills without spills, while offering enough advanced ground to keep the most seasoned skier in your group entertained. Ski up to the Ice Bar — an outdoor bar literally made of ice — for a handcrafted specialty cocktail and soak up the town’s easy-going personality at local music joints, restaurants and brew pubs.
Loaded with long mid-level runs, Copper Mountain Resort is prime for learning and improving. The resort’s easy-to-navigate terrain is naturally divided with black diamond runs on one side, blues in the middle and greens on the other side. The base village is home to free nightly entertainment, an arcade and evening s’mores roasts by the fire pit.
Carve down wide, meticulously groomed trails, powder-filled bowls and steep mogul runs at Beaver Creek Resort. Relish in the resort's pampering ways with heated walkways and escalators and fresh-baked cookies served slope-side. The resort’s three villages boast renowned spas, shops, art galleries and venues offering live jazz, Broadway performances, après specials and free ski movies.
Black Diamond Trip
Great For: Adrenaline junkies looking for the state’s steepest runs, gnarliest cliffs and waist-deep ungroomed backcountry terrain.
Ski Here: If you find yourself ho-humming down intermediate runs, challenge yourself and a few hardcore friends to an extreme weekend at Colorado’s highest and most expert ski area, Silverton Mountain. Be prepared — Silverton is a no-fear zone for advanced skiers and boarders only. There’s no easy way down and avalanche beacons, shovels and probes are required.
Set in a pristine box canyon with stunning views, nearly half of Telluride Ski Resort’s 2,000 acres consists of advanced and expert terrain. Follow locals to Revelation Bowl and take in the sprawling procession of 13,000-foot snow-loaded peaks. At the end of the day, rest weary legs at some of the most luxurious lodging around or hit the country’s highest wine bar, European-inspired Alpino Vino.
If black-diamond variety and room to breathe is your gig, Vail Mountain is your mountain. Head straight for the famous back bowls and rip your way down demanding trails like Forever and Never. Sidle up to the après scene for lively bars, gourmet dining, live music and the day’s wildest ski stories.
Cruise Up, Ski Down: Take your desire for extreme turns one step further and try snowcat skiing this season. Perfect for intermediate to advanced skiers and riders seeking steep and deep terrain not accessed by resort chairlifts, a powerful closed-cabin snowcat vehicle will deliver you to miles of untouched powder.
With 35,000 acres of high-alpine territory, Purgatory's (formerly Durango Mountain Resort) cat skiing is ranked among the best in the country. A new private company, Irwin is located west of Crested Butte and features snowcats equipped with leather seats, flat-screen TVs and 360-degree views. Check out Aspen Mountain, Copper Mountain, Silverton Mountain, Steamboat Ski Resort and others for private, guided and unguided options.
Photo: Courtesy of Alex Finlon/Irwin.